Show: HARDBALL Date: January 3, 2017 Guest: Ruth Marcus, Steve McMahon, Heidi Przybyla, Ken Vogel, Margaret Carlson, John Feehery, Sen. Chris Murphy
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Trump trumps.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington, which is now the scene of the action.
For quite a while now, we`ve wondered who will call the shots on the Republican side of this city. Will it be Republican power base in Congress, which has been raring to go with its own agenda for years? Will it be Donald Trump, who takes office in 17 days from now, but is already governing by tweet?
Well, earlier today, we got an answer. The Republicans acted last night to drastically curtail the powers of the independent Office of Congressional Ethics, bringing it under the tight supervision of members of Congress themselves.
That is, until President-elect Trump tweeted the following this morning. "With all that Congress has to work on, do they really have to make the weakening of the independent ethics watchdog, as unfair as it is or may be, their number one act in priority? Focus on tax reform, health care and so many other things of far greater importance. Drain the swamp."
Well, that tweet went out, well, just around 10:00 AM this morning, a little after. Within the hour, at 10:50 AM, House Republicans scheduled an emergency meeting for 11:50 AM, at which time they decided to back off their amendment, leaving the OCE in place as an independent body.
I`m joined right now by NBC`s Hallie Jackson. And of course, Hallie, the question to you -- and maybe it`s too big a question -- would this have happened, would the Republicans stop their effort to basically gut the Office of Congressional Ethics had not Trump tweeted?
HALLIE JACKSON, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Here`s what I`m going to say in answer to your very big question, Chris. I do think that the tweet from the president-elect, him weighing in on this issue that had bubbled up starting the night before did have some part in this, right?
But I would be very hesitant in ascribing too much sort of cause and effect relationship here. Remember that there started to come sort of a build-up of outrage even late on Monday when this first started happening. You saw it build throughout the morning. You saw, for example, on the morning shows Donald Trump`s top advisers being pressured about this themselves.
So I think that the build-up, sort of the bubbling outrage that existed publicly was already starting come into play. I don`t think it helped, obviously, that Donald Trump tweeted this. But remember, Chris, he wasn`t tweeting against the actual action of gutting the independent ethics committee here, he was tweeting about the timing of it. He didn`t like that the timing of it was overshadowing moves potentially on health care or on tax reformer, as you just read in that tweet.
So I don`t think that you can link necessarily a cause and effect relationship between this, although I will say that, clearly, there was discussion about the president-elect`s reaction with House Republicans in the morning before this sort of flip-flop on the OCE.
MATTHEWS: Did you get any indication as a reporter from the House Republican leadership that they were going to reverse themselves on this until we heard from Trump in his tweet?
JACKSON: Here`s the thing...
MATTHEWS: Was there any sign...
MATTHEWS: ... they were going to do that?
JACKSON: Here`s what I would say. Paul Ryan didn`t like this. He doesn`t like this. He was never (ph) against this. Now, Kevin McCarthy, another House leader, he -- he was opposed to it, according to our sources in the room the night before. This morning, he seemed to be striking a little bit of a different tune.
But I will say that at the very top, there was no appetite to do this because of...
MATTHEWS: I know.
JACKSON: ... the exact perception that this had to people, right, the idea that Donald Trump is coming in in 17 days from now to drain the swamp, and yet here you have members of Congress doing something that a lot of folks perceive -- and I will tell you that ethics lawyers that I talked to on both sides of the aisle, Democrat and Republican, who said, This is ridiculous. This is, as one person said to me -- this -- these are the foxes guarding the henhouse here.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, I think Trump looks good on this one. Anyway, thank you, Hallie Jackson.
Well, anyway, the attempt to gut the OCE, the Office of Congressional Ethics, was originally spearheaded by the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Congressman Robert Goodlatte of Virginia. And a majority of the Republican conference approved that change without debate.
A key criticism was that the OCE, the Office of Congressman Ethics, leaked anonymous allegations. According to Politico, quote, "The vote was orchestrated by several members who felt they had been wrongfully accused of unethical behavior by the OCE, according to several sources in the room."
I`m joined right now by Republican strategist John Feehery. Nothing is black and white, and I`ve done a lot of talking to people on the Hill today.
JOHN FEEHERY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Right.
MATTHEWS: And I get the sense that most members of Congress on both sides don`t like this Office of Congressional Ethics. They think it leaks. They think it puts out anonymous criticisms without any chance for due process.
That said, once the word went out that Congress is covering up, they`re trying to get rid of the only watchdog outside the body that`s willing to go after corruption, if there is any, they looked so bad, they`re all running for cover.
FEEHERY: Listen, I remember...
MATTHEWS: And it was Trump that blew the whistle.
FEEHERY: I remember in 2005, when we tried to fix the ethics process for Tom DeLay, and it was a complete disaster. If you`re going to try to fix an ethics process, you have to do it in a bipartisan way, which means you can`t do it on the opening day of Rules, because that`s automatically a partisan vote.
You also need to get the leaders on both sides for it. Paul Ryan was against it. So was Nancy Pelosi. This is a rebellion from...
MATTHEWS: They were against getting rid of it.
FEEHERY: They were -- because they knew. They saw the optics. And of course, Donald Trump -- he gets this. And I thought it was actually a very sophisticated tweet he put out, which was, This is (INAUDIBLE) probably not that good, but don`t do it now. You`re screwing up my agenda.
