Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 12/21/2016

Guests: Sam Stein, Jack Kingston, Ken Vogel, Nayyera Haq, Heidi Przybyla, Jason Johnson

Show: HARDBALL Date: December 21, 2016 Guest: Sam Stein, Jack Kingston, Ken Vogel, Nayyera Haq, Heidi Przybyla, Jason Johnson

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Unpopular vote.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Joy Reid in Washington, D.C., in tonight for Chris Matthews.

Donald Trump spent the day in Mar-a-Lago meeting with military leaders, discussing national security issues. When he came outside for a moment, he briefly answered questions from reporters, one which of was about the recent terrorist attacks in Europe and what it means for his immigration policy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: Has it caused you to rethink or reevaluate your plan to (INAUDIBLE) immigration in the United States?

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: You`ve know my plans all along, and it`s -- and I`ve proven to be right 100 percent. What`s happening is disgraceful.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: It`s not the first time Trump has bragged about being right after a terrorist attack.

Meanwhile, the president-elect began the morning by doing something more familiar, griping about his popular vote loss to Hillary Clinton. According to Dave Wasserman at the Cook Political Report, the final popular vote numbers show Clinton leading by nearly 3 million votes. The tally has her winning 48.2 percent of the vote to Trump`s 46.1.

This morning, Trump responded to that news in a series of tweets. Quote, "Campaigning to win the Electoral College is much more difficult and sophisticated than the popular vote. Hillary focused on the wrong states," exclamation point. "I would have done even better in the election, if that`s possible, if the winner was based on popular vote, but would campaign differently. And I have not heard any of the pundits or commentators discussing the fact that I spent far less money on the win than Hillary on the loss," more (ph) exclamation point.

For more on all this, I`m joined by NBC`s Kristen Welker in Palm Beach, Florida. All right Kristen, so a rare opportunity for reporters to ask questions of Donald Trump. How much content were reporters able to get out of him?

KRISTEN WELKER, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, not a whole lot, Joy. That only lasted for a few minutes. They did get a few questions to him. As you point out, they asked if these terror attacks have caused him to reconsider his call for a Muslim ban. I thought his answer was interesting. You heard him sort of take credit for predicting the fact that there would be yet another terror attack, but didn`t really get into the details, the nitty-gritty about policy. What we`ve heard from some of his top advisers in recent day is that, Oh, no, he`s walking the Muslim ban back. That`s not what he`s been talking about.

And I think it underscores the fact that he hasn`t given a full press conference since he`s been elected. He hasn`t given a full press conference since July, in fact. So while he did answer a couple of questions, it wasn`t that sort of rigorous back and forth that you typically get when you have a press conference.

But there was one more interesting nugget that came out of that back and forth with reporters today, too, and that was that they asked him whether he saw the attacks abroad as an attack on Christianity, which is what he said in his statement. And he sort of walked that back, as well. He said, This is an attack on all of humanity.

That is certainly language that is a little bit softer, that speaks to a broader audience. So I thought that was an interesting shift in tone. We`ll have to see if that continues. Again, though, the press corps pressing him to give a full press conference. We understand that that`s likely not going to happen until January, Joy.

REID: Kristen Welker, thank you very much -- NBC`s Kristen Welker. Appreciate it.

Trump`s defenders reject the significance of winning the popular vote, chalking up the numbers to how well Clinton did in the state of California. This morning, Newt Gingrich argued Trump simply played the game better.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWT GINGRICH (R), FMR. HOUSE SPEAKER, FOX CONTRIBUTOR: This is the football season. A team can have more yards and lose the game. What matters is how many points you put on the board. The Electoral College is the points. Donald Trump runs -- ironically, the amateur understood the Electoral College mattered. The so-called professional forgot the Electoral College mattered, and that`s what mattered.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: So does the fact that Clinton got nearly 3 million more voters matter? And if it doesn`t, why is Donald Trump still griping about it on Twitter?

Sam Stein is the political editor for the Huffington Post. Hugh Hewitt is the host of "The Hugh Hewitt Show" on the Salem Radio Network. And both are MSNBC contributors. Thanks for being here, guys. Great to be here in person with you in D.C.

OK, I`m going to let you guys play armchair psychiatrists...

(LAUGHTER)

REID: ... for just a moment. And I`ll ask each of you -- Donald Trump won the election. The Electoral College certified him. Why does he seem, Sam, to be still so bothered by this popular vote number?

SAM STEIN, HUFFINGTONPOST, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: It`s a great question. I mean, first of all, I think, actually, Newt is right there. You know, he won by the rules that you play the game and he`s president and there`s no way to take that away. And if you are going to say that it matters, it is only to the extent that he can claim a mandate, which is sort of this symbolic thing anyway because if you win, you`re going to go about pursuing your agenda regardless.

So why does it bother him? I think it`s because he has a very healthy ego. And this is someone who notoriously obsessed over the ratings of every TV show he did and follows cable news religiously, might be watching right now. And I think he likes to think of himself as a winner in all facets. And so this is what probably gnaws at him at night.

HUGH HEWITT, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Ah!

(CROSSTALK)

REID: Go on. Go on.

HEWITT: No. The election deniers don`t bother him. The election deniers are on almost every cable show bringing up this irrelevant fact. She did win by a lot in the popular vote. It doesn`t matter.

I think he`s concerned about AP test takers because every time the popular vote comes up, I think someone gets a 2 or a 1 on the AP government test because they think it matters. It doesn`t matter. He follows the news. He responds to the news.

When are we going to stop talking about it? It`s Rutherford B. Hayes. It`s Benjamin Harrison. It`s John Quincy Adams. It doesn`t matter!

REID: That`s Ruther-fraud (ph) B. Hayes to you, my friend --

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

REID: ... Rutherford Hayes. You know, it is interesting because Donald Trump didn`t always like the Electoral College, and it is -- part of the reason that people are still talking about is, A, he`s still talking and tweeting about it and can`t seem to stop but also because he actually used to think that the Electoral College was almost a scam.

This weekend, Donald Trump did praise the Electoral College. Let`s listen to that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: The electoral vote -- and I never appreciated it until now, how genius it was, what they had in mind, because at the time, they didn`t want everybody going to Boston and New York and everything else would be forgotten. And now it`s the same thing. It`s genius. I`m telling you, it`s genius.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: But now I want to take you back to yesterday, to 2012, when Trump had a very different view of the Electoral College. After Barack Obama`s victory over Mitt Romney, Trump tweeted -- incorrectly, by the way -- that Romney won the popular vote but lost in the Electoral College. In reality, President Obama won both quite handily.

Trump wrote back then, quote, "The Electoral College is a disaster for democracy." He also tweeted, but later deleted this, "He lost the popular vote by a lot and won the election. We should have a revolution in this country!"

So yes, hypocrisy. However...

