Show: HARDBALL Date: December 14, 2016 Guest: Jeremy Peters, April Ryan, John Brabender, Bob Corker, Bob Casey, Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae, Kevin Costner, Pharrell Williams, Ted Melfi
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Trump`s war.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
We are just weeks away from Donald Trump being sworn in as our 45th president of the United States. As he enters the Oval Office for the first time, Trump will immediately face a series of urgent international crises. And nothing is more pressing or more devastating than then the conflict in Syria.
There are scenes there of utter devastation coming from the city of Aleppo, a day after a breakdown of humanitarian -- of the humanitarian ceasefire between the government of Bashar Assad and West-backed rebel groups. Both sides blame the other for the renewed violence. Look at that city!
The United Nations called the situation there a complete meltdown of humanity. Assad`s forces are backed by Russia and Iran, of course, and the U.N. alleged more than 80 men, women and children have been shot by pro- government forces. And there are also reports of bodies simply lying in the streets.
The rebels are holed up in a tiny sliver land on the eastern side of the city, but tens of thousands of civilians are thought to be trapped along with them.
NBC`s Bill Neely has the latest -- Bill.
BILL NEELY, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Chris. Well, it`s has been said in the past of Middle East ceasefire deals that before the ink is dry, the ceasefire has collapsed. And that appears to have been the case in Aleppo.
Last night, we understood that there was a deal brokered by Russia and Turkey that would allow hundreds if not thousands of people, including rebels and their families, to get on buses and leave the city.
Those buses were lined up at dawn this morning, but as the sun rose, the ceasefire deal collapsed. There was shooting, then shelling. Many of the people who thought they would get out had to scatter and run for their lives. And today, well, the shooting and shelling has just increased. I`ve just heard from a friend and colleague inside Aleppo who said all day, there`s been very heavy shelling. That has continued tonight with explosions lighting up the night sky.
It`s a terrible betrayal of the people inside eastern Aleppo. The U.N. says there are about 50,000 of those in an area probably one square mile. We`re still not sure how big it is and how many people are in there. But yesterday, we saw some of them, bedraggled, leaving in terrible conditions, leaving the slaughter, and we did think that today, more would join them. But no, they are trapped.
The rebel say they have begun to attack government forces. That`s within the last few hours. The government said they were attacking, and people have been describing air strikes, what they call cluster bomb attacks all day long. And we know there have been casualties, including children, certainly civilians. We don`t know how many.
But look, the fall of Aleppo is imminent. This can`t go on for too long. President Assad has been on television, on Russian television today talking about what happens next.
But you know, even if Aleppo falls, this war, Chris, isn`t over. ISIS controls a large part of eastern Syria, including Palmyra, which it retook recently. Rebels control areas in Idlib province in the north and in the south near Daraa, and the Kurds control swathes of the border with Turkey.
So even if Aleppo falls, this war isn`t over because it is several wars. It`s not just a war between the government and rebels. And you know, Assad will control the four major cities of Syria, Aleppo, Damascus, Hama and Homs, probably within the next few days. But he still doesn`t control the whole country. He says he wants it back.
Certainly, in Aleppo in the days ahead, we can expect many more hours of fighting and an increasing death toll, sadly. Chris, back to you.
MATTHEWS: Thank you Bill Neely, who`s in Beirut.
I`m joined right now by United States senator Bob Corker of Tennessee. He`s the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Senator Corker, if you had to give advice on an intimate basis with the current president, Barack Obama, or the incoming president, Donald Trump, what would you tell him to do to try to stop this horror?
SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: Well, you know, look, we`ve been giving advice for four or five years, Chris. And you know, this was said on the front end to be the Chernobyl of conflict and it`s turned to be that. I mean, this is a blight on us. It`s a blight on the West. It`s a blight on humankind.
At this point, I mean, the story as it relates to western Syria is mostly written. And what`s going to happen there is going to be determined by Russia, who stepped into vacuum that we left about nine months to a year ago, and Iran, and certainly Assad.
So this is a disaster. We`ve known that he was torturing his own people. You`ve seen the Holocaust Museum exhibit of Caesar (ph) who was documenting this, cutting people`s genitals off. This has been going on for a long time. So it`s almost as if, not you, but people are beginning to wake up to what`s occurred.
And as far as advice goes, I mean, again, Russia`s going to determine the outcome in the western part. So the real decision is on the eastern part, where ISIS is. And are we, in fact, going try to team up with the Turks? Are we going to team up with the Arabs, who are in conjunction with the Kurds? Or are we going to try to do something in coordination with Russia?
But the real -- what`s left where we can be more instrumental is the ISIS component. We unfortunately led these rebels on, told them what we were going to do, and we didn`t do it. We cheered them on. We held their coats. And this is what -- this is what is left.