FEEHERY: Which I thought was really smart of him because he`s giving some credibility to the members who are against this, and they so have some really valid criticisms. This thing is out of control.
MATTHEWS: Well, I`m going back to the question it put to Hallie Jackson up on the Hill. And she knows her stuff. She says it`s kind of hard to answer the question because although -- I look at sequences and I look at the way things are. And when you say at 10:00 o`clock in the morning, Trump blows the whistle on this thing and tweets that we can`t do this, and then by 10:50, they`re putting out a emergency meeting call -- there was no call for an emergency meeting before the tweet.
FEEHERY: List, this was a home run for Donald Trump. It was a softball that he could hit out of the park and he could get it -- I think he killed it easily. It was him who did it. Ryan tried to stop it. I think he was happy to see it dead because they have to focus on other things. This is not the way they wanted to start (INAUDIBLE)
MATTHEWS: OK, let`s talk about how this thing boomerangs later on. I thought Kellyanne Conway said something smart during the campaign, among other things I think she did. She said people care more about what affects them than what offends them. So they were willing to walk past -- I think a lot of women, too -- the awful stuff Trump said on the bus there with Billy Bush. They said, OK, that`s boorish. You know, I`ve heard it from other people, too. It`s disgusting. But I got to pick a president.
So they picked a president based on what was going to affect them. Well, if you kill health care for 20 or some million people, people, diabetics like myself who need health care, they need the pharmaceuticals and all the other stuff, the insulin -- you kill it for them, that`s affecting them.
So do the Republicans have the cojones to go out there and get rid of "Obama care" without a ready replacement? And that`s what I wonder about how they`re -- (INAUDIBLE) organized right now. The fact that they would do this thing overnight without really thinking it through, the optics or the (INAUDIBLE)
MATTHEWS: ... are they going to have their act together to replace "Obama care" or...
FEEHERY: They are going to -- they`re going to repeal it immediately and replace it slowly...
MATTHEWS: Well, what about the people who are exposed?
FEEHERY: They`re going to take care of the people exposed until they come up with a...
MATTHEWS: They are?
FEEHERY: It`s going to take a while. I`ve talked to congressional staff on both sides. This is not going to be an easy process. But the first process, repeal, is going to be easy. Replace is going to be hard, but it`s going to take a while...
MATTHEWS: What happens if...
MATTHEWS: ... and you got 20 million people out there who are without health care?
FEEHERY: Well, they`re not going to take that health care away right away. As a matter of fact, it would be -- the repeal`s going to be phased out. There`s going to be a deadline...
MATTHEWS: How do you -- where do you get this surety (ph) from?
FEEHERY: Well, I get it from leaders on both sides, and I think it`s going to be one of the first things they -- they -- they do.
MATTHEWS: Because all I hear is the rumbling of the Republican caucus in Congress, in the House especially, that has been raring to go for a long time. They got their agenda and their agenda says, Eliminate "Obama care." It doesn`t say replace, it says eliminate.
FEEHERY: No, what it says is they have no choice but to replace it because you can`t throw those 20 million people out because...
MATTHEWS: Do they know that?
FEEHERY: They do know that. They know that in their bones because they know -- most -- a lot of those people live in their districts. And so this is...
MATTHEWS: Did they know that killing an outside watchdog group on ethics would look terrible on the morning shows this morning?
FEEHERY: I think that Paul Ryan knew. And I think...
MATTHEWS: Well, what about the rank and file?
FEEHERY: I think the rank and file in the room thought that this process at the OCE was terrible. I think that`s true on both sides.
FEEHERY: There are a lot of people -- a lot of Democrats feel...
MATTHEWS: You know who`s going to get blamed on this? The House Republicans. (INAUDIBLE) going to look on this, the guy...
FEEHERY: No, they`re not going to get blamed because it`s a done story after two days. No one`s going to talk about this because they didn`t actually do it.
MATTHEWS: OK, we`ll see. Thank you, John Feehery -- making a good argument.
I mentioned, by the way -- as I mentioned, the measure originally passed in a meeting of Republican conference people yesterday, over the night, reportedly, despite the objection of House leaders at a press gaggle, by the way, today, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy was asked how that reflected on him. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you did really oppose it, why were you not able to stop it in some way? Doesn`t that suggest that you`re very weak leaders of the conference?
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), MAJORITY LEADER: Ann (ph), welcome back.
MCCARTHY: (INAUDIBLE) I have my house, I got my wife and my two kids, and I usually don`t win (ph) what we watch on TV. So you can put whatever spin you want on that. But I don`t get (ph) to win (ph) everything (INAUDIBLE) life (ph), and that`s not the way our government is designed to work. So I think that`s rather healthy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, meanwhile, in his first speech as Senate minority leader, Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York vowed to hold Donald Trump and his allies in Congress accountable. And here`s Schumer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: We will hold President-elect Trump accountable to the values that truly make America great. But we`ll fight him tooth and nail when he appeals to the baser instincts that diminish America and its greatness. That is our challenge. That is our charge. And we rise to meet it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I`m joined right now by Democratic senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut. Thank you, Senator.
Well, first of all, let`s deal with the thing, the mess, the mishegoss we were talking about a minute ago, and that`s -- the House Republicans being caught in the act of getting rid of the ethics panel that looks out at them and keeps charge of them. They`re getting rid of the only guard on their ethics from outside, so they get to decide whether they`re ethical or not. It looks terrible. And it looks good for Trump what (ph) anybody now thinking who`s watching right now. When you`re swift enough to jump on something that looks terrible, call it out, blow the whistle, you look good.
SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D), CONNECTICUT: Yes, well, I was one of the authors of that original ethics reform back in 2008, and it was a great deal before there was independent watchdog because members of Congress on both sides basically had a deal that we won`t investigate each other, that complaints will be made but we`ll kind of shelve it so that neither Republicans or Democrats get in trouble.
It was -- here`s how you parse Trump`s tweet. He probably had something with Republicans shelving it today, but the fact that he essentially said it`s OK to do this later on means that, you know, when folks aren`t looking in the dead of a Thursday night or Friday night, this could get slipped through sometime in February or March. So he essentially invited Republicans to just make this change later on.
MATTHEWS: Well, he said don`t do it now. Do you think that implies he says do it later?
MURPHY: Yes. I mean, I think those words were chosen pretty carefully.
MATTHEWS: Where do you get that out of what he said? Where`d he say that?
MURPHY: He said, Don`t make this a priority, right? He said, Work on the things that I care about. And then if you want to do this in the spring or the summer, maybe I`m not going to make such a stink out of it.
MATTHEWS: Did he say that?
MURPHY: I`ll give him credit if he...
MATTHEWS: Did he say that? I didn`t hear him say that. He didn`t say do it...
MURPHY: He didn`t say don`t do this, he said don`t make this your priority...
MURPHY: I pay attention to the words that he uses.
MATTHEWS: Oh, I think he wants to be a little bit like a wet noodle, not with a whip.
Anyway, let me ask you about your strategy as a Democrat. Are you running for president, by the way? I`m curious. I think you are. Are you thinking about the presidency in 2020?
MURPHY: No, I`m not. I have to get reelected in two years!
MATTHEWS: You`re not at all?
MURPHY: No, I`m not!
MATTHEWS: Well, that`s the first step.
MURPHY: Yes, well, I`m thinking about stopping the disaster that`s going to occur to Americans...
MATTHEWS: OK. All right. Well, that`s...
MURPHY: ... if the things that Trump is proposing get through.
MATTHEWS: That`s your job. I accept that. Well, let`s talk about that job right now. I`m watching Schumer. He`s a hard guy to figure out. I know he`s very pro-Israeli, a couple issues he`s had, certainly, with Secretary Kerry. You have, as well. So I try to figure out -- he`s a New York senator. (INAUDIBLE) represent New York.
He also has to find the difference between (INAUDIBLE) he just looks like an obstructionist, like Mitch McConnell, who just sat around like a troll under the bridge, ready to bite the leg of Obama for four or eight years. You don`t want to look like that guy.
Do you want to be that guy? Do the Democrats want to be obstructionists, pure obstructionists but not get caught at it, or do they want to look for places where they can agree with Trump? Where are they going to go here?
MURPHY: Well, I think it was a unique political benefit to Mitch McConnell in obstructing Barack Obama because Barack Obama`s entire pledge was he was going to fix Washington.
MATTHEWS: I know.
MURPHY: He was going to bring the two parties together, right? So Trump`s pitch is different. His pitch is that, I alone can fix this. And so it`s results, it`s impacts people`s lives that matter. So I don`t think that there`s the political benefit to Democrat to obstruct everything he does. I think right now, you sort of put out open arms to him and you say, If you`re willing to come meet us halfway, we`ll work with you.
I don`t see that invitation coming. I just don`t see Trump`s move coming to try to work with us on infrastructure or tax reform. So I think that we can be open to those overtures. I would just be really surprised if they ultimately show up.
I think Republicans are going to shove some stuff through on these reconciliation votes, and then maybe pack it in for the year. And our focus is going to have to be explaining to the people the utter grave damage that`s going to be done to their lives if that happens.
MATTHEWS: OK. I`m talking about the guy and the woman up in Erie, Pennsylvania, or in Lackawanna Country or even (INAUDIBLE) that was split, but certainly, in Wilkes-Barre, they went big for Trump.
Is he going to do something for them? Is he going to actually do an infrastructure bill that puts people to work at real jobs? I mean, the
Chinese, when they have to shut down their coal mines, they take the deep miners over there who work in deep holes and have them build subways, something else they can do in deep -- deep digging. Find a way to put guys to work who want to make real salaries. Do you think Trump is going to do that?
MURPHY: Well, those coal jobs are...
MATTHEWS: Will Republicans let him?
MURPHY: Those coal jobs aren`t coming back. His strategy now...
MATTHEWS: Not the coal jobs, I`m talking about jobs for guys and women who want to work hard and sweat and get dirty, those kind of jobs in factories. Will we have those kind of jobs coming in building -- rebuilding our bridges, our subways, our highways? Is that going to happen?
MURPHY: Not the way that he`s doing it right now, right? He`s doing -- he`s doing economic development nationally on a one company by one company basis. That ultimately doesn`t deliver the kind of jobs that we need, right?
MATTHEWS: That`s (INAUDIBLE)
MURPHY: So you need -- right, but it`s all theatrics. But so far, there`s been absolutely no sign that he`s willing to engage in policies...
MATTHEWS: Oh, OK. Well, I...
MURPHY: ... that will actually bring these jobs back.
