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Hardball With Chris Matthews, Transcript 11/16/2016

Guests: Tim Ryan, April Ryan, Anne Gearan, Peter Emerson

Show: HARDBALL Date: November 16, 2016 Guest: Tim Ryan, April Ryan, Anne Gearan, Peter Emerson

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: You`re fired. Or you`re hired.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

Three big guests on HARDBALL tonight, Senator Bob Corker, a dark horse prospect for secretary of state, Ohio congressman Tim Ryan, the Rust Belt Democrat ready to challenge Nancy Pelosi for House leadership, and out front tonight, libertarian senator Rand Paul.

Well, this as President-elect Donald Trump and his allies are criticizing, disputing and otherwise downplaying reports that his transition is in disarray even as multiple outlets portray it consumed by back-biting, vendettas and acrimony.

Over the past 24 hours. the president-elect has taken to Twitter to personally address those reports. He said last night that a, quote, "very organized process is taking place as I decide on cabinet and many other positions," adding with a note of suspense, "I am the only one who knows who the finalists are."

Well, this follows what some describe as a purge of Chris Christie allies from Trump`s transition team. Former congressman Mike Rogers, who was among the departures, described his exit on CNN last night.


MIKE ROGERS (R-MI), FMR. HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Sometimes in politics, you know, in the palace intrigue, there are people who are in and people who are out. And the people who have been asked to move on have some relationship with Chris Christie.


MATTHEWS: Well, Rogers also said the problem inside Trump Tower is that it is not clear who`s calling the shots.


ROGERS: I think there is some confusion going on about a chain of command coming out of New York. Hopefully, they`ll get that settled pretty soon. I think they`re going to need to do it because as this clock ticks, all of these decisions become more important, and you have to make them sooner with a little more authority and a little more forward thinking to make sure that they don`t bump into anything in the future.


MATTHEWS: Well, meanwhile, Bloomberg reports today that Trump is considering his former rival, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, for attorney general. Wow. And when it comes to the top cabinet positions, secretary of state the top-est of them all, a source close to Rudy Giuliani tells NBC that the mayor`s inner circle expects to it happen, but he has yet to receive an official offer. We`ll see.

This comes amid reports that Giuliani as a lawyer and consultant made millions off foreign clients, including a payment from an anti-ayatollah Iranian political party. Other contenders in the mix for secretary of state include former ambassador John Bolton and Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, who`s going to join us here on the program.

I`m joined right now by NBC`s Kelly O`Donnell, Robert Costa, national political reporter for "The Washington Post" and MSNBC political analyst, and Eugene Robinson, of course, with me, columnist with "The Washington Post" and also an MSNBC political analyst.

Kelly, I want to get to you on this. I know -- I never know when some news is going to come flying out of that tower up there you`re covering. But what do you make of this sort of death squad that seems to be operating? All of a sudden, Mike Rogers is kicked out, you know, what the -- Eliot Cohen is given the bum`s rush.

Who is it inside that`s telling people, You`re fired?

KELLY O`DONNELL, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, based on my reporting, Chris, what I have been told is that Jared Kushner, the president-elect`s son-in- law, has been the center of power for a very long time, through the campaign and now especially in the transition. While Kellyanne Conway had the campaign manager title, Steve Bannon had the CEO title, it is the title-less Jared Kushner who has been really the power base, trusted by his father-in-law, obviously trusted by his wife, Ivanka, and flying under the radar for quite a bit of time now.

What my reporting tells me is that a figure like Mike Rogers, widely respected, former FBI agent, former head of the House intel committee, someone respected, but doesn`t really have Chris Christie ties.


O`DONNELL: He was, in fact, hired by Chris Christie for the transition to run national security, but they don`t have a personal history.

And yet based on my reporting, Rogers indicated that he was told that based on his association with Chris Christie, he was being pushed out. And that goes back to the very personal conflict between Jared Kushner and Governor Christie over the prosecution of Kushner`s father, Charles, about 10 years ago -- Chris.

MATTHEWS: So is Chris Christie, with all his problems with the bridge and not being president, not being vice president, now "typhoid Mary"? Is it anybody who`s ever contacted him is now dead? Is that the deal, Kelly?

O`DONNELL: In this transition phase, what we have seen is there are several figures associated with Christie who have been told to leave. They include some of the people who have worked closely with Christie in New Jersey politics and people he brought in with expertise.

The other interesting thing about this is I`m told that Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama and Christie worked very carefully over the transition to assemble the list of name for things like the big cabinet positions and the key transition employees and that both Sessions and Christie each signed off on every name.

So that if one thought this was a good choice and the other did not, they would agree that they both had to come to terms with accepting whatever the list was. And so the fact that some of those names have now been pushed aside -- that doesn`t reflect on Jeff Sessions, who is still there and very much a part of it and anticipated to get some cabinet-level job.

But on the Christie side, it appears that there is an intentional blockade against...


O`DONNELL: ... Governor Christie, and all the reporting suggests that it is personal from Kushner to Christie.

