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Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 1/2/2017

Guests: Garry Kasparov, Simon Marks, Andrew Sullivan, April Ryan, John Brabender, Kellyanne Conway, Simon Marks, Garry Kasparov

Show: HARDBALL Date: January 2, 2017 Guest: Garry Kasparov, Simon Marks, Andrew Sullivan, April Ryan, John Brabender, Kellyanne Conway, Simon Marks, Garry Kasparov >

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: The coming of Trump.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews, back in Washington.

Well, we`re at the start of a very busy month politically, of course, a transformative one for the country. In just 18 days, Donald Trump will be sworn in, like it or not, actually as the 45th president of the United States. Get that into your head.

Today, President Obama returned from vacation in Hawaii with the obvious goal of trying to protect his legacy, which is now an endangered political species. The White House announced the president will deliver his last major address next week from Chicago.

President-elect Trump returned to New York today from his vacation, and he continued tweeting today. He suggested there might be a role for the federal government in combating Chicago`s soaring number of murders, 762 this past year.

And he criticized what he called "media outlets and pundits" for suggesting he himself thought he was going to lose the election. Well, coming up on the show, I`ll be talking to the newly appointed counselor to the incoming president, Kellyanne Conway.

We begin tonight with the pending question about the next commander-in- chief. What does Donald Trump know that he won`t -- or that we don`t, and what does Donald Trump know that President Obama and the U.S. intelligence community doesn`t know?

Well, over the weekend, President-elect Trump again questioned the intelligence community`s conclusion that Russia interfered with the U.S. elections, and he teased what he might reveal about that topic this week. Let`s watch him.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: I just want them to be sure because it`s a pretty serious charge. And I want them to be sure. And if you look at the weapons of mass destruction -- that was a disaster and they were wrong. And so I want them to be sure. I think it`s unfair if they don`t know. And I know a lot about hacking and hacking is a very hard thing to prove. So it could be somebody else. And I also know things that other people don`t know. And so they cannot be sure of this situation.

QUESTION: What do you know that other people don`t know?

TRUMP: You`ll find out on Tuesday or Wednesday.


MATTHEWS: Well, what is he referring to coming Tuesday or Wednesday? I`m going to be joined, by the way, tonight on this program by NBC`s Kristen -- well, I`m being joined right now by Kristen Welker. I`m going to be joined by Kellyanne Conway later on the show.

Kristen, you`re right there. Do we have any indication that Trump`s going to make good on this commitment to show us, this show-and-tell tomorrow or the next day, what he knows that no one else apparently knows about the possibility of Russia, I assume, not being the ones who hacked into our political situation this past election?

KRISTEN WELKER, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, that`s what he is saying, Chris. And we know that he`s going to have an intelligence briefing this week. And, certainly, we are going to keep asking. You heard the reporter pressing him for more information there when he spoke to them over the weekend. We`ve been pressing his top officials for more information, but they continue to punt and make the argument that he wants to be sure before making a final assessment that it was, in fact, Russia.

But look, the takeaway here, Chris, is that again, you have an incoming commander-in-chief questioning his intelligence community. You heard him pointing to the weapons of mass destruction there. That`s something that really gets under the skin of intelligence officials. And he`s also setting up a potential battle with members of Congress, members of his own party, hawks like John McCain and Lindsey Graham, who are calling for more sanctions and who are essentially saying that they believe U.S. intelligence officials when they say that Russia is behind those hacks that we saw during the 2016 race.

And in fact,Senator John McCain set to hold a hearing on the matter on Thursday. So it`s setting up this situation, Chris, for President-elect Trump, who`s trying to sort of to move on from this topic, but the hawks in his party not letting it go. Could be the first big battle when he takes office in just 18 days from now.

MATTHEWS: Well, of course, we`ve had experience -- Kristen, you and I and everybody else on the -- in the Western world has heard Trump say he`s got private investigators out learning all kinds of thing about...

WELKER: Right.

MATTHEWS: ... President Obama`s real birth and that sort of thing. So we`ve been through this sort of situation. What is Trump really going to try to -- he`s very good at, as somebody said the other day, creating rabbits for us to chase every week. What`s the rabbit this week? What is Trump going to do this week to focus media attention? Do we know yet?

WELKER: Well, I don`t. And it`s a good question. I mean, earlier this evening, he tweeted about North Korea and the fact that he will prevent them from getting a nuclear weapon. (sic) As you talked about, he talked about -- he tweeted about violence in Chicago.

We didn`t see a whole lot of him today. He was sort of huddled indoors here at Trump Tower. It was a quieter day. I`m told he`s going to have more transition-related meetings tomorrow.

But again, Chris, bottom line he did make that statement that he`s going to produce more information. And certainly, the press corps is going to hold him to that and his top officials within his administration, Chris.

MATTHEWS: We`re all waiting for that. Thank you, Kristen Welker, for doing this. And get in from the rain! Oh, my God, where you always stand out in front of that Tower!


Anyway, Donald Trump praised Vladimir Putin`s decision today not to respond to the Obama administration`s punitive actions announced last week. Well, Trump tweeted the following. "Great move on delay by V. Putin. I always knew he was very smart."

Anyway, today, Trump`s incoming press secretary, Sean Spicer, suggested that President Obama`s response was politicizing intelligence and that it was shooting from the hip. Let`s watch him.


SEAN SPICER, INCOMING WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This report that everyone see as taking as gospel truth right now is not even final. It`s not supposed to be finalized until later this week. So there are questions as to why we`re taking the actions that we`re talking in the proportion that we are without the report even being finalized.