MATTHEWS: ... think you guys ought to remind him that he said LaGuardia`s a dump, Penn Station`s a dump, a lot these -- I was just over in India. They got better-looking airports than we do. Why do we have this -- this pathetic transportation system in this country? Amtrak -- there`s not a country in the world that I`ve been to that doesn`t have a better state-of- the-art train system than we do! And we`re the best country in the world!
MURPHY: No, it takes longer to...
MATTHEWS: Why don`t we?
MURPHY: No, it takes longer to get from New Haven to New York today than it did 100 years ago. But the fact of the matter is this fantasy infrastructure proposal that he`s put on the table today, which relies on 100 percent...
MATTHEWS: Well, why don`t you guys have a bigger one?
MURPHY: ... private financing...
MATTHEWS: Why don`t you put forward a big one?
MURPHY: ... it isn`t going to work.
MATTHEWS: Why don`t you Democrats be Democrats and create jobs?
MURPHY: We have put on the table a massive public-private partnership, an infrastructure bank that would put public dollars next to private dollars. If he picks that up off the table, then we have something to work with.
MURPHY: Right now, I don`t think that his secretary of commerce is going to let him do that.
MATTHEWS: Oh, I think it`s time for you guys to write some op-eds in the big papers, get the word out, start giving speeches, hold rallies and create jobs.
Thank you, Senator Chris Murphy. I think you are running for president, but it takes a couple years. You got to get reelected first.
Coming up -- Chuck Schumer tells Donald Trump, You can`t have a Twitter presidency. Trump`s at it again, however, tweeting about China, North Korea, trade and Guantanamo Bay. What do these tweets tell us about how Trump actually views the world. And where`s that inside information Trump said he had on the election hacking? That`s all ahead.
Plus, the Joe Show. It`s the last time we got to see -- or get to see Vice President Joe Biden doing something he does better than anybody and his personal touch as he swears in the new Senate. We`ll see some of that coming up.
And it`s put up or shut up time for the Republicans. Now that they`re taking control of Congress and the White House, they`re completely accountable now. If they kill "Obama care," oh, they own what`s left. If we don`t get an infrastructure bill, as I said, they`ll know it in Erie and other Trump bastions. The HARDBALL roundtable`s coming here.
Finally, let me finish with "Trump Watch" for tonight.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Well, Donald Trump`s primary mode of communication even on foreign policy and national security matters is Twitter. And earlier today, the future commander in chief tweeted: "There should be no further releases from Gitmo. These are extremely dangerous people and should not be allowed back on to the battlefield."
Well, yesterday, Trump issued this warning to Kim Jong-un -- quote -- "North Korea just stated that it is in the final stages of developing a nuclear weapon capable of reaching parts of the United States. It won`t happen!"
That`s what he said. Meanwhile, he sarcastically started tweet about China`s role in that crisis North Korea -- quote -- "China has been taking out massive amounts of money and wealth from in U.S. in totally one-sided trade, but won`t help with North Korea. Nice."
That`s what he did.
Anyway, in the past several weeks, Trump has also tweeted criticism of the United Nations, opposition to President Obama`s policy on Israel, a call to strengthen and expand U.S. nuclear capability, and, of course, praise for Vladimir Putin.
Well, today, incoming Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer criticized Trump`s Twitter practice. Let`s watch him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: Tweeting -- quote -- "Very smart" to Vladimir Putin for ignoring American sanctions is no foreign policy. America doesn`t conduct foreign policy by tweet.
Conducting foreign policy by tweet, while spurning vital intelligence briefings that lay out the real emerging threats around the world, that should alarm Democrats and Republicans alike.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, I`m joined right now by "The Washington Post" columnist Eugene Robinson and former chair of the Republican National Committee Michael Steele. Both are MSNBC analysts.
And what we need right now are some analysts right now.
EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I`m sorry. I`m busy tweeting.
MATTHEWS: I`m not a tweeter, but I know I have to do it as part of the show, but I don`t do much tweeting.
I think the danger of tweeting is that there`s no deliberation to it, it seems.
MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: It`s a reactive medium. It`s a reactive medium.
You can cause a reaction, or you can react to something else.
ROBINSON: React to something, right.
STEELE: It`s full exposure, number one. Number two, you can`t tell whether or not you`re serious or you`re sarcastic.
MATTHEWS: Well, sarcasm doesn`t work in the world.
ROBINSON: It especially does not work in diplomacy with North Korea, right?
How is Kim Jong-un to read that tweet. Right? Is this a formal diplomatic demarche from the United States? Is this the formal position of the incoming U.S. administration, or is it just Trump blowing off steam?
MATTHEWS: Let`s go back into history. We went into -- we went up the Yalu River in the Korean War and the Chinese got the thought, oh, they are coming to get us. They`re going to coming to get out, thinking we were being strategic.
But we weren`t coming to get them. We were just trying to take off Korea and give it back to the democrats over there, whatever you want to call them at that time. They were not exactly democrats, but get the communists out of there.
But the older world -- and it`s still the older world -- seems to take our actions as strategic and thoughtful and deliberative, when, in fact, they`re impulsive. Even back then, they were impulsive.
And what are they going to make of Trump, who seems to me he gets up in the morning one day and he goes, you know, I smell trouble for this ethics thing we`re doing here, so I`m going to blow the whistle on it? And he does it like in the moment.
STEELE: The impulsiveness of it is, though, is the danger spot, because how foreign leaders read that impulsiveness matters.
