Hardball With Chris Matthews, Transcript 11/30/2016

Guests: Jason Miller, Heidi Przybyla, John Feehery, Tim Ryan, April Ryan, Ginger Gibson, Bradley Whitford

Show: HARDBALL Date: November 30, 2016 Guest: Jason Miller, Heidi Przybyla, John Feehery, Tim Ryan, April Ryan, Ginger Gibson, Bradley Whitford

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Stooping to conquer.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

Well, the Trump transition effort rolls on, and with it over the last 24 hours comes a series of new announcements from the president-elect about his cabinet, his agenda, and not least of all, his sprawling business empire. Last night, Mitt Romney, who is under consideration for secretary of state, met with Trump and Reince Priebus over dinner -- there it is -- eating frog legs and scallops at a restaurant in one of Trump`s hotels.

In his remarks afterwards, the former Trump critic struck a notably deferential tone. Here`s Romney.


MITT ROMNEY (R-MA), FMR. GOV., FMR. PRES. CANDIDATE: It`s not easy winning. I know that myself. He did something I tried to do and was unsuccessful in accomplishing. He won the general election.


MATTHEWS: Well, and not too long ago, he, Romney, was singing a very different tune. Here`s Romney early in the year, in March, in fact.


ROMNEY: Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud. His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University.


MATTHEWS: Well, last night, the Trump transition team also announced that the president-elect has selected his campaign finance director and former Goldman Sachs banker Steven Mnuchin to serve as treasury secretary. There he is.

In advance of his thank you tour, by the way, planned for tomorrow, Trump said on Twitter that he had reached a great deal with Carrier Corporation to keep roughly 1,000 jobs in the state of Indiana. Well, "Fortune" has -- "Fortune" magazine`s reporting that in exchange, the company, Carrier will get roughly $700,000 a year for a period of years in state tax incentives.

Earlier this morning, the president-elect also said that he would leave his business amid mounting pressure to separate the interests of the Trump Organization from that of the Trump administration. But in a series of tweets this morning, Trump wouldn`t say how he`d do it and said he wouldn`t make the official announcement for another two weeks, until December 15th, I`m told.

I`m joined right now by Jason Miller, Trump transition communication director. Jason, you`re a political guy, and I respect that because I used to be one. I know all about it, and one thing you have to judge is people`s word. Four years ago, when Mr. Trump was available with all his money, what`s his name, Mitt Romney, was available to curtsy to him, genuflect, in fact, and kiss his butt, saying, You`re a great guy. And we`ll show the tape.

And then when the campaign was out there and Trump was fighting for his life and in big trouble, Mitt Romney dumped all over him, really treated him like nothing and said he was almost like a disease. And now he`s back kissing up again to him.

And there`s a -- I`ve -- you`ve worked in Washington. There are a lot of people around this town who kiss up and kick down. It`s not a very nice character trait. Why would Donald Trump trust Donald -- Trump trust Mitt Romney now that he has something to give him, rather when he didn`t have something to give him? Why now? Why trust him now when he`s done this 360?

JASON MILLER, TRUMP TRANSITION COMMUNICATIONS DIR.: Well, Chris, thank you very much for having me on. And I think one of the things this really goes to is the fact that Mr. Trump is trying to put together almost a team of rivals, or looking together (ph) to pull in a number of different viewpoints and ideas as he starts to form this administration.

And as the president-elect, I think one of the things where he`s really impressed people is he`s reaching out to folks who haven`t just been with him, but also folks who`ve been against him, saying, Who are the best and the brightest? It`s a technique that the president-elect used -- has used as a successful businessman over the years.

And look, Governor Romney is one of four finalists that the president-elect is considering for the secretary of state position. And he`s ultimately going to go to whoever he thinks is the best. But this really shows, whether it`s Governor Nikki Haley from South Carolina...

MATTHEWS: No, you`re changing the subject. You`re changing the subject. Does he trust Mitt Romney to be Mitt Romney? And which Mitt Romney, the one that dumps on him when he`s down or the one who kisses him when he`s up? You can always be nice to a guy who`s just been elected president. But look what he was to him when he looked like he was losing. He dumped all over him.

Why does Mr. Trump believe he`s looking at the real Mitt Romney now? That`s all I`m asking. Why does he trust this guy who`s shown up at the audition and is kissing him up? He`s all dressed up. He looks nice. He`s behaved nice. He`s obviously memorized everything, the right things to say. It`s going to be like, you know, what do you call it, Groundhog Day, saying all the right things to win the love of Donald Trump.

Doesn`t he know he just wants the job, and that`s how he`s behaving this way?

MILLER: Well, look, in politics, and especially in campaigns, you have -- there`s always a little bit of political theater that goes into it. And in all fairness, the president-elect was critical of Governor Romney at various points over the past year, as well.


MILLER: But they`ve now had two closed-door meetings. And again, as I said a moment ago, Chris, in addition to Governor Romney, there are several other folks who are under consideration. So we don`t know who yet...


MILLER: ... the president-elect is ultimately going to choose. But these closed-door meetings, they`ve been getting the chance to actually know each other, really critical, and ultimately, we`ll have confidence that the president-elect...


MILLER: ... is going to pick right person here.

MATTHEWS: You know what I think people voted for Trump? Because he acted, no matter what he said, no matter how outrageous and how much people like me criticized it, he clearly wasn`t one of them. He wasn`t some two-faced politician, you know? And why he`s bringing another two-faced politician in like this just looks to me like he`s bringing ball with the team he beat.

