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Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 1/23/2017

Guests: Shane Harris, Marianne Williamson, Debbie Stabenow, Stephanie Schriock, Dan Rather, Susan Page, April Ryan. Dana Milbank, Sabrina Siddiqui

Show: Hardball with Chris Matthews Date: January 23, 2017 Guests: Shane Harris, Marianne Williamson, Debbie Stabenow, Stephanie Schriock, Dan Rather, Susan Page, April Ryan. Dana Milbank, Sabrina Siddiqui 

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Size matters, day four.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

Well, the Trump White House held its first press briefing today, and the elephant standing calmly in the room was what happened on Saturday, when Press Secretary Sean Spicer criticized the media for its coverage of the inauguration, specifically on the size of the crowd. He was clearly following his boss`s orders. Here was President Trump himself just two hours earlier on Saturday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We had a massive field of people. You saw them, packed. I get up this morning, I turn on one of the networks, and they show an empty field! I said, Wait a minute. I made a speech. I looked out. The field was -- it looked like a million, a million-and-a-half people!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, Spicer followed up later that evening.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We know that 420,000 people used the D.C. metro public transit yesterday, which actually compares to 317,000 that used it for President Obama`s last inaugural. This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe! There`s been a lot of talk in the media about the responsibility to hold Donald Trump accountable. And I`m here to tell you that it goes two ways! We`re going to hold press accountable, as well.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, the numbers used by both President Trump and Spicer were widely disputed in the press on Sunday. Today, Spicer said the information about ridership on Washington`s Metro system was given to him by the inaugural committee. While the issue of inaugural crowd sizes came up in the middle of an otherwise businesslike press briefing today. Reporters were courteous, I thought, and orderly. There were polite professional smiles both in the asking and answering of the questions today.

And Spicer himself was well prepared and made news on a number of fronts. The only dodge minutes were when the matter of size came up again. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: You stand by your statement that was the most watched inaugural address.

SPICER: Sure. It was the most watched inaugural. When you look at -- look, you look at just the -- one network alone got 16.9 million people on line. Another couple of the networks -- there were tens of million people that watched that on line, never mind the audience that was here. Thirty- one million people watched it on television.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, later this afternoon, later today, after the press briefing, Donald Trump today tweeted out this photo -- this was late today, on Monday -- of Friday`s inaugural crowd, without commenting he was again fighting the battle of the mall for the fourth day and counting.

Well, back to the briefing today. Spicer on the media -- it was constantly trying to undermine -- he said was constantly trying to undermine Trump`s credibility. Here`s Sean Spicer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SPICER: It`s not just about a crowd size. It`s about this constant, you know, He`s not going to run. Then if he runs, he`s going to drop out. Then if he runs, he can`t win. There`s no way he can win Pennsylvania. There`s no way he can win Michigan. Then if he won, it`s, Oh, he didn`t -- there is this constant theme to undercut the enormous support that he has. The default narrative is always negative. And it`s demoralizing! Part of this is saying when we`re right, say we`re right. When we`re wrong, say we`re wrong. When it`s not always wrong and negative.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, as I said, the majority of the briefing this afternoon was impressive and businesslike on the part of Spicer. He made news saying no decision has been made yet about whether to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. Well, that`s good news for peace. And he said the president was committed to protecting Social Security, more good news.

So where do things stand right now? Susan Page is Washington bureau chief for "USA Today," April Ryan`s Washington bureau chief for the American Urban Radio Networks, and journalist Dan Rather is anchor at AXS TV.

I got to go to Dan, who`s been through some of these rigmaroles. I thought the effort by the press secretary was pretty professional. I thought everybody in the room was professional. But there was high -- almost Nixonian emotion when it came to the issue of size, audience size, I didn`t think that any of that stuff made sense.

A lot of people who went to the Obama inaugural were people who walked on their feet to get there. They were local people, a lot of them African- American, who had never really come down to the Mall that often before, but all came for that event. I don`t think you can compare that amazing event of Obama`s inaugural with Trump`s, which was another inaugural address. It wasn`t the same historic event. Your thoughts, Dan, as a pro.

DAN RATHER, AXS TV: Well, first of all, the Trump administration (INAUDIBLE) President Trump for days, including the weekend -- they were on a "trash the press" strategy. The president himself in a very inappropriate venue out at the CIA, standing in front of the stars for heroes of the CIA, started (ph) saying the press is -- we are the most dishonest people or among the most dishonest people around. Then followed up by the very unfortunate, I would say outrageous performance of the new press secretary, Spicer, coming out, delivering what can only be classified as a lie, and then moving out of the room, didn`t have the guts to stand there and answer questions.

This looked terrible. This was off to a terrible start. Somebody has had a reset in the White House. And I do agree we should be applauding what happened in that White House briefing room today. There was a reset, at least for the day -- at least for the day, a reset on the part of the press secretary, who came prepared. He moved along very swiftly, adroitly, and for the most part truthfully, set aside the "size matters" question, and the press was respectful.

This is what we, the people of the United States, expect in a press briefing. We will see how long this reset holds. I`m hoping that it holds straight through. The new press secretary said, you know, I will never lie to you. That`s good.

