tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC November 16, 2016 8:30pm-9:01pm PST
let's play hard ball. good evening, i'm chris matthews in washington. three big guests on "hardball" tonight, senator bob corker, a dark horse prospect for secretary of state, ohio congressman tim ryan, the rust belt democrat ready to challenge nancy pelosi for house leadership. out front tonight, libertarian senator rand paul. well, this as president-elect donald trump and his allies are criticizing, disputing and otherwise down playing reports his transition is in disarray even as multiple outlets portray a team consumed by backbiting, vendettas and acrimony. over the last 24 hours, the president-elect has taken to twitter to personally address those reports. he said last night a "very organized process is taking place as i decide on cabinet and other positions." adding with a note of suspense "i am the only one who knows who
the finalists are." this follows what some describe as a purge of chris christie allies from trump's transition team. former congressman mike rodgers described his exit on cnn last night. >> sometimes in politics, you know, in the palace intrigue there are people who are in and people who are out and the people who have been asked to move on have some relationship with chris christie. >> rodgers also said the problem inside trump tower is that it's not clear who's calling the shots. >> i think there is some confusion going on about a chain of command coming out of new york. hopefully they'll get that settled soon, they'll need to do it because as the clock ticks, all of these decisions become more important and you have to make name sooner with more authority and forward thinking to make sure they don't bump into anything in the future. >> lookberg reports trump is considering senator ted cruz of texas for attorney general.
and while e when it comes to top cabinet position, secretary of state the toppest of them all, a source close to rudy giuliani tells nbc the mayor's inner circle expects it to happen but he's yet to receive an official offer. this comes amid report that giuliani made million off foreign clients including a payment from an anti-ayatollah iranian political party. other contenders include ambassador john bolton and bob corker of tennessee who lynn l join us in the program. i'm joined right now by kelly o'donnell, robert costa and you eugene robinson with me, columnist for the "washington post" and nbc political analyst. i want to get to you on this, kel. i never know when news is going to come flying out of that tower you're covering but what do you make of this death squad? suddenly mike rodgers is kicked rush. who is it inside telling people
"you're fired"? >> based on my reporting, chris, what i have been told is jared kushner, the president-elect's son-in-law, has been the center of power for a very long time. through the campaign and now especially in the transition. while kellyanne conway had campaign manager title, steve bannon had the ceo title, it's the tilelessless jared kushner who has been the power base, trusted business hi father-in-law, obviously trusted by his wife ivanka and flying under the radar for quite a bit of time now. what my reporting tells me is that a figure like mike rodgers, widely respected, former fbi agent, former head of the house intel committee, someone respected but doesn't have chris christie ties. he was, in fact, hired by chris christie for the transition to run national security but they don't have a personal history. and yet based on my reporting rodgers indicating that he was told that based on his association with chris christie he was being pushed out and that goes back to the very personal
conflict between jared kushner and governor christie over the prosecution of kushner's father charles ten years ago. chris? >> is chris christie, wh all his problems with the bridge and not being president, not being president now typhoid mary? anybody who's ever contacted him is now dead? is that the deal, kel? >> this this transition phase, what we have seen is there are several figures associated with christie who have been told to leave. they have been some of the people who worked closely with christie in new jersey politics and people he brought in with expertise. the other interesting thing about is i'm told senator jeff sessions of alabama -- and christie worked carefully to assemble the list of names for things like big cabinet positions and key transition employees and that both sessions and christie each signed off on every name so that if one thought this was a good choice and the other did not, they would agree that they both had
to come to terms with accepting whatever the list was and so the fact that some of those names have now been pushed aside, that doesn't reflect on jeff sessions who is still there and very much a part of it and anticipated to get some cabinet-level job, but on the christie side it appears that there is an intentional blockade against governor christie and all the reporting suggests that it is personal from kushner to christie. >> robert costa, this doesn't look good for the president-elect to have someone around that's able to knock somebody off because they don't like the line he came from? this is a hell of a lot of power, especially the case of mike rodgers where somebody thinks it would be a moderating force in the intelligence world. what can you tell us? >> this is more than an ideological battle, not like hawk versus doves, we're seeing a restructure of power and kelly nailed it when she talked about the nexus between bannon and
sessions and kushner, these are the people in trump's ear. >> a little perspective here, presidents get elected. nobody elected jared kushner to be president of the united states nobody elected what seems to be a death squad knocking off people because of past abuses. >> well people elected donald trump, though, they did. i personally don't understand why but they did so you have to assume he's running the show. you have to assume this is the way he wants it. >> why is he delegating so much to his son-in-law? >> look at the way he ran the trump organization, which was essentially a family business, right? as soon as his children were old enough and experienced enough to be brought in and groomed, they became the inner circle in the trump oorgs along with his son-in-law jared kushner on whom he has relied pretty much throughout the campaign, again, as was said, under the radar but
people knew he was very important and he is emerging as a tremendously important person as we look toward the formation of the trump white house. >> unbelievable. elliot cohen, a trump critic, a moderate neocon who worked in the state department under president bush said his talk with a member of trump's transition team was so hostile it led him to advise fellow republicans to stay away. naoko hen had expanded on that in a "washington post" op-ed writing "the president-elect is surrounding himself with mediocrities whose chief qualitication seems to be unquestioning loyalty. one bad boss can be ignored, a gaggle of them will poison all of them. they will turn on each other." jason miller called him bitter. >> inside there's a solid plan, a method al kay proech to this being put together.