Anyway, well, Steve Mnuchin`s a former Goldman Sachs banker, but during his campaign, Donald Trump ran an ad against Hillary Clinton that portrayed Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein as part of a global power structure. Let`s watch.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: It`s a global power structure that is responsible for the economic decisions that have robbed our working class, stripped our country of its wealth, and put that money into the pockets of a handful of large corporations and political entities.


MATTHEWS: Is Steve Mnuchin -- does he fit the bill of somebody who`s anti- Wall Street? He`s part of it.

MILLER: He is absolutely someone who`s going to come in and take Mr. Trump`s message of economic populism and go and turn that into how we`re going to reform tax code.

One of the things that folks might not realize, Chris, is that Steve Mnuchin was the one who largely wrote President-elect Trump`s tax plan.


MILLER: He came up with the plan of how we`re going to go and bring rates down for everybody. And look, sometimes you got to go and get the folks who know how this system works, who knows how -- know how to go and turn it around.

And in addition to Steve Mnuchin, we also have Wilbur Ross, a recommendation for commerce secretary. And he`s going to do the same thing on these trade deals to make sure we have trade deals that actually work for the American worker and...

MATTHEWS: But this isn`t what Trump ran on. We can run the ads again. He said he didn`t want any strings attached. This is the guy that raised him all his money, Mnuchin. Of course he owes him. Of course he`s now giving him a reward. It`s called -- it`s called spoils, the spoils of victory. But it`s not what Trump ran on to pick some guy, some Wall Street guy who`s made a lot of money on Wall Street as he runs his ads against Wall Street paid for by the money Mnuchin raised for him!


MATTHEWS: Don`t you get the absurdity of this thing?

MILLER: Chris, I got to push back a little bit here.

MATTHEWS: Go ahead.

MILLER: Steve Mnuchin, the gentleman who largely wrote the president- elect`s tax plan, when we talk about this message of economic populism, how we go and get the money away from the Wall Street power centers and get it back to people -- we talk about Wilbur Ross, who largely crafted the president-elect`s trade policies of how we`re going to and make sure we`re putting together deals that work for American workers.

These are the president-elect`s viewpoints. That`s what they`re going to be executing and doing it, and the thing is, these guys have been winners wherever they`ve gone. And so they`re the ones who`ve actually have gone out there and created jobs.

You talk about -- Steve Mnuchin has been very successful as a financier, as a banker, even as a Hollywood movie producer and funder. You talk about Wilbur Ross, who`s made more good deals than almost anybody out there. (INAUDIBLE) the president-elect this morning talked about "The Art of the Deal" and the fact that Wilbur Ross is really the embodiment of that because we`re going to go and make some really good deals for American workers.


MILLER: And the fact that someone like Wilbur Ross, who is the only steel company executive...

MATTHEWS: OK, I know you have to say this. But you`re basically defending the very stuff that Trump ran against.


MILLER: These guys know how to get it done!

MATTHEWS: ... whether it was Bob Rubin under Clinton, Bob Rubin, Wall Street guy -- Wall Street guy, Goldman Sachs guy, or may friend Jack Lew, Goldman Sachs guy under President Obama. It`s just another guy from Wall Street. And you guys said you`re going to run against that. You advertised in the campaign to regular people in Youngstown, Ohio, and places like that you we`re going to be part of that, and here you are dressing up your administration with the same kinds of guys, insiders and Wall Street.

MILLER: Chris, these the exact guys who wrote the policies...


MILLER: ... that the president-elect campaigned on.

MATTHEWS: You said that. Well, OK, in a series of tweets, by the way, Mr. Trump said he and his children will hold a press conference to explain how he will remove himself from his business empire.

Quote, "I will be holding a major news conference in New York City with my children on December 15th to discuss the fact that I`ll be leaving my great business in total in order to fully focus on running the country in order to make America great again. While I am not mandated to do this under the law, I feel it is visually important as president to in no way have a conflict of interest with my various businesses. Hence, legal documents are being crafted which take me completely out of the business operations. The presidency is a far more important task."

The U.S. office, by the way, of government ethics, which is responsible for preventing (ph) conflicts of interest in the executive branch, tweeted to Trump, "As we discussed with your counsel, divestiture is the way to resolve these conflicts.

Anyway, having a press conference, a big dog and pony show with his children -- does that suggest to you that -- Jason, that the children will be the ones running the company? Why put them on the stage with him if they don`t have some role in this divestiture, this shift of power -- to whom? I assume to the kids.

MILLER: Well, and the president-elect has made very clear that his sole focus will be as president of the United States, and he`ll be moving the business efforts along to the children. And obviously, that takes a little bit of time. That doesn`t happen overnight, especially -- with someone...

MATTHEWS: Yes, so who`s going to own this company?

MILLER: Well, and that`s what they`re working through right now, and the exact structure of the way it`s going to go. And that`s why they`re going to do a press conference to go and lay that out. And I think, Chris, you`d respect, and I think a lot of folks at home watching, who realize that when you have someone who is a multi-billionaire...

MATTHEWS: I understand all this.

MILLER: ... how you`re going to transfer it, whether you go -- however they move that away from being under his control and get that out...

MATTHEWS: Again -- I`m sorry to interrupt you, but you give long answers. But the fact is he did promise a blind trust, and I don`t see how it can be a blind trust when he`s standing there on the stage with his kids he`s turning over the running of the company to. They`re his kids!

MILLER: But Chris, you got to give him...

MATTHEWS: And he still owns the company!

MILLER: Chris, you have to give him until the press conference to go and put it together.

MATTHEWS: OK, well, I`ll remember...

MILLER: I think it`s a perfectly reasonable amount of time. I mean, we`re talking about, again, someone who`s been one of the most successful businessmen...


