Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 12/16/2016

Guests: Noah Oppenheim, Jeanne Zaino, Azi Paybarah, Yamiche Alcindor, Naveed Jamali

Show: HARDBALL Date: December 16, 2016 Guest: Noah Oppenheim, Jeanne Zaino, Azi Paybarah, Yamiche Alcindor, Naveed Jamali

JOY REID, GUEST HOST: Obama hits Putin and the press.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Joy Reid in New York, in for Chris Matthews.

President Obama delivered a strong message today at his year-end news conference, backing the intelligence community`s assessment that Russia meddled in the 2016 election. He made it clear that, yes, Vladimir Putin was involved, and he said there would be an American response at the time and place of our choosing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The intelligence that I`ve seen gives me great confidence in their assessment that the Russians carried out this hack. Not much happens in Russia without Vladimir Putin.

This happened at the highest levels of the Russian government. And I will let you make that determination as to whether there are high-level Russian officials, who go off rogue and decide to tamper with the U.S. election process without Vladimir Putin knowing about it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: The president said he personally told Putin to cut it out and warned of consequences. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: In early September, when I saw President Putin in China, I felt that the most effective way to ensure that that didn`t happen was to talk to him directly and tell him to cut it out, and there were going to be some serious consequences if he didn`t.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Obama also had a message for Republicans who refuse to criticize Trump`s coziness with Trump, attributing to it partisan calculation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Some folks who had made a career out of being anti-Russian didn`t say anything about it.

There was a survey, some of you saw, 37 percent of Republican voters approve of Putin. Ronald Reagan would roll over in his grave.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: There was a very different message coming from the man who will take over as commander-in-chief next month. Donald Trump rejected the intelligence, mocked its seriousness, and questioned the motives of the White House.

On Sunday, he told Fox News he didn`t think Russia was responsible.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: They have no idea if it`s Russia or China or somebody. It could be somebody sitting in a bed some place.

Personally, it could be Russia. It -- it -- I don`t really think it is, but who knows? I don`t know, either. They don`t know, and I don`t know.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Yesterday, he tweeted -- incorrectly -- that the White House acted only after the election. And today, Trump returned to campaign mode, using the information from the Russia hack to attack Hillary Clinton, tweeting, quote, "Are we talking about the same cyber attack where it was revealed that head of the DNC illegally gave Hillary the questions to the debate?"

Meanwhile, according to "The New York Times," Trump has also questioned the motives of the intelligence community. Quote, "Mr. Trump has said privately in recent days that he believes there are people in the CIA who are out to get him and are working to delegitimize his presidency, according to people briefed on the conversations who described them on the condition of anonymity."

For more on all this, I`m joined by NBC`s Kristen Welker in Orlando, where president-elect Trump is set to hold yet another thank you rally this hour, "The New York Times`s" Yamiche Alcindor and MSNBC political analyst Eugene Robinson. And he is a "Washington Post" columnist.

Kristen, I`ll start with you. If you can elaborate a little bit more on these conversations, apparently, inside Trump world that the CIA is out to get him.

KRISTEN WELKER, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Right. Well, I think there`s a sense and a concern inside Trump world that this storyline will ultimately undercut the fact that he won, and I think that`s why you`re seeing him push back so strongly.

And I have been talking to some of those who are close to him, his advisers, who kind of echoed what you heard from him there. It could be Russia, it could be China. They`re not prepared to say it`s Russia definitively.

But here`s what we also know, Joy. We know that the pressure is going to mount on the president-elect to not only acknowledge that it`s Russia, but to do something about it because you have President Obama saying he`s going to take action against Russia. We know that he has been in close consultation with the president-elect.

And I think one of my top headlines today, Joy, is that one of President- elect Donald Trump`s advisers said he believes that the president-elect is prepared to in some way, shape or form consult with the current commander- in-chief about how to proceed and the not necessarily block him. The big question, of course, what happens when he takes office?

Now, there are bipartisan calls for an investigation to get to the bottom of exactly what happened. Will he be prepared to support those investigations once he is in the White House? That is going to be the critical question moving forward, Joy.

REID: And Eugene, I think that is a critical question because if the president of the United States, who is still president, Barack Obama, takes action against Russia, as he said he would, what would then happen in our politics if the president-elect were to criticize the president for taking action against Russia, rather than Russia?

EUGENE ROBINSON, "WASHINGTON POST," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, that would be a huge mess. You know, one hopes it doesn`t come to that.

There are a lot of questions here that haven`t been answered, even by the president`s press conference today. And I think one of those questions that just has to be asked is, you know, should he have acted more forcefully back in September, more publicly back in September? What impact would that have had? And I`m not sure we got the answer to that question today.

REID: And Yamiche, you know, I think a big question that`s hanging over the entire proceedings is about the FBI. The FBI suddenly has signed onto the idea that the Russians are behind the attack, something the CIA assessment said back in September and October.