And I think what folks in the White House are having an interesting time trying to figure out is, OK, when we get up at 3:00, 4:00, I mean, 4:00 or 5:00 in the morning to get to the White House to start the day, the first thing we have to be concerned about what was tweeted...
ROBINSON: What did the president tweet, right?
STEELE: At 2:00 or 3:00.
MATTHEWS: Suppose you work for him. How do you speak for him?
How do the people around him -- Kellyanne Conway gets up this morning and goes to the morning shows, "GMA" and "Today" and "Joe," and she does the shows and give the current policy from Trump and the Republican Party, which is, we don`t need this ethics panel, this outside ethics panel. We`re going to move ahead and cut it off a bit.
And the next thing she knows, Trump is tweeting in the other direction. How do you coordinate this stuff?
ROBINSON: She didn`t know.
MATTHEWS: Because he didn`t tell her.
ROBINSON: I was on "Joe" with her this morning and she just didn`t know. So, she kind of vamped. She didn`t say much of anything, because she couldn`t say much of anything. She had no idea which way Trump was going to go. She hadn`t talked to him yet.
So, now we know which way he went. But that`s a terrible position to put anybody speaking for the administration in. The other thing about Twitter is the sort of clipped, and because it`s clipped, imprecise nature of Twitter language. It can be ambiguous and this and that.
A lot of time and effort is spent in diplomacy, in all diplomacy, trying to make sure there`s no misunderstanding, trying to make sure everybody understands what I`m saying and what you`re saying.
MATTHEWS: We don`t have the talent for that, because the old days, when you had to report before we had Western Union and people were reporting on that, but they were writing, they were speaking in cabelese, shorter words, getting rid of unnecessary words.
But the editor knew what you meant. It was always clear. He could straighten it out. But we don`t know what these -- what`s nice mean?
MATTHEWS: What do you say to Chinese when you say nice? Screw you, it means.
MATTHEWS: So, what do Chinese old guys sitting over there -- and they`re not older anymore. They`re younger leadership. And they have to, what did he mean by nice?
STEELE: Well, maybe part of it for the Chinese and for the North Koreans, the Iranians or anyone else that he is tweeting about, is that they do discount it. They see it as a reactive thing, because, remember, it`s not just president himself.
There are whole other back channels of conversation that are going on. So, when the president does tweet nice in response to something the Chinese have done or said, they will be -- it goes to your first point about how easy it will be for the insiders inside the White House to decode that for the Chinese and others on the back channels of diplomacy, because you can`t take it at face value, to Gene`s point, because you don`t know exactly, precisely what it means.
STEELE: You are talking about an industry, if you will, that`s all about precision.
ROBINSON: Imagine being an ambassador where the Chinese foreign minister calls you in and says, what is this nice?
MATTHEWS: Well, let`s go to what we can call him on.
Over the weekend, Donald Trump promised a revelation Tuesday or Wednesday of this week about Russia`s interference with U.S. elections.
Let`s watch a recent commitment by the president-elect and decide if he is going to meet this in the next 24 hours.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: "You will find out on Tuesday or Wednesday.
Well, last night, I asked Trump`s newly appointed counselor, Kellyanne Conway, about that statement. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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?
KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP SENIOR ADVISER: 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: What do you make about that, Gene? As an editor about news, is this on the day book? We`re going to hear tomorrow morning about this?
ROBINSON: Well, you may. And then I would kind of cut the rest, right, because the first two words were the message. That was the answer.
MATTHEWS: Vamping, I think you called it.
ROBINSON: And basically meant I don`t know.
STEELE: If you go back to the clip, he said he is going to have his briefing. And then he`s going to tell us what...
MATTHEWS: But he says he knows things that we don`t know.
STEELE: I think he is going to put it all together in context.
MATTHEWS: You are so gentle.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, Eugene Robinson and Michael Steele, who is getting soft on me.
Up next -- I`m sorry. You`re not soft.
Vintage Joe Biden today. We`re going to have some fund coming up, a little comic, joyous relief. It`s Joe Biden doing what he -- look at this, kissing on the -- he is unbelievable. He is like the uncle from the neighborhood. He`s unbelievable.
Anyway, you have got to watch Joe Biden from Delaware. Here he is. He`s coming up in a moment. We`re going to see sort of the last moments of Joe Biden as V.P.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
As the 115th Congress got down to business today, it was up to outgoing Vice President Joe -- and he really is outgoing -- Joe Biden to welcome the new Senate class.
For the former senator from Delaware, it was an opportunity to make new friends and perhaps say goodbye to old ones. Here he goes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It`s a great honor working with you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, you bet. You bet.
BIDEN: God love you.
John, thank you for being so nice to me. OK?
Well, you have got to be very patient. Fathers are hard to raise.
Good to see you, pal. Pennsylvania is in the House.
Got to get us all in.
When I die, I want to be reborn in Charleston.
I enjoyed being here more than anything.
Mom, I want to know what you`re drinking.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, it was quintessential Joe Biden, and it`s something that has become somewhat of a hallmark for the man who has spent 30 years in the U.S. Senate working for Democratic causes.
For more, I`m joined by Steve McMahon, Democratic strategist, and Ruth Marcus, deputy editorial page editor for "The Washington Post"
Ruth, you start. He has become uncle Joe. He`s a serious guy. He knows his issues. But he has become sort of loved. That`s rare in politics.