STEIN: I`m shocked.

REID: Shocked, right? But it does put a point out that one fundamental difference between Democrats and Republicans. If Donald Trump had won the popular vote by 3 million votes and lost in the Electoral College, he would be calling for revolution. Democrats...

STEIN: Do you disagree with that?

REID: ... are sort of...

HEWITT: I do. Absolutely.

STEIN: Oh, come on.

(CROSSTALK)

HEWITT: I believe in constitutional...

STEIN: Come on!

HEWITT: ... majorities. I mean...

(CROSSTALK)

REID: I don`t think about Donald Trump.

HEWITT: Some of his supporters might have been upset, but the Republican Party...

(CROSSTALK)

HEWITT: ... federalist party, a constitutional majority has always been the same way. I love the Electoral College. I`ve always loved it. I`m glad he`s evolved.

(LAUGHTER)

HEWITT: You can learn to appreciate the genius of Philadelphia...

(CROSSTALK)

REID: You`re speaking for the -- the Republican conservatives who`ve read the Federalist Papers.

HEWITT: Yes.

REID: That is not Donald Trump. I`m sure he doesn`t quite...

(CROSSTALK)

STEIN: I think that partisans on each side are a little bit selective in their outrage on this. I imagine -- I imagine that had the situation been reversed, Democrats would have been loving the Electoral College right now. And as you mentioned...

(CROSSTALK)

REID: ... calling for revolution.

STEIN: Trump -- and you know, it`s tough to put yourself in Trump`s head, but I happen to think he would have actually been holding a pitchfork, taking a selfie, doing an Instagram saying, We need to (INAUDIBLE)

REID: And his supporters would have been railing that the results were illegitimate and that the resulting president-elect was illegitimate.

HEWITT: You guys don`t understand Republicans.

REID: It is a complete reversal...

HEWITT: A couple days ago, Sam wrote a story about how...

STEIN: But it`s on his Twitter -- but hold on!

REID: It`s on his Twitter feed.

STEIN: It`s literally on his Twitter feed, right?

(CROSSTALK)

HEWITT: But that Twitter is an exclamatory way to make a headline...

STEIN: That`s all I`m saying.

HEWITT: ... not an argument, not a revolution.

STEIN: That`s all I`m saying.

(CROSSTALK)

HEWITT: A couple of days ago, you wrote a story that said that...

STEIN: Oh, man! Oppo research on me!

HEWITT: ... Trump`s people are anti -- are homophobic. And you know, when Richard Grennel ends up in a senior position...

STEIN: I wrote a story that said the Trump people are homophobic?

HEWITT: ... that he had been advised to purge all of the gay people...

(CROSSTALK)

STEIN: Oh, no, no. The story, if you want to be correct -- the Family Research Council called for Trump to take (ph) to the State Department, looking for people who have pushed the gay agenda, literally quoting the Family Research Council.

(CROSSTALK)

STEIN: No, no, because you just maligned me. You just maligned me. I never, ever, for the record, said Trump`s people are homophobic. I reported...

HEWITT: So you agree. Good.

STEIN: No, I know Rick Grennel. I like Rick Grennel. But the Family Research Council called for the State Department to purge people pushing an LGBT agenda. That was the story.

REID: So let`s get back...

(CROSSTALK)

REID: ... on the rails just for one second because we do want to talk a little bit about the Electoral College because there`s a bigger picture here, which is that you have Republicans, essentially, dismissing your state, the state you live in, California, and pretending that it should essentially should be thrown off the map and that, you know, one eighth of this country`s population doesn`t matter.

I mean, the reality is, Hillary Clinton`s popular vote majority is a fact. And the way it`s relevant, I would argue and a lot of Democrats would argue is that it would -- it should chasten Donald Trump in terms of his mandate. It has not, right?

HEWITT: No.

REID: It simply has not.

HEWITT: Because you would be crazy to spend a dollar in California if you`re a Republican running for California, absolutely out of your mind to spend a dollar in New York, in the same way that Secretary Clinton should not have spent a dollar in Texas, or if she did spend money in Georgia, it was stupidly spent.

REID: I don`t know if people would argue about that Texas thing (ph) because I think Democrats made up some ground in Texas that could pay dividends in the future.

But we have to go to this. We have to get this in. Last night on his Fox News show, Bill O`Reilly defended the Electoral College in the strangest way. He said liberals wanted to get rid of it in order to focus presidential campaigns on urban areas, OK (INAUDIBLE) with large populations of minority voters. The result, he argued, would marginalize white voters. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL O`REILLY, THE O`REILLY FACTOR: In the large urban areas and blue states like New York and California, minorities are substantial. Look at the landscape -- Philadelphia, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Miami. In all of these places, the minority vote usually goes heavily to the Democrats.

"Talking Points" believes this is all about race. The left sees white privilege in America as an oppressive force that must be done away with. Therefore, white working class voters must be marginalize, and what better way to do that than center the voting power in the cities!

Summing up, left wants power taken away from the white establishment. They want a profound change in the way America is run. Taking voting power away from the white precincts is the quickest way to do that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Guys, I mean, other than the Afrikaners in the 1980s, I have never heard that particular argument for a system of -- I don`t know what he`s arguing for. I`ll let you talk about it.

STEIN: Well, I`m not quite sure, either. You usually don`t say that stuff out loud, let alone write it into your "Talking Points Memo."

REID: It was in the prompter, right?

STEIN: Yes, it was in the prompter.

REID: He wasn`t freestyling.

STEIN: Yes, he wasn`t, like, freelancing there.

REID: No.

STEIN: You know, he`s kind of right in some respects, right? I mean, we have an electoral system that puts a lot of emphasis on people going out to urban, suburban areas. I mean, it`s not just the Electoral College system. The first two states in the primaries are Iowa and New Hampshire. They have incredibly low minority populations.

And so because of that, there`s a cumulative effect, I think, where politicians focus on issues that sort of tend to deal with white suburban, white working class voters.

(CROSSTALK)

STEIN: And there`s not much of an urban policy that comes to the fore...

HEWITT: The inconvenient fact is the Electoral College was designed when only white men could vote, and therefore it was not designed to oppress black voters, who, in fact, were not citizens and couldn`t vote but were enslaved.

REID: Except that it was designed to ensure the promulgation of slavery because it was...

(CROSSTALK)

HEWITT: It was small state, large state.

REID: ... the slave-holding states...

HEWITT: It was small state, large state, and that`s why it still works today.

STEIN: But even putting the origins aside, you can look at it objectively and say, OK, we have a system where -- and this is true certainly in the 2016 election -- where a lot of focus, attention, and influence (ph) was put on these Rust Belt states.

Now, you can say that`s a great system or not, but actually, O`Reilly`s on to something, which is that if you are operating within the contours of that system, you end up emphasizing issues and focusing on voters that aren`t necessarily representative of the population (INAUDIBLE)

REID: And meanwhile, there are very important issues facing urban communities, multi -- sort of diverse communities...