MATTHEWS: What would you have done?
CORKER: Well, we -- it was -- it was exactly what was attempting to be done at the time when Petraeus was in and Secretary Clinton, and that was to attempt to really give the moderate rebels, when there actually was a moderate rebel group, what they needed to push back. Chris, if you remember, when the chemical weapons were used, the Free Syrian Army was on the move. They had momentum.
And when we decided not to take Assad -- it was going to be a 10 -- hour operation from the Mediterranean. But when we decided not to carry out that operation to push back, it depleted their momentum. It left them in many ways lifeless, that we would not do what we said.
And so, again, there`s been a series of efforts. A year-and-half ago, we had the opportunity to create a no-fly zone along the southern border of Turkey...
CORKER: ... and a no-fly zone in the triangle of Aleppo. So I mean, this is all -- we can go -- it really doesn`t do any good. It`s a shame.
MATTHEWS: That`s why I keep asking what would you do now?
CORKER: That decision memo...
MATTHEWS: What would you do now?
MATTHEWS: Russia is in there. Russia is not going away. How do we move Russia to bring down Assad?
CORKER: You`re not going to. You`re not going to. It`s not going to happen. I mean, we can -- you know, the thing that can happen is we can hope that we can bring the Arabs to the table. They`re concerned about Iranian influence, and we can hope to negotiate over time an election process and, hopefully, a transition away from Assad after years and years and years, but at this point, as I mentioned, Chris, I mean, Russia controls what is going to happen in that area.
CORKER: ... took control about nine months ago. I mean, so -- so that`s...
MATTHEWS: OK, let`s go to...
CORKER: This president, the next president -- OK. Good.
MATTHEWS: Let`s take a look at the next president...
CORKER: He`s not sullied by the lack of decisions that have been made.
CORKER: And now he`s at a place where -- where he can really focus, unfortunately, on the ISIS component only and not -- not really other than negotiations what`s happening in the west.
MATTHEWS: Well, he`s advocated during the campaign a stronger role from Vladimir Putin and even Bashar Assad in going after ISIS in Syria. Let`s watch Trump in action.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: 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`ve been looking at the different players and I`ve been watching Assad and I`ve been pretty good at this stuff over the years because deals are people. And I`m looking at Assad and saying maybe he`s better than the kind of people that we`re supposed to be backing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Your reaction to that, Senator.
CORKER: Yes. Well, look, Russia has not been hitting ISIS. Russia is hitting the folks that we have begun to support and -- or have been supporting for years. And al Nusra is mixed in with them, and so in some cases, yes, they`re hitting Nusra, who are mixed in with our rebels. But their focus has not been on ISIS.
So the real decision is going to be, as I mentioned earlier, how are we going to go forward in the Raqqa area and others that they control.
CORKER: Are we going to try to do, as he mentioned, with Russia? Are we going to try to do so with the Turks? Are we going to try to do so with the Kurd-Arab -- Arab coalition that`s been put together? That`s the decision that he has to make.
MATTHEWS: Two more questions to you. Do you -- would you support John Bolton in a top position in the government, the new government? John Bolton?
CORKER: I`m not -- I have made no comments on nominees until they`re actually nominated. So let`s see what happens there.
MATTHEWS: We`ll get back to you then.
CORKER: I understand. And I think what we`re seeing -- look, it obviously is a nomination that`s been controversial in the past, but I`ve never really sat down and talked with John Bolton one on one. And until someone is nominated, I really -- I really just don`t like to weigh in.
MATTHEWS: How about this proposal by Trump to move the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, which has always been talked about but had never been done?
CORKER: So candidly, I`ve talked to the Israelis about it, and I think that there`s a way to communicate the moving of the embassy to Jerusalem. I think you know what we have there is a consulate now that really works only on the Palestinian side. But I think there`s a way of doing it if you communicate that you`re still hoping and working towards a two-state solution.
So I know he campaigned on it. I actually think it would be something at this point that would not be negative and could be very positive in moving things along. So my guess is they`re going to move in that direction.
MATTHEWS: OK, I disagree, but that`s your right. Thank you for coming on, Senator Robert Corker of Tennessee.
Yesterday, United States ambassador to the United Nations called out Russia and Iran for their responsibility for the carnage in Aleppo. Let`s watch that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAMANTHA POWER, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: To the Assad regime, Russia and Iran, three member states behind the conquest of and carnage in Aleppo, you bear responsibility for these atrocities. When one day there is a full accounting of the horrors committed in this assault of Aleppo -- and that day will come sooner or later -- you will not be able to say you did not know what was happening. You will not be able to say you were not involved. We all know what was happening and we all know you were involved.