We know that the White House did announce that. I mean, they made that announcement. Unfortunately, the most definitive announcement came on the same day as the "Access Hollywood" tape came out, October 7th.

But the question now is, per your reporting, is Jim Comey in any kind of hot water here? I mean, this is somebody who took a lot of action to talk about what Hillary Clinton was or wasn`t doing, but held back when it came to Russia.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR, "NEW YORK TIMES" (on-camera): It`s really tough to say whether or not he`s in hot water because there are so many variables to what affected this election.

And I think one of the reasons why this could have been, in some ways people think, the perfect crime is because you can`t really definitively say, OK, fake news is why Hillary Clinton lost, or fake news is why -- or Jim Comey talking about this letter in the last couple weeks of the election is why she lost.

It could have also been that she called people deplorable. It could have also been that people never really trusted her. It could have been that she didn`t have a good message. It could have been that people just wanted change and it didn`t matter what Hillary Clinton said or what Obama said, people were going to not go for the person that they`d been seeing for the last 30 years.

So I think it`s really tough to say whether or not Jim Comey`s going to be out of a job. I doubt it because even when Harry Reid said to you that he thought he should resign, you know, Donald Trump`s the one that won the election and he, I don`t think, is going to be saying anything about the FBI.

REID: We`re going to go to sound of Hillary Clinton. Let`s just stay with you for a moment. I mean, you were on the campaign trail. And couldn`t it also be possible that the narratives that were coming out of Wikileaks, the narratives that were coming out on the e-mails, which was to the president`s criticism today almost all of what the media was focusing on.

hat would have fed into, right, what people thought about Hillary Clinton? They just didn`t think about it coming up with it on their own. They were being pushed in that direction in part by what was coming out in Wikileaks.

ALCINDOR: Well, it`s tough because, yes, it`s true that there was a lot of media coverage of the e-mails. I myself was looking through the e-mails. There were a lot of people on all the different...

REID: Daily.

ALCINDOR: But -- it was -- it was a drip, drip, drip of constant news. However, I think Hillary Clinton not being trustworthy happened way before the Wikileaks issue. The reason why Bernie Sanders -- and I covered him for a long time -- why he went so far, why in January, people thought that he wasn`t going to go anywhere, and then it took him all the way to the DNC to get a roll count (sic) is because Hillary Clinton didn`t resonate with a large part of this population.

She obviously ultimately won the nomination, but she had real problems that showed that even in her own -- even when she was getting nominated, she had issues kind of really sealing it up all the way until the summer. So I don`t think that you can say that the Wikileaks e-mails are why people didn`t trust Hillary Clinton.

REID: Yes. I think lot of people on the Clinton side would argue that 30 years of the media treating her in a certain particular way -- it didn`t just happen in a vacuum.

But we want to play an event last night in New York, Hillary Clinton with her top donors, and she talked about the Russian hacking. She called it not just an attack on her campaign, but also an attack against our country. Take a listen.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), FMR. PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Putin publicly blamed me for the outpouring of outrage by his own people. And that is the direct line between what he said back then and what he did in this election. I want you to know this because he is determined not only to, you know, score a point against me -- he did -- but also undermine our democracy.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

REID: I want to go quickly around the table and ask each of you what you think the political outcome and the political fallout will be of these revelations about Putin. You heard Hillary Clinton there saying that she specifically believes this was a vendetta against her. Kristen, I`ll start with you.

WELKER: Well, look, I think that you have a number of Democrats who are saying, We want to get to the bottom of this, not only those comments from Secretary Clinton, but of course, her campaign chair, John Podesta, writing, Something is wrong here, in that op-ed today, pointing to the fact that it`s unprecedented, really, that Russia would intervene in a U.S. election.

I think in terms of the political fallout, what is happening right now, it is creating a very tricky situation, if you will, for the current commander-in-chief and his successor. You heard President Obama today from the Briefing Room trying to take a much more careful line than Secretary Clinton took at that fund-raiser last night, still pointing the finger at Russia but not going so far as to say he thinks it had an actual impact on the election. I think he`ll continue to get pressed on that.

But he and President-elect Donald Trump -- you`ve heard them say this publicly so many times -- they want to make sure that the transition is smooth, and so you`re seeing them sort of resist attacking each other.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest had some sharp words for Donald Trump yesterday, but the president was much more careful in his tone today from the Briefing Room.

And I think politically, that`s part of the fallout of this. It is making this transition more complicated, I think, than either leader could have anticipated.

REID: Yes, absolutely. I think we might be out of time. Kristen Welker, Yamiche Alcindor, Eugene Robinson, thank you guys very much.

And coming up, President Obama is promising to take action against Russia, but with just a month left in office, what can he do and when can he do it?

And later, Republicans in North Carolina are stripping the power of the newly elected Democratic governor before he`s even sworn into office. Yes, you heard it right.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REID: Donald Trump is set to take the stage soon in Orlando, Florida, as he continues his thank you tour. We`ll bring you some of his remarks once he gets under way.