RUTH MARCUS, "THE WASHINGTON POST": He is loved because we see him operate in this space, which is his natural habitat. He is a born politician with a politician`s personality of just wanting to be with people and being outgoing.
The paradox of it is that his uncle Joe image is not actually -- as beloved as it has made him among many people, it`s not the image that he really wants to be known as.
MATTHEWS: I know.
MARCUS: He wants to be understood as the elder statesman.
MATTHEWS: He wants to be William Fulbright.
MATTHEWS: He wants to be a real heady, long-headed guy.
Steve, tell me about that, because he`s always been a man -- I went up there and did a thing for him years ago up in Delaware, a town meeting. Just -- he asked me to come up and sort of moderate this thing. And they love him up there.
He is sort of a classic Tip O`Neill kind of guy, to be honest, an old street corner guy that people all know personally and like him. He`s not - - he`s never been able to command the national stage, however, the way I think Ruth said he wants to do.
STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: He is a lot like Tip O`Neill, and another person that I worked for, Ted Kennedy, somebody who is quintessential politician.
He knows things about people. He asks about their family. He asks about their parents. And he is just the sort of old-school, back-slapping, fun- loving political guy that everybody like to be around, that every party is richer when they`re present, and every Senate is -- benefits from their presence as well, because he is a guy who had relationships, who could cut deals across the aisle, who his colleagues trusted, including Republicans like Mitch McConnell.
He was really a remarkable senator.
MATTHEWS: Yes, I don`t think people saw him as elitist.
He didn`t go to an Ivy School league. He doesn`t act like a big intellectual. But he would call me at least one time during the campaign and said, these people around here don`t get it. And he meant everybody, Obama, everybody. They don`t get this Trump guy. They don`t know why people are voting for him.
He did get it. And I wonder whether he could have been -- I hate the word used -- be used more effectively. Hillary sent him up to Scranton, sent him around as her surrogate in a way, but it wasn`t really making the point that they all got it. They didn`t hear what people were yelling about.
MARCUS: And he -- it`s easy in hindsight, but he has talked after the election...
MATTHEWS: He talked before it, too.
MARCUS: ... about how he was worried that she didn`t -- wasn`t hearing the voice of the middle class, that they didn`t have a message for the middle class, that she was not really attuned to it.
And it was a very agonizing choice for him to decide not to run. And he probably made the right choice for himself and his family.
MATTHEWS: I think so.
MARCUS: But it`s very difficult.
One of the things that really strikes me about Biden is the way in which he and Obama were very well matched in the sense that he made up with this kind of hail fellow, well met, bonhomie for Obama`s remoteness.
MATTHEWS: Oh, you`re so right.
MARCUS: So, they were a good pair.
MATTHEWS: I thought he was like -- in the old days, I think he was like Ed McMahon for Johnny Carson, because Johnny Carson was funny as hell, but he was aloof. He was cold.
And Ed McMahon was the guy next door. And the fact that Johnny hung out with a guy like Ed McMahon made us like Johnny more.
Anyway, what do you think about that and the ambitions of a guy who, when was he was very young , was elected to the United States Senate at 29, not even constitutionally able to take the oath yet? And he beat a guy who had been a two-term governor, three-term incumbent senator, congressman, everything, a guy that couldn`t be beat, and he beat the guy, Caleb Boggs.
And then he had a plan to run for president, and he just couldn`t do it.
MCMAHON: Well, it`s interesting.
You`re absolutely right, Chris. The guy next door is exactly the persona that Joe Biden was so adept at projecting, and it`s why people trusted him and liked him so much. He was elected to the Senate when he was 29, as you pointed out.
And from the moment he got there, people thought, watch Joe Biden. That guy is going to be president one day. And I think Joe Biden felt that. He had a great start in 1988. He actually was a rocket ship in Iowa, until he had his Neil Kinnock plagiarism problem.
He learned from that. He came back in 2008. I think he ran a campaign that was a pretty good campaign, but he was running against an exceptional field. And I think it was difficult for him to take a pass on this last one, because it was what he had lived his whole life to do, and it`s what he thought he always would be, which is president.
And I think if you talk about Northern industrial states that Donald Trump won, he won those states because he exuded Joe Biden exudes every single day. He could go up there and say to people, you know what? I may not agree with you on every policy, but I know exactly what you`re feeling and I`m going to do something about it. I`m going to be with you and I`m going to feel it every single day.
And people believed him when he said that.
MATTHEWS: Yes. And he never did stuff like some of these pols do, like Mitt Romney saying the 47 percent or President Obama saying things like the people who cling to their guns and their religion, or they`re deplorables.
Joe Biden never talked down to people. And that`s what politicians ought to stop doing. Whatever you think of somebody`s different views, stop thinking of yourself as morally superior to the voters, because they`re not going to like it, as we have seen.
Thank you, Steve McMahon. Thank you, Ruth Marcus.
Up next: Republicans take the reins, and now it`s put-up-or-shut-up time for the GOP. The roundtable is coming here next.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC ANCHOR: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Well, after eight years of stonewalling and blocking President Obama, it`s now the Republican Party`s turn to put up or shut up. For the first time in a decade, Republicans now control both houses of Congress and the White House. And in their march to power they made promises they will be forced to deliver on. We`re going to make them do it, by the way.