It should shame you. Instead, by all appearances, it is emboldening you. Are you truly incapable of shame? Is there literally nothing that can shame you? Is there no act of barbarism against civilians, no execution of a child that gets under your skin, that just creeps you out a little bit? Is there nothing you will not lie about or justify?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, that`s the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power.
Anyway, I`m joined right now by Senator Bob Casey, Democrat from Pennsylvania. Senator, I wasn`t getting a lot of response from your chairman, Senator Corker, about what we can do right now. We see the pictures coming from Aleppo. Can the United States leverage somehow the Russians to get Assad out of there or reduce his reign over most of the country, partition the country? What can we do to stop the fighting, anything?
SEN. BOB CASEY (D), PENNSYLVANIA: Well, Chris, there are limits, but certainly, we could be continuing to make the efforts I know that the administration has made and Secretary Kerry especially has worked on to get more humanitarian aid on the ground and deliver it, and I know that`s an ongoing effort. I don`t know how to place a metric on that in terms of success or failure, but I know they`re trying very hard. That`s one thing.
And certainly the Russians at times have been -- most of the time have not been cooperative. Other times, they have been cooperative.
Lately, though, I think Samantha Power is right. They have to be held to account, the Russians, Bashar al Assad the Iranians, for the carnage of not just Aleppo but all throughout Syria.
But right now, the most important thing is to focus on getting that humanitarian aid there and to focus on, as I will, in the new Congress -- Marco Rubio and I, the senator from Florida, both have legislation we introduced at the end of the year -- we`ll reintroduce it -- that focuses on sanctioning Russia, Iran and Syria, but also focusing intensively on getting humanitarian aid there.
MATTHEWS: OK, NBC`s Richard Engel reported from Moscow this week that the Kremlin is celebrating Trump`s recent move. Here`s what a former energy minister in Russia told Engel about the incoming Trump administration. Let`s watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is Trump election and the new administration the way it is being shaped right now, it is absolutely a gift for Putin. He couldn`t have dreamed about anything like that just three (ph) months ago.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: So Trump and his new team is a gift for Putin. How do you react to that, Senator?
CASEY: Well, Chris, it`s -- it`s a -- a reality that I think concerns not only me but a lot of the American people because you have this fascination that the president-elect seems to have with Vladimir Putin. I hope -- I hope -- that when he is president, after he takes oath of office, I hope he makes it very clear to the American people that he`s going to be very tough with Russia, hold them accountable when they engage in the kind of activity they`ve engaged in in Syria.
And look, I think the way he should view Vladimir Putin is the way I view him, as as close to a 24-hour bad guy as you can get on the world stage, constantly intervening, intervening even in our elections, as we know now from...
CASEY: ... good reporting. So I hope the president-elect when he`s president will have a different approach to the Russian Federation, and especially Mr. Putin.
MATTHEWS: Two tough questions before you leave, Senator. John Bolton for any top position -- would you support him if you had to confirm, would you do it, John Bolton, the man -- one of the top hawks in the Iraq war? Your thoughts.
CASEY: Be very difficult, Chris, for me to support him. I don`t know what will happen in terms of the nomination.
MATTHEWS: What about the idea of moving -- not the idea, but the reality of moving our embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, divided Jerusalem? Is that something that would be good for our relations over there?
CASEY: I would hope that we could, but I don`t think that`s likely to happen.
CASEY: We`ll see what the incoming administration does.
MATTHEWS: Well, I hope it doesn`t happen, anyway, because it`s just going to be cataclysmic. Anyway, thank you, Senator Bob Casey.
Coming up -- seems like Donald Trump and Paul Ryan are old pals now, or new pals. Ryan was booed, by the way, at the Trump rally last night, but Trump says the House Speaker is like a fine wine. You know, it gets better with time? And that`s ahead.
Plus, the HARDBALL roundtable tonight`s going to tell me three things I don`t know about what`s going on inside Trump Tower right now.
And the stars of the great upcoming movie, "Hidden Figures" here tonight. They`re all coming here. It`s the true story of three African-American women mathematicians who helped get the American pace program off the ground and into orbit. What a great story is. We`re going to talk to actors Octavia Spencer, Taraji P. Henson, Janelle Monae, and also Kevin Costner, plus director Ted Melfi and Pharrell Williams, who composed the film`s amazing sound track.
Finally, "Let Me Finish" with one of my sources, a political guy from Boston who saw this election result coming.
And this is HARDBALL, the a place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Let`s take a look at this, the choices for the top four positions in the incoming Trump cabinet, secretary of state, attorney general, Treasury and Defense. The real plum jobs are all going to white men. It`s the first time that`s happened, or this has happened since 1989.
And we`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
For most of the 2016 presidential campaign, House Speaker Paul Ryan did everything he could to avoid even appearing with his party`s presidential nominee, Donald Trump.