MILLER: ... in our nation`s history, and it takes a little time to do that.

MATTHEWS: Yes, well, time doesn`t pass that quickly (INAUDIBLE) I don`t like (ph) to remember what people promise in campaigns. That`s what I`m holding you to. And you have a tough job, Jason. Thank you for coming on. It`s a tough job.

MILLER: All right. Thanks, Chris. I appreciate it.

MATTHEWS: Thank you. I`m joined right now by Heidi Przybyla, senior political reporter at "USA Today," as well as Catherine Rampell, who`s opinion columnist in "The Washington Post." Ladies, thank you for joining me and watching (INAUDIBLE)

So you saw what I was running through, looking for inconsistencies. Let`s start with -- with Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney trashed this guy as something below life. He didn`t say, I disagree with him on issues. He said, This is a disease. And as following (ph) what he did back in 2012, when he was needing Trump`s help and asked for it then -- so this is a 360. I`ll kiss him when I need him. I`ll dump him when I don`t. I`ll kiss him again. It just seems like a -- a stage show, this whole thing.

HEIDI PRZYBYLA, "USA TODAY": What he`s doing, to me, Chris, is that he took maybe the first initial appointments that he made with Sessions, rewarded the loyalists. And now, if you look at the line that runs through all of these appointments, it`s rich guys. It`s basically -- the people who he really respects are the millionaires and the billionaires, the card- carrying members of the global elite...


PRZYBYLA: And Mitt Romney -- I covered Mitt Romney...


PRZYBYLA: One of the biggest downfalls that he faced both in his Senate campaign and his presidential bids was his record as a private equity manager. Ted Kennedys run (ph) a very successful ad against him in his Senate bid that really hurt Mitt Romney about this -- this closing of a paper -- paper mill plant. And to see now -- it`s not just, like, the personal chemistry between these two, but just, like, the more global picture of how he`s stacking up his cabinet is basically taking that rhetoric from the campaign trail and turning it on its head.

MATTHEWS: They picked -- the people that voted for him in Luzerne County, from Wilkes-Barre and places like that, and Erie Pennsylvania -- they voted for him because they thought he was different than the rest of the people he hangs out with. Now he`s bringing the people he hangs out with to come with him. Isn`t that going to concern the voters?

RAMPELL: Of course he is. Of course he is. And you know, the -- as Jason Miller just said, the piece of evidence that is supposed to assuage concerns of, you know, the white working class voters who supported Trump is that, Oh, well, look at his policies. Look at the policies that`s Steve Mnuchin has put forward in terms of tax plans.

Those are no better! Those primarily help the wealthy. You know, he went on CNBC this morning saying that they`re not going to help the wealthy on that (ph), but of course they are! I mean, you can -- you can just do the math. So...

MATTHEWS: OK, let`s go to this third point, this Carrier thing. He`s getting a lot of good ink. A lot of it he`s creating, Trump, for saving that company that the -- air-conditioning company from going -- at least half of it going to Mexico. And now it turns out the reason they`re sticking around, at least half the company is, tremendous tax concessions from the state.

PRZYBYLA: Trump needed...

MATTHEWS: A lot of money (INAUDIBLE)

PRZYBYLA: Trump wanted some kind of a symbolic deliverable. He`s having a tough transition, right? Carrier got beat up a lot by both him and Hillary Clinton during the campaign trail. But there`s no -- you`re right, there is no structural or policy or even moral reason why the company did this...

RAMPELL: Well, I mean...

PRZYBYLA: ... with Trump appealing to them. It was because the state government -- that is, by the way, still run by his running mate -- gave them an incentive...


PRZYBYLA: ... whatever you want to call it until they can get some kind of corporate tax...

RAMPELL: Right. I mean, this is an incentive to every other, you know -- every other semi-competent CEO to shake down government every time they that threaten, whether they`re bluffing or otherwise, to leave the country.

It`s -- as one of my colleagues put it, it`s like turning all of these various CEOs into NFL team managers, you know? Say, Oh, we`re going to build unless you build us a great stadium. We`re going to leave unless you, you know, kick (ph) us hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer money.

MATTHEWS: And as long as they give him the photo op, he won`t mind.

RAMPELL: Apparently not.

MATTHEWS: Oh! We got to keep seeing through this stuff. Thank you, Heidi Przybyla, and thank you, Catherine Rampell.

Coming up -- you saw Mitt Romney call Donald Trump a phony and a fraud this past March. Well, he said a lot worse about Trump back then. But fast forward to today and Romney has changed his you tune completely as he vies to be Trump`s secretary of state. He will do anything for this job.

Plus, Democrats are moving forward with the same team in the diver`s seat. Nancy Pelosi was reelected leader today, but he challenger, Tim Ryan, says the party is still ignoring crucial voices, and he`s with us tonight.

And the HARDBALL roundtable`s here to talk about what`s going on inside Trump Tower and the so-called victory tour Trump plans to kick off tomorrow.

Finally, the Emmy-Award-winning actor Bradley Whitford (ph) will be here to talk about the global challenge of climate change and what can be done to combat it in the era of Donald Trump.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Well, here`s a big name that might be in the mix for a job in the Trump administration, Sarah Palin. NBC News is reporting that she`s been in touch with Trump transition officials and is interested in a job. Palin has a connection in Trump`s inner circle. Back in 23011, Steve Bannon directed a film about her and her rise from small town mayor to governor of Alaska. One landing spot for Palin could be at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

And we`ll be right back.