But then there was that -- it was kind of a Nixonian moment, if you will, when it gets back to this obsession with the size of the crowd at the inauguration. Listen, Pakistan is talking about using nuclear weapons against India. North Koreans are developing a new missile will hit the U.S., to saying of what ISIS (INAUDIBLE)

We have enormous problems in this country, and we need a mutual respectfulness between the press and those who are in the White House. There`s nothing more important to President Trump than he develop some kind of communicable trust between the leadership and the led. And events like this weekend really undercut that. They not only undercut the Trump presidency, they hurt the country overseas.

And do we can only hope that we have more press briefings like today and have zero like we had over the weekend. And what President Trump himself does -- if he personally continues this "trash the press" strategy, it`ll only (sic) be bad for him, it`ll be bad for journalism and bad for the country.

MATTHEWS: Well, once again, I`m glad I got you on the show, Dan. Thanks for coming on. Stick with this conversation.

Right now, the United States Senate is holding a roll call vote right now on the nomination of U.S. Congressman Mike Pompeo to be the next CIA director. Pompeo is expected to win confirmation. We`re going to keep an eye on that vote and bring you the results when they have it. Anyway, the United States Senate is now -- oh, we`re all done (INAUDIBLE) repeated it again.

Let me go -- let me go -- April, you were kind of one of the figures in the story today. And again I go back to what Dan Rather just said. Most of the press (INAUDIBLE) there was helpful (ph) -- I got a lot of information out of it. And I was looking at not just the embassy hasn`t been decided on, which is a very hot issue, the -- our whole trade relations, the airports are going to be rebuilt, the highways, the freight. Are they going to spend $10 trillion maybe on infrastructure?

A lot of this is good for people who are more progressive than this president, a lot of good news in there, I thought. What do you think went crazy there at the end? Why did he get so emotional?

APRIL RYAN, AMERICAN URBAN RADIO NETWORKS: You know why? And you hit the nail on the head when you said size matters. Not only was it about Friday, I believe it was also about Saturday, the numbers that were there. Friday...

MATTHEWS: The women`s march.

RYAN: The women`s march. It was not just about Washington, it was about Alaska, Philadelphia, New York, London, globally. It was not just here. So size and the numbers matter.

And I believe what happened, in listening to folks inside the White House, the new administration -- I believe it was about the immediacy. They got muddled up with the immediacy of the numbers that are not always correct. So then he came out today saying it was about those who viewed it, as well as those who were there.

MATTHEWS: On the internet and stuff and...

RYAN: Yes, on the internet, the screens, yes. And then, you know, they didn`t want to talk necessarily about Saturday, but Saturday was a hard blow for them.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Pick up on that. Why do you think the message of -- I personally think size matters in terms of voices. I think people are impressed by big crowds. You know, I think anti-war demonstrations back in our day, my day, were real...

SUSAN PAGE, "USA TODAY": Civil Rights, too.

MATTHEWS: ... Civil Rights, of course, Civil Rights, the march on Washington was it (ph).

PAGE: Yes.

MATTHEWS: So it does matter. People look at the -- wow, that many people care to show up.

PAGE: And look at the number -- I mean, look at the numbers. They were stunning.

MATTHEWS: And no violence.

PAGE: No violence.

MATTHEWS: Zero.

PAGE: And a true grass roots movement. You know, this was started with a Facebook posting.

MATTHEWS: In Hawaii.

PAGE: Yes. This was not the...

MATTHEWS: One woman.

PAGE: ... Democratic Party turning out...

MATTHEWS: Yes.

PAGE: ... 500,000 people.

MATTHEWS: I think this was better than the Democratic Party, actually!

(LAUGHTER)

PAGE: This raises some challenges for the Democratic Party. Can the Democratic Party, which is a little a-flounder now -- can they somehow channel the energy that we saw in New York and Washington and Seattle? And in my hometown of Wichita -- they had a women`s march in Wichita, which is a pretty red place. Can they channel that into something that works politically for them? That is not yet...

MATTHEWS: Did somebody keep names? I`m going to ask Stephanie Shriock. I hope just in the interests of normal politics, somebody took names and kept the -- so they can contact those women again, and young people.

PAGE: Well, that`s one of the tests. Did they?

MATTHEWS: Anyway, Kellyanne Conway was questioned on "MEET THE PRESS" yesterday about the numbers used by President Trump and Spicer on "MEET THE PRESS, as I said. She coined a new term, "alternative facts." I think that was unfortunate by her -- for her. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHUCK TODD, MODERATOR, "MEET THE PRESS": You did not answer the question of why the president asked the White House press secretary to come out in front of the podium for the first time and utter a falsehood. Why did he do that? It undermines the credibility of the entire White House press office on day one.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP WHITE HOUSE COUNSELOR: No, it doesn`t. Don`t be so -- don`t be so overly dramatic about it, Chuck. What it -- you`re saying it`s a falsehood and they`re giving -- Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts to that. But the point...

TODD: Alternative facts? Alternative facts, four of the five facts he uttered. The one thing he got right...

CONWAY: Hey, Chuck, why -- hey, Chuck...

TODD: ... was Zeke Miller. Four of the five facts he uttered were just not true! Look, alternative facts are not facts. They`re falsehoods.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Dan, there`s a new phrase. And I think Kellyanne is as smart as a whip. I think that one was a mistake. That was a strikeout because somebody -- well, I might as well do it. Somebody`s going to do it -- alt- facts. It`s not even going to be alternatives, it`s going to be alt-facts, and you know what that means.

RATHER: Well...

MATTHEWS: That`s coming.