It was just two months ago, in fact, that Ryan had disinvited Trump from a joint campaign appearance in Ryan`s home state of Wisconsin.
But last night, as Trump continued on his thank you tour back in Wisconsin, the hatchet was pretty much buried between the president-elect and the House speaker, though maybe not with Trump supporters out in the crowd.
Watch and listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: Speaker Paul Ryan, I really have come to...
TRUMP: Oh, no. I have come to appreciate him, Speaker Paul Ryan. Where is the speaker? Where is he?
He has been -- I`ll tell you, he has been terrific. And, you know, honestly, he is like a fine wine.
TRUMP: Every day goes by, I get to appreciate his genius more and more. Now, if he ever goes against me, I`m not going to say that, OK?
We have some amazing things in store. And we`re going to work on taxes. We`re going to work on Obamacare. We`re going to work on things. And he is going to lead the way. So, thank you.
Oh, we`re going to work on the wall, Paul.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: See? The old favorites. The old golden oldies. The wall.
Anyway, by the way, while Trump appeared to put Ryan on notice last night, will their newly forged friendship, their pal-ship produce big results?
Let`s bring in the HARDBALL roundtable tonight.
John Brabender is a Republican strategist. April Ryan is White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief for American Urban Radio Networks and the author of "At Mama`s Knee: Mothers and Race in Black and White." And Jeremy Peters is with "The New York Times."
Let`s talk about this thing, because it really gets to the heart of what is going to get done next year or not. I was on election night, and Lawrence O`Donnell upbraided me and said, well, Ryan is not going to approve any spending bill. So, forget about anything Trump wants to do in terms of infrastructure, grand economic deals.
Will Paul Ryan agree to some grand economic deal next year, or will nothing get done?
JOHN BRABENDER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: No, he will. He has to.
Let`s be honest. Paul Ryan at some point made a calculated risk that Trump was not going to win. Now Trump wins. And what Ryan has said since then is, well, he has spoken to people that we haven`t found.
The key from that footage that you showed was, you have to understand a lot of Trump supporters are not necessarily Republican supporters. They`re Trump supporters.
BRABENDER: And Ryan needs them.
But, at the same time, president-elect needs Ryan. It is an arranged marriage, but I think they`re going to try to make it work.
MATTHEWS: The reason people who voted for Trump voted for Trump -- at least the better people -- I will say that -- who had aspirations for this country, who were patriotic, was hoping to get the country rolling again, big economic opportunities for everybody.
If they don`t pass a deal that includes big road building, bridge building, fixing stuff, spending money, hiring people, it is all B.S., if he doesn`t do that. Can Ryan go along with that? Will he go along with it?
APRIL RYAN, AMERICAN URBAN RADIO NETWORKS: Ryan is governance. And that`s what he is in place to do.
Building bridges, the infrastructure -- the nation needs infrastructure building. We have got crumbling roads, crumbling bridges, crumbling buildings. But at the same time, Donald Trump said this on the campaign trail.
And to make him successful, these two frenemies have to meet for this to work. And Paul Ryan is the one to help find the ways and means to make it happen.
MATTHEWS: Will there be a wall he goes up against? Will he force Trump in every case, pay for this, pay for this, in other words, raise taxes to pay for this? It is a very hard thing to do if you`re going to stimulate the economy at the same time you raises taxes.
Trump wants to cut corporate taxes, cut a lot of taxes, and spend money.
JEREMY PETERS, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Exactly.
And what will they do? Will they try conduct some scheme like Reagan did with the gas tax and call it a highway user fee, something like that?
MATTHEWS: In `83, he did that.
So, there will be a way to pay for this. Yes. It will have to be done in a way that is going to be palatable to the Grover Norquists of the world, because I just don`t see it getting through any other way.
MATTHEWS: What`s wrong with borrowing the money? Trump bonds. Get them to go out on the road and sell Trump bonds, like war bonds.
PETERS: This is where some of the Cabinet secretaries are going to play a key role, Chris, his labor secretary.
I`m sorry. His commerce secretary and his transportation secretary are going to be deeply involved in working with the private...
MATTHEWS: Elaine Chao.
PETERS: Elaine Chao, right.
MATTHEWS: What is the wife of?
PETERS: Mitch McConnell.
MATTHEWS: Right. This is great stuff.
PETERS: This was all very well thought out. They knew what they were doing.
MATTHEWS: You think he got the spouse to get the spouse? Do you think Trump has figured it that way?
BRABENDER: Well, first of all, let`s understand she does have experience.
MATTHEWS: Don`t pull that hat.
MATTHEWS: I`m not downgrading her. I just saw her last night. I will not -- I`m saying, was he thinking of this marital connection when he picked her for road building?
BRABENDER: I don`t think so.