MATTHEWS: Robert Costa, this doesn`t look good for the president-elect to have somebody around him like this, Uday or Qusay, that`s able to just knock somebody off because they don`t like the line he came from. I mean, this is a hell of a lot of power to have somebody blackball your administration, especially in the case of Mike Rogers, who everybody thinks would have been a moderate force, moderating force in the intelligence world. Your thoughts. What can you tell us?

ROBERT COSTA, "WASHINGTON POST," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: This is more than an ideological battle. It`s not like hawk versus dove. What we`re really seeing is a restructure of power. And Kelly nailed when it she talked about this nexus between Bannon and Sessions and Kushner. These are the people in Trump`s ear.

MATTHEWS: Give me your thoughts about this, a little perspective here. I mean, presidents get elected. Nobody elected, you know, Jared Kushner to be president of the United States.


MATTHEWS: Nobody elected what seems to be (INAUDIBLE) sort of death squad that`s going around knocking off people because of past abuses.

ROBINSON: Well, people elected Donald Trump, though.


ROBINSON: I mean, they did. I personally don`t understand why, but they did. And so you got to assume -- you know, he`s running the show. You got to assume this is the way he wants it.

MATTHEWS: Why is he delegating so much to his son-in-law?


MATTHEWS: He wants him to have clearance to read PDBs every day.

ROBINSON: Look at the way he ran the Trump Organization, which was essentially a family business, right? As soon as his -- his children were old enough and experienced enough to be brought in and groomed and -- they became the inner circle in the Trump organization, along with his son-in- law, Jared Kushner, whom -- on whom he has relied pretty much throughout the campaign, and again, as was said, kind of under the radar.

But we -- we -- you know, people knew he was very important, and he is emerging as a tremendously important person as we look toward the formation of the Trump White House.

MATTHEWS: Unbelievable. Anyway, Eliot Cohen, a Trump critic, a sort of moderate neocon who worked in the State Department under President Bush, W. Bush, said yesterday that his talk with a member of Trump`s transition team was so hostile, it led him to advice fellow Republicans to, quote, "stay away."

Now Cohen has expounded on that warning in a "Washington Post" op-ed, writing, "The president-elect is surrounding himself with mediocrities whose chief qualification seems to be unquestioning loyalty. One bad boss can be endured. A gaggle of them will poison all decision making. They will turn on each other."

Well, in a press gaggle today, Trump spokesman Jason Miller called critics of the transition effort "bitter." Here`s Miller.


JASON MILLER, TRUMP SPOKESMAN: Inside, there`s a very solid plans (ph). There`s a methodical approach to all this being put together. I`ve read a number of the news reports. I don`t want to make it sound like there`s -- you know, all sorts of descriptions I`ve heard. It`s very calm. It`s very structured. An anyone saying anything else is either, A, bitter because they`re not on the inside and not being and not being considered, or they`re someone who`s just bitter because the election was last week and they didn`t get the result that they wanted.


MATTHEWS: Anyway, let`s go back to Kelly. (INAUDIBLE) through the (INAUDIBLE) again, the whole round -- the whole horn here again. This -- what`s your sense watching this every hour on the hour? I`m going to ask the same question of Robert. Is there -- is there a hurricane with -- the eye of the hurricane is Trump, and it`s much calmer from his perspective, a bunch of job seekers, he gets to pick the one, like he did on the show, "The Apprentice"? He can, like, You`re in, you`re fired?

Is he enjoying this whole thing? Is it only chaos from the outside looking in?

O`DONNELL: I think that, based on my reporting, Donald Trump has not been involved in these heated sessions and meetings where this kind of dynamic has played out. He has been receiving foreign leader calls. He has been, you know, in his residence, in his office, not at the table, when some of this strife was sort of being exposed, where you had people scratching names off lists for potential positions and jockeying for the jobs they want.

So I think the president-elect has a little distance from this, and a lot of the transition related names had not been presented to him, based on my reporting, that they were trying to assemble the list, and this really kind of, sort of crash landed in just recent days.

Also that the national security apparatus -- they`re just -- General Flynn is very close to Donald Trump, also exerting some power, basically wanting to sort of be the official adviser on all things national security.

So I think that Donald Trump has, of course, delegated a lot to his children, as discussed, and his son-in-law`s an extension of that, and trusts them. And I think he is seeing that there is contention. And then when you have the public face with Jason Miller or Kellyanne Conway projecting calm, that`s to be expected. And they should try to spin the organization as moving along.

But there`s no question that there is a lack of clarity about jobs. For example, Kellyanne Conway, you know, successful campaign manager -- we don`t know what role she would play. Other top officials, we don`t know what role they would play. We only know Priebus and Bannon, at this point, having official appointments to a Trump White House.

And so there`s a vacuum there, and a lot of people who`ve put time, effort and ambition into this want to make sure they have a place.

MATTHEWS: You know, let me ask Robert about the -- this -- you know Trump and his MO. I guess that`s the right word, although he`s not a criminal, his MO. He seems to be setting up these dualities.

Like, he`ll put up John Bolton, a doctrinaire neocon, a real hawk, against Rudy, who`s sort of like an uneven hawk. He`s sort of a street guy, a hawk, if you will, a non-intellectual hawk, non-doctrinaire because that`s not the way he operates, very personal guy.