RATHER: To say it was unfortunate is to put it mildly. This was a big mistake. Listen, we -- we cannot -- we simply cannot -- I don`t mean journalists. I don`t mean (INAUDIBLE) per se. None of us can go into this world of alternative facts. Listen, two plus two equals four. That`s a fact. There`s no alternative to it. Water runs downhill. That`s a fact.

(LAUGHTER)

RATHER: It snows in Alaska. There are sand dunes in Saudi Arabia. These are facts. This idea of alternative facts -- this is a propaganda tool.

And look, you and I know that Ms. Conway is a very smart lady and she didn`t just offhandedly say this. They`ve made this point before. I don`t think that even most of the very -- Trump supporters who really believe in it want us to deal in a world of alternative facts.

Facts and the truth, or as close as is humanly possible to get to the truth, are the very foundation of our democracy and dealing with an informed citizenry. We all know this. And I think we have to be very careful, not just those of us in journalism and not just the White House, but the public at large has to think carefully about this whole propaganda tool of "alternate facts."

MATTHEWS: You know, I don`t think you look on the opinion page to find out what time the movie is. There are certain things you just want the facts. You don`t want to hear the opinion. You don`t want to hear the commentary.

RYAN: (INAUDIBLE)

MATTHEWS: You want to see the football game and end (ph) the commentary. But you want to know who won the game.

RYAN: Yes. No chaser. You know, it`s devolved from spin. This alternative facts is devolved into falsehood, which could be a lie. And it`s your truth, my truth, and somewhere in the middle, there`s fact.

We have this relationship, this friendly adversarial relationship that is based on trust and truth. And when you are talking about alternative facts, it makes you question. And it`s all about the numbers yet again. And it`s just the size that matters, and it`s -- it`s sad. And you don`t use that room, that podium to have a "who`s bigger" match.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, speaking at the CIA headquarters on Saturday, Donald Trump blamed the media for creating the impression he was feuding with the intelligence community. He said we made it up. Well, let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: As you know, I have a running war with the media. They are among the most dishonest human beings on earth.

(LAUGHTER)

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: Right? And they sort of made it sound like I had a feud with the intelligence community. And I just want to let you know the reason you`re number one stop is exactly the opposite. Exactly. And they understand that, too.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, the fact is, it wasn`t the media that invented that feud. Donald Trump has repeatedly mocked and criticized the intelligence community. Back in December, for example, he rejected intelligence reports of Russia`s meddling in the U.S. election, saying, "These are the same people that said that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction." Well, by the way, they weren`t. It was the Cheney crowd, the neocons, who said that.

Anyway, after an unsubstantiated dossier that alleged Russia had compromising information about Trump was leaked, he said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I think it was disgraceful, disgraceful that the intelligence agencies allowed any information that turned out to be so false and fake out. I think it`s a disgrace. And I say that, and I say that, and that`s something that Nazi Germany would have done and did do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: That was kind of a Christopher Walken moment there. Why does he think the press is going to forget or the people watching that there wasn`t this match of vitriol between him and the intelligence people for weeks?

PAGE: Remember he used to put intelligence in quotes every time he had to refer to them...

MATTHEWS: Yes.

PAGE: ... in a tweet. You know, I don`t -- I don`t know whether he thinks he can just bluster his way through it. Or maybe he just thinks by attacking the press, he can undermine the credibility of the press even more. And therefore, when there is critical coverage of him, people who support him will be less likely to believe it, even in cases like this, where you can show the clips, you can show the tweets that are at odds with what he`s claiming now.

MATTHEWS: You were great today.

RYAN: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: I was watching the whole thing on television. Let me go back to...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... for a last though. There seems to be something new in politics, today which is just run the clock. And it`s bipartisan. It`s not -- Bill Clinton -- you know, he had the problem with the intern and all that, and he basically denied it, he lied, I guess you would have to say, and then eventually, it came out it was by then too late. The public passion about it, the anger against him was gone and he got through the thing.

Trump would do this. You know, you`ll say that President Obama is an infiltrator into the country, nobody knew him in school. (INAUDIBLE) Manchurian candidate from Kenya. And then one day, he just says, Oh, he`s American. He was born here. And everybody forgets about it.

The thing about the tax returns went on and on and on. It was about some kind of audit that was supposedly going on. I don`t know if there`s ever been an audit or not. And then Kellyanne this weekend just casually says, Oh, he`s never going to release his taxes. Now, that`s still a bit murky. But it seems like that if you can run the clock now on a story, as ridiculous and lame and as absurd as it is, and then just say, Well, I had enough of that stupid excuse. I -- as Frank Sinatra would say, It got me through the night. And then we just move on.

When is the press going to able to beat the -- the clock beating, which is what goes on in politics now? If you lie for three or four months, then change your story, everybody forgets. And they seem to be winning at it. Your thoughts, Dan Rather.

RATHER: I don`t think they`re winning at it, Chris. Short term, it may work. But this is where the role of the press gets so important. You know, the press needs to be steady, see its role as an honest broker of information. But when things like this happen, when he changes his tune, lies -- there`s no other word about it -- about what his position, say vis- a-vis the intelligence agencies -- this is where the press has to be oak and iron of continually (ph) pressing the point, demanding answers respectfully, but not settling for him to just operate this propaganda machine of, Well, it doesn`t matter what I said before. It doesn`t matter.

This is the vital role of the press. And I don`t think that medium and long term, that they can win the strategy of believing that they can just run out the clock -- and I like your metaphor for running out the clock, by the way -- just run out the clock by changing their story and just not letting the press do very much.