PETERS: Well, no, no, no. It wasn`t the marital connection, as much as it was her ability to help shepherd things through Congress and her deep ties, her relationships on Capitol Hill.
MATTHEWS: Of course, because she`s a heavyweight.
BRABENDER: That is a different story.
BRABENDER: It`s not about Mitch McConnell.
RYAN: His politics is business. And he knows that`s what you do. You find the common ground. And that was a good common -- and it makes sense.
MATTHEWS: She`s a very popular figure in the city, by the way.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, Politico reported that Trump`s son Donald Jr. was involved in the search and the vetting for secretary of interior.
According to Politico, he sat in on interviews and made calls to candidates, according to sources familiar with the process. Montana Congressman Ryan Zinke was offered the post Tuesday. Donald Trump did tell an outdoors publication, whatever that is, "The big joke at Christmas this year was that the only job in government I would want is with the Department of Interior. I understand these issues. It is something I`m passionate about. I will be the very loud voice about these issues in my father`s ear. No one gets him more than us."
That`s the kid talking.
Anyway, but a Trump spokesperson waved off any concerns about Trump`s kids being involved in personnel selection.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The transition team has been very transparent in the fact that Donald Trump Jr. is on the transition team, that he is someone who is helping us form this government and put things together.
So, we have announced that right from the beginning. And so it only makes sense that the transition team member was active in the process.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, you know, Trump does listen to other people for advice, obviously. It took him a while to pick the new secretary of state- designate.
But he uses his kids. Can he get away with using his kids as political consiglieres the midst of a presidency? Can he do that still?
PETERS: I think he will do it and try to figure it out later.
I don`t think that it matters to him what the repercussions of it are. This is what he has always done. He has a very tight-knit family. He leans on them for a lot.
But it also speaks to how Trump doesn`t really change. Everyone was always, oh, will he stop tweeting now that he`s become president? No, of course not. Will he stop going after his rivals...
(CROSSTALK) PETERS: No, of course not. He doesn`t change.
MATTHEWS: How does he avoid saying to Donald Jr. so how does that affect our operation in India? How does that affect our operation? Any time he is talking about Indiana, or he is talking about Indian tribes or anything, how does that affect our operation?
RYAN: Donald Trump is falling back on who he is.
And I hate to keep going back to this, but it is about business. His children are very strategic and critical to him. We saw it today when he had a tech meeting. They -- all three were in the meeting. And Donald Trump falls back on that. They`re his advisers. They`re his consorts.
But, again, he is trying on find business solutions to our everyday problems.
MATTHEWS: Can you put your children in a blind trust?
RYAN: The stocks have to be in a blind trust.
MATTHEWS: Can you put your children in a blind -- I`m being rhetorical here. Don`t you always worry about your kids?
RYAN: The children cannot be in charge of a blind trust.
RYAN: They can`t.
MATTHEWS: They can`t be in one either.
BRABENDER: But, honestly, I don`t see the outrage.
If you look through campaign, every time the kids got involved, they helped make better decisions, not worse.
MATTHEWS: So, he can put up with a bad press every time that something that overlaps, right?
BRABENDER: I think he makes better decisions with their counsel.
MATTHEWS: So, you would say just risk taking some heat for a conflict?
BRABENDER: Yes, I would.
PETERS: And that`s what he`s going to do.
RYAN: Governance is the issue. But governance will win out in the long term.
MATTHEWS: Well, he`s not getting rid of the empire, I`m pretty sure.
But I thought Heidi Przybyla the other night here said something very smart. What happens when to those Trump buildings all over the world? They become targets for the bad guys. Here`s a way to hit America. Hit the president`s building.
Anyway, the HARDBALL roundtable is staying with us.
And up next, they`re going to tell me something I don`t know, as always.
And, later, the star-studded -- this is great stuff coming up -- the new, about to come out, movie, "Hidden Figures," it`s called. They`re all coming to HARDBALL to talk about this great new movie three African- American mathematicians who worked behind the scenes to get the American space program off the ground.
It really happened. It really is a fabulous story we all should have known about 50 years ago.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: We`re back with the HARDBALL roundtable.
John, tell me something I don`t know on this big day.
BRABENDER: I`m making a prediction two years out. The Republicans are going to pick up three Senate seats in 2018, going against the whole idea that you`re going to lose seats during a president...
MATTHEWS: Because there are so many exposed Democratic seats?
BRABENDER: That, and last time, they all got to run with Obama. They don`t get to run with him, the Democrats.
MATTHEWS: What is the big upset? What is the big upset?
BRABENDER: I think Pennsylvania.
MATTHEWS: Go ahead.
RYAN: A synopsis of a synopsis.
The presidential briefings, going back a couple of years, since we`re hearing about how Donald Trump doesn`t like to get them, the repetition every day -- Bill Clinton was a voracious reader. He read his intelligence briefings. George W. Bush had people come in and give him the understanding of what was going on. And he also had an hour with them afterwards.