The president-elect is going to wait until the information is final, until he can make the clearest judgment on what to do in the best interests of this country. What he`s not going to do is politicize intelligence and decide to shoot from the hip before he has a complete picture of what`s happening.


MATTHEWS: OK, I`m joined right now by "USA Today`s" Washington bureau chief Susan Page and global editorial director for the HuffingtonPost Howard Fineman. Both of you, thank you. You are the pros.

We got to get used to this, by the way, Trump reality.

SUSAN PAGE, "USA TODAY": You know what`s going to...

MATTHEWS: He simply dictates it`s not the Russians and we have to sort of walk around that statement.

PAGE: Here`s what`s going to be different, though. After he`s inaugurated, we`re going to be able to judge not just what he tweets or what he says, but what he does and what the impact of that is. And I think this is going to require some discipline on the part of journalists...


PAGE: ... to cover what he actually does and the impact of that, as opposed to what that morning`s tweet (INAUDIBLE)

MATTHEWS: How do you avoid chasing the rabbits he releases every day?

PAGE: Well, you can`t not chase the rabbit, right? You have a responsibility to chase the rabbit, too, but...

MATTHEWS: Like, I`m going to pick Mitt Romney for two weeks.

PAGE: Right. But you have a bigger responsibility, I think, to focus on the substance of what he does and what impact it has because after he`s inaugurated, that is going to be what matters. And that`s what`s going to matter to the people who put him in office.

MATTHEWS: And let`s start with this one. Every time he lambastes -- or lambasts, however you pronounce it -- the intelligence community by saying they got it wrong on Iraq, no one in the intelligence community, like the CIA, defense intelligence said that Saddam Hussein had nuclear weapons. One person said that. His name`s Dick Cheney. And he was followed by his band of neocons.

So the -- it`s not exactly right for Trump to keep saying the CIA was wrong about that, so don`t trust them about the Russian hacking.


MATTHEWS: It`s just not accurate.

FINEMAN: There was that "slam dunk" phrase that was used back in the day.

MATTHEWS: By -- yes...

FINEMAN: By George Tenet.

MATTHEWS: ... about -- not about nuclear.


MATTHEWS: He was always careful about that.

FINEMAN: Yes, well...

MATTHEWS: Go ahead.

FINEMAN: I think -- I think...

MATTHEWS: And nuclear is the reason...


MATTHEWS: ... most the middle of the road people said, Let`s go to war with Iraq because we thought they did have a nuclear weapon.

FINEMAN: Sure . For Sean Spicer to accuse the Democrats of -- and the media of sort of playing politics with it I think obscures the larger point, which is it serves Donald Trump`s interests to keep his own personal interests and his own leadership style to intimidate everybody around him and to keep them divided and at war with each other.

He`s putting the intelligence community on notice, as only Donald Trump can do, in public, You guys screwed up before. I don`t necessarily believe you. And he`s trying to discredit...

MATTHEWS: Why does he do that?

FINEMAN: Well, I think partly, it`s a method of control for Donald Trump.

MATTHEWS: But you`ve got your G-2 out there -- if you`re a military guy, you depend every day, every hour on your intelligence guy.

FINEMAN: Well...

MATTHEWS: And how -- how`s he going to run the world...

FINEMAN: Like Richard Nixon long ago, who also was very wary of his own intel people going in as president of the United States...

MATTHEWS: Because they were all Ivy Leaguers and he resented them.

FINEMAN: He resented them, and I think...


FINEMAN: And I think Donald Trump, for his own reasons -- and I`m not sure what they all are -- is putting them on the defensive, people like Michael Hayden, who used to be a key figure in the Bush era of intel, thinks that the crowd that Donald Trump has put around him are basically lunatics.

MATTHEWS: Let`s get to something...

FINEMAN: Basically lunatics.

MATTHEWS: We`re getting close to the lunatic question here. Right now, late today, Donald Trump tweeted a warning to North Korea. And there you`re talking real lunacy over there. "North Korea just stated that it is in the final stages of developing a nuclear weapon capable of reaching parts of the U.S. It won`t happen."

OK. Well, this is question I`ve been thinking about. I was away for two weeks, and I`ve been thinking about one question that scarier than anything else going on right now, Kim Jong-un, the guy with haircut, the guy that nobody walks up and say, You look a little strange today. Oh, beautiful haircut. I mean, he`s surrounded by sycophants.

He`s building a nuclear weapon. He`s building a missile capable of reaching Seattle. What`s to stop that little finger from pushing the button?

PAGE: And of course, one concern I think that some policy makers have is that he is able to be provoked and he has a history...

MATTHEWS: Which guy?


MATTHEWS: The guy in Pyongyang or the guy in New York?


PAGE: Speaking of the North Korean leader. But he has a history of being provoked and doing provocative things and pressing (ph) the envelope at key moments, for instance, example, the inauguration of a new president. So I think there`s some...

MATTHEWS: So you`re talking about that Kim Jong-un might try something.

PAGE: Might try something. It would be within his pattern of behavior to try something around the time of the inauguration.

MATTHEWS: OK, you`re president...

PAGE: And he -- and when he reads a tweet like that, it has the possibility of...

MATTHEWS: Of tweeting him.

PAGE: ... igniting something.