STEIN: Correct.

REID: ... that wind up getting marginalized. I`m not sure that`s a great system, but we can debate that another day. Sam Stein...

HEWITT (?): And we shall.

REID: ... and Hugh Hewitt -- and we shall. Thank you very much, guys. Appreciate it.

And coming up -- happy holidays, merry Christmas, et cetera, happy Hanukkah...

(CROSSTALK)

STEIN (?): Thank you.

REID: What will happen when the establishment Republicans -- what will happen to establishment Republicans who dare to oppose Donald Trump?

And later -- a manhunt is under way in Germany for the suspect who rammed a truck into a crowded market in Berlin on Monday, killing 12 people. We`ll have the latest.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REID: If you are a fan of HARDBALL, and clearly you are, you know there`s one movie that Chris Matthews loves more than any other, and it is "Love Actually," the British romantic comedy that has become a Christmas season favorite.

Well, "The Washington Post" wanted to check out why Chris is so fascinated with the movie, so they decided to watch it with him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST, "HARDBALL": (INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) Thanks so much for being able to do this.

We started with Matthews`s very favorite moment of the film when the British prime minister, played by Hugh Grant, tells off the American president, played by Billy Bob Thornton.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, has it been a good visit?

BILLY BOB THORNTON, ACTOR: Very satisfactory indeed. We got what we came for.

MATTHEWS: Isn`t he great? Billy Bob. I hear he watches HARDBALL.

(CROSSTALK)

HUGH GRANT, ACTOR: I fear that this has become a bad relationship.

MATTHEWS: OK. Here`s why we all like that scene, because we love courage. We love guts under pressure. And we like the fact that he was chivalrous.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: That`s great. Go to Washingtonpost.com see and read the full story. And we`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Speaker Paul Ryan -- I`ve really come...

(BOOS)

TRUMP: Oh, no! I`ve 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`s like a fine wine. 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?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Welcome back to HARDBALL. That was Donald Trump defending Speaker Paul Ryan last week after the crowd at one of his thank you rallies booed the Republican leader in his home state of Wisconsin.

It`s an example of the kind of backlash that establishment Republicans could face if they`re perceived as standing in the way of Trump`s agenda. As Politico reports, "Since the election, numerous congressional Republicans have refused to publicly weigh in on any Trump proposal at odds with Republican orthodoxy, from his border wall to his massive infrastructure package. The most common reason stated repeatedly but always privately, they`re afraid of being attacked by Breitbart or other big name Trump supporters."

The piece also notes that the Republican office holders see Trump`s unabashed use of his Twitter account to shame critics as the most foreboding threat. And this comes as Trump`s former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, today announced the formation of a government relations consulting firm designed to, quote, "make sure the priorities of the Trump administration become reality."

I`m joined now by former Republican congressman Jack Kingston, as well as Ken Vogel, chief investigative reporter at Politico. Thank you both for being here.

I`m going to defer first to the congressman, as I want to do, as I like to do. This idea that elected members of Congress -- it is a co-equal branch of government, the Congress, but the idea that people are already intimidated to speak out on things that they disagree with Donald Trump on- that doesn`t bode well, does it? We don`t have divided government, so all we have are the checks and balances that Republicans are willing to put in place. Does this mean there won`t be any?

JACK KINGSTON (R-FL), FORMER CONGRESSMAN: No. I think that there`s just this new governing reality that Republicans are going to have to get into because, you know, for eight years, they`ve been under Barack Obama. That could say anything they want. Often, they did not have to vote on appropriations or budget bills and stuff.

But now they`re governing, and one of the dilemmas is, Do you vote for a debt ceiling increase or not? When you`re in the minority, your vote doesn`t count, so you can say anything you want.

REID: Right.

KINGSTON: And now, you know, they realize not only do they have to be careful what they say because of all of the...

REID: Be careful why? I mean, because in the piece in Politico, they talk about people actually being afraid that Trump will tweet at them, which -- it seems sort of silly to be intimidated by tweets, but then it will send hordes of Breitbart fans and people sending really nasty, almost threatening messages back to them and that some have already had that happen. People are afraid to oppose (INAUDIBLE)

KINGSTON: Yes. I had the honor of serving under three presidents in four different speakers. I was in the minority twice and in the majority twice. And I can tell you that when you`re in the majority, you do have to be a lot more careful what you say and how you vote. And there are consequences often from your own side.

For example, a Republican would not want to be on the wrong side of the NRA any more than a Democrat would want to be on the wrong side of the AFL-CIO or the Sierra Club. You just have to be careful what you say.

And, you know, with George Bush, for example, we had to vote for No Child Left Behind right off the bat, Medicare Part D was a vote that a lot of Republicans didn`t want. Trade agreements and so forth.

But, you know, if it is your party in the White House, you want your party to be successful. And that often means supporting them in public. And, you know, there is a great room which I know you guys have been to, HC-5 where both parties have their conference meeting weekly.

Say it in HC-5, behind closed doors, raise all the Cain you want. Don`t take it outside the room. And so I think that`s the bigger message.

But in this case, you have a powerful phenomenon in that the chief executive officer, the president has Twitter. And the last thing you want is, gee, I hope Congressman Kingston votes for my budget package tomorrow, you know, he has been undecided.

That goes into my district and all of a sudden my phone blows up with constituents saying, what are you doing not voting for the president? The president is always going to be more popular than Congress.

REID: What you`re describing the sort of normal back-and-forth of politics, but, Ken, what we`re hearing, you know, and what Politico is reporting is something very different. It`s intimidation. It`s sort of thug politics a little, is what we`re reading, that certain members -- there was a particular member who Breitbart went after. And it`s for -- you know, Bill Flores. And he didn`t even like hard oppose the president.

And here`s the example, Republican Congressman Bill Flores of Texas offered some just mild criticism of Trump`s agenda. He was singled out by a right- wing websites which in turn spurred a mob of Trump loyalists to go after him on Twitter.

One of them tweeted, "Get in Donald Trump`s way, and we will burn your career down until you are reduced to selling life insurance." Another wrote simply, "Bill Flores, you can go hang yourself."

We saw some of this with the tea party that attacked Democrats during the passage of health care. But that is more than just the jockeying that the congressman describes.

VOGEL: Yes. I think there are a couple of key differences from the era that the congressman is talking about and the era where he was part of House leadership, which is that so much more of this stuff is happening publicly. It is happening over Twitter. It is happening over these websites that didn`t exist. It is a much more fragmented media environment, a much more partisan media environment.

And then also, the party leadership does not have the sort of carrots that they could use like in the past in these private meetings to sort of coax people to support...

REID: No earmarks.