And then he`ll put up somebody like Corker to make people like me thrilled -- hey, maybe he`s going to pick somebody reasonable. And then we find ourselves rooting for Corker. Or he`ll put up Reince Priebus in the White House and he`ll put a scary guy like Bannon up and you`ll say, I guess I`m a Reince Priebus guy today.

Is he setting that up? Is it just the way we all things is -- people who are observer, you`re always looking for somebody less worse than the person you most fear. Your thoughts. He knows we`re doing this, Trump.

COSTA: What we`re seeing unfold is pretty simple. It`s power plays. Chris Christie, the New Jersey governor, was working on this transition project like it was some car in the garage and no one wanted to drive. Some people close to Trump weren`t sure he was going to win.

Then he suddenly wins the election, and now everyone wants to drive the car that Christie`s been off doing on his own. It`s about power. It`s about control of the transition. What you see Sessions and Kushner and Bannon and Flynn doing is saying, We`re going to drive this car. We`re going to run the transition now. We`re putting our people in. Pence is going to be part of it. Our people, campaign people, they`re going in, not necessarily who Christie was thinking of.

And when you`re talking about how Trump surrounds himself, it`s just how he ran the Trump Organization. It`s concentric circles, blocs that compete against each other. He doesn`t mind the competition. He likes having Priebus as chief of staff and Bannon as the chief strategist. Bring in the competing visions, have them fight maybe with each other. He likes that tension.

MATTHEWS: You know, Gene, it reminds me of the guy that`s been going to the CVS or wherever, the local liquor store, betting on the big -- big -- what do you call it, the lottery. You know? And he`s been betting on it, putting in 10 bucks a day. His wife didn`t know about it. Every day, he`s been putting 10 bucks in.

Wow! He wins it one day!

ROBINSON: He won it,right.

MATTHEWS: And all of a sudden, he`s a multi-billionaire, multi-millionaire in the case of the lottery, and he has no idea how the taxes are going to work, how he`s going to protect himself from losing it all to the tax man. He has no idea what to do with this money! All his relatives are calling up, saying, Can I have some? But he doesn`t know what to do.

ROBINSON: No, exactly. And so he -- look, he has a very steep learning curve. But remember -- remember how he ran the campaign, right? Because this essentially happened during the campaign. He`s never run for public office and he started to do it his way. And his way is that he is the boss. He`s the decider. He -- you know, and so to that extent, I don`t see why we would expect a Trump White House to work any different or a Trump transition to work any different, really.

And there`s a certain amount of chaos out there and competing advice. You know, there were all these people telling him to, you know, quit the Twitter and everything like that. And he -- you know, he does what he wants to do. So in the end, he`s going to pick people, I think, who enable Donald Trump, who are not necessarily dedicated ideologues one way or the other because he`s all over the map.

MATTHEWS: He wants toadies.

ROBINSON: Yes, he wants...

MATTHEWS: Toadies.

ROBINSON: And he wants them -- he wants a certain level of competence, I think.

MATTHEWS: That`s not good.

ROBINSON: But he doesn`t want somebody who`s going to stop him from doing what he wants to do.

MATTHEWS: Well, that`s a problem. And I know you`re getting at it, but you haven`t said it. That`s a problem.

ROBINSON: No, it is! It`s a huge problem.

MATTHEWS: OK. You need somebody`s going to say, Nice -- you know, I love what you`re thinking here, but you`re wrong and you got to fix it or you`re going to be in big trouble. Somebody`s got to be around you like that.

Thank you, Kelly O`Donnell. Great reporting. It`s fascinating stuff we`re all doing here. I find it fascinating. I mean, it`s sort of like "Vertigo."

O`DONNELL: Chris, can I give you one more?

MATTHEWS: Yes, go ahead, Kelly.

O`DONNELL: Can I give you one more?


O`DONNELL: So there`s talk about Nikki Haley being a potential pick. And if she were to elevate to the cabinet, think about something. Who`s the lieutenant governor of South Carolina? Henry McMaster, one of the earliest Trump supporters, one of the most vocal Trump supporters. So we are looking at Nikki Haley as a national figure, a woman, big in the Republican Party.


O`DONNELL: A job for her also would elevate a loyal Trump supporter in the lieutenant governor in South Carolina.

MATTHEWS: So now we`re talking bank shots. Anyway, thank you, Robert Costa. Thank you, Kelly O`Donnell. And thank you, Gene Robinson.

Coming up -- it is a bank shot. Coming up -- Donald Trump`s pick for secretary of state could come down to two hawks, Rudy Giuliani or John Bolton. It could also bring us Senator Bob Corker, who`s coming up next. He`s the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Also, we`re going to have Senator Rand Paul, who has serious concerns. That`s putting it lightly -- about Bolton and Giuliani, two of the biggest hawks around, and he`s a libertarian who didn`t like these wars.

Plus, Democrats need to find a way forward fast. Tonight, we`re going to talk to Ohio congressman Tim Ryan, who comes from Youngstown. It`s a real Rust Belt area. And he sees a lot of people voting for Trump who should have been voting for Democrats. Now he`s considering running against Nancy Pelosi for Democratic leader of the House.