That and much more HARDBALL when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REID: Welcome back to HARDBALL. President Obama has again vowed to take punitive action against Russia, but with only a month until the end of his term, time is running out. What price will the Kremlin pay for meddling in the U.S. election is still an open question.

And as the president acknowledged on NPR today, there are no assurances that Donald Trump will necessarily do anything in response to Russia after he takes office.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It sounds like you hope any response would continue after January 20. But do you have any reason to know that it would?

OBAMA: Well, I -- you know, I can`t look into my crystal ball, and that`s probably a question better directed at the president-elect.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Ever since the news of the hackings broke well before the election, Trump has defended Russia, even against the conclusions made by the intelligence community in his own country. But President Obama gave Trump the benefit of the doubt in his press conference today, saying that the president-elect has yet to transition away from the partisanship of the campaign trail.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: When Donald Trump takes the oath of office and is sworn in as the 45th president of the United States, then he`s got a different set of responsibilities and considerations.

I think that the president-elect, you know, is still in transition mode from campaign to governance. I think what we have to see is, how will the president-elect operate and how will his team operate when they`ve been fully briefed on all these issues, they have their hands on all the levers of government, and they`ve got to start making decisions.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: I`m joined now by Naveed Jamali, who`s worked for the FBI as a double agent against Russian military intelligence. He`s the author of the book, "How to Catch a Russian Spy." And Malcolm Nance is an MSNBC terrorism and intelligence analyst and the author of the book, "The Plot to Hack America." All right, two of the perfect people to talk to about this situation.

Naveed, I`m going to go to you first because Malcolm and I spent the -- most of -- much of the afternoon watching the president`s speech together. So you`re the new guy for me today.

Give me your assessment of the FBI -- you worked with the FBI -- their very late sort of "come to Jesus" moment on Russian hacking.

NAVEED JAMALI, FMR. FBI DOUBLE AGENT: Well, first of all, Joy, I sort of feel like -- watching the president`s speech, I felt heroic it was that guy who`s just given two weeks` notice at work and is just he`s checking out. He`s going to show up, but he`s not really going to do much. I mean, it was pretty uninspiring.

Insofar as the FBI, you know, look, my sense is that there are sources and methods that the CIA has. They`re probably sharing that. The good news is I feel that by the president saying this is Russia, even though the public may not see this, this is actually going to have an impact on the Russians` ability to collect intelligence.

I think that just by saying, Hey, we know, Russia, what your sources and methods to do this, essentially, you`re saying those sources and methods are burned. And now Russia`s got to rebuild that.

So there is that silver lining to it. But beyond that, you know, I kind of have to say, I feel a little rudderless here.

REID: Well, what would you have wanted him to say?

JAMALI: I would like him to have this sort of Adlai Stevenson moment in the height of the Cuban missile crisis. I think he should have come out here, he should have laid out the evidence that says, Look, this -- Russia was behind Wikileaks. That`s what we`re talking about here. Russia stole the information of the DNC, released it to Wikileaks. And we know that Putin himself was directly either behind this or authorized it. So this was, in fact, a Russian intelligence operation.

I think we need to have this very clear-cut presentation and it needs to be laid out there, and he just isn`t doing that.

REID: Malcolm, do you agree with that, first of all? And second of all, what could the president in theory do in response with a month to go?

MALCOLM NANCE, MSNBC TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, the president could carry out an operation right now, and it would be over at the stroke of a key on a computer. And it could be -- or he could be placing systems in place that could worm their way through over a matter of months and create phenomenal mayhem.

The point is, we don`t know. And this is the nature of intelligence operations. You might recall -- and this was said earlier today -- this is the same man who went to the White House correspondents dinner and then played nine rounds of golf while, you know, (INAUDIBLE), while SEAL Team 6 was flying into Abbottabad, Pakistan, and shooting Bin Laden in the face. So in cyber warfare, the capabilities and the ability to inflict damage, like I said, can be instantaneous.

But you know, I personally think that the president should take a more aggressive approach, and if he doesn`t tell us, it`s going to come out in the briefings to Congress and then it`s going to come out when the president-elect takes over control of the country.

But you know, my preferred methodology for retaliation is steal their money. Go to the oligarchs, all their illicit billions of dollars, let the Russian cyber criminal gangs that are often subcontractors to the Pentagon do it. And I`m speaking to every intelligence watch officer in the world right now. Go take their money. You`re not going to hear any complaints from them. They will have to complain to Moscow.

REID: Interesting. Interesting. Well, the president today also warned of a potential cyber arms race. Let`s listen to that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: What we`ve also tried to do is to start creating some international norms about this to prevent some sort of cyber arms race because we obviously have offensive capabilities, as well as defensive capabilities.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: What could a cyber arms race look like, Naveed? And what would be the risks of doing that? I mean, we do know that there are other European countries that Russia has its sights on with their elections coming up, including Germany.