MATTHEWS: Howard, you`re president-elect. I`m going to ask you the same question, so here goes. You`re president-elect. You`re surrounded by newcomers to security. You`ve got to go to people right now that are going to tell you, What are my options? Do I call the leaders in China? (INAUDIBLE) you got to call this guy down to the principal`s office. You got to warn him, If anything like this even happens, it`s not about trading nuclear weapons, it`s about this guy`s very sad, quick, tragic end on this planet. And how do you get that message across to this numbskull?

FINEMAN: Well -- well, having -- having just publicly attempted to trash the intelligence community, he now has to go to the intelligence community...


FINEMAN: ... and ask...

MATTHEWS: What have we got?

FINEMAN: ... (INAUDIBLE) advice.

MATTHEWS: Deterrence doesn`t work!

FINEMAN: Donald Trump, from what I can tell -- and I`ve been around him now for a while, and I`ve studied him for longer than that -- believes in his own circle of people to tell him what he should do. One of those people who`s become part of that circle is Henry Kissinger. Henry Kissinger`s been around for a long time. He knows how to...


MATTHEWS: ... on the phone with him yet and say, Be careful here?

FINEMAN: I know that he`s talked to Donald Trump. I can`t say within the last 24 hours, but absolutely he has. Donald Trump wants his own people. You talk about somebody who might be surrounded by people who want to tell him what he wants to hear...


FINEMAN: ... about a guy with a short fuse...


FINEMAN: We`re talking about both places potentially.

MATTHEWS: I worked in politics long enough to know that when somebody is sick with a grave disease, they don`t go to their best friends, they find out -- if they got to go on Google, they got to go (INAUDIBLE) richest (ph), smartest people they know, Tell me who`s the best doctor for this? That`s almost the situation Trump`s in now. He needs to find a specialist who`s going to help him deal with Kim Jong-un and this nuclear delivery system of his he`s just announced.

PAGE: And yet with any administration, incoming administration, even one that`s more conventional than the Trump administration, this is a risky period at the very beginning of an administration because they don`t have all their kinks worked out yet. They don`t even have all their positions filled. The national security adviser, General Flynn, would be important in any discussion like that. He`ll have just taken over his job, too.


PAGE: So it raises a lot of concerns. And it`s one reason that you want to have as smooth a transition as possible so that if there`s a crisis, one person you might call would be Barack Obama.

MATTHEWS: So will the Democrats let him have his security team in place by January 20th?

FINEMAN: Well, I would hope so. But Susan raises a good point. Despite the superficial public handshaking that President Obama and President-elect Trump did in the Oval Office the other week...


FINEMAN: I mean, we have an extraordinary thing going on where there are basically presidencies competing here. I`ve never seen anything quite like it. Maybe the last time it happened was -- I was too young to be covering it, which was Richard Nixon and Lyndon Johnson. You`ve got a similar kind of situation here. It`s not the Vietnam war that they`re arguing over, but it`s an entire array of things. One would hope...


FINEMAN: ... that they put that aside right now...

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s see who`s not putting it aside. Donald Trump in a New Year`s message for those he called his "enemies" this weekend. He tweeted, "Happy new year to all, including my many enemies and those who have fought me and lost so badly, they just don`t know what to do. Love."

Susan, was that a statement of unity?

PAGE: You know, it`s not a statement of unity. And also, isn`t -- aren`t they his opponents, not his enemies, because...

MATTHEWS: Rivals even.

PAGE: ... we`re all Americans, you know?

MATTHEWS: I know. You just said it with a little bit of lilt, like Bill Clinton.

FINEMAN: The same reason...

MATTHEWS: He doesn`t have any lilt to his voice these days!

FINEMAN: No, and I think -- I think you can -- you can see what kind of president Donald Trump is going to be, in addition to the campaign itself, by the tweets that he`s put out in this interregnum. Yes, we don`t want to chase the rabbits, but these are significant rabbits.

What he`s doing unprovoked is basically sticking his finger in the eye of the people he beat for the presidency and trying to keep them down. He`s also said, you know, My supporters, my really passionate supporters...


FINEMAN: ... are very quiet right now, but they can be riled up at any moment. I mean, he is laying down various markers of how he`s going to run...


FINEMAN: ... the country, and if he has to, intimidate people.

MATTHEWS: Susan, last question. He did show during the campaign -- and we`re going to have Kellyanne on tonight, Kellyanne Conway -- during the campaign, discipline. He showed when he was really down in the dumps -- and let`s remember that, if he`s forgotten -- where it looked like he was the sure loser, after the tapes came out of the bus ride -- he did discipline himself. There is controls on his control panel. He can say, OK, now, no tweets for three or four days.

PAGE: He won the nomination. We didn`t think he could do that. He won the White House. We didn`t think he could do that. He clearly has shrewd political instincts. But you have to say that we haven`t seen the kind of effort to reach out to the people who didn`t vote for him during this period...

MATTHEWS: He doesn`t seem to need them. They`ve got 51 votes, and 50 votes in the Senate is enough. And they`ve got -- they`re going to use reconciliation, not the usual human kind, the legislative kind. He doesn`t think he needs them.

FINEMAN: If there...

MATTHEWS: Anyway...

FINEMAN: If there`s a traditional rule, he won`t follow it.

MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you, Howard Fineman. That is a rather colossal statement (INAUDIBLE) we`ll leave it with you.

FINEMAN: It`s true.

MATTHEWS: It was big-time, Howard.


MATTHEWS: Susan, thank you, and Howard.