We have to understand, those of us in the press, and the public has to understand, that what Donald Trump has succeeded in doing in many ways -- in his own mind, he thinks he`s succeeded tremendously -- is to intimidate the press.

And many of these things are designed to intimidate the press. And this is gut check time for the press not to be intimidated, to day give him nothing but cold steel or oak and iron when he does these things, but to always have respect for the office of the presidency. But when he outright lies - - and you or use the word "falsehood," if you prefer -- then not only call his hand for that moment, but keep on calling his hand. And I think medium to long term, he either has to changed his "trash the press" strategy, or it will hurt his presidency tremendously.

MATTHEWS: Dan Rather, thank you, sir.

RATHER: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: And Susan Page and April Ryan, a great conversation here. We`ve learned a lot.

Coming up -- millions of people took to the streets this weekend to protest the inauguration of Donald Trump, also to celebrate women`s rights, I think. But where does the movement go from here? Can women channel the energy of this weekend into real action? We`ve asked that question, and we`re going to keep asking it. Where is the second act? There ought to be one.

Plus, federal investigators want to know more about Trump`s national security adviser and his contacts with Russia. This could be a big deal, and we`re going to get the latest tonight.

And Trump is making good on his campaign promise to scrap NAFTA and pull out of TPP. Much more from this busy first working day of the Trump presidency all coming up here on HARDBALL tonight.

Finally, let me finish tonight with "Trump Watch." You`re going to like it.

And this is HARDBALL, where the action is.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Well, the United States Senate has just voted to approve Kansas congressman Mike Pompeo to be the next CIA director. Pompeo cleared the 51-vote majority he needed for confirmation. That vote continues in the Senate right now, but he`s already won. He`s got the confirmation. He`ll be the next -- in fact, he is now the CIA director.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He has a healthy respect for the First Amendment. And he -- this is what makes our country so beautiful, is that on one day, you can inaugurate a president. On the next day, people can occupy the same space to protest something.

But he is also cognizant to the fact that a lot of these people were there to protest an issue of concern to them and not against anything.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That was a little more from Sean Spicer`s first press briefing today reacting to Saturday`s march.

On Saturday, more than three million women flooded the streets of the capital here across country in all the major cities and around the globe actually, from New York to Los Angeles to over in Paris, even Antarctica. I didn`t know there was any place to march up there.

Women gathered to send a message that women`s rights are human rights. That was the theme.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GLORIA STEINEM, CO-FOUNDER, WOMEN`S MEDIA CENTER: This is an outpouring of energy and true democracy like I have never seen in my very long life.

ASHLEY JUDD, ACTRESS: I`m not nasty, like the combo of Trump and Pence being served up to me in my voting booth. I`m nasty like the battles my grandmothers fought to get me into that voting booth. I`m nasty.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D), CALIFORNIA: We have got our work cut out for us, and it`s going to get harder before it gets easier. I know we will rise to the challenge.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: That was Gloria Steinem. And that was Ashley Judd. And there was Kamala Harris, this new senator from California, all speaking. I also saw Maxine Waters in that crowd.

As millions took to the street, a slew of conservatives took to Twitter to attack. And some were really awful, these. I`m not going to put the really bad stuff on. But here`s a bad one, bad enough.

Erick Erickson, the conservative radio host, tweeted -- you won`t believe this -- this is the 21st century -- "Sorry for all the ham and cheese that won`t get made into sandwiches while those women are marching."

How lame.

Michael Flynn Jr., whose father is now Trump`s national security adviser, wrote: "Women already have equal rights, did you notice, and, yes, equal pay in this country. Notice? What more do they want? Free mani-pedis?"

I don`t even know what that is.

Anyway, Hillary Clinton also took to Twitter on Sunday to say that the march was awe-inspiring and that she hoped -- quote -- "It brought joy to others, as it did to me."

And with the march over, a number of Democrats are wondering, what comes next?

Well, joining me right now is Democratic Senator from Michigan Debbie Stabenow.

Senator, this is a challenge to you established figures in the Democratic Party, because I`m not sure if the Senate got together, all the Democrats, said let`s have a rally in Washington, it would have been as effective as this lone civilian woman out in Hawaii that just said let`s show what we feel about Trump`s election.

And, all of a sudden, this magic happened everywhere in the world.

SEN. DEBBIE STABENOW (D), MICHIGAN: Right.

MATTHEWS: OK, first question.

STABENOW: Right.

MATTHEWS: What would you advise, as a professional political person, to all of these wonderful amateur civilians who went out just because they feel something? What`s next for them?

STABENOW: Well, Chris, first of all, it`s always wonderful to be with you.

And I started out as one of those grassroots activists. And it was so exciting on Saturday. Just a quick shout-out -- 8,000 women and families came from Michigan to D.C., and over 25,000 participated in Michigan. So, it was amazing.

And I think the Republicans and President Trump better be very worried, because it did come from individuals. And I think the next step is around health care. The women that I talked with -- and I know around the country in our country -- don`t want to go back to a time when just being a woman is a preexisting condition, or they can`t get basic maternity care or make their own reproductive choices.

So, this was round one. And they are very focused on health care as round two.

MATTHEWS: I agree with you, by the way, just as -- I`m a guy, obviously.

But I also -- speaking in nonpolitical terms, the fact is in most households, the wife, the mother is the one most attuned to what`s covered in the insurance policy.