OMAROSA MANIGAULT, FORMER "APPRENTICE" CONTESTANT: Every critic, every detractor will have to bow down to President Trump. It`s everyone who`s ever doubted Donald, whoever disagreed, whoever challenged him. It is the ultimate revenge, to become the most powerful man in the universe.


MATTHEWS: That`s pretty dramatic. Welcome back to HARDBALL. That was Donald Trump supporter Omarosa Manigualt before the election suggested Donald Trump might enjoy getting revenge on some of his harshest critics.

Among Republicans, there was no harsher critic than Mitt Romney. The 2012 presidential nominee called Trump a "dangerous phony." He sang a very different tune after dinner with Trump last night. In fact, comparing Trump -- or comparing Romney in March to Romney last night is a case of political whiplash. Watch this.


MITT ROMNEY (R-MA), FMR. GOV., FMR. PRES. CANDIDATE: Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud. His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University.

I had a wonderful evening with President-elect Trump.

If we Republicans choose Donald Trump as our nominee, the prospects for a safe and prosperous future are greatly diminished.

I happen to think that America`s best days are ahead of us. I think you`re going to see America continuing to lead to world in this century.

He`s not of the temperament of the kind of stable, thoughtful person we need as leader. His imagination must not be married to real power!

These discussions I`ve had with him have been enlightening and interesting and engaging. I`ve enjoyed them very, very much.

His domestic policies would lead to recession. His foreign policies would make America and the world less safe.

The last few weeks, he`s been carrying out a transition effort, and I have to tell you I`ve been impressed by what I have seen in the transition effort.

This is the very brand of anger that has led other nations into the abyss.

All of those things combined have given me increasing hope that president- elect Trump is the very man who can lead us to that better future.


MATTHEWS: This is why people don`t trust politicians.

I`m joined right now by Republican strategist John Feehery and author Ron Reagan, an MSNBC political analyst.

Ron, I have got to go to you.

I think, if there is any justification for Trump winning -- and I know you don`t think there is any or much -- it was that he wasn`t one of them. He wasn`t one of these politicians that will say anything to get job they want next, not even thinking ahead. I want that job, secretary of state, right now. I will say anything to get it. I will grovel. I will kiss this guy. I will do anything to get this job.

Your thoughts.

RON REAGAN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, listen, I think back to my father and George H.W. Bush.

He asked George H.W. Bush to be his vice president, even though had termed his economic policies voodoo economics. But there is a big difference between taking umbrage at somebody`s policy prescriptions and the sort of critique that Romney engaged in prior to the election.

He wasn`t attacking Trump`s policies as such, whatever those might be, actually. He was attacking the man. He was attacking his character. He said he`s a fraud. He said he`s a phony.

And a 70-year-old man doesn`t just stop being a phony after a few months.


REAGAN: So the question is, why is Mitt Romney doing this? Is he doing it because he wants another feather in his...


MATTHEWS: I think he wants to be secretary of state.

REAGAN: I think he wants to be secretary of state.

Do you think there could be a patriotic element in this? I`m giving him the benefit of the doubt here, that people have said to him, look, somebody -- a real adult has got to be part of this administration, or we`re doomed. So, you`re it.

I don`t know. I don`t know.

MATTHEWS: They could give him a lesser position to test his patriotism.

Anyway, what do you think, John Feehery.

REAGAN: I suppose.


MATTHEWS: Is this the same old political donkey act or whatever? What is this?

FEEHERY: Well, on Romney`s part, if Romney still believes that he is dangerous, then it makes sense to serve in this administration to...


MATTHEWS: To carry out his orders?

FEEHERY: Well, not only carry out orders, but to be part of that team of rivals that Jason talked about earlier.

And, listen, from Trump`s perspective, he wants someone who has that wing of the party covered. And I don`t think it`s necessarily a bad idea. I mean, Obama and Hillary...

MATTHEWS: Which Trump -- which Romney does he believe, the one that trashed him when he was down or the one that kisses him when he is up? I would believe the one that dumped on you when you`re down.

FEEHERY: I don`t think it matters.

MATTHEWS: It doesn`t matter?

FEEHERY: I don`t think it matters.

I think what Trump is trying to do is assemble a Cabinet that can bring separate views, but also bring the party back together. And I don`t think that`s a bad idea.

MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s watch the 360, by the way, in all fairness there to Anderson Cooper, 360, because back in 2012, Mitt Romney had nothing but praise for Trump when he was seeking his endorsement.

Let`s watch that.


TRUMP: Being in Donald Trump`s magnificent hotel and having his endorsement is a delight. I`m so honor and pleased to have his endorsement. And, of course, I`m looking for the endorsement of the people of Nevada.


MATTHEWS: So, that was the first run through the turnstile, Ron. And then went back and trashed him all over again.

It is not like he`s been sort of saved, if you will, politically because he was down on him, now he is up on him. He was up on him, down on him. He`s up on him.

Who is to think that two years into this administration, he won`t find something objectionable about the new jefe?

REAGAN: Well, indeed.

And imagine the risk for Romney or anybody, really, being Donald Trump`s secretary of state. Imagine Mitt Romney or anybody in a very delicate negotiation, let`s say, with China or Russia or Iran or something like that. And it has now gotten to that -- just that really tough point where things are right on the edge, but they think they are going to pull off the negotiation.

And, all of a sudden, Donald Trump, our prayer aisle president, wakes up at 3:00 in the morning in the White House, tunes into FOX News. And the next thing you know, he is on Twitter blowing the whole thing up by saying something unfortunate about the country we`re negotiating with.

Do you really want to be working for a man like that? I don`t know. It seems risky to me.