RYAN: And now President Obama read, as well as takes the briefings.
So, we understand Donald Trump does not like to read much. So, we are expecting it will be catered to him.
PETERS: Senior sources on Capitol Hill, it seems like Rex Tillerson is going to be fine. Fine doesn`t mean that the process is going to be pleasant or not bumpy, but he`s an impressive guy.
MATTHEWS: Coming up -- I want to thank John Brabender, April Ryan and Jeremy Peters.
If I don`t see you again, merry Christmas.
And still ahead, the stars of the great new movie "Hidden Figures." Stick around for this. This is great stuff. A star-studded lineup, by the way, and they`re all coming here, Octavia Spencer, Kevin Costner, all kinds of people.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: We`re coming back with the stars of the soon-to-be-released movie "Hidden Figures" about the pioneering African-American mathematicians who helped launch America`s space program.
And here is a clip from the film.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "HIDDEN FIGURES")
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: The pastor mentioned you`re a compute rat NASA. That`s pretty heady stuff.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Yes, it is.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: They let women handle that sort of -- that`s not what I mean.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: What do you mean?
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: I`m just surprised something so taxing...
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Mr. Johnson, if I were you, I would quit talking right now.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: I mean no disrespect.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: I will have you know I was the first Negro female student at West Virginia University Graduate School.
On any given day, I analyze the velometer levels for air displacement, friction and velocity and compute over 10,000 calculations by hand.
So, yes, they let women do some things at NASA, Mr. Johnson. And it is not because we wear skirts. It is because we wear glasses.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, the stars behind this great movie are coming here next. It is going to be great to watch.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Well, you can play HARDBALL all week long online. Follow the show on Twitter and Instagram and like us on Facebook. You`ll get access to interviews, videos and behind-the-scenes photos as we cover the Trump transition.
And we`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What`s the status on that computer?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She`s right behind you, Mr. Harrison.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can she handle analytic geometry?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely. And she speaks.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, sir. I do.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Which one?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Both. Geometry and speaking.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ruth, get me the -- do you think you can find me the frame for this data using the --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The algorithm, yes, sir. I prefer it over Euclidian coordinates.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back.
That was the scene from the upcoming film "Hidden Figures". The true story of three African-American mathematicians and the key role they played at NASA to launch the first American into orbit. The film sets the struggle of equal rights against the space race. Recounting a time that even at NASA, African-Americans were segregated from their white counterparts. This is a film about women who broke barriers in more ways than one.
Here`s a clip for the trailer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Katherine! We`re all going to get unemployed right around this pilot.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`ll sit in the back of the bus.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have identification?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were just on our way to work at NASA, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I had no idea they hired.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Quite a few women working in the space program.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That`s John Glenn.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you ladies do for NASA?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Calculate your landing, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Engineer, and I`m proud to be working with you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How we can possibly (INAUDIBLE) these white men.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s equal rights. I have a right to see fine in every color.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me ask you, if you were a white male, would you wish to be an engineer?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I wouldn`t have to. I would already be one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, "Hidden Figures" is out in select theaters at Christmastime. In fact, Christmas Day and a wider release following on January 6.
Well, I`m joined right now by those people who made this movie come to life, including the stars of the film. Taraji P. Henson is right there. She is the superstar. And Octavia Spencer, I`ve been in love with her for a long time. Janelle Monae, thank you. There you are.
And you all look very glamorous right now. (AUDIO GAP) bureaucrats. The great Kevin Costner is here and, of course, singer-songwriter, Pharrell Williams, who composed the soundtrack for the movie and the score, and director Ted Melfi, thank you.
I love "St. Vincent" with Bill Murray.
TED MELFI, DIRECTOR: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Well, I want to talk to you, Taraji, because you were -- you just dominate movie. I had to say that. And the scenes of putting up with Jim Crow and putting up with Jim Crow in a federal institution.
What grabbed me in the beginning was, the cop who stopped you guys in your `57, I love `57 Impala Chevy, I always love them. He stops you in a car and he`s got the usual color mentality going, on black/white thing going on, white/black, and all of a sudden he says you`re in the space program. And his patriotism kicks in.
TARAJI P. HENSON, ACTRESS, "HIDDEN FIGURES": Yes.
MATTHEWS: Tell me about that.
HENSON: Well, I think that`s the overall message of the story. When we put our differences aside as humans, that`s when we`re able to move the human race forward, because at the end of the day, we`re all humans. You know, a mind doesn`t have a color.
When it comes to calculating numbers, I don`t care what color you are. I don`t care who you sleep with at night. Can you find the math?