As Carl Hulse of "The New York Times", "There`s little room for failure if they hope to satisfy their impatient constituents and deliver on bold promises to reshape the nation`s health care delivery system, restructure the tax code, drive job creation, muscle up American foreign policy, rebuild a crumbling infrastructure and set America on a new course, eight years of railing against the Obama administration has infused them and their constituents with the hostility and disregard for the government. The Republicans must lead rather than ridicule." Well said.
Will GOP deliver on these big promises and will Democrats resist the Trump agenda as Republicans did to President Obama? They are two separate questions.
Here is what new Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said in his first floor speech he gave today as Democratic leader.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), DEMOCRATIC LEADER: Mr. President it is not our job to be a rubber stamp. It`s our job to do what`s best for the American people, the middle class, and those struggling to get there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, let`s bring in the HARDBALL roundtable tonight. Heidi Przybyla, senior politics reporter for "USA Today", Margaret Carlson is a columnist for "Bloomberg View", and Ken Vogel is chief investigative reporter at "Politico".
I wanted to start around the room here. Doesn`t Trump and the Republican Party that now represents him whether they like it or not have to do big things in the next six months, because my experience, our experience is, if a president get it done in the first session, meaning before August, really, he ain`t going to get it done. So, infrastructure, replace Obamacare, do things that meet the promises he made.
HEIDI PRZYBYLA, USA TODAY: All presidents have to deliver especially this president, given that when you look across all of the variables in terms of performance, he`s performing about 20 points below both Obama, President Bush. Here`s the big question, though --
MATTHEWS: What do make of that? How do make the 20 points below?
PRZYBYLA: In terms of --
KEN VOGEL, POLITICO: Favorability ratings.
PRZYBYLA: Favorability ratings, but also competence on foreign policy, competence on handling the economy, I think trade was maybe one of the only areas --
MATTHEWS: So, you believe polls?
PRZYBYLA: I do believe national polls. I don`t believe (ph) the state polls.
MATTHEWS: Your point is that he is not convincing the people now that he is going to get something done.
PRZYBYLA: Right. The question is what is the deliverable? Is the deliverable what he promised on the campaign trail in terms of the populist agenda, on trade, and on bringing back jobs to the Rust Belt? Or is the deliverable the establishment Republican agenda that the leadership is now teeing up in terms of tax cuts and entitlement reform? That wasn`t what this election was about. That`s not the mandate.
MATTHEWS: That`s not what they wanted. That`s a Jerry Ford Republican platform. That`s the old "cut everything, deregulate everything and make business happy".
VOGEL: You know, we see him make moves towards that more traditional Republican position and away from some of his bold promises?
MATTHEWS: What is that going to do?
VOGEL: The wall in Mexico.
MATTHEWS: Come on. You`re kidding me.
MATTHEWS: Is he going to do something about illegal immigration? Is he going to do something about stopping it?
MATTHEWS: I`m sorry, you`re changing my how about me ask the question. Is he going to do anything about immigration or just ignore it? Can he ignore the issue he got elected on?
VOGEL: I mean, he has suggested that it was not -- the wall is not a big priority.
MATTHEWS: What about illegal immigration? It`s a priority with him.
VOGEL: I mean, you would think that his supporters, people who came out to vote for him, with that being the main issue, would incredibly discourage if he didn`t push that. Yet, we`ve seen that some of these people are willing to forgive him and --
MATTHEWS: I don`t agree, I don`t agree. Four years from now, we have illegal immigration like we`ve had for the last, since 1986, 11 million people coming in here. If that continues, is he going to be able to run for reelection on that? I don`t think so.
MARGARET CARLSON, BLOOMBERG VIEW: In the Democrats` DNA to do stuff and the Republicans not to. That`s why McConnell was successful in resisting Obama. Democrats won`t be that successful, because they want to do stuff.
Now, Republicans so far had their way, the establishment with Trump`s picks for the cabinet. I mean, it`s an incredibly establishment cabinet. But Trump is not an establishment player. I think it`s going to be -- he is going to be more in line with Bernie Sanders than with Mitch McConnell.
MATTHEWS: What does he do, though? What does he bargain along the lines of Bernie Sanders? Bernie Sanders would say redistribute wealth, give jobs to people who need them, put them to work, even have a government jobs program.
CARLSON: Well, he sees infrastructure that way. He -- Trump is not for entitlement, cutting entitlements. And we`re going to --
VOGEL: Trade --
CARLSON: Trade is another one. The Hill likes China, and not Russia. He likes Russia and not China.
And the other thing is, it`s going to be Trump care soon. Trump is not going to go along if it`s going -- if he is going to be egged way, do you remember Dan Rostenkowski when he catastrophic insurance, Trump does not want his name -- he doesn`t want to be responsible for a failed health care program. And you can`t keep what he wants to keep --
MATTHEWS: Margaret, great memory. That`s when they went after the chairman of the ways committee, the crowds went after him and tried to turn over his car. I mean, they tried to. That`s how mad the crowd gets when you give them a tax they get nothing out of.
PRZYBYLA: I just don`t know -- I don`t know that we know yet whether he is going to cave or whether he`s going to work with the establishment because it depends on who he`s talked to last, in some cases. For example, on infrastructure, the plan that`s now emerging on the Republican side is very tax cut. Democrats are never going to go for that, and even so, somebody at Heritage, or somewhere, must have gotten Trump`s ear because now he`s starting to call that big government spending and that he didn`t realize it.