MATTHEWS: Why do you want to work for a guy that says you walk like a penguin?


MATTHEWS: Anyway, he did say that. And I think he had something there.

Anyway, meanwhile, speaking of political whiplash, Donald Trump`s new treasury secretary will be Steven Mnuchin. He is a former Goldman Sachs partner and hedge fund manager. Politico reports that Trump is also considering Goldman Sachs president Gary Cohn for a position, possibly director of the Office of Management and Budget.

And during the campaign, by the way, Trump railed against Goldman Sachs. Particularly, he mocked both Hillary Clinton and Ted Cruz for both being controlled by that bank. Let`s watch him then.


TRUMP: Cruz borrowed money from Goldman Sachs and Citibank, a million dollars, at a rate that you would be proud to have, folks. Nobody in this room would be able to get that low rate.

I know the guys at Goldman Sachs. They have, total, total, total control over him, just like they total control over Hillary Clinton. He talks about he is going to be Robin Hood. He`s protecting. Then it finds out that, on his personal disclosure form, he didn`t disclose that he is borrowing a lot of money from Goldman Sachs.

Well, he obviously didn`t want the voters to know that he is totally controlled lock, stock and barrel by Citibank and by Goldman Sachs.


MATTHEWS: Well, John, I think people who voted for him said he happens to be a rich guy with a beautiful wife and apartment and all that gold up there he sort of lives with, but he is different than the rest of those guys.

And now he comes out and says, I`m bringing the rest of the guys with me.

FEEHERY: Well, listen, Goldman Sachs didn`t love Donald Trump, except for Mnuchin. Most of the Goldman Sachs people supported Hillary in many other ways, just with campaign contributions alone. They gave her hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The fact is, is that Trump is now going to control Goldman Sachs. He is the boss. And he has this relationship. And the other thing about Goldman Sachs is they have actually good people at Goldman Sachs.

You say what you will.

MATTHEWS: Yes. He didn`t run for Goldman Sachs. He ran against it.

FEEHERY: I know he ran...


MATTHEWS: And now he`s using it.

FEEHERY: Now he`s hiring some Goldman Sachs people to do what he wants to do. He wants to make America great again.

MATTHEWS: They`re making them treasury secretary. He is giving them the game.

FEEHERY: Well, Mnuchin is a guy who he has a relationship with. He`s a guy that I think will do a good job.


MATTHEWS: If he said any of this stuff -- let me give Ron the last word here.

Imagine if he had said all this before he got elected. Do you think it would have gone over well with the people out there?

Do you think the people that busted their butt to go out there and vote against their history of voting for Democrats in places like Luzerne County and Wilkes-Barre and Erie, and he they said, I`m going to try this guy because he seems different -- then he says, oh, by the way, I`m going to make Mitt Romney, Mr. Republican, going to make him secretary of state. I`m going to make Steve Mnuchin of Wall Street the guy who is going to keep an eye on Wall Street.

I don`t think the voters who ended up voting for him would have voted for him. That`s what I think. And I think it`s relevant to bring that up right now.

REAGAN: No, I think you`re absolutely right.

And I will add one more thing to that. And it`s something we should remember whenever we talk about Donald Trump and what he is doing policy- wise or otherwise. And that is that Donald Trump rarely means what he says.

What comes out of Donald Trump`s mouth is essentially meaningless. It was meaningless apparently during campaign. And, who knows, it is probably meaningless now.

So, don`t speak about Donald Trump as if we`re talking about a normal politician who has got kind of an ideology and a theory of governance and things like that. He has none of those things. He has never thought of any of this before. He didn`t think he was going to be elected president.

And now we`re all saddled with a guy who is thoroughly incompetent and over his head.

MATTHEWS: Well, we are saddled with him.

REAGAN: That`s a happy thought.

MATTHEWS: You got that part right.

Anyway, Ron Reagan, thank you. John Feehery disagrees.

Up next: House Democrats put Nancy Pelosi back in the top job today, but her challenger, Tim Ryan of Youngstown, had a surprisingly strong showing, about a third of the caucus, which is really unknown to happen usually. And it did with him.

So, Ryan is coming up here next to talk about his moral victory, you might say. But he did lose. Pelosi did win. She is a smart politician.

Anyway, this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


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

The North Carolina police officer who fatally shot Keith Lamont Scott in September will not face charges. Prosecutors say the officer acted lawfully. Scott was armed with a gun and failed to obey commands to drop the weapon at the time of the shooting.

Meanwhile, a jury has begun deliberating the case of Michael Slager, the former North Charleston police officer who fatally shot Walter Scott in April of 2015. Scott was unarmed when he was shot while fleeing a traffic stop.

And the death toll has risen to seven in the wildfires raging in the area of Tennessee`s Great Smoky Mountains National Park; 53 people have been treated for injuries -- back to HARDBALL.

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

It was billed as a day of reckoning for Nancy Pelosi, as the progressive congresswoman from California retained her iron grip on the top leadership spot within the House Democratic Caucus, beating back a strong challenge by Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan.

Let`s watch.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: I have a special spring in my step today, because this opportunity is a special one to lead the House Democrats, bring everyone together as we go forward.


MATTHEWS: Well, Congressman Ryan mounted a very strong, much stronger- than-expected challenge, getting 63 votes, a third of the caucus.

While maintaining her seat as the minority leader, Pelosi has faced strong criticism that she represents the face of a Democratic Party that has -- quote -- "failed to offer a compelling broad-based economic message to the working-class voters in the Midwest and South."

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

REP. TIM RYAN (D), OHIO: Hi, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Congressman, let`s talk about what you know and we don`t know. And give me a sense. I know there`s a seal of confession about who voted for who.