MATTHEWS: I love the score. This person that Taraji is playing, everybody has to go to the bathroom and everybody knows the experience of having to go to the bathroom now. And then she has the color, it is like a bad dream, I`ve got to go to a building where there`s a colored women`s bathroom. And you got this great music. Tell me about the music you put in there.
PHARRELL WILLIAMS, MUSIC COMPOSER, "HIDDEN FIGURES": Man, the music was largely just led by --
MATTHEWS: It`s called running.
WILLIAMS: Yes, sir. That song was just based on a story. It`s like, when we got the script, it was like, OK. These women are living in the matrix of the 1960s where the physics and the gravity for African-Americans was much more heavier. And it was twice as heavier on a woman.
So, having to run to the bathroom, not only the other side of the building but the other side of the campus, and there were campus bikes. But for women, we forget as men, you know, long skirts, long dresses. So they had to run rain or shine, 30 to 45 minutes round trip to the other side of the campus just to use the bathroom.
MATTHEWS: So, Ted, and the other ladies here, high heels a big part of this for some reasons. Maybe it is the photography. The women look great, of course, but you`re always shooting the legs and the shoes. And one time they get caught. And you almost get killed. It is a wind tunnel.
You`re on a wind tunnel, you look great by the way in the wind tunnel. Your legs get caught on this, look at your legs, look at your shoes. And you get stuck and the guy says, "The shoe ain`t worth it." I mean, when you`re running to the bathroom, it`s all high heels. So women in high heels being African-American in a Jim Crow setting and wearing high heels.
JANELLE MONAE, ACTRESS, "HIDDEN FIGURES": Yes, we did it all --
MONAE: -- just like we continuously do every day. What is so inspiring about this film and these women is they did not allow the obstacles to deter them and stop them from their dreams.
Yes, you know, we were dealing with racism, we were dealing with sexism, we were dealing with classism, but the great team about when NASA and all the men and women put all those isms to bed and bury them all, that`s when they achieved the extraordinary together. They all realized that at the end of the day, we all bleed the same color.
MATTHEWS: You know, Kevin, I saw that -- great to have you on -- because I think of you all the time in a movie. I`ve seen this a lot of times, where I think I`ve seen 13 days a hundred times. And in the middle of a Cuban missile crisis, a white world, as if there wasn`t a black world out there.
And here you have a movie that`s pretty much the same time period.
KEVIN COSTNER, ACTOR: Yes.
MATTHEWS: `61, `62. In fact, it is `62. This movie includes the reality of American high of much better.
COSTNER: Yes. Well, you know, I mean, it seems like a lot of stories don`t get told. They are in the pages of history. They don`t come out.
You can give some of that a pass because how many stories can you possibly tell? If you look beneath the surface, you will fine the story. The thing that I found disturbing was that if you are going to tell original story of John Glenn, all right? Not about the women working off to the side, like we know in segue, if you`re going to tell that story John Glenn, there is a moment when he would go or wasn`t going to go.
So, it would be like telling a joke and maybe leaving out a punch line. There was a moment where he was going to go or not go and it hung on the balance over a young woman who was going to have to do math by hand.
Now, I don`t know about you, but in great story telling, you don`t leave out that bit. So, if we don`t learn about these human computers, they were called computers, I can see that story emerging. I would have liked to know about that a long time ago.
But not knowing about that seminal moment where he was saying, I ain`t going unless I know, that should have been a part of what we knew about for a long time.
MATTHEWS: He was a good guy in the movie, right, Octavia?
OCTAVIA SPENCER, ACTRESS, "HIDDEN FIGURES": He was a good guy, period. I learned something about him that I didn`t know and it made him that much more of an American hero to me because he did something unpopular at that time. He put his hands in the life of this African-American woman. If her numbers didn`t match up, he wasn`t going to go. If her numbers matched up, of course, he went.
MATTHEWS: He wanted to know he was going to land.
MATTHEWS: That`s key information. They have to get to it with the ship. But you were in "The Help."
SPENCER: I was in "The Help."
MATTHEWS: I always remember that meal you cooked up with that white lady. We will always remember that. This tastes interesting.
So, you`ve gotten at the Jim Crow thing from a couple ways now.
SPENCER: Jim Crow is a very difficult time to immerse yourself in, but when you`re doing a period film, we have agency as contemporary women that African-American women did not have in the Jim crow era. So there`s something wonderful to be said about the solidarity that we felt on the set, very insulated, Ted created a safe place for us to work and have fun.
MATTHEWS: I like the way, Taraji, you look up at that sign as you go out of the room, colored computers. They still designate you by your ethnicity.