Coming up right now, I`m going to ask Trump senior Kelly -- well, "senior Kelly" -- senior counselor Kellyanne Conway about what Trump might know about this Russian hacking. Also how he`s going to deal with this North Korean craziness and how he plans to lead the country, of course. And that`s ahead.

Coming up here on HARDBALL, Kellyanne Conway.

By the way, as Trump looks to Russia, he ought to know what Putin wants -- what does Putin want? -- and how he expects to get his way with Trump. Those are, of course, major questions that will shape the world for the next four years.

And starting tomorrow in Washington, this city becomes where the action is. President Obama is back. So is the Republican Congress eager to kill Obama`s legacy. Can Democrats stop them?

Finally, "Let Me Finish" with my two weeks in the ancient land, believe it or not, of India. That`s where I`ve been! Talk about a far-off place.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Well, Did you hear? Donald Trump had one of his most critical biographers ejected from his private golf course this weekend. According to Politico, Harry Hurt -- that`s his name -- was playing in a foursome with Republican mega-donor David Koch. And here`s what Harry Hurt said happened on the golf course. Let`s watch.


HARRY HURT, TRUMP BIOGRAPHER: I went up to him, and you know, in the spirit of United States of America and said, Congratulations, sir. And then he launched into a diatribe that I had been rough on him. He used an expletive to describe the content of my book. I looked him the eye and I said, It`s all true. And he said, Not in the way you said it. I can`t believe why you`re here. And I said, Well, I came with David Koch. Well, he said, I think it`s inappropriate for you to play here and I want you to leave. And so I said fine, and we left.


MATTHEWS: Is that how you dress down in Palm Beach? Anyway, we`ll be right back after this.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

In 18 days, when he is sworn in as the 45th president of the United States, Donald Trump will face a divided country, obviously, and a world of conflicts out there. How will he deal with Russia, the Middle East and other major flash points?

Kellyanne Conway was Trump`s campaign manager. She will now serve -- she is now serving as counselor. She will actually have the title of the counselor to the president in the White House.

Kellyanne, congratulations.


MATTHEWS: As you noted me today on the phone when we talked to get ready for tonight, you pointed out -- and I think somebody ought to advertise this -- you`re one of three women who have ever held the very high of position of counselor to the president. Tell us more.

CONWAY: And all of them were Republicans. There`s never been a Democratic woman with that title, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Which tells you?

CONWAY: Just a little piece of useful trivia.

It tells you yet again Donald Trump has been promoting and elevating woman in the Trump corporation, the Trump campaign, the Cabinet and the Trump administration. It`s just who he is. It`s what he does.

MATTHEWS: Well, you have got an amazing position. You`re going to be in the Oval Office a lot with the president.

And let me just ask you about what scares me. I was away for two weeks over in India, and I was reading the papers. Actually, they have a good- English language press over there. And I`m reading about Trump and everything that is going on.

And one thing that bugs me and scares me, because it`s not about something we can argue about and go back and forth, raise taxes, lower them -- a lot of this is back and forth over four years, eight years. A lot of things can be fixed that are broken.

But one thing that scares all of us is a nuclear attack by a country. How do you stop somebody as weird as Kim Jong-un, that weirdly haircutted guy from North Korea, who is surrounded by sycophants, and no one is going to tell him the truth, how does Donald Trump stop him from arming and launching or even deploying a missile capable of delivering a nuclear weapon to Seattle?

How do you stop him from doing that? You can punish him afterwards, blow the hell out of that country, but what you can stop him from doing it?

CONWAY: Well, as you pointed out, the president-elect just in the last hour, Chris, has tweeted out the notice that North Korea is about a year away from having this described missile and that Donald Trump ended that by saying not going to happen.

So, he is focused on this. He will have a plan. He will confer with his generals and his other security -- his security officials. And he will take action.

I`ll tell you how you don`t it. You don`t do it by having the policies of the last eight years. You don`t do it by emboldening a country like Iran and its nuclear capability, which has put the U.S. and Israel and frankly the rest of the world in direct risk. I think that`s even why prominent Democratic senators like Bob Menendez of New Jersey and our own Chuck Schumer here in New York were against that Iran nuclear deal.

So, the idea that we have been increasing the capability, the nuclear capability, of a country like Iran and then we are questioning North Korea`s capability is somewhat rich. But that`s in part why President Obama`s former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lost the election and a guy who is going to be much tougher on these issues, Donald Trump, won the election.

MATTHEWS: Well, we had a global sanctions regime against Iran, which forced them to the negotiating table. And you may not end like the plan, but at least it puts them off in terms of their ability to develop a nuclear weapon.

What negotiation with Pyongyang, with the North Koreas would serve that purpose? If you don`t have worldwide sanctions against them with the Chinese involved cutting them off from any economic life, what do you do to stop them? You squeeze them, you squeeze them, you squeeze them, then what do you do in.

CONWAY: Well, let me just back up a second when you talk about the sanctions on the Iran deal.

Fine, except remember that we`re also -- they also have so much money now and they are funding groups like Hezbollah. In other words, it`s not just as simple as the Iran nuclear deal or as simple as the $100 million per four people in Iran, which of course is what it was, even though they lied at the beginning.

The world is a dangerous place. But, look, we`re not going to make foreign policy and national security pronouncements on your show tonight. The president-elect is not doing that until he is sworn into office.

But clearly this is a roiling part of the Obama legacy. And I would be curious to see what President Obama says in his -- quote -- "farewell address" in Chicago about issues like this. Maybe he won`t even address them.