And the HARDBALL roundtable`s going to be here to talk about Trump`s transition, such as it is, and its obvious disdain for the way things are usually done.

Finally, tonight "Let Me Finish" with Trump watch. Getting serious.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Well, Americans are emerging from the 2016 elections with tempered optimism about Donald Trump`s presidency. According to a new "Washington Post"/Schar School national poll, 62 percent, about three in five, Americans say they expect to see major changes in Washington during the Trump presidency. And a majority expect living standards to increase. The poll finds that only 29 percent, however, say Trump has had a mandate to carry out the agenda he campaigned on. Nearly 6 in 10 say he should compromise with Democrats.

We`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. The most consequential decision the incoming president will have to make in the coming days is who will be secretary of state. Among the names being discussed, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, who has called for bombing Iran -- that`s right -- Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, who said today he`s in the mix for the job. And then there`s former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, reportedly the front-runner. Giuliani`s making it clear he`d like the job.


SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: Now you`re being considered for important jobs. The one I hear most often is secretary of state. Have you had any conversations with him?


HANNITY: Tell us about it.

GIULIANI: And they`re between him and me.

Since I left mayor -- this is a rough estimate -- I have been in 80 countries, 150 different foreign trips. I have been all over the world.

HANNITY: I know you`re very close friends with Israel.

GIULIANI: Honorary knighthood...

HANNITY: Yes, I heard about that.

GIULIANI: ... from Great Britain.


GIULIANI: Prime Minister Netanyahu has been my friend, personal friend, for 25 years. I never to go Israel without spending two hours with Bibi. And I feel I can call him that. And I know the world.


MATTHEWS: Well, Giuliani or Bolton might face opposition might face opposition from those who thought the Iraq War was a disaster.

Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky said he would likely oppose either of those two gentleman. And he`s joining us right now.

It`s great to have you on, Senator Rand Paul.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: Thanks, Chris.

MATTHEWS: I was one of those who thought you would win this whole thing. And I was wrong.


PAUL: You were just a little bit off, a little bit off there.

MATTHEWS: I thought the country was ready for a little freedom from big government in the right way.

One thing that Donald Trump campaigned on was that he thought the Iraq War was stupid, stupid wars. He used the phrase I didn`t like regime change. He tackled Hillary Clinton again and again for taking us into country after country, supporting war one after another, Iraq, Libya, Syria.

And now we hear he`s talking about naming John Bolton, Mr. Neocon Hawk, as his secretary of state. How does that fit with you, sit with you?

PAUL: Well, one of the reasons I endorsed Donald Trump was that I liked the fact that he saw the Iraq War as a mistake.

He thought that regime change was a mistake. And the unintended consequences of regime change were basically that the world was less safe and that our national security was more endangered by regime change. So I liked that about Donald Trump`s campaign and one of the reasons I endorsed him.

So I want a secretary of state that actually understands and has learned from the lessons of the Middle East. And I guess I worry that people like John Bolton and really, frankly, Mayor Giuliani, they have -- I would call them unrepentant advocates for the Iraq War.

They don`t seem to have learned anything from the Iraq War. They still defend it. And both have advocated a bomb first, sort of ask questions later for Iran.

And I don`t think you really want your chief diplomat to be an advocate for war. That would be better -- if we`re going to have a secretary of war, they might be good for that position. But I want someone who is reasonable. I want somebody who is a realist, that sees the world as it is.

That person may not always agree with me, but I want someone who is an even keel, who thinks about things like that. And, frankly, I think Bob Corker would be a much better choice.

MATTHEWS: Why do you think the neocons think that these wars, one after another, have been helpful to Israel?

I accept they may be pro-Israeli. Most Americans are. But we were better of in this country and Israel was certainly better off having a bunch of these sort of half-put-together countries, let`s put it like that, like the Baathist country of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, or Gadhafi.

They were kind of clownish leaders. They weren`t strategically or existentially dangerous to Israel. Israel could contend with them with its arms behind its back. It could always deal with -- now we have got the Islamic State, ISIS. We got the whole thing coming apart. And Israel is much more in danger with Iran -- with no buffer between Israel and Iran.

Why do people who say they`re for Israel and may be for Israel put Israel in such a vulnerable state like it`s in now compared to where it was? That`s my thinking.

PAUL: I think one of the things is that people fail to understand that Israel is a very pluralistic nation. They have a variety of opinions.

If you go over there, they have heated debate. They are a real democracy. And there have been many people. Dagan, who was former head of the Mossad, came out and had a much different opinion than the ruling government. So, they`re a very pluralistic country.

But I even think many in Israel would say that losing Gadhafi and having the rise of ISIS in Libya probably doesn`t make Israel safer. I don`t think it makes the United States safer. In fact, I feel more at risk for terrorists organizing in Libya now with Gadhafi gone.

It doesn`t mean I was an advocate of Gadhafi or Mubarak or any of these people. And yet you have to look at what comes after if you decide that your world view is to displace these people. I think we should always try on determine what is in our best national interests or vital interests.

And we shouldn`t think, oh, you know what, we`re going to make the world a perfect democracy and we`re going to topple Assad. What comes after Assad is a very important question and what comes after the government in Iran or what comes next if we bomb Iran.