STABENOW: Right.

MATTHEWS: They know more and many times more than their husband what is covered, what is a high deductible. Where are they really in trouble if they don`t keep it up? If a husband loses a job or if they lose their job, they know the catastrophe that befalls the family. They can`t get insurance readily.

You have got COBRA, but it`s still tough.

STABENOW: Right.

MATTHEWS: So, you really know your stuff.

Let me ask you about the lesson of...

(CROSSTALK)

STABENOW: Chris, can I just say?

MATTHEWS: Go ahead. Sure. Go ahead.

STABENOW: This is also very personal. I just want to stress it`s not like smoke and mirrors, where you can just try to sell something.

It`s very personal. Women know whether or not they are going to see their rates their go up or go down. Can they get maternity care? They are going to know. Everyone is going to know. So it`s very personal.

MATTHEWS: I like what he is saying about pharmaceuticals, about pills.

STABENOW: Sure.

MATTHEWS: And I use a lot of them myself.

And I`ll tell you, I know when people get -- in your state go up to Windsor, they go to Canada to try to get better prices on drugs. They come back with a carload with it. It`s all legal.

And I just wonder, do you have any confidence in collective buying by our country`s -- by our health facilities? If you just say we`re all buying the aspirin together, we`re all buying the metformin together, and we`re going to use our marketing power, do you think that would work?

Does Trump got something here or not, cheaper for everybody?

STABENOW: Well, this is something that we as Democrats have been fighting for ever since Medicare prescription drugs was passed under President George W. Bush.

And that is that Medicare should be able to negotiate a group price, absolutely.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

STABENOW: And I have to also say that Bernie Sanders and I, as House members, were the first two to actually put seniors in buses and take them across to Canada, where they can pay 40, 50 percent less for the very same drug, very same name. It makes absolutely no sense.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: That will drive many people crazy, but go -- in Paris, somebody just got back, a friend of mine. And he said it was unbelievable. It was like one-fifth the price for the stuff he needed, the medicine he needed.

Anyway, maybe there`s somewhere -- something there.

But, Debbie, you`re great, Senator Stabenow, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan.

STABENOW: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: I`m now joined by Stephanie Schriock, president of EMILY`s List, who was one of the sponsors of Saturday`s march, and Marianne Williamson, author and activist.

I want to start with Stephanie, who I have known forever. And I want to have you jump in here.`

Just tell me the feelings of Saturday and how you think they can be translated into real action on issues that matter, especially to women.

STEPHANIE SCHRIOCK, PRESIDENT, EMILY`S LIST: Well, it was a feeling of empowerment. It was a feeling of community.

As I walked through in Washington and just -- it was just incredible and also incredibly polite march, I will say. Everybody was in there together. But I think it was really about the women across the country, particularly in these small towns, where they thought they were really alone. And all of a sudden, they realize they are not alone anymore.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: A lot of blue in the red.

SCHRIOCK: That`s right.

MATTHEWS: Right?

SCHRIOCK: There is a lot of blue in the red. And that`s exactly right.

And one of the things I said from the stage on Saturday was this. We have got two choices here. You either got to run for office, or you got to help a woman run for office, because we need to change who is making our policies. And we trained 500 women at EMILY`s List the next morning after they marched all day. And she was there.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: It was so important to run, because eventually you`re going to win.

Let me to Marianne.

And I haven`t had you on before, but, Marianne Williamson, thank you.

Tell me what you feel and think is coming of this amazing, spontaneous really, phenomenal day on Saturday.

MARIANNE WILLIAMSON, AUTHOR: Well, thank you so much, first of all, for having me on.

And what happens now has to do with each of us. I think the excitement about the march was the idea that we were responding to the extremist elements of the ideological agenda of President Trump.

And I think that many women who were there have the realization that we must keep this up, that this must not stop, that this must not dissolve.

And it does have to do with political activism and it does have to do with political strategy. But when you were asking before, when you asked Senator Stabenow what advice she would give to the marchers, I would also say, what advice these marchers have to give to the Democratic Party.

And that has to do with the overall vision, which is aspirational. It is not just going low. It is going high. It is speaking to the basic decency of the American people, a politics which speaks not only to the sustainability of the planet, but to the betterment of humanity.

Bobby Kennedy said we must reclaim the soul. This is a fight for the soul of our country. And this march had soul and soulfulness. And too much of our progressive politics does not. And so I hope that the Democratic Party and all progressive elements will really think that they have as much to think about in terms of tone as the marchers have to think, do in terms of strategy.

MATTHEWS: Well, Marianne, e-mail some stuff on Bobby, because I`m writing about him now. And I agree with you completely. He is the soul, the soul we need.

Anyway, Stephanie Schriock, not much time tonight, but a big night.

SCHRIOCK: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Thank you, Marianne Williamson, a great new guest.

MATTHEWS: Up next: new information tonight about the investigation into the ties between the Trump inner circle and the Russians. That`s not going to go away, that one.

You see Sean Spicer said the new president is not going to try to stop it. Well, that`s good news, too.

This is HARDBALL, where the action is.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

"The Wall Street Journal" is reporting that intelligence agents have looked into intercepted communications between President Trump`s national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and members of the Russian government. It`s part of a counterintelligence inquiry that is -- quote -- "aimed to determine the nature of Mr. Flynn`s contact with Russian officials and whether such contacts may have violated laws."