VOGEL: No earmarks. That`s a prime example. Also the party committees, the campaign committees are much less powerful, they have much less money because Citizens United sort blew up the campaign finance infrastructure, empowered these super PACs outside of the parties.

So there`s less incentive for these members to kind of come along and reach these behind-closed-door deals. And much more incentive for an incoming chief executive to use the bully pulpit and all of these new techniques that are available in the sort of pantheon of the bully pulpit to try to get his way.

REID: Yes. I want to ask you very quickly about the Corey Lewandowski PAC. But I have a question for the congressman too. So very quickly, Corey Lewandowski PAC, is that going to make even more intimidation happen?

VOGEL: I mean, certainly the way that he`s framing this is that he wants to help Donald Trump`s agenda from the outside. I see a certain financial motivation behind it as well.

REID: Sure, a lobbying firm.

VOGEL: And I think that he`ll probably be able to raise a lot of money or get a lot of business from folks who want to convince Trump, not necessarily folks who want to help Trump.

REID: (INAUDIBLE) and I would remiss if I didn`t ask you, Congressman, you were recently in Moscow, you were in Russia talking with American business leaders. What were you -- who sent you? Were you sent there by the Trump team? Who were you talking to and what were you talking about?

KINGSTON: Well, let me say this, I was a surrogate for Trump during the campaign. That ended promptly election night. Since then I`ve been a Trump supporter but totally on my own.

I went over there because I work with an international law firm that has an office there. And we`ve had post-election and pre-election meetings in Brussels and in Sydney, Australia, and London. We have one in Washington, D.C.

So I met with the American Chamber over there and gave them, you know, my two cents. We would have done it if it was Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders. We -- this is just sort of what we do.

But meeting with American businesses and saying, you know, the tensions out there between Russia and America, you have got hacking, you`ve got Crimea, you`ve got Ukraine, you`ve got Syria. How do you deal with it as business people? Many of them have been there. And these Fortune 500 companies. They`ve been there 30 years. They have something to say and could they be part of a positive relationship built?

REID: Right. Well, we definitely want to -- I would love to continue this conversation and talk with you because I would also love to get your take on some of these conflicts of interests, because that is one of the big questions. So we`ll have to have you back.

Jack Kingston and Ken Vogel, thank you both very much.

And up next, as the manhunt continues across Europe for the suspect in the truck attack in Berlin that killed 12 people, just what is Donald Trump`s anti-terrorism plan? This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

REID: Welcome back to HARDBALL. The manhunt continues across Europe today for the man wanted in connection with Monday`s deadly truck attack in Berlin which killed 12 people. The suspect has been identified as a 24- year-old Tunisian man named is Anis Amri. For the latest we now go to NBC`s Matt Bradley in Berlin.

Matt, what can you tell us about that manhunt?

MATT BRADLEY, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know that actually he`s 23 years old and he`s turning 24 today our time. Tomorrow, your time, Joy. Now you can imagine how he is going to be spending that birthday on the lam.

But this man, he fits the profile, if there is such a profile, of these lone wolf jihadis who have been striking out on their own in the West, inspired by Islamic State, and later their attacks have been claimed by Islamic State.

We have seen the same thing in Bataclan, in Brussels, and even Orlando. And it`s not because of their unique belief in some conservative ideology or some austere version of Islam. It is really because of the opposite.

He has had a long history with police. He has been through six aliases. He has pretended to be from at least three different nationalities. And he has had run-ins with cops in three different countries, Tunisia, Italy, and then Germany.

And now a lot of this is coming from, you know, weapons dealing, drugs dealing, brawling, alcohol abuse, none of it has any real connection with any form of conservative Islam that you and I might recognize.

But at the end of the day, the German authorities are feeling quite embarrassed that they had this man in their crosshairs and they let him go, not once but more than once.

And so this manhunt, they actually have quite a lot of information about this man. He was actually pegged for deportation about a year ago. And he wasn`t deported because the Tunisian authorities reportedly weren`t able to verify he was in fact a Tunisian when they were planning to deport him.

So now what`s happening is this expanding manhunt, not just here in Berlin, not just here in Germany, but throughout Europe. And now there is more than $100,000 being offered as a reward for information on this man.

And we have no idea exactly where he is. But the political implications are going to be vast.

I just attended a protest and a counter-protest a couple of blocks behind me here in downtown Berlin, where there were neo-Nazis who were facing off against a much larger group of counter-fascists. And all of this is going to be coming in the next election when Angela Merkel, the chancellor, fights for her political life -- Joy.

REID: Thank you so much, Matt Bradley, appreciate it.

And in the wake of recent attacks across Europe, Donald Trump tweeted on Monday that "the civilized world must change its thinking." He has often said that defeating ISIS will be the top priority of his administration. But with a month until he takes office, his strategy remains vague at best.

Here`s a look at some of the campaign promises Trump has made about taking on ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know more about ISIS than the generals do, believe me.

If Putin wants to go and knock the hell out of ISIS, I am all for it 100 percent.

I`m looking at Assad and saying, maybe he`s better than the kind of people that we`re supposed to be backing.

You have to go in and take the oil. You kill them at the head. It`s over. They took the oil from Iraq.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC ANCHOR: So you would the oil fields?

TRUMP: I would bomb the hell out of them. I`d bomb the fields.

I`m going to bomb the (expletive deleted) out of them. It`s true. I don`t care.

I would blow up the pipes. I would blow up the -- I would blow up every single inch. There would be nothing left. And you know what? You`ll get Exxon to come in there and in two months, you ever see these guys, how good they are, the great oil companies? They`ll rebuild that sucker brand new. It will be beautiful. And I would ring and it and I`d take the oil.

We`re going to declare war against ISIS. We have to wipe out ISIS. These are people that.

(CROSSTALK)

LESLEY STAHL, "60 MINUTES" ANCHOR: With troops on the ground?

TRUMP: I am going to have very few troops on the ground.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How are we going to take oil? How are we going to do that?

TRUMP: We would leave a certain group behind and you would take various sections where they have the oil.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: I`m joined now by a former Nayyera Haq, former State Department spokesperson and senior adviser.

So, Nayyera, that was an interesting montage. Let`s unpack that just a little bit. When Donald Trump has said repeatedly that he would go in and he would solve the crisis with ISIS by taking Iraq`s oil and then bombing the oil fields in Iraq and Syria and then having Exxon rebuild it. Hmm, Rex Tillerson is about to be his secretary of state, who is the CEO of Exxon. That`s convenient.

What does that kind of talk -- how does that resound in the Middle East?

NAYYERA HAQ, FORMER STATE DEPARTMENT SENIOR ADVISER: Well, it resounds quite well with his base here in the United States, right? It`s a very simple message that people can grasp onto. There is something bad going on in the world and we`re going to hit back hard.

Unfortunately, overseas and the way reality works in the international order, solutions are a little bit more complex than that.