So I think we need a more reasonable sort of person and not a bomb-thrower to be head of it. But also I support Donald Trump. I want Donald Trump to pick someone who supports Donald Trump`s vision on foreign policy, that understands that the Iraq War was a mistake and that regime change hasn`t always been to our benefit.

MATTHEWS: Are you ready to filibuster this, if these are the nominees, either one is the nominee?

PAUL: I feel pretty strongly about it.

And I will tell you something I haven`t told anybody else. I have had some conversation with some other Republican senators. And I`m not the only one with some misgivings over Giuliani and Bolton.

And I haven`t met a Democrat that is for either one of them. But I have met several Republican that`s aren`t. We have a 52-48 majority. All it would take is two or three Republicans to say that they can`t go along with Giuliani and can`t go along with Bolton.

But I think you would find there are some that I think would sail through. Frankly, I think Senator Corker would go through. I have met -- I have probably met 15 Democrats in the last two days that said they would vote for his confirmation. But they are very, very worried about Bolton, very, very worried Giuliani.

MATTHEWS: Can you defeat him in an up-or-down? Can you hold him to less than 50 votes?

PAUL: It means you would have to have two or three Republicans.

And, like I say, I`m one. And I think there are two or three other that I met with today that I would say that the best way to describe them is profound misgivings about either Bolton or Giuliani. If Giuliani is a great friend of the president-elect, maybe there could be another position in the Cabinet that weren`t putting him in a place where he is at odds with the president`s vision on foreign policy.

MATTHEWS: Thank you so much, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky. Thank you. He`s just been reelected. Thank you.

PAUL: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: "The Washington Post" today reported on how big a change a Trump presidency could mean to one of the most unstable regions in the world.

According to "The Washington Post": "The Middle East is bracing for an incoming American president who seems intent on radically reordering the regional balance of power over there. Trump will seek to bring about a significant recalibration of the existing order in the Middle East -- in favor of Russia, away from Shiite Iran and to the benefit of the Sunni Gulf states and Turkey."

Well, during the campaign, Donald Trump outlined a foreign policy radically different, as we said, from what most Democrats and Republicans have advocated. Let`s watch him.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: If Putin wants to go and knock the hell out of ISIS, I am all for it 100 percent. And I can`t understand how anybody would be against it.

I have been looking at the different players and I have been watching Assad. And I have been pretty good about this over the years, because deals are people. And I`m looking at Assad and saying maybe he is better than the kind of people that we`re supposed to be backing.

Now it is such a mess over there with everybody involved and the airspace is very limited. It is not that big of an area. And the airspace is very limited. So, now you have -- what, do we start World War III over Syria?


MATTHEWS: Joining right now is Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee and a possible pick to be the next secretary of state.

Senator, what do you think of what you have been hearing there about Trump and what he said? He was opposed to the Iraq War. He supports the idea of Russia being our partner in dealing with the Syrian situation. He opposes the nuclear deal with Iran. Are you in conformance with those various positions?

SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: Well, I mean, Syria has really two efforts under way, as I know you know well.

And one is the effort against ISIS. But there is a whole `nother conflict that is under way. And that`s the civil war that is taking place between - - quote -- "moderate Syrians," Kurds and others against the Assad regime.

So you really have two efforts under way. So, yes, I think we could in fact coordinate with Russia as it relates to ISIS. But we`re on different sides as it relates to the civil war that is taking place within the country.

And so it is much more complicated than just for me to be able to just answer in a pat way, as you well know. And the territory now has gotten very interwoven and overlapped. And even if we deal with ISIS, if we exterminate ISIS, we still have this raging civil war, which is really the piece that is creating so much devastation to the population there.

And you can`t really solve that by just dealing with the ISIS piece.

MATTHEWS: Well, how do we get out of there? Because most Americans -- and they`re generally pro-Israeli. And we know we need the oil still, despite all this transition to a post-fossil fuel era, if it ever comes.

CORKER: Right.

MATTHEWS: But definitely we would like to stay out of all this complexity. We don`t know -- Sunni vs. Shia. How do you -- do you do what Joe Biden says, just create a whole new partition, where you give the Shia Shia land and the Sunni Sunni land, the Kurds their land, separate them all, and hope, like the Brits did in South Asia with the Indians and the Pakistanis, hope that you can just keep them apart from each other?

Should that be what we`re doing? What is our goal then down the road next 10 years? What are we doing over there?

CORKER: Well, it could be in Syria. And, obviously, I think you are mentioning two different countries there.


MATTHEWS: Both of them, yes.

CORKER: Yes. Yes.

So, in Syria, there really has been a concentration of the regime only in one area, on the eastern part of the country. And it is possible that over time that is an area that`s partitioned. Obviously, the Kurds would love to see that happen.

In Iraq -- and I have met with and been in Irbil and met in various places around the world with the Kurdish leadership. And I know that, over time, Chris, they would like for that to happen. They would like for it to be partitioned.

But we have put so much effort. And I`m talking about Iraq now. We put so much effort into having a unified country. I do think that, obviously, Kurds over time are going to have greater autonomy.