Well, agents are reportedly scrutinizing Flynn`s phone calls, including the calls placed to the Russian ambassador here on December 29 of last year, the same day that former President Obama imposed sanctions on Russia for meddling in our election.

Responding to that story, a spokesperson for the Trump White House said in a statement: "We have absolutely no knowledge of any investigation or even a basis for such an investigation."

Well, Flynn was well-documented -- he has well-documented ties to the Kremlin. In 2015, he sat with President Vladimir Putin -- there he is -- at a dinner for Russian`s state-run media outlet R.T. According to Politico, he was also paid by the network to deliver a speech there.

I`m joined now by one of the authors of that "Wall Street Journal" report, Shane Harris. And Jeremy Bash is a former CIA chief of staff and MSNBC national security analyst.

OK, Shane, what do we know about additional contacts involving Mr. Flynn, who is now the national security adviser to the president, with the Russians, beyond talking to the Russian ambassador to the United States on that one or two occasions?

SHANE HARRIS, "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL": We know there were some -- multiple contacts with other officials.

We don`t know exactly how many Russian officials, separate from the one that has been acknowledged with the ambassador.

MATTHEWS: Over there or here? HARRIS: That`s not clear to us either. And that`s obviously an important question.

What we also know is that the intelligence officers who are looking at this are scrutinizing contacts that happened during that transition period. Now, this would not be an unusual period for Mike Flynn to be reaching out and setting up conversations and contacts with Russians.

But the fact that this is drawing the scrutiny of investigators sort of sends up a red flag. Exactly what were the nature of those conversation, what was he saying, was he making any policy promises? These are the kinds of questions.

MATTHEWS: If he was making conversation with, say, Bibi Netanyahu`s Likud government over there, or he was making conversation with Theresa May, the U.K. prime minister, would that be a subject of investigation in itself, or is there some reason why we pay attention to any contacts with the Russians?

HARRIS: Well, in this case, but pay attention to contacts with the Russians because they are not necessarily a friendly -- they are not an ally.

MATTHEWS: I want that. If you are seen as adversarial, you get more scrutiny.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: There`s still a law question here.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Were they negotiating some new arrangement with the Russians if they won the election or, somehow, if we get in, we`re going to be much nicer to you on this or that?

JEREMY BASH, MSNBC NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I think it`s a little different, Chris.

I think it`s appropriate for a national security adviser during the transition to talk to embassies, to talk to Russian officials, whether they`re an adversary or friend. That really makes no difference.

The question that the FBI will investigate is whether there were contacts between the political campaign and Russian officials who were secretly trying to influence our election process. And if they think there is evidence here in some of these communications, that is relevant to that investigation.

MATTHEWS: You mean if one of the people in the campaign, Flynn or someone else, played spotter, and said here what is you might to want to dig out of that big pile of data you have on hacked e-mails? Here is what you ought to look for? Look under Podesta. Look under Palmieri.

(CROSSTALK)

HARRIS: If there were collusion in direction, that would potentially a very big crime. That`s right.

But there may be other things below that going on, like, are we going to promise you certain sanctions relief in exchange for certain things you might do to us?

MATTHEWS: Is that a Logan Act violation?

HARRIS: If he did it while he was not a U.S. official, it could be one. BASH: Look, the big law here is the Foreign Agents Registration Act. And if you`re acting as a foreign agent representative of a foreign government, you have to register. DOJ will nail you if you don`t do that.

But I think it`s very different than having an incoming policy official talk to officials at other embassies.

MATTHEWS: OK, let`s now do white spy, black spy like the old "Mad" comics.

Let`s figure out, why would an American who is of reasonable political bent give a damn whether Flynn -- just be brutal here. What`s the worst-case scenario, something that could have happened?

BASH: The worst-case scenario is that there were communications between the Trump campaign and the Russians to influence our politics.

MATTHEWS: To win the election?

BASH: That`s treason.

MATTHEWS: In other words, any kind of cooperation, collaboration, getting in cahoots is treason?

BASH: It is. If a foreign government is going to be allowed to influence our politics, our political campaign, without them disclosing that fact, without them being open and...

MATTHEWS: Would that be true if an ally or a sometimes -- most time ally like Israel? You don`t think that goes on? You don`t think conversations go on politically back and forth with the embassies of these countries, Britain and everybody else?

HARRIS: You`re talking about, though, trying to influence an election.

And it`s important to remember that there are ongoing investigations and lines of inquiry into whether or not there was any contact between Trump officials and the Russian around this hacking that occurred.

And, so far, we need to emphasize there`s no evidence that there was, even though there have been allegations of that. But that`s the backdrop here.

MATTHEWS: Because I don`t want to be completely Pollyannish here, or negatively Pollyannish. There`s no doubt in my mind Bibi Netanyahu wanted to defeat Obama`s reelection campaign. He wanted that guy to go down.

BASH: Yes, but I don`t think there`s evidence...

MATTHEWS: I don`t think there`s any evidence of any of this yet, except that everybody suspects Flynn, right?

HARRIS: Well, it keeps coming back to Flynn because we know he`s had at least a set of conversations with the Russian ambassador. And he`s been over to Russia.

MATTHEWS: Well, he told Sean Spicer that was it.

HARRIS: Well, he told Sean Spicer. Sean Spicer came out and said Mike Flynn told me what I`m telling you.

MATTHEWS: Well, that`s important. Well, he put the ball right in his hands.