And, for example, just saying that bombing oil fields in Iraq is going to stop the ISIS problem, well, we have, actually, the United States and our coalition have been bombing in Iraq and in Syria, ISIS`s strategic points, and that`s part of the problem.

It`s as they`re losing organizational control in Iraq and Syria, they`re spreading out into Europe. So it has actually created -- by operating in a traditional warfare, we`ve actually increased the problem and the challenge to directly Western targets.

So this is part of the nuance, understanding that it is necessary. Unfortunately it seems like the president-elect is far more interested in pandering to his base and making some broad statements than actually offering solutions to the problem.

REID: One of the other solutions that he has talked about is giving a lot more latitude to Russia, but it is Russia`s bombing of Aleppo and the devastation there that at least, from what we can tell, contributed to the gunman who went and killed the Russian ambassador. So the exporting of terrorism and anger is tied in some ways to what Russia is doing. How will that work?

HAQ: And Russia is playing a similar game as well. They`re telling their people and they`re telling the rest of the world as well that the reason they are involved in Syria is because they`re attacking terrorist targets.

Well, what we know as we`ve seen just from the images, the Russians have partnered with Assad to oppress what would be -- was actually a civil war and oppressing and killing millions of people, men, women, and children.

So this is part of the information communication campaign which Trump seems to be doing quite well on that front. But the communication effort isn`t translating, as far as we can see, into anything tactical on the ground that`s going to deliver results.

REID: And very quickly, you`ve had this now alignment with these far right parties in Europe, the neo-Nazis now marching in Germany. How does this alignment with sort of that kind of Christian versus Islam -- sort of that kind of rhetoric, how does that impact, very quickly?

HAQ: Well, I think there are two parts to that. We also see that General Flynn has met with some far right nationalists and folks from Austria. So there is clearly an interest in working with these folks to address this war.

But the challenge is by calling it a holy war, you`re legitimizing what ISIS is trying to do. You`re giving them the credit that would go normally to a faith rather than saying, they are inhumane, they are terrorists. You`re giving them credibility they want, and frankly they want to be at war with the civilized world. And we would be catering to it if we look at it in that lens.

REID: Yes, instead of looking at the fact this was somebody with obviously long criminal background that we saw in these Berlin attacks. Thank you so much, Nayyera Haq, appreciate it.

And up next, President Obama has less than month to go in office. And tonight we ask, what will his legacy be? And how much might Trump try to undo? We`ll pose that question to the HARDBALL roundtable. You`re watching HARBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What I can say with confidence is that what we`ve done works. That I can prove. I can show you where we were in 2008 and I can show you where we are now. And you can`t argue that we`re not better off. We are.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Welcome back to HARDBALL. That was President Obama during what was likely to be his final press conference as the 44th president of the United States, making the case for his legacy and success. . four different speakers, I was in the minority twice and in the majority twice. And I can tell you that when you`re in the majority, you do have to be a lot more careful what you say and how you vote. And there are consequences often from your own side.

For example, a Republican would not want to be on the wrong side of the NRA any more than a Democrat would want to be on the wrong side of the AFL-CIO or the Sierra Club. You just have to be careful what you say.

And, you know, with George Bush, for example, we had to vote for No Child Left Behind right off the bat, Medicare Part D was a vote that a lot of Republicans didn`t want. Trade agreements and so forth.

But, you know, if it is your party in the White House, you want your party to be successful. And that often means supporting them in public. And, you know, there is a great room which I know you guys have been to, HC-5 where both parties have their conference meeting weekly.

Say it in HC-5, behind closed doors, raise all the Cain you want. Don`t take it outside the room. And so I think that`s the bigger message.

But in this case, you have a powerful phenomenon in that the chief executive officer, the president has Twitter. And the last thing you want is, gee, I hope Congressman Kingston votes for my budget package tomorrow, you know, he has been undecided.

That goes into my district and all of a sudden my phone blows up with constituents saying, what are you doing not voting for the president? The president is always going to be more popular than Congress.

REID: What you`re describing the sort of normal back-and-forth of politics, but, Ken, what we`re hearing, you know, and what Politico is reporting is something very different. It`s intimidation. It`s sort of thug politics a little, is what we`re reading, that certain members -- there was a particular member who Breitbart went after. And it`s for -- you know, Bill Flores. And he didn`t even like hard oppose the president.

And here`s the example, Republican Congressman Bill Flores of Texas offered some just mild criticism of Trump`s agenda. He was singled out by a right- wing websites which in turn spurred a mob of Trump loyalists to go after him on Twitter.

One of them tweeted, "Get in Donald Trump`s way, and we will burn your career down until you are reduced to selling life insurance." Another wrote simply, "Bill Flores, you can go hang yourself."

We saw some of this with the tea party that attacked Democrats during the passage of health care. But that is more than just the jockeying that the congressman describes.

VOGEL: Yes. I think there are a couple of key differences from the era that the congressman is talking about and the era where he was part of House leadership, which is that so much more of this stuff is happening publicly. It is happening over Twitter. It is happening over these websites that didn`t exist. It is a much more fragmented media environment, a much more partisan media environment.

And then also, the party leadership does not have the sort of carrots that they could use like in the past in these private meetings to sort of coax people to support...

REID: No earmarks.

VOGEL: No earmarks. That`s a prime example. Also the party committees, the campaign committees are much less powerful, they have much less money because Citizens United sort blew up the campaign finance infrastructure, empowered these super PACs outside of the parties.

So there`s less incentive for these members to kind of come along and reach these behind-closed-door deals. And much more incentive for an incoming chief executive to use the bully pulpit and all of these new techniques that are available in the sort of pantheon of the bully pulpit to try to get his way.

REID: Yes. I want to ask you very quickly about the Corey Lewandowski PAC. But I have a question for the congressman too. So very quickly, Corey Lewandowski PAC, is that going to make even more intimidation happen?

VOGEL: I mean, certainly the way that he`s framing this is that he wants to help Donald Trump`s agenda from the outside. I see a certain financial motivation behind it as well.

REID: Sure, a lobbying firm.

VOGEL: And I think that he`ll probably be able to raise a lot of money or get a lot of business from folks who want to convince Trump, not necessarily folks who want to help Trump.

REID: (INAUDIBLE) and I would remiss if I didn`t ask you, Congressman, you were recently in Moscow, you were in Russia talking with American business leaders. What were you -- who sent you? Were you sent there by the Trump team? Who were you talking to and what were you talking about?

KINGSTON: Well, let me say this, I was a surrogate for Trump during the campaign. That ended promptly election night. Since then I`ve been a Trump supporter but totally on my own.

I went over there because I work with an international law firm that has an office there. And we`ve had post-election and pre-election meetings in Brussels and in Sydney, Australia, and London. We have one in Washington, D.C.