JAMALI: Well, the risk with anything cyber-related is always escalation, and more importantly, the transference from cyber to, you know, straight kinetic, which is to say bombs and bullets.

So I think that the danger here is always escalation. I don`t think the Russians actually want to escalate things with us. They`re not in a place militarily or economically to do so. And I don`t think we want that.

However, clearly when you do a cyber operation -- I mean, the big thing that you`re hoping for is non-attribution. And again I go back to that fact that perhaps the best method we have to combat this is to present proof and to actually say Russia`s behind this. You put them on notice. There is something to that. That actually has value.

And lastly, Joy, you know, when it comes to cyber weapons it`s not quite like shooting a missile or a bomb in that you use a cyber weapon. You can only use it once. Once you`ve used it, it`s almost like having your virus software. You can then build defenses to guard against it. So cyber weapons are a one-time use tool.

And I think that, you know, one of the best things we can guard against is actually knowing that Russia`s behind this. Then you build a defense. But you`ve got to call it for what it is. Let`s actually see the evidence and say Russia`s behind this.

JOY-ANN REID, MSNBC HOST: And let`s say they release that evidence. And the president does some sort of retaliation. How much confidence do you have that a Trump administration would continue said operation --

JAMALI: Oh.

REID: -- or that they wouldn`t just criticize the president for going after Russia with whom Donald Trump has a great, great affinity.

MALCOLM NANCE, MSNBC: You know, the president made an excellent point. They have to transition from this, you know, this sore winner electoral, you know, mindset that they have. And I`ve met people in the transition team and they are bitter about winning this election and not getting the credit that they want.

They need to understand governance is about to happen. Thirty days from when they take over control. And that doesn`t mean that the Russians will not attack this nation again. Because that`s what this was. It was an attack.

The problem is the attack could be aimed at them personally. Donald Trump has just been a communications wealth for Russian intelligence. They know everything that`s on his phone since 2012. I am certain of that. And they can have exploited him and they can manipulate him in the way that they just did Hillary Clinton. And every other member of Congress.

REID: Yes.

NANCE: This is their operational policy as a nation.

REID: That`s why, to that point, the president today said that he hoped that the Russian attack will not be treated as a partisan issue. However, Trump and his allies have consistently done exactly that. When the story first broke in June, the Trump campaign said in a statement, "The Democrats actually hacked themselves." Saying --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

"We believe it was the DNC that did the hacking as a way to distract the main issues facing a deeply flawed candidate."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: In the second debate, Trump again blamed Democrats and suggested the hacking may not have even happened at all.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: I notice any time anything wrong happens, they like to say, "The Russians." She doesn`t know if it`s the Russians doing the hacking. Maybe there is no hacking.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Even as recently as his last television interview, which was last weekend, Trump was still blaming the Democrats.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS: So why would the CIA put out the story that the Russians wanted you to win?

TRUMP: Well I`m not sure they put it out. I think the Democrats are putting it out because they suffered one of the greatest defeats in the history of politics in this country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Naveed, with the president surrounding himself with Russophiles from Rex Tillerson to General Flynn, how does somebody get through that phalanx of pro-Russian people and convince Donald Trump that he needs to treat Russia as an adversary, not as a pal.

JAMALI: Well you know, look. Malcolm and I just wrote an op-ed about, you know, what we feel is perhaps the last sort of method that we can get good information to the incoming president, and that`s the Director of National Intelligence.

The Director of National Intelligence -- we were talking about the FBI before. The FBI, of course under the DOJ, but in a counterintelligence capacity, they actually fall under the Director of National Intelligence.

So the Director of National Intelligence holds this incredibly important position in that he or she has to synthesize data from 60 intelligence agencies and present it to the president. That cabinet position is still open.

Malcolm and I have come out and said very strongly that we are hoping that Francis Townsend will fill that role. But you need someone who has credibility both with the president as well as with the intelligence community. And what you were seeing here is an absolute breakdown.

Again, Joy, just the last thing is -- you know, as an intelligence officer the point of intelligence as an analyst is not to bring in your bias. You`re supposed to take intelligence, analyze it, and present it objectively to decision makers so that they can then make an informed decision. That`s what the intelligence community does.

It`s not partisan. It`s not trying to push a particular course of action. And I think once the president hopefully -- once President-elect Trump gets sworn in, he will understand that that is actually what the intelligence community is trying to do here.

REID: Well it`s not partisan now. We don`t know what it`s going to be after January 20th. Naveed Jamali and Malcolm Nance, thank you both. Appreciate it.

And up next, newly elected Democratic governor of North Carolina, Roy Cooper, is threatening legal action against his state`s Republicans as they try to unseat him before he is even sworn into office. We`ll explain after the break. This is Hardball, the place for politics.

MILISSA REHBURGER: I`m Milissa Rehberger. Here`s what`s happening. The U.S. is demanding the return of an underwater drone seized by China in the South China Sea. The Pentagon says the unmanned glider was collecting scientific data when it was taken.