HARRIS: But our sources are telling us something else, which is that it`s not just the Russian ambassador.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Well, then Mr. Flynn, General Flynn, did not tell the whole story to Sean Spicer. And it`s not going to be Spicer`s fault this time, because it`s now on the record. It was Flynn not telling him the whole story. That`s where it`s at, right?

HARRIS: Right. That`s it.

MATTHEWS: Shane, thank you. We`re all on the same page.

Pay attention, everybody watching.

Shane Harris and Jeremy Bash.

Up next, the HARDBALL Roundtable is going to be here on this busy first working day of the Trump presidency.

Plus, three things about the Trump White House you might not know.

You`re watching HARDBALL, where the action is.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD NIXON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: For once, gentlemen, I would appreciate if it you would write what you`d say. I leave you, gentlemen, now, and you will now write it, you will interpret it, that`s your right. But as I leave you, I want you to know, just think how much you`re going to be missing. You don`t have Nixon to kick around any more because gentlemen, this is my last press conference.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, that was 1962, of course, after he lost the governor`s race. That was Richard Nixon again in his concession speech after losing the governor`s race in California. When he complained about the press coverage he received throughout his campaign.

Well, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer in what mostly an impressive and business-like press briefing today lodged his own frustration with the media about the press`s treatment of the new president. Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It`s not just about a crowd size, it`s about this constant, you know, he is not going to run. Then if he runs, he`s going to drop out. Then if he runs, he can`t win. There`s no way he can win Pennsylvania. There`s no way he can win Michigan.

Then, if he won, it`s always -- there`s constant theme to undercut the enormous support that he has. The default narrative is always negative. And it`s demoralizing. And part of it is saying when we`re right, say we`re right. When we`re wrong, say we`re wrong. But it`s not always wrong and negative.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s bring in the HARDBALL round stable. Three reporters who are all in the room for Spicer`s briefing. Dana Milbank is an opinion writer for "The Washington Post". Sabrina Siddiqui, political reporter with "The Guardian". And back with us is April Ryan, a very famous now.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: The White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks and the author of "At Mama`s Knee: Mothers and Race and Black and White".

Let me go to you, Dana, because you didn`t get a chance to talk. Self-pity doesn`t work publicly. It never works, in relations in marriage, in relations with your kids, it doesn`t say, "woe is me" never sells anybody.

DANA MILBANK, THE WASHINGTON POST: It most certainly does and I don`t think anybody felt particularly bad for Kellyanne Conway with Chuck Todd yesterday, nor with Sean Spicer`s lament. He did I think save what was a really disastrous situation on Saturday by giving a perfectly respectable thing, acknowledging as much as anybody I think in this new administration will, that he kind of got it wrong, not quite --

MATTHEWS: He enlarged the playing field by say, we weren`t counting the people. We didn`t mean --

SABRINA SIDDIQUI, THE GUARDIAN: He phrased differently.

MATTHEWS: Yes, he said, we`re counting everything. Internet, social media --

SIDDIQUI: I do think it`s telling of what we`re discussing here with respect to Donald Trump and this administration`s relationship with the press that we`re giving brownie points to the press secretary for conducting a business-like traditional press conference the way that you are supposed to.

MATTHEWS: He was on, Sabrina.

SIDDIQUI: He was on. But, look, you know, when he went on that rift about Donald Trump`s feelings, he hold highest office in the land. And we know from his campaign, he`s incredibly skin thinned and he showed he`s going to continue --

MATTHEWS: By the way, 17 Republicans bitched for months they didn`t get the press he got. He got a better press than anybody to get the nomination.

SIDDIQUI: He did.

MATTHEWS: He was on all the time. On this network, everywhere he went, he got ink and attention and somewhat, it wasn`t nasty. That wasn`t true. That`s not right. It wasn`t nasty.

APRIL RYAN, AMERICAN URBAN RADIO NETWORKS: It wasn`t, but we have seen the nastiness with the press. I mean, we`ve seen --

MATTHEWS: I meant nasty against him, it wasn`t. Go ahead.

RYAN: It was, well -- no --

MATTHEWS: I meant, in the past. He blames us for everything.

RYAN: Yes, he blames us, but see, my question is, how can you have it both ways? One minute, he`s going against Obama, he`s going against all these people, but he`s sensitive. And I really thought was a moment in that room when they talked about how they felt about John Lewis` statement, Congressman John Lewis` statement and also about the MLK bust.

And I thought that was a moment, and it kind of linked it to the peace where they said they want us to get along. That`s -- I don`t know -- it was -- it was a good press conference.

MATTHEWS: The quality of mercy is not strained in the giver, as we heard in Shakespeare.

Why didn`t he extend some of this mercy to Hillary Clinton, who beat him by 3 million votes? Talking being getting the short end of the stick, she beats him by 3 million votes, he seats in the inaugural platform, shows up, gets upward, dresses, up, puts her best face on, keeps a good happy face and he doesn`t acknowledge she was there.

This is a equality day? Just a thought.

SIDDIQUI: Well, I think, as we know in his --

MATTHEWS: Would anybody have felt sorry for him? Yes, probably, he won by more than 3 million votes.

SIDDIQUI: He acknowledged her in the meeting for congressional leader. Of course, we know that his inauguration speech is playing directly to his base. Very much, the tone of his remarks on Friday were not addressed to the broader American public --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: He told luncheon crowd over in the --

(CROSSTALK)

SIDDIQUI: He knows how to work the crowd.