So I met with the American Chamber over there and gave them, you know, my two cents. We would have done it if it was Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders. We -- this is just sort of what we do.

But meeting with American businesses and saying, you know, the tensions out there between Russia and America, you have got hacking, you`ve got Crimea, you`ve got Ukraine, you`ve got Syria. How do you deal with it as business people? Many of them have been there. And these Fortune 500 companies. They`ve been there 30 years. They have something to say and could they be part of a positive relationship built?

REID: Right. Well, we definitely want to -- I would love to continue this conversation and talk with you because I would also love to get your take on some of these conflicts of interests, because that is one of the big questions. So we`ll have to have you back.

Jack Kingston and Ken Vogel, thank you both very much.

And up next, as the manhunt continues across Europe for the suspect in the truck attack in Berlin that killed 12 people, just what is Donald Trump`s anti-terrorism plan? This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

REID: Welcome back to HARDBALL. The manhunt continues across Europe today for the man wanted in connection with Monday`s deadly truck attack in Berlin which killed 12 people. The suspect has been identified as a 24- year-old Tunisian man named is Anis Amri. For the latest we now go to NBC`s Matt Bradley in Berlin.

Matt, what can you tell us about that manhunt?

MATT BRADLEY, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know that actually he`s 23 years old and he`s turning 24 today our time. Tomorrow, your time, Joy. Now you can imagine how he is going to be spending that birthday on the lam.

But this man, he fits the profile, if there is such a profile, of these lone wolf jihadis who have been striking out on their own in the West, inspired by Islamic State, and later their attacks have been claimed by Islamic State.

We have seen the same thing in Bataclan, in Brussels, and even Orlando. And it`s not because of their unique belief in some conservative ideology or some austere version of Islam. It is really because of the opposite.

He has had a long history with police. He has been through six aliases. He has pretended to be from at least three different nationalities. And he has had run-ins with cops in three different countries, Tunisia, Italy, and then Germany.

And now a lot of this is coming from, you know, weapons dealing, drugs dealing, brawling, alcohol abuse, none of it has any real connection with any form of conservative Islam that you and I might recognize.

But at the end of the day, the German authorities are feeling quite embarrassed that they had this man in their crosshairs and they let him go, not once but more than once.

And so this manhunt, they actually have quite a lot of information about this man. He was actually pegged for deportation about a year ago. And he wasn`t deported because the Tunisian authorities reportedly weren`t able to verify he was in fact a Tunisian when they were planning to deport him.

So now what`s happening is this expanding manhunt, not just here in Berlin, not just here in Germany, but throughout Europe. And now there is more than $100,000 being offered as a reward for information on this man.

And we have no idea exactly where he is. But the political implications are going to be vast.

I just attended a protest and a counter-protest a couple of blocks behind me here in downtown Berlin, where there were neo-Nazis who were facing off against a much larger group of counter-fascists. And all of this is going to be coming in the next election when Angela Merkel, the chancellor, fights for her political life -- Joy.

REID: Thank you so much, Matt Bradley, appreciate it.

And in the wake of recent attacks across Europe, Donald Trump tweeted on Monday that "the civilized world must change its thinking." He has often said that defeating ISIS will be the top priority of his administration. But with a month until he takes office, his strategy remains vague at best.

Here`s a look at some of the campaign promises Trump has made about taking on ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know more about ISIS than the generals do, believe me.

If Putin wants to go and knock the hell out of ISIS, I am all for it 100 percent.

I`m looking at Assad and saying, maybe he`s better than the kind of people that we`re supposed to be backing.

You have to go in and take the oil. You kill them at the head. It`s over. They took the oil from Iraq.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC ANCHOR: So you would the oil fields?

TRUMP: I would bomb the hell out of them. I`d bomb the fields.

I`m going to bomb the (expletive deleted) out of them. It`s true. I don`t care.

I would blow up the pipes. I would blow up the -- I would blow up every single inch. There would be nothing left. And you know what? You`ll get Exxon to come in there and in two months, you ever see these guys, how good they are, the great oil companies? They`ll rebuild that sucker brand new. It will be beautiful. And I would ring and it and I`d take the oil.

We`re going to declare war against ISIS. We have to wipe out ISIS. These are people that.

(CROSSTALK)

LESLEY STAHL, "60 MINUTES" ANCHOR: With troops on the ground?

TRUMP: I am going to have very few troops on the ground.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How are we going to take oil? How are we going to do that?

TRUMP: We would leave a certain group behind and you would take various sections where they have the oil.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: I`m joined now by a former Nayyera Haq, former State Department spokesperson and senior adviser.

So, Nayyera, that was an interesting montage. Let`s unpack that just a little bit. When Donald Trump has said repeatedly that he would go in and he would solve the crisis with ISIS by taking Iraq`s oil and then bombing the oil fields in Iraq and Syria and then having Exxon rebuild it. Hmm, Rex Tillerson is about to be his secretary of state, who is the CEO of Exxon. That`s convenient.

What does that kind of talk -- how does that resound in the Middle East?

NAYYERA HAQ, FORMER STATE DEPARTMENT SENIOR ADVISER: Well, it resounds quite well with his base here in the United States, right? It`s a very simple message that people can grasp onto. There is something bad going on in the world and we`re going to hit back hard.

Unfortunately, overseas and the way reality works in the international order, solutions are a little bit more complex than that.

And, for example, just saying that bombing oil fields in Iraq is going to stop the ISIS problem, well, we have, actually, the United States and our coalition have been bombing in Iraq and in Syria, ISIS`s strategic points, and that`s part of the problem.

It`s as they`re losing organizational control in Iraq and Syria, they`re spreading out into Europe. So it has actually created -- by operating in a traditional warfare, we`ve actually increased the problem and the challenge to directly Western targets.

So this is part of the nuance, understanding that it is necessary. Unfortunately it seems like the president-elect is far more interested in pandering to his base and making some broad statements than actually offering solutions to the problem.

REID: One of the other solutions that he has talked about is giving a lot more latitude to Russia, but it is Russia`s bombing of Aleppo and the devastation there that at least, from what we can tell, contributed to the gunman who went and killed the Russian ambassador. So the exporting of terrorism and anger is tied in some ways to what Russia is doing. How will that work?

HAQ: And Russia is playing a similar game as well. They`re telling their people and they`re telling the rest of the world as well that the reason they are involved in Syria is because they`re attacking terrorist targets.

Well, what we know as we`ve seen just from the images, the Russians have partnered with Assad to oppress what would be -- was actually a civil war and oppressing and killing millions of people, men, women, and children.

So this is part of the information communication campaign which Trump seems to be doing quite well on that front. But the communication effort isn`t translating, as far as we can see, into anything tactical on the ground that`s going to deliver results.