But when you say the world is a dangerous place, it didn`t just happen. And it`s because of a lot of action and inaction. And I appropriate the fact that president-elect Trump through his very powerful social media platform in just the last hour, Chris, is telling 44 million people on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram combined and then the whole media that has to pick up these comments that he intends to stop it and he will.


MATTHEWS: I agree. Look, I think that was a concern before he did it. But I agree he`s focused on what is to me and many people the biggest concern we have.

Let`s talk about setting the tone. You say you don`t want to make policy. But let`s talk about the tone. He is clearly setting a very different tone from Obama with regard to Russia and the allegations of Russia`s hacking into the campaign.

And earlier in the month, Mr. Trump questioned whether Russia was in fact responsible. Let`s start with that. Here we go.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: The hacking is very interesting. Once they hack, if you don`t catch them in the act, you`re not going to catch them.

They have no idea if it`s Russia or China or somebody. It could be somebody sitting in a bed someplace. Personally, it could be Russia. I done really think it is. But who knows? I don`t know either. They don`t know. And I don`t know.


MATTHEWS: Well, last week, the president-elect said we should just move on. Let`s watch that.


TRUMP: I think we ought to get on with our lives. I think the computers have complicated lives very greatly. You know, the whole age of computer has made it where nobody knows exactly what`s going on. We have speed, we have a lot of other things, but I`m not sure we have the kind of security that we need.


MATTHEWS: Well, as I showed you earlier, Donald Trump this weekend suggested there was information out there that hasn`t been revealed yet that could change the whole situation. Let`s watch him on this.


TRUMP: I know a lot about hacking, and hacking is a very hard thing to prove. So it could be somebody else. And I also know things that other people don`t know. And so they cannot be sure of the situation.

QUESTION: What do you know that other people don`t know?

TRUMP: You will find out on Tuesday or Wednesday.


MATTHEWS: Is that still a go, Kellyanne? We`re going to hear tomorrow or the next day about what the president-elect knows about hacking?

CONWAY: Well, you may.

The key to all of that, Chris, is that the president-elect, in addition to the comments that he made there, I was there when he made them down in Palm Beach, he has agreed to have an intelligence briefing. And he will have that here at Trump Tower this week.

And he will hear from our top intelligence officials, it is expected, what they know.

MATTHEWS: Well, what does he know?


CONWAY: Well, he knows things I hope that every president, in this case president-elect, who have presidential intelligence briefings and have other intelligence briefings, I hope they know a whole lot more than the rest of us know, because they should. They are the president and commander, president of the United States and commander in chief.

But the other point he`s making here and I would like to make on his behalf is, we don`t want politics to interfere with intelligence. And people are saying we don`t want intelligence efforts to interfere with our politics, those who are still fighting the last war of November 8.

But we also don`t want politics to play into our intelligence efforts either. And the fact is, I think those who are still talking about the hacking, they fall into two big categories. One are people who don`t like the content of the e-mails that were revealed, where Hillary`s own team was questioning her judgment, calling Chelsea Clinton a spoiled brat.

There`s a lot of uncomfortableness in those e-mails.

MATTHEWS: Let me tell you what I`m focused on.

And that is Donald Trump has said that basically the intelligence community blew it with regard to the war in Iraq. And I agree with him about the war in Iraq. We shouldn`t have fought it.

But it wasn`t the intelligence community. It`s what you just described now, the politicizing of the intelligence. It was Dick Cheney and the others, the neocons, who never had any briefing from the CIA that said that Saddam Hussein had nuclear weapons.

But Donald -- Dick Cheney went out there as vice president, who was a credible guy, and told the world, yes, they did have nuclear weapons.

So, it wasn`t the intelligence community, who Donald Trump is now blaming. It was the ideologues around President George W. Bush that did it. They lied. They put the word out. They didn`t have a basis for saying.

It`s all in the record. We have the guy on the show saying he briefed Dick Cheney and the president and never told them that they had nuclear weapons over there. But it was a good way to get us into the war.

So, I think Donald Trump -- I will just say this. I think Donald Trump is wrong to blame the intelligence community. He should blame the politicizing of intelligence, which you`re talking about.

CONWAY: Well, perhaps he is, though, Chris.

In fairness to president-elect Trump, he has been very critical of the Iraq War. He has said it as president-elect. He said it as a candidate. He`s very critical. And of course Hillary Clinton voted for it. She ran down to the well of the Senate floor and proudly cast her vote for it.

Let me focus on the current issue at hand, too, though. President Obama has said that he told Vladimir Putin earlier this year to -- quote -- "knock it off" when it came to hacking. It`s not clear that he meant knock it off because you`re going to interfere with the election, just knock it off.

And why was that enough? Knock it off is when I say to my kids when they`re having a skirmish in the car. You don`t say to Vladimir Putin knock it off and think that he will and then somehow find your tougher side and expel these 35 Russian operatives. It doesn`t make any sense.

And it`s incongruous to a lot of the American people, who wonder why more wasn`t done earlier. Was it because President Obama and everybody at the networks thought Hillary Clinton would win? Was this is a diplomatic response or a political response? And I think many Americans have a legitimate question there.

MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you last question for some news. And I do want you to make news here, Kellyanne.

I want to have one question. Are we going to move our embassy to Jerusalem?

CONWAY: Possibly.

MATTHEWS: Possibly.