MILBANK: Now, Donald Trump, no doubt, would feel aggrieved that you`ve criticized his treatment of Hillary Clinton right now, but I think we made a point -- what`s he angry at the press for doing, for pointing out that the things he said were false.

MATTHEWS: His attacks on the intelligence community, which were relentless?

MILBANK: Right, exactly. In his own words. So, he -- I mean, look, he`s doing it to create a predicate so that in the future, he can -- whatever happens, matters of war or peace, economic collapse, whatever it is, it can be the like (INAUDIBLE)

MATTHEWS: What`s the politics behind this, Sabrina? Why is he doing it? Is that it? Setting up the media as they`re always wrong, so don`t believe every word they say?

SIDDIQUI: Well, it`s sort of embodied in Kellyanne Conway`s statement about alternative facts --

MATTHEWS: Alt facts.

SIDDIQUI: -- and he called this during the course of the campaign, that in order to construct a narrative around Donald Trump and his success which is supporters very much buy into, he needs to discredit the media. And that is the tactic that worked for him during the course of the campaign. But it`s very different when you become president and that will be the challenge for the media to break through against that narrative.

RYAN: Sabrina, I think that`s a good point. But I have a little bit of a different take. I believe this weekend was so -- stunned him so much in so many ways that they said, wait a minute, we have to attack in a different way because you don`t -- coming in, he`s already at lowest poll rating numbers of any president. I mean, it`s just going to continue to get worse. And you don`t want to continue a fight with the media.

So, he -- they basically called for truce today in a certain --

MILBANK: That`s right. I think that was Trump`s way of sort of showing expression to the extension --

RYAN: And Sean Spicer did a wonderful job, even though I didn`t get a question. But he`s, I`m still thinking --

MILBANK: That was the highlight.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: In terms of knowing all those issues the first day, although a bit of a tour de force there, except for the emotional part something got to them or he was channeling the boss. Is he channeling boss?

We only got a minute.

MILBANK: He most definitely was. We know that he was instructed by the boss. He`s a well-liked character in the press.

MATTHEWS: Well, it looked like that.

Anyway, the roundtable -- I love you knew all the names -- is sticking with us.

And up next, these three will tell me something I don`t know.

And this is HARDBALL, where the action is.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Some good news tonight for former President George Herbert Walker Bush. The former president will be moved out of intensive care at Houston Methodist Hospital. As for former First Lady Barbara Bush, she has been discharged from the hospital. She`s out.

A Bush family spokesman released -- I love this picture. The former president`s doctors say he is in good spirits, even sitting up and watching television. Yes, I wonder what he`s watching.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We`re back with the HARDBALL roundtable.

Dana, tell me something I don`t know.

MILBANK: Well, somebody in the Trump administration is going to have to start writing their own words. We had Melania Trump`s barring of the former first lady`s speech. We had Monica Crowley stepped down at NSC because of plagiarism. And now, I`m holding in my hand a legal filing made by Donald McGahn, the president`s chief counsel, entirely lifted from another respondent in the same case.

MATTHEWS: Oh, isn`t there some sort of essay check to make sure you can`t steal essays in school? You can steal his legal documents, which, by the way, breaks the rule -- the law, right? You`re not allowed -- confidential.

MILBANK: I would complain (ph) to the counsel`s office.

SIDDIQUI: Julia Hahn who is a staff writer for Breitbart News is allegedly heading to work for the Trump White House. She would work under Steve Bannon, who, of course, is the former held of Breitbart news, which again normalizes --

MATTHEWS: OK, by the way they produced the inaugural address, didn`t they? That was theirs, wasn`t it?

SIDDIQUI: Yes, absolutely, Steven Miller.

(CROSSTALK)

RYAN: President Trump told Congressman Elijah Cummings that he wants to meet with him on the high price of prescription drugs, Congressman Cummings says that he would go on the meeting only if Senator Bernie Sanders is with him. They`ve been working on that issue for five years.

MATTHEWS: That would be one great cotillion. Thank you so much.

RYAN: Oh, yes.

MATTHEWS: By the way, Elijah Cummings, one of the most important in Washington right now.

Thank you, Dana Milbank, Sabrina Siddiqui and April Ryan.

When we return, let me finish with Trump watch. You`re watching HARDBALL.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Trump Watch, Monday, January 23rd, 2017.

Well, late today, the most recent shot was fired in the battle of who had the largest size crowd of their inaugural. For whatever reason, President Donald Trump insists not just he won but that he has the exclusive right to decide who did, and most important he did win and always will.

There`s something loopy about this, don`t you think? Does size matter that much? Well, the more this debate goes on, the more people might begin to think this election, this inauguration, this presidency is about him. That it`s about a guy trying to prove he`s won the whole thing here on Earth, that he`s met the greatest, the most important person in the world and people love him for it.

Yes, you might get the idea with the head rotating left and right between Trump and his latest critic. You might get the idea that what really matters to the man in the White House is that he comes on top, not just of an election but of every dispute, no matter how bloody, no matter how long it goes on.

So, what happens when Putin or Kim Jung-on or some other world leader type takes a jab at him? Will we have to go through the thing we have been going through over the crowd size? Will we have to sweat which side will blow up, or worse yet, blow up something?

It`s not a good sign when the most important person in the world thinks the most important thing is the size of his crowds. And the vital part of that is no one questions the fact.

OK, Mr. President, size matters. But, please tell us you think it is not the only thing that does.

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

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.

END