REID: And very quickly, you`ve had this now alignment with these far right parties in Europe, the neo-Nazis now marching in Germany. How does this alignment with sort of that kind of Christian versus Islam -- sort of that kind of rhetoric, how does that impact, very quickly?

HAQ: Well, I think there are two parts to that. We also see that General Flynn has met with some far right nationalists and folks from Austria. So there is clearly an interest in working with these folks to address this war.

But the challenge is by calling it a holy war, you`re legitimizing what ISIS is trying to do. You`re giving them the credit that would go normally to a faith rather than saying, they are inhumane, they are terrorists. You`re giving them credibility they want, and frankly they want to be at war with the civilized world. And we would be catering to it if we look at it in that lens.

REID: Yes, instead of looking at the fact this was somebody with obviously long criminal background that we saw in these Berlin attacks. Thank you so much, Nayyera Haq, appreciate it.

And up next, President Obama has less than month to go in office. And tonight we ask, what will his legacy be? And how much might Trump try to undo? We`ll pose that question to the HARDBALL roundtable. You`re watching HARBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What I can say with confidence is that what we`ve done works. That I can prove. I can show you where we were in 2008 and I can show you where we are now. And you can`t argue that we`re not better off. We are.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That was President Obama during what was likely to be his final press conference as the 44th president of the United States, making the case for his legacy and successful stewardship of the country during the last eight years. Now, according to a new "USA Today"/Suffolk University poll, 54 percent of Americans agree with him. They approve of the job he`s doing.

What`s up for debate is whether or not the Affordable Care Act is his greatest achievement or biggest failure. Twenty-four percent rate it as his biggest achievement. That`s shortly followed by the recovery of the recession and his moral leadership. When those same Americans were asked his biggest failure, 27 percent said, wait for it, the Affordable Care Act, followed by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and his failure to improve race relations.

For more on just how President Obama`s legacy will be written, I`m joined by our roundtable, Heidi Przybyla, senior political reporter at "USA Today", Mark Murray, senior political editor with NBC News, and Jason Johnson, politics editor for TheRoot.com, and professor at Morgan State.

Thank you, guys, for being here.

And, Heidi, I`ve got to go to you first on that poll, because it`s interesting that people, it is sort of story of Obamacare`s life, right? The Affordable Care Act is both really loved, 6 more million people signed up for it today, or really hate it. Why do you suppose that is?

HEIDI PRZYBYLA, USA TODAY: Well, if you look at the partisan correlation. You will see why, because it is heavily based on which party you belong to or what party you identify with Joy. But the interesting thing about Obamacare is that even at this point the Republicans are successful and rolling back much of it, when you ask specific questions about some of the pillars of Obamacare, including coverage for your adult children, coverage for preexisting conditions, those are hugely popular. Those are part of how Obamacare has kind of changed the culture of health care.

And that is part of his legacy too. I mean, I think his legacy is much more than that. But you talk about the prospect of Obamacare being rolled back, that`s now in our culture.

REID: And, Jason, you`re nodding because even people who claim they hate Obamacare, they say, but I want the preexisting condition.

JASON JOHNSON, THEROOT.COM: Yes, yes. And here`s the thing: President Obama is not a dummy. This -- the Affordable Care Act is like Jenga. You cannot pull out pieces without the whole thing falling apart. And they knew that when they put it together. And I also think, Joy, one of the other most important things. It brought health care into public discussion.

REID: Yes.

JOHNSON: I mean, people know now, that`s like, oh wait, so my costs come from the insurance companies and not just how medicine is made. This is how much coverage. It has been such a long time since we had intelligence conversations, policy conversations about health care. They have to be saying for that, I don`t think anyone is going to be able to get away with just saying, well, I`ll fix it anymore. Obama has changed that conversation.

REID: Yes. And, Mark Murray, you know, you`ve seen that, A, facts on the ground are still being built up, 6 million people signing up for it. And you also have Republicans only able to use, you know, the sort of the most bludgeoning measures to just repeal the taxes. They can`t just repeal the whole thing.

It`s going to be tough, but they`ve also got to remember some people like, a lot of people like a lot of provisions.

MARK MURRAY, NBC NEWS SENIOR POLITICAL EDITOR: Right. So much is actually going to be determined by what Republicans are able to do and accomplish. And, of course, sometimes you don`t want to be the dog that catches up to the car.

REID: Right.

MURRAY: And Republicans have used Obamacare to really bludgeon, because here`s the thing about the health care industry. It is incredibly complex. Premiums almost always go up. And President Obama and Democrats owned health care.

The question for Republicans is, do they want to be the owners of health care going in 2017, 2018, 2019? Some of it on, we`re seeing, well, you know what, we`re on our replacement measure. We`re going to maybe delay it three or four years. That`s going to be so, so hard.

So I think Obamacare`s legacy, let`s see in situations like 2020, after all the legislative stuff and what the health care environment looks like.

REID: Especially when the (INAUDIBLE). Let`s hear from the man himself, before he headed out on vacation.

NPR did sit down with President Obama and ask him about his signature piece of legislation, Obamacare, and here`s what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I could not be prouder of the fact that the uninsured rate has never been lower. That 20 million people have health insurance that we didn`t have it before. But I said when the bill passed that it wasn`t perfect, and I don`t know how many times I`ve said it to the Republicans, both publicly and privately, State of the Union speeches and town halls around the country, that if they`re willing to engage and work with me, then we can identify ways to tweak and improve this system each time I`ve said this, the basic Republican response has been, "No. All we want to do is repeal it. And we`ll replace with it something later."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Heidi, politically, can Republicans get away with just repealing it and replacing it with something later?

PRZYBYLA: I don`t know that they can, because this is not rocket science, OK? We have social compacts in this country. The way that they work is you have people who are either younger or healthier or both buying into the system in order to support those who are older and sicker.

We see that with Social Security. To a certain extent, with our tax dollars and Medicare.

What the Republicans did was on philosophical grounds opposed having that personal -- that individual mandate. So, it made it hard to also fund. And so, if you take these parts away, I think it`s going to be very hard to put back together a system that has broad coverage.

What you`re going to get is you`re going to have sicker people, yes. Maybe you won`t take away the preexisting conditions, you know, this and that. But those people are going to be in smaller pools where they`re not healthier people and they`re going to be paying through the nose. They don`t realize that yet.

REID: And, Mark, you know, there`s even polling that shows that even Trump voters want Obamacare fixed, not repealed.

MURRAY: Right. And even to me, the biggest political -- you know, President Obama ended up taking a very big hit in 2013, 2014 when there was that whole debate. If you like your insurance, you can keep it. And there, we found a lot of examples of people who said, well, I liked it and you took it away or change it somehow.

I guarantee you, if the Republicans end up replacing it or even damaging the exchanges and the fundamentals of it, Democrats are going to be able to find a lot of people who end up saying, look, I actually liked my insurance and you changed it for the worse.