But, right now, the country should stay as a whole. I think, as they are trying to root out ISIS, to try to then take on, at the same time, partitioning off, it is a very different situation in Iraq, because you actually have a military and a government that mostly is in control of the country. So, the two situations are very, very different.

MATTHEWS: Can you imagine yourself being secretary of state with President Trump as president? Can you imagine that?

CORKER: I have to say, president-elect Trump is demonstrating something that I think could make, create a good environment for a secretary of state.

And that is, people are uncertain about what our position is going to be in the world. And it would give, in fact, someone who had the environment -- he would have to have to freedom to be able to do this and the direct line to the president or his representative to ensure that you`re always in synch.

But there is a chance here to really pave a way into a new era. And so I think, for people who have shown interest in it or have been part of the mix, I think that`s the piece that is enticing.

And, as you mentioned, we have had entanglements there for many years. We have made a lot of mistakes since about 2001. And to have the opportunity to really develop a little different course of action, I think would be intriguing people who care deeply about our foreign policy.

MATTHEWS: I think it is the greatest job in the world. Morally, intellectually, politically, it`s the greatest job in the world, to be able to represent our country in the world.

Thank you very much, Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee.

CORKER: Thank you. Thank you so much.

MATTHEWS: Up next: Can the Democratic Party win back the white working- class voters who abandoned the party for Donald Trump?

Joe Biden says the party doesn`t talk to those people anymore. And now Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan, with deep roots to those voters, is considering running against Nancy Pelosi for Democratic leader of the House. And Mr. Ryan is coming here next tonight.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger. Here`s what`s happening.

Two hospitals and a central blood bank in Eastern Aleppo have been hit by a bomb, killing more than 19 people, according to the Syrian American Medical Society.

The man accused of setting off bombs in New York and New Jersey before being injured in a firefight with police has been indicted. Ahmed Rahimi faces terrorism charges and five counts of attempted murder.

And President Obama is in Germany for meetings with Chancellor Angela Merkel. Later this week, he heads to Lima, Peru, for a summit -- back to HARDBALL.


REP. SETH MOULTON (D), MASSACHUSETTS: There will be an internal conversation, but the American people sent us a message loud and clear. And we need to listen to that message and we need to respond.

We need to make sure that we are prepared for the next two years in the best possible way.

REP. RUBEN GALLEGO (D), ARIZONA: This is a message to our constituents saying, we have heard you. We have clearly missed the mark on some regards -- regards to legislation and messaging. And we are going to work on this because we want to make sure that we`re an effective caucus to put up the opposition to Donald Trump and to make sure that he is only a one-term president.

REP. BRENDAN BOYLE (D), PENNSYLVANIA: How we`re going to fight and re-win working-class people, which had been the heart and soul of this party, but, unfortunately, are now voting against Democrats.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Those are some of the younger members of the House of Representatives in the Democratic Caucus. A faction of House Democrats called on Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to delay, put off the leadership election in their caucus which had been scheduled for tomorrow.

Well, after yesterday`s meeting, Pelosi agreed to delay the elections until November 30, the end of this month, which could signal trouble for Pelosi, who which has led House Democrats since 2002 and announced today she is seeking reelection. So, she`s going for it.

One member in her ranks weighing to challenge her is Congressman Tim Ryan of Ohio, who says blue-collar voters need to vote blue again if Democrats are ever going to take back the House in Republican hands.

Congressman Ryan, a Democrat from just outside Youngstown, Ohio, joins me now.

Congressman Ryan, do people agree with you that the Democrats basically have discarded the white working class, if you will, they have not included them in their thinking or in their appeals? Or do other people say, oh, forget about them, they`re lost, we will go with minorities and women with college degrees, that sort of point of view?

REP. TIM RYAN (D), OHIO: I think most people recognize, after the drubbing on Tuesday, in what was billed really as the great blue firewall, which was Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan. And we almost lost Minnesota.

Those are where the blue-collar folks, and they turned away from the Democratic Party in droves. And I think there is a general consensus that we need to get back on that economic message that we`re here as Democrats to try to create jobs and opportunity, not retrain people for a job that doesn`t exist, not to train someone to be able to run a computer, but that can run a backhoe, that take their shower after work.

Those are the kind of people we need to keep fighting for.

MATTHEWS: What about the fact that Democrats, like the Republicans, spend all their time with their contributors, wealthy people with wealthy people`s concerns, and sometimes neurosis? All they care about are these things they care about that are not exactly bread-and-butter issues that should matter to the Democrats, right?

New York, San Francisco, they`re nice places to live, but they do have different points of view than the average person in Youngstown, Ohio. Isn`t that the problem? Money talks?

RYAN: No question about it.

And that`s why I say Donald Trump says he wants to drain the swamp. I`m all in. Let`s publicly finance campaigns and let`s make sure that campaigns are only two or three months long, like they are in Great Britain. That`s the way to go to really drain the swamp, so we can get back to talking about the real issues that matter to real people in places like Youngstown, Ohio.

MATTHEWS: Are you going to run against Nancy Pelosi for Democratic leader at the end of the month?

RYAN: I`m not sure.