MATTHEWS: Give me a sense of who voted for you, the kind of members who wanted you to win.

RYAN: I think, if we had to really guess -- again, you don`t always know - - but I would say the people who really are in close races, I think the people who are not in really safe Democratic seats, I think, if you look at the numbers, or people that were aware of that being a problem and we needed to correct our message in order the win the House back.

And I think, at the end of the day, it was those people who ended up supporting me. And it was to the tune of 63. But I`ll tell you, there were a lot more. You know how these things go, Chris, but there were a lot more people who agreed with what I said, but, for one reason or another, could not support me and vote for me.

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s ask about how you can get your message across other ways. I think it was a dramatic challenge. You didn`t win, but I clearly think there is a message behind your challenge; 63 votes is a lot of votes against the leadership, a lot. I have never heard of anything like this before on the Democratic side.

Let me ask you about the -- what you can do now. You want to work for jobs. Now, James Carville was on the show election night. And when everybody else was sort of going crazy, they couldn`t think of what was going wrong with the Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, he said no economic message. There was no message to the working men and women out there about what the Democrats could do for them.

You`re shaking your head.

RYAN: Yes.

MATTHEWS: I still think -- is that what we -- the Democrats need?

RYAN: There`s no doubt about it.

We have tried to slice this electorate up, Chris, and who is black, who is white, who is brown, who is gay, who is straight, who is a man, who is a woman, and, as I said, there`s no juice in that kind of campaign.

Campaigns are magical because they bring people together and they have this common theme. And what unites all of those different demographics is the economic message. If you`re gay or if you`re black or if you`re brown, you want a good-paying job.

And sometimes we focus too much on the minimum wage, which we`re all for an increase in, instead of the middle-class wage that has been stagnant for 30 years, or the fact that people are worried in places like Youngstown or Gary, Indiana, about their pension.

Like, we didn`t -- the word pension hasn`t even come out of any Democrats` mouth at the national level for so long. But if you go to Youngstown, and you go on the west side of town, and you go inside and you have a glass of wine with somebody there, they are going to talk to you about their pension and how it is tough on make ends meet.

MATTHEWS: You know why this is happening. I don`t want to be too sarcastic, but you know why it is.

Why do you think Mitt Romney on the Republican side talked about the 47 percent? Why did President Obama up in Nob Hill in San Francisco, where the money is, talk about the people who cling to their guns and their religion?

It`s because you`re always talking to fund-raisers. Rich people don`t care about pensions.

RYAN: Right.

MATTHEWS: Rich people may care about abortion rights or things like that or gay rights. They don`t get down into the economic lives of the people who live paycheck to paycheck.

As long as your colleagues spend all their time kissing up to fund-raising types, they are not going to know what the American people`s lives are like. Just -- what do you think?

RYAN: Bingo.

I mean, you just hit the nail on the head, of course. That`s it. We`re social animals. We become the social culture -- and culture that we are immersed in the most of the time. That`s just how we develop as a species.

And so, if we`re spending all of our time in those quarters, we are going to begin to develop and reflect the values, or whatever, the opinions and all of that of those people that you`re hanging around all the time.


RYAN: And, look, those people understand what we`re talking about.

I have gotten a lot of calls from a lot of big donors over the course of the last two weeks, Chris, that were like, go for it. You`re doing great. This is exactly what we need.

So, you can still maintain a level of pragmatism, even though you may drink, you know, not dago red wine in Youngstown, but some kinds of fancy Napa Valley wine. You can still understand what`s going on in those people`s lives.

MATTHEWS: Yes, I wouldn`t the phrase dago red too often.

Anyway, thank you, Congressman Tim Ryan. But I know what you mean. It`s the cheap stuff.

Thanks so much.

RYAN: That`s what we call it in Youngstown, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Thank you much. You talk the people`s talk. Thanks so much.

Up next, the HARDBALL roundtable will be here, as the Trump transition pushes forward, as the president-elect tries to quiet critics concerned about his business ties.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

With the transition in full swing, Donald Trump has come out with a flurry of statements about his forthcoming administration. Chief among them was his announcement that he will hold a press conference with his family in two weeks on December 15th to say exactly how he`ll separate himself from his multi-billion dollar global business. It comes after Trump and his family repeatedly said on the campaign trail that the company would be put in what was called a blind trust.

Let`s watch him in action.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: My children are older and they`re wiser and I think they`re going to do a great job. If I put night blind trust, that wouldn`t bother me at all.

Well, I will sever connections and I`ll have my children and my executives run the company and I won`t discuss it with them.

ERIC TRUMP, SON OF DONALD TRUMP: He`ll be separate from the business, and quite frankly, you know, the business would be very small potatoes compared to what he`s doing this for.

IVANKA TRUMP, DAUGHTER OF DONALD TRUMP: My father has already said that he will put the company into a blind trust and it will be run by us.

DONALD TRUMP, JR., SON OF DONALD TRUMP: He said he`ll put these things in a blind trust. He will have nothing to do with me because he`s much more and he said it to me, he`s much more concerned about America.


MATTHEWS: Meanwhile, Trump`s pick for secretary -- treasury secretary, Steve Mnuchin, praised the president-elect today for reaching a deal with Carrier to keep, that`s company in Indiana, to keep a thousand jobs in this country. Here he is.


STEVE MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY NOMINEE: The Carrier deal, look, I think it`s terrific. The president-elect and the vice president picked up the phone and called the CEO of United Technologies and told him we want to keep jobs here. I can`t remember the last time a president did that.