Mourners have been filing into the Ohio State House where the body of astronaut and former Senator John Glenn is lying in state. Glenn died last week at the age of 95.

And the First Family is headed to Hawaii for the holidays. They will return to Washington after the new year.

Back to Hardball.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROY COOPER, GOVERNOR-ELECT (D), NC : Most people might think that this is a partisan power grab. But it is really more ominous. If I believe that laws passed by the legislature hurt working families and are unconstitutional, they will see me in court. And they don`t have a very good track record there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Welcome back to Hardball. That was North Carolina Governor-elect, Democrat Roy Cooper, threatening legal action against his state`s Republican-controlled state legislature. Which in the past 24 hours took power grabbing to a whole new low.

North Carolina Republicans passed legislation to strip the power of the newly elected Democratic governor before he`s even sworn into office. And this afternoon, in what the Associated Press called an "extraordinary move," the defeated Republican governor, Pat McCrory, signed the legislature`s bills into law.

The new GOP-crafted law scaled back the team that the Democratic Governor- elect can bring into office, requires the Senate`s approval for top administrators at state agencies. And erases the governor`s ability to shape election boards state-wide.

I`m joined now by the Reverend Dr. William J. Barber. And Reverend Barber, this is extraordinary. Just everything that we`ve seen happen over the past week or so. Were you surprised having dealt with him now all these many years, that Governor McCrory signed this legislation?

REV. WILLIAM J. BARBER, PRESIDENT, NORTH CAROLINA NAACP: No, he`s been low.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

And this legislature`s been low. They`re not even Republicans. They are extremists. And they`ve constantly done things that the courts have overruled, and I believe the courts will overrule this again.

You know, I`m coming fresh from the General Assembly. Hundreds, nearly a hundred people were arrested. Hundreds showed up. People were arrested, Joy, for knocking on the door, trying to get into the gallery that`s supposed to be open to the public. They were arrested for -- because the legislators on the floor said their voices were too loud. And so they arrested them and took away their First Amendment right to protest. This is a cynical session, not a special session.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

And it`s the politics of Herod. You know, Herod was insecure on the throne during the time of Jesus. So he did everything he could to hold onto power. This is the politics of Herod, and not the politics of love and justice.

But it will all backfire on them. They are very unpopular. And it is just so tragically sad and cynical that the governor would sign something like this, and that Senator Berger and Speaker Moore would even pass these things.

REID: And you say they`re very unpopular, but they`ve also made it more difficult for people to vote. And they`ve been relentless and very open about trying to find ways to stop anybody who they don`t think will vote for them from going to the ballot box. Did these moves that the governor signed today make it harder for people to vote them out, if that`s what they want?

BARBER: Well it could. But on the other hand, you know, some of things that they`re doing because, as you know we don`t have the pre-clearance package under Section 5.

But let`s flip it over. They did this because they`re afraid. They`re afraid of this movement in North Carolina. They vote passed the worst voter suppression. We beat them. They passed the worst re-districting. We beat them in court. Now the courts have ruled that lines have to be drawn and we have to have new elections in the new year.

They purged voters. We beat them and we got those voters put back on the rolls. They cut 158 early voting sites, this year -- 158 less than we had in 2014. And we beat them. And the governor`s race, the AG`s race, the auditor`s race, the Secretary of State. And an African-American in North Carolina won 76 counties in North Carolina Joy, in the south, by a 350,000-vote margin.

They are scared. They know things are changing. They know a deeply marred, deeply constitutional anti-racist, anti-poverty fusion agenda can transform the south and come against the southern strategy. And they`ve tried everything. And we`ve beat them. And we`re going to beat them again. Because what they`ve done is unconstitutional and it`s immoral.

REID: Yes. Well Reverend Dr. Barber, we look forward to talking with you again tomorrow morning. We`re going to have much much more on this story. More with you, sir. Thank you very much.

BARBER: Thank you so much. Take care now.

REID: Thank you. And up next, Chris Matthews` interview with the screenwriter of the new film, "Jackie," which tells the story of First Lady, Jacqueline Kennedy, and her life following the assassination of her husband, President John F. Kennedy. That`s coming up.

You`re watching Hardball, the place for politics.

Welcome back to Hardball. Earlier this week, Chris Matthews sat down with the screenwriter of the new movie, "Jackie," about one of our most memorable First Ladies. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC: That was Natalie Portman brilliantly portraying Jacqueline Kennedy in that tragic day in Dallas of November 1963. It`s a scene from the new film, "Jackie," which chronicles how the First Lady faced the emotional whirlwind of her life following the assassination of her husband, John F. Kennedy. And as she describes it in the film, "I lost track somewhere what was real and what was performance." Well, here`s a clip.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHARACTER OF TEDDY WHITE: You`ll have to share something personal eventually. People won`t stop asking until you do.

CHARACTER OF JACQUELINE KENNEDY: And if I don`t, they`ll interpret my silence however they want? Her brow furrows. Her lips (INAUDIBLE) She holds back her tears but she can`t hide her anger.