CONWAY: President-elect Trump has said it`s a big priority. It`s a priority to him. He would like to do it. And the reason is very simple.

Chris, when you show at the -- at the Israeli equivalent of our Supreme Court, at the Knesset, or to see the prime minister, you go to Jerusalem. So, don`t you want our embassy to be where the seat of government is?

There is no peace plan on the table ever that does not include Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

MATTHEWS: But the Arab side is that Jerusalem will also be the capital of a new Palestinian state. And they take it as serious that we would move our embassy there to Jerusalem, to state that it is Israel`s exclusive territory.

And no U.S. president has said that, that Jerusalem is entirely Israelis`. That`s just a fact, and it`s going to cause trouble. I just want to know.

CONWAY: Right.

MATTHEWS: But you say it may happen. You`re not sure it`s going to happen.

CONWAY: No, what I`m telling you is, is that it`s a priority for the president-elect. He has said it many times.


MATTHEWS: Yes, I know. Many presidents have said that.

CONWAY: His new ambassador to Israel has said so.

All I want to tell you is, if there`s no peace plan on the table -- and we all know that we`re nowhere close to having a peace process completed here -- if there`s no peace that doesn`t contemplate Jerusalem as being the capital of Israel, then why wouldn`t we want our embassy there? Why don`t you want the U.S. Embassy...


MATTHEWS: Well, the same reason Ronald Reagan threatened to veto any action by Congress to do that. Because it would cause an explosion. Thoughtful people have said this is a very dangerous thing to do.


CONWAY: But I can`t let that go about the explosiveness of the Middle East and of course of our best friend in the Middle East by far, Israel, without commenting on recent events.

The U.N. -- abstaining the U.N. resolution was a break with U.S. policy and certainly Israeli policy.

I mean, John Kerry`s 72-minute speech was a tirade against Israel. The idea that it`s not the rejectionism of the Palestinians alone -- the idea that it`s -- it`s -- it`s Jewish people building apartments, and not the rejectionism, why don`t we have a peace process, I mean, in other words, this is a very -- this is a very complex issue.

But you`re going to have a president there for probably eight years. We now have one for the next 18 days. And to do this on the way out, to break with the longstanding Israeli and U.S. policy, I think, is shameful.


MATTHEWS: Kellyanne Conway, I can also top that and say that U.S. policy under both parties from the beginning has been to try to find peace between the Arab people and the Israeli people in Palestine, in that area, and to try to bring peace.

CONWAY: Yes. Yes.

MATTHEWS: And part of that has been a two-state solution agreed to by both political parties and to stop the settlements, which cut off the chance to have a real Palestinian state. It has been consistent.

CONWAY: And no one has succeeded. No Republican or Democrat president has succeeded.

And President Obama didn`t even visit Israel until the beginning of his second term.

MATTHEWS: OK. OK. Well, it`s politics.

Anyway, thank you, Kellyanne Conway, for coming on HARDBALL again.

CONWAY: Thank you, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Up next: Donald Trump continues to side with Vladimir Putin over the Russian hacking allegations, so what`s Putin looking to for the next four years? What`s he up to? We`re going to get a closer look at Putin and what he wants out of Trump .

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Well, after last week`s expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats, U.S. relations with Russia are their worst level since the `70s. Donald Trump has vowed to change that, promising a rapprochement with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin.

The feeling is mutual. Last week in his annual New Year`s statement, Vladimir Putin congratulated Trump on his election and expressed new hope for U.S.-Russian relations, writing: "Acting in a constructive and pragmatic manner, we will be able to take real steps to restore the mechanism of bilateral cooperation in various areas."

Not everybody is on board.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Here is a fundamental fact. And we may get to this later on. Vladimir Putin is thug and a murderer and a killer and a KGB agent.


MATTHEWS: Well, for more on who President Putin is really and where he wants to take American friendship, if you will, I`m joined by Simon Marks, president and chief correspondent of Feature Story News, and Garry Kasparov, chairman of the Human Rights Foundation, the Russian pro- democracy leader, and former world-class world chess companion, of course. He`s the author of "Winter Is Coming: Why Vladimir Putin and the Enemies of the Free World Must Be Stopped."

Mr. Kasparov, thank you. It`s an honor to have you on.

I just want to get the big question out of you, which is, what is Putin up to, no matter who our president is, and what is the particular use he is going to try to make of Trump? rMDNM_

GARRY KASPAROV, AUTHOR, "WINTER IS COMING": Well, Putin wants what every dictator wants, to stay in power for the rest of his life. And, today, confrontation with the free world, confrontation with the United States has become the staple of domestic propaganda. Economy is falling apart, so that is why Putin is relying heavily on his propaganda machine. And confrontation is a very important element of justifying his endless stay in power.

MATTHEWS: Well, Simon, that sounds like Castro did for 40 years. Justify his hold on the country`s tyranny by saying the United States is out to get him.

SIMON MARKS, FEATURE STORY NEWS: Look, I think Garry is right. There`s no question that Vladimir Putin envisages staying in power.


MATTHEWS: Well, so does Netanyahu. A lot of these guys, a lot of politicians have a plan like that.

MARKS: No question about that, but I think his plan goes further than that.

He is also all about trying to restore what he argues is Russia`s historic sense of greatness He`s about degrading American...


MATTHEWS: OK. Talk about that part. How does dumping on our democracy invading us, interrupting us, hacking Democratic National Committee stuff, how does that enhance the stature of Russia?