MATTHEWS: What was the deal? In exchange, the company is expected to receive state tax incentives to keep its operations here.

I`m joined right now by the roundtable. Hugh Hewitt is a conservative talk show host and MSNBC political analyst, and April Ryan is a White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks, and Ginger Gibson is with "Reuters".

Let me start with you, Ginger. This is the deal. Let`s talk about Trump. How do you put something in blind trust and still own by your kids, so every time Trump picks up the newspaper, "The Wall Street Journal," whatever he reads, he sees somebody bought a hotel in Mumbai or somewhere and he goes, why did they do that? Get her on the phone.

You know, it seems impossible for a worldwide empire to blind to him.

GINGER GIBSON, REUTERS: It is impossible. He`d have to liquidate and have someone else run it entirely for it to be a blind trust. Really what he`s talking about is having his children run the operations.

That`s still creates a number of problems for him. One, it`s not -- you`re going to have a hard time believing that when they talk on the phone or they`re sitting at the Christmas dinner table, that the topic of business won`t come up or vice versa, that his dealings with other countries won`t be made aware to his children who are running the business. It`s just a very tricky situation.

MATTHEWS: The problem is, April, is there a solution for this guy? Except selling everything he owns? I don`t know what the solution would be to make progressives happy.

APRIL RYAN, NATIONAL URBAN RADIO NETWORKS: Well, you know what would make people happy is for him to be open and honest and to somewhat separate himself from the statements that he said of Hillary Clinton when he was running for president, calling her crooked Hillary, and how she had certain dealings.

He has got to come clean and show that he is not going down that questionable path of being able to have his children as advisers possibly, and still -- and they run a business, and he is still hearing a little bit what`s going. But you have to remember, we have seen other presidents or presidents-elect have to go away or put in blind trust their business. We`ve seen Jimmy Carter, remember Jimmy Carter. And George W. Bush.

Now, what is he going to do? There`s a precedent to this.


RYAN: He`s not the first one to do this.

MATTHEWS: Hugh, what he`ll do? What do you think he`s going -- make a prediction.

HUGH HEWITT, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Jack Kennedy didn`t have a blind trust.

He`s going to do a memorandum of agreement based upon the Hillary Clinton memorandum of agreement with the office of the president-elect in January 2009, signed by Valerie Jarrett which she broke, which said these are the days I will deal with my business and with the foundation. They have to lay it out with great specificity.

But I want to repeat what Rudolph Giuliani said earlier. Eighteen USC 2008 does not apply to the president. It will be a memorandum of agreement.

He`s got a great White House counsel in Doug McGahn out of Jones Day. They will get it done. They will publish it and he`s going to have to abide by it. And I think he will. I think this is so overblown.

MATTHEWS: How would he -- just to get so the average person who doesn`t understand it with such sophistication, how you have an empire, in front of you, in the newspapers watching it move hotels here, hotels there, how does he not say something to Jared Kushner, tell Ivanka to keep that hotel. He doesn`t ever do that?

HEWITT: If he does that. The only punishment for a president in the Constitution is impeachment. And so, if he has a memorandum of agreement and he violates the memorandum of agreement, there is no prosecution of a president. The only solution is impeachment.

RYAN: But that is why he has got to come clean. He`s been able to skirt around the laws before and follow laws. He`s going to have show that he is doing everything above board and transparent --

MATTHEWS: OK, how do you stop guys from throwing stuff his way? When you interview Yasser Arafat, I didn`t know about this until it happened, they always said, we`ll state will in Ramallah. He`d like to stay there because he owned the hotel. So, get a bunch of rooms as part of the interview deal. We also should assume that`s how it works and then you have the same back in Jerusalem somewhere.

But the fact is, what stops him for a third world guy to say, oh, by the way, Mr. President, my way in here, I`ve got 20 rooms over at the Post Office building.

HEWITT: (INAUDIBLE) Fred Fielding. That`s why Ronald Reagan did not get in trouble. He had Fred Fielding. He`s got Dough McGahn, it requires your White House counsel office to be on top of your hyper partisan loyalists and to keep the bad guy and the influence peddlers away.

MATTHEWS: And to keep the potentates from trying on buy him.


GIBSON: The biggest problem he has isn`t prosecution. It`s image.

If he is trying pass an infrastructure bill and we`re talking about who stayed in Trump Tower last night, that`s a bigger problem for him than anyone pulling out codes or prosecuting him. It`s all about --

MATTHEWS: OK. We`re going to be talking about this for a long time.

Hugh, I understand the difficulty of explaining it because the average guy, just like he doesn`t understand why Goldman Sachs that is the treasury secretary. Or why this Mr. Establishment Republican, all these Republicans voted against, the ultimate establishment figure and he`s going to be secretary of state, they go, who did we vote for here? These guys? These tired old frauds?

Anyway, the roundtable is sticking with us.

And up next, these three will tell me something I don`t know.


MATTHEWS: Well, you can keep up with HARDBALL any time online. Follow the show on Twitter, on Instagram and like us on Facebook. You`ll get access to interviews, videos and behind the scenes photos as we cover the inner workings of the Trump transition.

And we`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: We`re back with the HARDBALL roundtable.

April, tell me something I don`t know.

RYAN: Well, there is a growing concern within the intelligence community in this nation that Donald Trump will not necessarily have intelligence people at the table when they`re working on issues of intelligence when it comes to allies and partners. They`re thinking that he`s going to start off with what he knows best, business -- doing business deals instead of looking to the intelligence community.

MATTHEWS: He won`t even get the briefing --

RYAN: There is a growing concern.