CHARACTER OF TEDDY WHITE: Most writers want to be famous.

KENNEDY: You want to be famous?

WHITE: No, I am fine as I am, thank you.

KENNEDY: You should prepare yourself. This article will bring you a great deal of attention.

WHITE: Oh, in that case, any advice for me?

KENNEDY: Yes. Don`t marry the President. Are you sure I`m about to cry again?

WHITE: No I see you`re more likely to scream.

KENNEDY: Scream what?

WHITE: "My husband was a great man."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: I`m joined now by the screenwriter of this great film, "Jackie," by Noah Oppenheim, the man who wrote this book.

You know, I`ve told people of your age that 9/11 was a horror and an iconic moment in your life. But there is nothing in our lives like the death of John F. Kennedy. There`s nothing like it. And it`s very hard. In fact, when I`ve written about it myself, I`ve said, "I can`t deal with this, so I write around it."

NOAH OPPENHEIM, SCREENWRITER OF "JACKIE": Yes.

MATTHEWS: But you`ve written right to it. You go right to the heart of what hit this country so hard that Friday afternoon when we all got the word from Cronkite, most of us.

OPPENHEIM: Yes.

MATTHEWS: And that our President -- this young handsome guy who had everyone going for him including this beyond-belief beautiful wife -- everything --

OPPENHEIM: Yes.

MATTHEWS: -- going for him. And then he didn`t live anymore.

OPPENHEIM: Yes.

MATTHEWS: He was dead.

OPPENHEIM: Yes, it`s a stunning moment. And it`s funny -- you know -- my interest in Jackie Kennedy actually began because my mother was similarly scarred -- for lack of a better term -- by the assassination.

She was 13 years old at the time that it happened. And she can recall in vivid detail the principal of the school coming into her classroom. And, you know, she saved from that week in 1963 all of the newspapers and magazines. And so when I was a kid, I`d go to my grandmother`s house. I`d leaf through them. And that`s where my interest in Jackie sort of first began.

MATTHEWS: And Jackie, as she survived that day and as she went into it -- tell us about how -- what her fear was. About her husband`s legacy, the fear that she confronted in the interview with the -- with what really was -- the interview with Teddy White in there is a fictional character. But her interview with that reporter.

OPPENHEIM: Yes.

MATTHEWS: What she was fearful of. Tell us about that.

OPPENHEIM: Yes.

MATTHEWS: Because I think people don`t know that.

OPPENHEIM: Yes. I mean, it`s extraordinary.

She -- well, she had many fears in those immediate days afterward. She had the most mundane fear, where am I going to live? Where am I going to go? How am I going to support myself and my family? Which seems crazy to us now, but she really was worried about it.

And on the bigger picture level, she was concerned that her husband was going to be quickly relegated to the, you know, the dust bin of history and that his accomplishment in office would be quickly forgotten. I mean, you know, we now, the notion that John F. Kennedy would be forgotten seems preposterous, but he was not the first president that we lost to assassination. We had lost others before him.

And when you look at the short period of time, you know, a little less than three years, that he was in office, and you look at the list of things that he actually was able to accomplish. You know, the fact that he would now be remembered as amongst our most admired presidents, in most Gallup polls of the American people was not a fait accompli, was not guaranteed.

And it was only because of the work that Jackie did during that week after the assassination that he is thought of as highly as he is.

MATTHEWS: Well, I may buy some of that, but I also think there`s a reason why people who live through his presidency believe you should be on Mt. Rushmore of all our presidents. They say he`s the one that should be added because of his heroic stature. But there`s no doubt that she lit a candle for that.

Let me ask you about the word "assassination," and it`s like the word "impeachment."

OPPENHEIM: Yes.

MATTHEWS: When we were growing up in the `40s and `50s, no one had heard that word, except in old age, antiquated notions of impeach -- I mean, assassination was a word that went back to Garfield and McKinley and Lincoln.

OPPENHEIM: Yes.

MATTHEWS: We didn`t think of an assassination that happened in modern times, you know what I mean?

OPPENHEIM: Yes.

MATTHEWS: The idea of a president being shot and killed in front of us was -- it was just -- it didn`t seemed anachronistic.

OPPENHEIM: Yes, no, absolutely. And the on the most human level, and what we try to do in the film is imagine what Jackie Kennedy, the woman, not just the icon, endured during this period of time. And if you think about it, I mean, she was seated beside her husband when he was violently murdered and physically showered in his blood. She had to go home and, you know, talk about the world being upended for her.

It was a really personal thing. I mean, she had to go home and shepherd two young children through the tragic loss of their father. She had to deal with the trauma of having been this up-close, personal witness to, as I say, the violent murder of her husband. She had to vacate the home that she lived in.