MARKS: Because it`s all designed to degrade America`s ability to project itself as a paragon of democratic virtue, to project itself, as successive presidents of the United States have done, as the indispensable nation.

So, you play around with the computer servers of the Democratic Party. You undermine the democratic institutions here. You run circles around Barack Obama in Syria. You accentuate your own role on the world stage, and you continue to denigrate and try and pull down America`s role there.

MATTHEWS: Mr. Kasparov, what does Putin envy about the United States? There`s something in his mind that resents our position in the world to this day. What is it?

KASPAROV: Again, for Putin to demonstrate its new stability and his greatness in Russia, he must defy the biggest power in the world, so the United States.

And, of course, he has to demonstrate that democracy is not a function of institute. Since he is probably sick and tired of playing this democratic window in Russian politics, so he wants to demonstrate that democracy doesn`t work elsewhere. And that`s why targeting United States, and by the way, almost every major European country supporting the ultra nationalist groups, supporting all groups that are trying to destroy the political status quo and creating a mess all over the place, it serves his agenda.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC ANCHOR: What do you -- if you were Trump`s friend and you could get into his ear with some intelligence, what would you tell him that he might react to, that he`s being played, that Putin is using him? What would you say?

KASPAROV: Look, I`m already troubled with the first assumption, you know, being Mr. Trump`s friend. Look, I can offer advise to the president of the United States whoever he or she is, you know, they just have to look at what`s happened, you know, before, just learn something from history and it`s clear that any attempt to negotiate with Vladimir Putin is a disaster by definition. The moment you are at the bargain table with Putin, you already concede, you know, strategic interest of the United States and the free world.

MATTHEWS: Does he kill his enemy in Russia?

KASPAROV: Look, you know, you look at the list of journalists and political activists killed in Russia, and I -- of course, I mention my friend colleague, late Boris Nemtsov, who was murdered up in front of the Kremlin. You know, Putin is a dictator and he will do whatever to stay in power. And now, creating chaos all over the world is a part of his agenda and, unfortunately, the president-elect is seen by Putin as an ideal counterpart to spread it around.

MATTHEWS: So, he does worse than throwing people off his golf course, I guess.

SIMON MARKS, FEATURE STORY NEWS: Look, he and Donald Trump have something in common.


MARKS: Neither of them expected to be where they are today. Vladimir Putin flocked from obscurity by Boris Yeltsin. Donald Trump, the winner in the upset election last year. But Vladimir Putin has been doing this a lot longer than Donald Trump, and if Donald Trump is not careful, he --


MATTHEWS: Beware of the man who rises to power on one suspender.

Anyway, thank you, Simon Marks. Thank you, Garry Kasparov. It`s great honor to have you on. Up next -- and, you too, of course, Simon.

Buckle up your seat belt, the new Republican Congress is bent -- well, it`s already bent you might say -- on burying President Obama`s legacy. Can Democrats stop him?

The HARDBALL roundtable is here to see what this fight is going to be like and it starts tomorrow.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

A new Congress comes to Washington tomorrow and with it a sweeping conservative agenda that threatens to kill much of President Obama`s legacy. Kill it. Republicans who are firmly in control of the House now, the Senate, in a few weeks, the White House, are eager to repeal the Affordable Care Act itself.

They want to defund Planned Parenthood. They want to cut taxes for business. They want to undo all kinds of environmental and financial regulations. They want to kill Dodd-Frank.

So, let`s bring in the HARDBALL roundtable with that sober statement.

Andrew Sullivan is the contributing editor of "The New York Magazine". April Ryan is White House correspondent to American Urban Radio Network. And more to say about April, she`s the author of "At Mama`s Knee: Mothers and Race in Black and White America." John Brabender is just another Republican strategist with nothing more to say about him.

Brabender, let me ask you about -- I know you`re all thinking you can make changes in Pennsylvania. But let`s talk about -- if you got the House, your party, and you got the Senate, you don`t have anymore filibuster requirements. You can get all these guys and women in the cabinet, you can kill almost everything in the Obama administration legacy by something called reconciliation, which means you only need 50 votes in the Senate, you don`t need 60 to break the filibuster.

What`s to stop, you guys, to put it bluntly from killing everything Obama did?

JOHN BRABENDER, REPULICAN STRATEGIST: Well, let`s be kind of honest. We keep acting like Obama has this incredible legacy and American people are so proud. They did just elect a Republican president --

MATTHEWS: So, you got a mandate.

BRABENDER: I`m not calling it a mandate. I`m saying it`s an agenda, though, that they supported, and it`s not like they were in love with Obamacare or any of these other --


MATTHEWS: I`m loving you (INAUDIBLE), I`m saying it obviously, just say yes, nothing can stop you guys?

BRABENDER: Well, I don`t think anything will stop us. But I think we can get greedy. There`s a difference. What we should start are with the most populist things like trade, let`s get some wins.

MATTHEWS: So, you wouldn`t kill Obamacare in its cradle.

BRABENDER: Not by itself. They better have a replacement.

MATTHEWS: That`s what I argue.

APRIL RYAN, AMERICAN URBAN RADIO NETWORK: And that`s what I`ve been hearing.

MATTHEWS: Be careful. Trent Lott warned you guys that.

RYAN: I heard that there`s a replacement piece. And I asked someone who is coming into the White House with the president-elect when he becomes president, they said that it`s going to be replaced. But we don`t know if --


MATTHEWS: Twenty million people depend on this.