So, I think it really depends, but he is great at reading the tea leaves, like we saw with this Office of Government Ethics. He was more than willing to roll a grenade --
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you a lot of questions. Does he believe that he can ignore the issues he ran on? Can he ignore doing something, whatever it is, about stopping illegal immigration, doing something about reproducing jobs in America, real jobs for men and women that pay good salaries and stopping stupid wars?
Those are the big three. That was the perfect storm that got him elected, I believe. Stupid wars under especially W, a failure to deal with immigration, which really bugs a lot of people, and third, no jobs for anybody because of trade and other economic development.
Does he -- I want to ask you a question. I want an answer on this. Does he believe he has to make good on the main three thrusts he got elected on? Does he have to deliver on that or not?
CARLSON: And I say a fourth one which is reforming the V.A. hospital.
MATTHEWS: Just answer the question. Does he have to deliver on what he ran on?
CARLSON: He is talking about the wall as a metaphor now and talking about E-verify and other things and a virtual wall.
MATTHEWS: Well, that`s real. That`s good.
CARLSON: So he going to do something about it, but it`s not going to be that wall.
MATTHEWS: OK, is he going to have to say I delivered on my promises? Does he have to --
VOGEL: I think the one -- I think that eventually yes, he will. And I think it could redound to the benefit of Democrats in 2018, as well as 2020. If he doesn`t, because he made all the promises, the Republican Party is in the process of realigning itself around this Trump brand of Republicanism, which is very different than the Republican orthodoxy. Look at infrastructure spending, that is certainly one of the things he is looking at. For a lot of the Republicans that`s totally anathema to their vision of sort of small government conservative.
MATTHEWS: I think he smart to leave Social Security alone and Medicare alone. Those are old Pennsylvanian. They`re old Ohio regular people out there are not ideologues. They like Medicare. And they like Social Security.
CARLSON: And he said he will leave it alone.
MATTHEWS: Leave it alone.
And these guys like Paul Ryan who are ideologues, the Ayn Rand types, they`re going to become -- everybody is going to become self-reliant or whatever, they`re crazy.
CARLSON: They`re giving themselves a shot.
MATTHEWS: You touch Social Security, you die.
Anyway, the roundtable is sticking with us.
And up next, these three will tell me something more I don`t know.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Well, as Republicans prepare to take control of the United States Senate and the White House, for the first time since 2006, here`s something to think about -- nearly two-thirds of the Republicans who will be serving in the House this year have never served with a Republican president, spent their entire careers fighting against President Obama. So, can the party of no become the party that builds? That`s my question.
HARDBALL back after this.
MATTHEWS: Back with the HARDBALL round table.
Heidi, tell me something.
PRZYBYLA: The Clintons confirmed apparently that they will be attending Donald Trump`s inauguration and this is in spite of the fact that a senior Clinton confidante told me today that Bill Clinton in particular remains red-faced angry, hopingly mad especially about the FBI and Russia, especially after that warrant came out.
MATTHEWS: I`m waiting for Hillary to run for governor of New York next time. That`s my prediction.
They`re not going out as losers.
VOGEL: Trump talked on the campaign trail a lot about how he didn`t need big donors. He specifically singled out the Koch brothers, well, we understand that at a dinner at Mar-a-Lago, just before Christmas, David Koch, Donald Trump had a conversation and Trump asked him, why he and his brother didn`t engage in the presidential campaign to help Donald Trump?
MATTHEWS: So, he wants the money.
VOGEL: So, clearly, still on his mind.
CARLSON: So, in my lunch at Mar-a-Lago, during my vacation --
MATTHEWS: Aren`t you an insider?
CARLSON: -- Trump just met with the heads of the Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic and Hopkins, and his priority number four is to reform the V.A. And he`s also going to spend his first night sleeping in the Lincoln bedroom.
MATTHEWS: That will be interesting. Anyway, that`s kind of a scary bed, by the way.
CARLSON: It is. I mean, it`s an antique.
MATTHEWS: It looks like Dracula`s bed.
CARLSON: And there are ghost there.
MATTHEWS: I would expect if there are any ghosts in this planet, they might be in that room.
Heidi Przybyla, thank you, Ken Vogel and Margaret Carlson.
When we return, let me finish Trump watch. You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Trump Watch, Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017.
Well, today, we learned the power of a tweet. We saw everything scramble in Washington within minutes of Mr. T singling his thoughts in the medium he likes most. But really, what do today`s events tell us about who`s in charge. Is it Trump who blew the whistle on Congress`s plan to gut that independent Office of Congressional Ethics, or is it the media who blew the whistle late last night and early this morning? Or was it the people getting their word to their member of Congress, getting good and mad, that they don`t like the idea of Congress giving top legislative priority in this New Year to freeing themselves from outside ethical vigilance?
Personally, I can`t remember a time when people were -- as they are now -- so violently opposed to any sign of government corruption. The term "lobbyist" now has become taboo. So, has any sign a member is engaged in breaking Congress`s ethical rules or trying to cover up such violations. It`s about cleaning the swamp. The close working relationship among those who helped senators and members of Congress raise reelection money and then return once they`re safely in office to lobby those same senators and members of Congress on behalf of their clients.
By raising his voice in protesting as the way things are in Washington, the way they`re usually done, Donald Trump has not only shown his ability to move the Republican Party but also that he retains the instinct on how to move it. People in the country don`t want to see politicians gets themselves free of tough outside oversight. They don`t.
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"ALL IN" starts right now.
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