You know, just, to me, the extraordinary strength that she displayed during this period of time, is mind boggling. People think of Jackie Kennedy as you said, at the beginning, you know, she`s this extraordinarily beautiful woman, incredibly stylish, glamorous, but the sort of steel beneath the surface that she possessed in order to navigate that week and months afterwards, it kind of blows the mind, when you think about all of the things that she was juggling and how just out of -- how unthinkable this thing -- this event was. And she was in the middle of it.

MATTHEWS: I love the part where she`s smoking and the reporter`s talking to her and she says, "I don`t smoke".

OPPENHEIM: Yes, well, she did smoke throughout their time in the White House and it was never photographed, never written about. Obviously, it was a different era, a different media climate.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

OPPENHEIM: But she was someone who really, intuitively understood the power of imagery and the role of television and photography and the role it could play in shaping people`s impressions of her husband and of her and she exercised extraordinary control over that image to great effect.

MATTHEWS: The name of the film is "Jackie," and thank you, the author, the screenwriter, Noah Oppenheim.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JOY REID, MSNBC GUEST HOST: Well, great interview. I cannot wait to see that film.

When we come back, President Obama responds to questions about Russia`s cyberattack, and Donald Trump makes a very controversial nomination to the U.S. ambassador to Israel. All of that when our HARDBALL roundtable comes up on HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REID: There`s more HARDBALL ahead. And please tune in for my show, "A.M. JOY," tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. We`ll have the latest on the Russian hacks, the North Carolina coup, and check in with Jerry Springer. "A.M. JOY," 10:00 a.m. Eastern, Saturday and Sunday on MSNBC. Be there!

We`ll be right back.

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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The truth is that there was nobody here who didn`t have some sense of what kind of effect it might have. I`m finding it a little curious that somebody is suddenly acting surprised that this looked like it was disadvantaging Hillary Clinton, because you guys wrote about it every day! Every single leak, about every little juicy tidbit of political gossip, including John Podesta`s risotto recipe. This was an obsession that dominated the news coverage.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: That was President Obama earlier today responding to a question about Russia`s cyberattack on the DNC and rolling WikiLeaks dumps of John Podesta`s e-mails during the 2016 campaign. Obama said, it shouldn`t be surprising to the press or anyone else that Russia`s hacking was intended to hurt Hillary Clinton and help Donald Trump win the presidency.

Let`s bring in the HARDBALL roundtable. Beth Fouhy is senior editor for politics at NBC News and MSNBC, Jeanne Zaino is a pollster and political scientist, and Azi Paybarah is the senior reporter at "Politico", New York.

Everybody`s names are hard to pronounce, but I think I got them all.

I`m going to go to you first, Azi, on this because the president, I think, made a valid point, that the press is behaving sort of shocked that the WikiLeaks had their desired effect. But, you know, I know on our show, we were saying from summer, beware of WikiLeaks, this is Russian intelligence, this is a Russian dump. But the media could not get enough of WikiLeaks.

AZI PAYBARAH, POLITICO: Right, but the president coming out later and blaming the press, it`s much easier from his point of view to blame the press than to actually stand up there and say Hillary Clinton didn`t run a great campaign, she may not have been the best campaign. She may not have been the best messenger for a changed election cycle, but to blame the media, this is something he could have addressed sooner.

REID: You know the president did address it. I mean, the time he addressed it in October and to the point our NBC News reporting was that after the White House put out a statement on October 7th which is the same day as the infamous "Access Hollywood" tape, the next time he did a press conference, the press asked him exactly zero questions about Russian hacking, zero questions.

Are you saying the media has no responsibility using this material?

PAYBARAH: 2016 is a year that a lot of people looked at what they did, what they wrote and said, I could have done better.

If the president is waiting for the press to ask him about this, that really says something. He could have been a lot more aggressive about bringing this forward.

Now, you`re right. People could have asked themselves, is this the right thing to be doing? Should we be paying this much attention? The president could have come out sooner and stronger on this issue.

REID: Beth, let me talk to you about this, because this has kind of been the storyline of this day in the last 24 hours, really throwing it on to the Obama administration and the media really saying, hey, don`t look at us.

But we did see, if you look at the number of stories done on Hillary Clinton`s e-mail server versus the number of stories done on Russian hacking, it`s not even close. And the WikiLeaks were used. They were developed into stories. Even "The New York Times" now come out and said we were used by the Russians. We did these stories as well.

Do you think that the media should take a step back and maybe take responsibility for that?

BETH FOUHY, MSNBC SR. POLITICAL EDITOR: Well, I think, I mean, I can only speak for myself. I can speak for the people who I worked with and I think over and over again every time, we did a story on these WikiLeaks e-mails, we would say that they came from a Russian hack. It`s not like we didn`t acknowledge that was there. We didn`t say it maybe definitively perhaps because we didn`t know. We now know much more, that, you know, there`s incontrovertible evidence apparently that an intelligence agency is telling us this.

I feel -- I sort of agree with Azi. I don`t disagree that all of us have a role to play in figuring how we got things wrong during the election, including many of us in news.