RYAN: We don`t know --

BRABENDER: We can`t just talk --


RYAN: Thirty million actually. It`s 30 million actually. Twenty million who have not had insurance now have insurance and then the other 10 million are people who lost insurance, you know, during the year and became part of the ACA program.

ANDREW SULLIVAN, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: We have told they have a replacement for eight years and they have not been able to produce it.

RYAN: Exactly.

SULLIVAN: Because, in fact, Obamacare is like what Churchill said of democracy, it`s worst possible health care to the resistant, except for all the others. If you remove -- if you keep the most popular part of it and you remove the unpopular part, it will fall apart.

MATTHEWS: Of course.

SULLIVAN: Now, I don`t know what they`re going to do about this. I think they caught the (INAUDIBLE) and they will do this. I think if they do what you were saying, they can give tax cut for the wealthy, deregulating Wall Street, repealing -- this is not why Donald Trump was elected president.


MATTHEWS: If they can exceed their mandate, what would be worst they can do to themselves --

RYAN: There`s not a mandate though.

MATTHEWS: How do they hurt -- well, they`ll use the word. What`s worst thing Republicans can do if they use their complete control?

BRABENDER: I think if they start with tax cut for the wealthy, I think it`s -- what I would always say to them, every vote you have, every agenda you have, think about some family in Steubenville, Ohio, who have three kids, they`re working a job and a half, and what are they talking about at their dining room table every night. If it`s something they`re not talking about, it`s the wrong agenda right now.

RYAN: They`re sworn in tomorrow. Mike Pence is coming in and going to meet with Republican House members about how to defund or repeal Obamacare. And what`s going to happen is, they are going to try to take the tax incentives which actually help pay for those who can`t afford it. And once you pull that, it breaks it apart. That`s going to -- what`s going to happen is, it`s going to cause problems for a lot of these rural hospitals or rural clinics who look to those things to help fund them. And also, it`s going to cause the insurance agencies to skyrocket.

SULLIVAN: Fourteen states with Obamacare recipients. Twelve will won by Trump. Now, that`s -- those are his voters. They are the people he relied upon. They may hate Obamacare because it had Obama attached to care.

MATTHEWS: That`s one of the great ironies of American political life, which is a lot of people desperately need government have the attitude about we don`t like the government. In the end, it`s going to matter politically.

RYAN: Appalachia loves it.

MATTHEWS: The roundtable -- well, Appalachia has always loved Meals on Wheels, and Social Security, stuff like that, the old Roosevelt programs. Anyway -- and Lyndon Johnson programs.

The roundtable is sticking with us. And up next, they`re going to tell me something I don`t know, and I`ve been away, so that won`t be hard.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Well, breaking news now. The U.S. House of Representatives will hold a vote on Thursday to condemn the United Nations Security Council resolution that called Israel`s settlements at Palestinian territory a flagrant violation of international law. That resolution passed 14-0. And the United States abstained. By the way, that passage will occur this Thursday.

We`ll be right back after this.


MATTHEWS: Back with the HARDBALL roundtable.

Andrew, first, tell me something I don`t know.

SULLIVAN: Trump and Putin`s bromance has one goal this year, and that`s to destroy the European Union and to undermine Western democracy in Western Europe, and France is the key part. Trump will be supporting the neo- fascists in France.


RYAN: I told you Mike Pence went after J.C. Watts for ag. It looks like that`s not going to happen now. It looks like the ag industry wants someone that looks like them.

MATTHEWS: No. White?

RYAN: Yes.

BRABENDER: More importantly, the Super Bowl`s going to be the Pittsburgh Steelers versus the Dallas Cowboys, which when they played earlier this year, the TV ratings went through the roof and the NFL was thrilled and they`re hoping for that rematch.

MATTHEWS: You mean they set these up for the ratings?

BRABENDER: I hope so.

MATTHEWS: That`s what my dad said about the NBA. It`s always eight games -- I mean seven games. Anyway, they would like eight games.

Anyway, Andrew Sullivan, thank you, April Ryan and John Brabender.

We`ll be right back after this.


MATTHEWS: Let me finish by filling you in where I`ve been the last two weeks with Kathleen, Thomas and Caroline, two of our children.

We`ve been to India, traveling through the country by rail, by a three- wheeled car known as a tuktuk and finally by boat through the Kerala backwater. There we are.

A couple things about India. First, its long-rich history. The drawing in the Ajanta caves go back to 200 -- there they are -- 200 years before Christ. The forts we toured back to the 16th century, the time of the mogul empire over there.

It`s the present India that grabs you, though. The huge number of people, of course, 1.2 billion. And the way they get along like in traffic, they actually know how to get around each other in these crowded scenes. It`s the finesse they show in negotiating who goes first.

They use their horns to toot, to signal each other, not to blast the other guy as some kind of a nerve-rattling punishment like over here. I didn`t see any road rage anywhere in India.

Another thing about India, I know we were only there two weeks, but I couldn`t help notice the dignity of the people, even the poor people. There`s something about the way the Indian people carry themselves, men and women both.

I have a stronger, grander opinion of a country after I`ve seen where they come from. I like to see people all by themselves in the society they built. If I were an immigrant to this country from India I`d be very proud of it.

As for my family, we couldn`t have had a warmer, more generous welcome or adventurous look at that country. And, by the way, the Taj Mahal, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, is greater, more beautiful, more stunning as it stands before you than you can possibly imagine. Built by a maharajah to honor his wife, it honors not just India but civilization.

And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.