We`re having a lot of conversations now. My goal was to get this election moved. I didn`t agree that it should be tomorrow. We need to talk about this. We need to have a big family fight maybe about the next direction of the Democratic Party.

Look, the Obamas are gone, the Bidens are gone, the Clintons are gone, Harry Reid is gone. There`s no one at the DNC. We have an election for minority leader here in the House of Representatives. What direction do we want the American dream to go in, Chris?

What is America 2.0? What is the Democratic Party 2.0? What is the next iteration of the Democratic Party? We better start thinking about that and align our policies and our strategies and our tactics and our operations in the direction of creating this new America.

Within this tragedy that happened on Tuesday is opportunity.


RYAN: And I think great leaders and great organizations find opportunity in tough times like this.

MATTHEWS: Yes, well, maybe we need fewer hyphenated Democrats and more Democrats, just regular Democrats. That could be the solution. Bread and butter, working wages, as Tip O`Neill believed in, it`s the heart of the party. Maybe that`s the solution.

You`ve got a tough road to hoe against Nancy Pelosi, because she`s not only a hard worker. She`s smart and tough. So, it`s going to be a tough road if you`re up against her.

RYAN: Look, Chris -- I love Nancy Pelosi. I`m not here to blame Nancy Pelosi. She can`t get blamed for what happened on Tuesday. The question is, are we going to take the House back and can we take the House back? If we do, we`ve got to go to into those states, Michigan, Wisconsin, we`ve got to go to all 50 states, red districts, red states.

The question is, who is the messenger who can go into those communities and pull those Trump voters back into the Democratic fold? That`s the question that we have to ask ourselves.

MATTHEWS: Well, I`m impressed, you got Brendan Boyle in your crowd and you got Seth Mold and you`ve got some great new guys there, thank you. And, women, I assume, too.

Thank you so much, Tim Ryan.

RYAN: Thanks, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Up next, the HARDBALL roundtable. And our top story tonight: the chaos, but that`s what it is, inside the Trump transition that calls for Trump to yank back the appointment of Steve Bannon grow louder and louder. That`s not going to stop.

Bannon is the Jonah on that ship. I think the whales are looking for him.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Here with our roundtable tonight, April Ryan, Washington bureau chief for American Urban Radio Networks and author of "At Mama`s Knee: Mothers and Race, and Black and White America." Peter Emerson, contributor for "The Huffington Post". And Anne Gearan, national political reporter for "The Washington Post."

Anne, let me start with you, because, April, you and I talk all the time in the green room and the make-up room. We have many conversations.


MATTHEWS: Every time there`s a new team, there`s usually one person, I call them Jonah, up in that ship. And the whale wants to get that Jonah. The progressives in this country are really outraged of the selection of Steve Bannon to be chief strategist to the president.

Your thinking, your feeling?

RYAN: Well, you know, I understand. I understand. Just alone the issue of Breitbart and dealing with the -- I mean, I can remember Breitbart in the beginning of the Obama administration caused the problem with Shirley Sherrod. They misinformed the public about a statement that she did not say and that was critical. And it was a race issue. That is very critical. And then --

MATTHEWS: They made her look anti-white, yes.

RYAN: Right. And then his alliances or his thoughts or feelings about certain groups in this nation that are not inclusive by any stretch of the imagination. But I`m also thinking with something that happened before this president came into office. Jeremiah Wright, they made President Obama --

MATTHEWS: Jumped on that. Yes. That was the Jonah in that case. Everybody finds --you`re shaking your they had hardest. Go for it.


MATTHEWS: Is this just a tactic of opposition to find the weak point in the line and go after it?

GEARAN: Well, I mean, I think we`re kind of making Breitbart`s point, right? I mean, they have figured out some secret sauce to getting an enormous amount of attention on divisive subjects.


GEARAN: And that is exactly why Bannon is now in his inner circle.

MATTHEWS: He`s got a rap sheet.

GEARAN: Look, he is a person who even for the, I`m sure, the overwhelming majority of Trump voters who do not ascribe to all the things that have been published in Breitbart News. Still, seeing Steve Bannon, the ultimate outsider, the ultimate "blow it up" person, having a huge role, is what they want. That they`re saying they won. Yes.


PETER EMERSON, THE HUFFINGTON POST: -- doesn`t make any difference. Trump supporters want Bannon where he is. Trump wants him in the White House. Not out of the White House.

At the end of the day, it looks like it`s a share power agreement anyway.

MATTHEWS: Between him and Reince Priebus.


EMERSON: And more importantly, Jared Kushner, who`s the de facto chief of staff.

RYAN: I understand and I respect what you say. He retooled Donald Trump and helped him become who he is today, president-elect, number 45.

But at the same time, we`ve seen this before. Hate. We`ve seen the culmination of what hate looks like. Not just in this country but globally. And we still have yet to understand when Donald Trump says make America great again, what decade? What century is he talking about?

And I know you`re laughing but as an African, as a woman and as an African- American --

MATHEWS: She`s actually trying to be nice to you.


RYAN: I like her. Okay, okay.

MATTHEWS: That`s called a charming approval.

RYAN: I understand. But as an African-American, as a woman, I mean, I understand my history. There are immigrant nations who are scared as well.