But at the same time, President Obama seemed more upset with the media than he did with the fact that Putin and the Russians did this. And I think that was a little jarring. I mean, I think a lot of Democrats, a lot of supporters of the president, a lot of supporters of Hillary Clinton wanted to see him come out and be really upset and emotional about the fact that the Russians did this and he didn`t seem to be.

REID: No, he`s been living with this eight years. We do know that he is no drama, Obama. I`m not sure why people think he`s going to change, any more than Donald Trump at 70s, he`s going to suddenly become super presidential.

But I want to go to you, Jeanne, and whether there`s a quantifiable way to tell how much damage each of these things did. You have the email story, which was a drumbeat for 18 months. It was constant. It was drip, drip, drip. It wasn`t anything smoking gun, but it just kept going.

You have the WikiLeaks tranche of information that wasn`t even really damning but was ongoing and it furthered the narrative of Hillary Clinton as this corrupt person. Then you have the FBI extraordinary happening which has never happened in a presidential election or 11 days out, the FBI director comes out and says, hey, we`ve got more e-mails.

Is there a way to quantify whether those things really did have an impact on the election or was it just something else, Hillary Clinton`s campaign not working?

JEANNE ZAINO, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY: I think over time that`s what scholars and researchers are going to be looking at, what`s the effect of all these things. If you just look at the Russian hacking, here`s part of the problem and here`s one of the concerns I have with President Obama`s statements today, which is that it`s fine to blame the media. But the issue that we as the American public deserve the information and the evidence on exactly what happened when, to whom, because that`s the only way you get to the bottom of the real question which you`re asking, which is did this change in election in any quantifiable way?

And for me to sit here and speculate or reporters to sit here and speculate, that`s all we`re doing. And so, we really depend on the government to give us the information, the hard facts so that we can move forward.

And that`s where I do agree with Beth and Azi on the fact that, you know, you can blame the media, but the media shouldn`t be out there making, you know, suppositions about what happened. They need hard evidence to tell us, then we can move forward from a policy perspective and say, this is what we wanted to have happen going forward.

REID: At the same time a lot of people would make the point that the media didn`t have hard evidence that, for instance, the Clinton Foundation had done anything illegal. That didn`t stop the "Associated Press" for doing a blockbuster story that Hillary Clinton met with Nobel laureates, right? The media doesn`t always need something definitive in order to pursue stories.

Well, I want to go to what will happen with the next administration. You have Donald Trump that`s got a lot of people on his team that are very soft on Putin. He`s got a very warm feeling toward Vladimir Putin.

What`s the expectation that whatever Barack Obama does, if he puts out -- if President Obama puts out the information, lays it out there definitively that this was Russia, puts the intelligence out, that the next administration will act on it?

PAYBARAH: None. I mean, this is a guy who very much says we have to change the paradigm between America`s relationship with Russia. That`s his stated goal.

And also, it`s going to be a wonderful sort of experiment to see what happens after a president attacked the intelligence community to be in charge of the intelligence community. Whatever reports they put out that he doesn`t like, he can dismiss.

REID: Yes, exactly.

All right. We`re going to have more. The roundtable is sticking around.

And up next, these three are going to tell me something I don`t know. Very easy thing to do.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REID: And we are back.

Beth, tell me something I don`t know.

FOUHY: So, last night, Hillary Clinton thanked donors, all those rich folks who gave money to her campaign at the Plaza Hotel. She had a very nice event. And at that event, it was closed to press but a few things leaked out. She was wearing the white suit that she wore in the third debate, white being the color of suffragettes.

And it seemed to be hopeful. It seemed to be saying we will march on. Just because we were defeated this time doesn`t mean that this is forever.

REID: Do we know what she`s going to do?

FOUHY: We don`t. We just know that she`s out walking her dogs in the woods quite a lot.

REID: Jeanne, we got to get around in the woods.

Tell me something I don`t know, Jeanne.

ZAINO: Well, given everything that`s going on with technology, whether it`s in the national security arena or whether it`s Microsoft announcing that they`re going to flood our lives with A.I. I`m looking at our cabinet level posts and I`m thinking that Donald Trump should do something innovative, which is we should move up the office of technology and make that a cabinet level post, because we do need somebody in this country who is going to help us regulate all the Microsofts and Apples and everybody else in the world who are going to be changing our lives with A.I. and everything else new in technology.

REID: I`m not sure he can pull it off with some of these cabinet picks.

Azi, tell me something I don`t know.

PAYBARAH: There was a lot of reports about hate crimes in New York City, especially after the election. Two days before the election, November 6, New York City police had reported 314 hate crimes.

REID: Wow.

PAYBARAH: The year before that for the entire year, 309.

REID: Wow, wow, it`s crazy.

OK. Well, thank you very much, Beth Fouhy, Jeanne. They took it away.

That`s HARDBALL for now. And Azi, Beth and Azi.

That`s HARDBALL for now.

"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