Let`s take another look at the movie.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Go find your way over there.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That Colonel Jim is a tall glass of water.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That he is. Tall, strong, commanding.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I bet he`s like that day and night.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mary, it`s Sunday. Please have some shame.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I will not.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He`s coming over.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now, why would he be doing that?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because Mary`s waving at him.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ladies.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fix your hair.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Colonel, I`m Dorothy Vaughn, that`s Ms. Jackson.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, ma`am. Nice to meet you all.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And Mrs. Katherine (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She`s not married. She`s a widow, with three beautiful little girls. So well-behaved. Angels on earth is like we like to call her. Dorothy, slice of pie?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Excuse me.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You already have a slice of pie.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: So it`s so great you`re doing this. I`m so glad you took this project. I`m so glad you took this project. Everybody took it. Because Hollywood needs it.
It`s not a reaction to Hollywood. It`s not a redo, but it`s something.
MELFI: We need to see this story. We need little girls to see this story. We need little boys to see this story. We need people to know that history wasn`t a bunch of white guys in a room.
NASA was very diverse. NASA celebrates these women. These women are not hidden from NASA. NASA has been honoring these women for a long time.
So, it`s great to tell the general public that.
MATTHEWS: Well, guys, thank you all. It`s honor to meet you all.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Pharrell, the music gets to even me.
WILLIAMS: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We can keep the mugs?
MATTHEWS: You can keep the mugs, we can get you hats. This is a great opportunity, because I think this is -- I said politics and culture are together. They`re the same thing. This collection, whatever you think of it, culture and politics are together. We got to put it all together.
Merry Christmas to everybody.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you so much.
WILLIAMS: I was just going to say, you`re not Mr. Straight hour. We`ve been watching you for years.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
WILLIAMS: And your interviews is and the way that you keep people straight is amazing, and when people veer off and they don`t answer the question there`s no one that slices through it better than you.
MATTHEWS: Thank you.
That`s not in the script. We`ll be right back. Thank you. We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Trump Watch, Wednesday, December 14th, 2016.
I want to do something tonight I don`t often do, give credit to one of my sources, one of the people that gives me the benefit of their thinking even when I`m not smart enough to accept it. I`ve known Edward Jesser, a political expert from Boston since we worked together at the White House in the 1970s. We`ve been friends ever since. He`s been in presidential campaigns from George McGovern, Sargent Shriver, Paul Tsongas.
Ed is a Democrat by nurture and an independent by nature. He thinks for himself. He doesn`t run with the pack. He spent the good part of the past presidential election giving me the benefit of his thinking. His thinking and his thinking was that Donald Trump would be the winner in election day and that Hillary Clinton would lose.
He was writing to me when the punditocracy were routinely predicting a double-digit Hillary Clinton landslide. As Ed reminded on November 9th actually, the morning right after the election, he had written me that Trump would get the Republican nomination because he was the only performer, think about that word, performer out there in the field then.
On St. Patrick`s Day, he emailed me this, We are awash in Donald Trump. He may be the best political operative in the modern era, to say nothing of his role as a candidate, an astonishing mix of Lee Atwater and Bill Clinton, yet he`s only beginning to be treated by the political cognoscente as someone of consequence."
Well, looking back, let`s face it, Ed Jesser was right back then. Who else was even in Trump`s league during the Republican primaries? On August 21st, Ed e-mailed me that Hillary Clinton, quote, "has little improvement room. Her image, her being is pretty much set in stone in the people`s minds. Not much is good for her outside the area of her supporters."
Trump on the other hand is no longer a tabula rasa but his political raison d`etre is still quite malleable. He will improve among gays, minorities of color and gender. They`ll still hammer him but not with the percentage or turnout she is expecting today. For Hillary`s gang, it will be much like the French generals defending the marginal line.
Well, ten days before the election, Ed wrote that he thought that Trump could still win because all the public polling to the contrary, Hillary Clinton was not running away with it. Even in the best of times when Trump was saying the worst of his stuff, killing himself, she was not opening up a significant lead. In his e-mail to me on October 27 was, after an obscenely successful non-strop run on Trump by the national forces of morality he called them, Hillary still can`t run away. I`m running into liberal women, Ivy League college, law and medical school grads who can`t vote for Hillary.
Also in that October 27th e-mail a proposal, "Could you secure, say, a half hour more of your show for a serious discussion of polling?"
When November 4th, the Friday before the election, Ed wrote me, "Hillary has to get enough black votes in the lock box before the old fashioned vote next Tuesday and it appears she`ll fail. She`s not going to match Obama`s vote among blacks. And why on earth did the Clinton people ever think she would? Every indication I get is that everything is breaking for Trump and has been from before the Comey letter. If so, it`s been my experience that late breaking waves are virtually immutable. Everyone wants change, sad to say it may be as simple as that."
So, with Christmas coming close, I want to say thanks to Ed Jesser, at least for keeping me in male distance of rough reality, tough reality. Merry Christmas, Ed and Connie.
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END