MATTHEWS: W. got the briefing but it didn`t go any good.

Go ahead.

GIBSON: We`ve all talked about Carrier today and the deal he struck with Carrier, but really we need to be looking at AT&T, Time Warner, we need to be looking at Apple. Those are the deals on the horizon. And whether or not Trump involves himself in trying to decide to make a role in those business deals is really going to be more key than a thousand jobs in Indiana that really was mostly because his vice president is from the state.

HEWITT: I believe that by Friday, the big two will be filled. I think you`ll see General Mattis and Mitt Romney, and I think he wins the year with those two appointments. But I also see three names, Rick Grenell who was passed over for the U.N., Jim Talent, who is in the running for defense, and John Bolton who was in running for defense, all will get something important. Dep secretary, maybe Rick Grenell --

MATTHEWS: Jim Talent is impressive.


MATTHEWS: He`s an impressive former senator.

HEWITT: Yes, he is, and Jim knows what he`s doing. He`ll end up dep sec or something, Grenell will end up in Paris.

MATTHEWS: You think Trump would have ever been hired by Mitt Romney?

HEWITT: To do certain things, yes.

MATTHEWS: He would ever make him secretary of state, for example?

HEWITT: No, he would make him secretary of commerce.

MATTHEWS: OK, that`s you`re being very generous. Thank you. I don`t believe a word of that.


MATTHEWS: You don`t believe it either. You know he looks down on this guy, Trump.

April Ryan, thank you, dear. Thank you, Hugh Hewitt. Thank you, Ginger Gibson.

When we come back, the Emmy Award-winning actor Bradley Whitford on how to combat climate change during the age of Trump.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.



BRADLEY WHITFORD, ACTOR: In real life, I`m a political junkie. And the biggest political issue of our time is climate change. Now, I`m back in Washington to try to convince some real life Republicans to take action and they need to. They haven`t advanced a climate bill in Congress in six years.

Hi. This is Bradley Whitford. Would the senator be available today? I`m here in Washington to talk about climate change. Hello? Hello?


MATTHEWS: He lost the connection.

We`re back.

That was actor Bradley Whitford in season two of the National Geographic documentary series about climate change "Years of Living Dangerously". It airs December 7th.

There`s a new reality in Washington now, of course, with the election of Donald Trump. The president-elect has called the science behind climate change a hoax. In 2012, he tweeted, "The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non- competitive."

Well, last week in an interview with editors and reporters from "The New York Times" Trump said he had now an open mind on the issue of climate change and when asked directly if he thinks human activity causes climate change, Trump said, "I think there is some connectivity."

Anyway, this weekend, his chief of staff dismissed the idea Trump had shifted his position at all.


REINCE PRIEBUS, INCOMING WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: As far as this issue on climate change, the only thing he was saying is after being asked a few questions about it, look, I`ll have an open mind about it, but he has his default position, which is that most of it is a bunch of bunk, but he`ll have an open mind and listen to people.


MATTHEWS: I`m joined right now by actor and activist Bradley Whitford.

Thank you, Bradley. By the way, I said it before. Fantastic performance as Hubert Humphrey, one of our old heroes.

WHITFORD: Well, thank you.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, let`s talk about Trump, because I don`t know what he believes and what he used as cat nip to get the working white guy out there to vote for him in places like Youngstown and Erie.

I don`t know what he believes. Do you think he`s intellectually incapable of understanding what experts say is real, that mankind and our behavior with fossil fuels is hurting our environment perhaps permanently?

WHITFORD: Well, I don`t know. I think it`s very dangerous to give Trump the cohesion of intention because there doesn`t seem to be a strategy, there doesn`t seem to be principles except for ever-changing self- interests. So, it`s alarming.

Should we be grateful that he says he has an open mind now? Yes, in the same way we should be grateful when a kindergartner says they have an open mind. Of course, he should have an open mind on this.

And the consensus is absolutely universal. You know, if -- the frustrating thing to me about this issue is that it has become a political football. George Bush Sr. in, I believe, 1990, said climate change is real. We need to lead. In 2006, John McCain had a cap and trade bill. And it became a political football in a way that it shouldn`t.

One of the encouraging things that I realized doing this documentary was that corporate America wants action on climate change aside from the fossil fuel industry for their selfish reasons, they don`t. But corporate America wants predictability in the same way that Defense Department wants predictability. And they see that this is not only a moral obligation or stewardship of our delicate planet for the sake of our children, but it`s also an economic opportunity.


WHITFORD: So, I hope that corporate America will press upon Donald Trump to acknowledge science and take -- you know, we cannot -- nature does not wait for our political process. And we are way behind on this, because of some cynical politics that surround this issue.

MATTHEWS: I love this -- they used the word "unsettled." everything`s unsettled.

Here`s a clip from the National Geographic show, "Years of Living Dangerously". In this case, you`re attending a workshop for climate change activist, learning to interact, actually lobby lawmakers. Here you are role playing a conversation with a conservative climate change critic. Let`s watch.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The question I have is why we should ruin the economy when the science isn`t settled? I mean --

WHITFORD: Well, the science is settled, with all due respect, 97 percent of peer reviewed science has consensus.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, science is never settled. It`s all been worked out. This is how you --

WHITFORD: Let`s say 97 doctors come and say your child is sick and we know what`s wrong and here`s what you have to do about it. And 3 doctors go, eh, maybe okay.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Those people are paid to do research.

WHITFORD: I think you`re not only a bad congressman but a bad father.


MATTHEWS: OK, thank you, Bradley Whitford. Keep making the point. It`s a good thing to have somebody fighting like you during this era of Trump.

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

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.