REID: Yes, about 26 million people at this point. The roundtable staying with us.

And up next, political winners and losers, I can`t wait for this, of 2016. You do not want to miss that.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REID: What was expected to be a deal to repeal one of the nation`s most controversial law appears to have collapsed. Tonight, the North Carolina state voted not to repeal HB2, the so-called bathroom law, which became a flash point for LGBT rights. The governor called the legislature back for a special session tonight when it looked like Democrats and Republicans were on the verge of a deal but that deal fell apart. And the senate is now adjourned.

Stay tuned. HARDBALL, more, is back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REID: And we`re back.

And while some of you are eager, so eager to turn the page and shut the book on 2016 forever, we thought it would be fitting to take one last look back at some of the year`s biggest winners and loser.

I`m back with the roundtable, Heidi Przybyla, Mark Murray, and Jason Johnson.

All right. Jason, I`m going to start with you. Biggest winner and biggest loser of 2016?

JOHNSON: Biggest winner, Vladimir Putin. He did it.

REID: Yes.

JOHNSON: He did what Gorbachev couldn`t do. He did what Castro couldn`t do. He basically took over the United States and got himself a Manchurian candidate. That`s something no other Russian leader has been able to do. And he`ll be cheering about this and it will be in history books for the next 50 years.

REID: This is amazing. Russia emerging as the global hegemon after we defeated them in the Cold War is shocking.

JOHNSON: Exactly.

REID: With the support of Republicans.

JOHNSON: With the support of the Republicans and with the support of our brand new president-elect.

REID: Yes. Biggest loser?

MURRAY: Kanye West.

(CROSSTALK)

JOHNSON: It seems like it`s fine. But he exemplifies what happens when you try to mix pop culture and politics and make the wrong decisions. He came out against Black Lives Matter. He said that racism is bad, and now, he`s had allied himself with Trump, had to cancel concerts. People don`t respect him. People don`t like him. He may be the only person performing at the inauguration.

This is the year that shows you, keep your politics and your pop culture separate.

REID: Well, also remember that hip hop`s origin was always about fighting injustice and being on the side of progressives.

JOHNSON: Exactly.

REID: It`s not on the side of Donald Trump.

All right. Mark Murray, biggest winner?

MURRAY: Mitch McConnell made a big gamble on the Supreme Court, took immediate flak, but then the attention turned to the presidential campaign and turned out that Republicans get to replace Antonin Scalia with a conservative justice. And, you know, for someone like Mitch McConnell who believes in power, this was a very -- I mean, it was a very cynical move, it was one that actually violated norms that you end up having.

But for him and actually everyone thought -- well, Hillary Clinton will end up winning the election, Democrats can pick someone for the Supreme Court. But Mitch McConnell came out --

REID: Why do you suppose Democrats don`t believe in power? Because they don`t seem to believe that at all.

MURRAY: Well, I think that Democrats -- and, look, Democrats played some tricks on judges. You ended up having Tom Daschle filibuster back in the early 2000s. But Democrats by and large, I do believe this, they actually want to make it seem like government is working.

They are the party of government. And so, they might not agree with Republican on numbers one through four, but they go on number five, like Ted Kennedy on education reform which No Child Left Behind.

REID: It`s not a good strategy.

OK, the biggest loser?

MURRAY: And the other person, House Speaker Paul Ryan. It`s very possible that Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan get a lot of legislative achievements done with Republicans in control of all the power, but Paul Ryan was someone who wanted more than just achievements. He actually wanted to re- create the party, always looking for the better way.

Well, this is Donald Trump`s way. It`s early on. It`s possible that he could sign Paul Ryan legislation. But Paul Ryan is someone who we are going after some entitlements and the Republican Party today, Donald Trump`s party not Ryan`s.

REID: Absolutely.

Heidi, biggest winner and loser?

PRZYBYLA: My biggest winner is Michelle Obama, just because I cannot imagine what an excruciating experience this must be for her right now, some ways harder for her than President Obama, because it`s harder to watch a person you love kind of go through this. And this is -- she`s watching the party that has essentially declared at the beginning that they wanted to make her husband, a first term president, now succeed in doing that and they`re going to try and roll back much of his agenda.

And the person who won is the one who accused him of not even being an American. And yet, she`s having to kind of -- she`s doing it in a graceful way, saying, look, I want to help the Trumps come in and helps ease.

It`s smart. It`s part grace, but it`s also smart. Obamas want to try and keep a pipeline to that.

REID: All right. Biggest loser?

PRZYBYLA: Chris Christie. Just on every level. Chris Christie was one of the people who stuck with Donald Trump through thick and thin.

REID: There`s the picture. Excruciating.

PRZYBYLA: He was in charge at one point of the whole transition. He`s the person I would say is least likely now to get any role whatsoever in this White House. And look what`s happening to him back in New Jersey with Bridgegate. Just -- I think he`s got to be --

MURRAY: He`s a reminder how politics can change, because when he won re- election, there were very few people who are more popular than Chris Christie. A couple years go by --

(CROSSTALK)

REID: It may not be the year of the woman, but Heidi is correct. There is no bigger loser in political life than one Chris Christie anywhere. And Michelle Obama is the biggest winner.

The roundtable is staying with us. And up next, these three will tell me something I don`t know.

You`re watching HARDBALL --

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REID: We are back.

Heidi, tell me something I don`t know.

PRZYBYLA: Let me give you a hidden number in our recent poll that`s very instructive for Republicans. And that is they`re equivocating right now on what kind of investigation of Russia they want to do. If it`s completely impartial, you know, independent counsel. A majority of Americans and this cuts across all parties, independents, Republicans, Democrats, want an investigation.

And that tells Republicans, don`t mess around with this. It is in your man`s interest. It is in Donald Trump`s interest to have this whole thing above board and not seen as partisan. And that`s something right now that I think they`re really equivocating on. Whether it should be the partisan committees or whether it should be a true independent investigation.

REID: Interesting.

All right. Mark?

MURRAY: Joy, Monday`s Electoral College count could end up being an issue in the DNC chair race going in with the voting happening in February of next year because of the fact that you had five Bernie Sanders supporter who are electors who end up voting for someone other than Hillary Clinton and as Keith Ellison, you know, has really been using that mantel of the Bernie Sanders camp, the people who are voting are the 440-some-odd Democratic Party operatives who might not like that and be turning the keys over to Bernie --

REID: Interesting.

JOHNSON: The Death Penalty Information Center released their end of year report. Those people who are anti-death penalty advocates. This is always bad news about race, and gender, or class, but also, they reveal, 20 percent of people on death row are military veterans. We have to do something about our veterans, PTSD, and saving it. If Trump cares about the vets, he should do something.

REID: We`ll see. All right. Thank you very much, Heidi, Mark and Jason.

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

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.

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