And there are people -- immigrants who are here who are scared, that their parents are going to be deported. There`s a lot of stuff to figure out. And that hate leads to a lot of bad things.

EMERSON: And I don`t disagree at all.

RYAN: Yes.

EMERSON: It`s completely true.

The reality, though, is Bannon is not going to be operating just de facto. There will be at lot of checks. And the loyalty is going to be the primary reason. The more the liberals push against him, the more --

RYAN: If you`re trying to unify a nation, do you have next to you someone who is anti-who is other?

MATTHEWS: Is that the way Trump sees him? Excuse me, is that the way Trump sees him? Or is Trump see him --

RYAN: As loyal. He got him --

MATTHEWS: I don`t want to gussy this guy up, to use an old term. But if you`re Lincoln, which this guy is not, Trump is not, let`s posit that. You have a General Grant. A lot of casualties on both sides, lots of bloody wars that Grant won. But he did win the war.

Maybe Trump, I`m trying to be positive here, Trump sees him as the general. That`s what Kellyanne Conway calls him, this guy Bannon. They rest of us see him as a guy who`s blogging out there with this outrageous terrible hateful stuff. They see him as a guy that walked in and won the war.

GEARAN: And (INAUDIBLE) trump up the Hill absolutely. And certainly we keep hearing that loyalty and a small circle are hugely important. I think, I do think it is interesting to note that Breitbart, the original Breitbart and Bannon were not very, very close to Trump a long time ago but they`ve been brought in and yes.

RYAN: He is his king maker and his loyalty.

MATTHEWS: This is difficult stuff for Trump to deal with, because I agree, the more you pull, the more he holds. But I`ll tell you, sometimes you`ve got to know when to fold. This is not a good sign about his administration, that guy.

The roundtable is sticking with us.

And up next, these three will tell me something I don`t know. This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Well, tonight, Hillary Clinton will make her first public appearance since last week`s election. Wow. Secretary Clinton will be honored in Washington by the Children`s Defense Fund. That event is set to twin at the top of the hour.

And we`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: We`re back with the HARDBALL roundtable.

April`s going to tell me something I don`t know.

Please do, dear.

RYAN: Trump`s obsession with the media is not going away. Chris, that Thursday when he met with President Obama in the Oval Office while the press was moving out and Carol Lee can attest to this from "The Wall Street Journal," while they were moving out, he caught my eye. Donald Trump caught my eye.

Yes, and he said, "Hi." I said, "Hi." He said -- pointed at me, "You`re good." I was like, "Thank you." I said, Mr. President please make sure that he gives me an interview." And Donald Trump just nodded and the president said, "She`s one of the best we have." So, he`s watching --

MATTHEWS: Are you that easy?



RYAN: No! I want an interview with Donald Trump.

MATTHEWS: We all do.


RYAN: You got one.

EMERSON: President Trump is likely to go to Flint, Michigan, the day after he`s sworn in. His advisers feel it would not only be very symbolic about rebuilding America`s infrastructure, but he might be able to actually solve Flint`s water crisis when no one else has.

MATTHEWS: That`s a good move.

RYAN: Yes.

GEARAN: Sticking with the travel theme, there is pressure building for Trump`s first foreign trip to be to Israel or to include Israel. The Netanyahu government was surprised by the outcome but delighted because they absolutely loathe Hillary Clinton and are working through Jared Kushner to try to make that happen.

MATTHEWS: How`s David MacNaughton, the Canadian ambassador, is going to like this? It`s always Canada first.


MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you, April Ryan, Anne Gearan and Peter Emerson.

When we return, let me finish with Trump watch. It`s getting weird.

We`re watching HARDBALL -- you are -- the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Trump watch, November 16, 2016.

So what are we learning about this president-elect high up there in Trump Tower? One, like a Roman emperor, he loves the gladiatorial spectacle, he loves watching people fight it out for the emperor`s thumbs up, signaling their victory.

We`ve seen him in this role before, of course, ever watch "The Apprentice". What`s the fun in that show? It`s watching the face of the contestant as Trump tells him or her they failed to make the grade, "You`re fired".

It`s the same deal right now up there in Trump Towers, as he listens to the pleas and pitches of those hoping to get his OK for a cabinet post. Does he go for the guy who is campaigning right out there or for the candidate who could be getting people to dump on the other guy who is out there campaigning? Or does he fire both of the candidates by naming someone else altogether different?

What else? What`s this force, this death squad within Trump Tower that`s up there throwing people out the window? That`s telling anyone connected with Governor Chris Christie, "You`re dead". That`s telling the anti-Trump guy not to bother pushing for people who -- for jobs who were against Trump up until last Tuesday night. Is this death squad going to go into the White House with Trump? Is this mysterious murderous force going to be prowling the halls of the West Wing?

This much we can figure -- up there on a high floor in Trump Tower, Donald Trump sits in the eye of the hurricane. He says he`s the only one who knows who is on the final list for the top jobs. In other words, not even Mike Pence knows. In other words, Trump not only enjoys the gladiatorial spectacle around him and below him, he also knows who is leading that death squad. You think it might be him?

That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.