i've read the news reports that want to make this like -- all souths of descriptions i've heard. it's very calm and structured and anyone saying anything else is either, a, bitter because they're not on the inside being considered or they're bitter because the election was last week and they didn't get the result they wanted. >> let's go back to kelly around the horn here. this -- what's your sense watching this every hour on the hour? i'll ask the same question to robert. is there a hurricane with -- where the eye of the hurricane is trump and it's calmer from his perspective, a bunch of job seekers. he gets to pick them like on the show "the apprentice," you're in, you're fired. is it only chaos from the outside looking in? >> i think based on my reporting donald trump has not been involved in these heated sessions and meetings where this kind of dynamic has played out. he has been receiving foreign leader calls, he has been in his office not at the table when
some of this strife was sort of being exposed where you had people scratching names off lists for potential positions and jockeying for the jobs they want. so i think the president-elect has distance from this and a lot of the transition related names had not been presented to him based on my reporting that they were trying to assemble the list and this really kind of sort of crash landed in just recent days. also that the national security apparatus, they just -- general flynn is very close to donald trump also exerting power, basically wanting to be the official advisor on all things national security. so i think donald trump has deg gait add lot to his children and his son-in-law is an extension of that and trusts them and i think he is seeing there is contention and when you have the public face with jason miller or kellyanne conway projecting calm that's to be expected and they should try to pin the
organization as moving along but there's no question that there is a lack of clarity about jobs. for example, kellyanne conway, successful campaign manager, we don't know what role she would play. other top officials, we don't know what role they would play, we only know priebus and bannon having official appointments to a trump white house and so there's a vacuum and people have put time, effort, and ambition into this want to make sure they have a place. >> thing, kelly o'donnell, robert costa and eugene robinson. coming up, donald trump's pick for secretary of state could come down to two hawk, rudy giuliani or john bolton. i'll ask senator corker and also senator rand paul who has serious concerns about both bolton and giuliani. this is "hardball," the police for politics. jack knocked over a candlestick onto the shag carpeting... ...and his pants ignited into flames, causing him to stop, drop and roll.
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. welcome back to "hardball," the most consequential decision the incoming president will have to make is who will be secretary of state. among the names being discussed, the former u.s. ambassador to the united nations john bolton who has called for bombing iran. that's right. senator bob corker of tennessee, the chairman of the foreign relations committee who said he's in the mix for the job. then there's former new york mayor rudy giuliani, reportedly the front-runner. giuliani is making it clear he'd like the job. >> now you're being considered for important jobs, the one i hear most often is secretary of state. have you had any conversations with him? >> i have. >> can you tell us about them? >> they're between him and me. since i left mayor -- this is a rough estimate -- i've been in
80 countries with, 150 different foreign trips. i've been all over the world. >> i know you have close friends in israel. >> honorary knight hood from great britain. >> i heard about that. >> prime minister netanyahu has been my friend -- personal friend for 25 years. i never go to israel without spending two hours with bibi, and i feel i can call him that, and i know the world. >> well, giuliani or bolton might face opposition from those who thought the iraq war was a disaster. rand paul of kentucky said he would likely oppose either of those two gentlemen and he's joining us right now. great to have you on senator rand paul. i was one of those who thought you would win this whole thing and i was wrong. >> you were just a little bit off. >> i think the country is ready from freedom from big government in the right way. let me ask you about these two guys. one thing that -- let me get this straight. one thing that donald trump campaigned on was that he thought the iraq war was stupid,
"stupid war" he used the frame. he didn't like regime change. he tackled hillary clinton for taking us into country after country supporting each war one after another, iraq, libya, syria. now we hear he's talking about naming john bolton, mr. neocon hawk as his secretary of state. how does that fit with you? sit with you? >> one of the reasons i endorsed donald trump was that i liked the fact that he saw the iraq war as a mistake. he thought regime change was a mistake and the unintended consequences of regime change were basically that the world was less safe and that our national security was more endangered by regime change, so i like that about donald trump's campaign. one of the reasons i endorsed him. so i want a secretary of state that actually understands and has learned from the lessons of the middle east and i guess i worry that people like john bolton and, frankly, mayor giuliani, they have -- i would call them unrepenitent advocates for the iraq war.
they don't seem to have learned anything the iraq war, they still defend it and both have advocated a bomb first ask questions later for iran and i don't think you want your chief diplomat to be an advocate for war. that would be better if we were going to have a secretary of war they might be good for that position but i want someone who's reasonable, who's a realist, that sees the world as it is. that person may not agree with me but i want someone who is an even keel who thinks about things like that and i think bob corker would be a better choice. >> are you ready to filibuster these nominees? >> i feel pretty strongly about it and i will tell you something i haven't told anybody else. i've had conversation with other republican senators and i'm not the only one with misgivings over both giuliani and boon. i haven't met a democrat for either one of them but i've met several republicans that aren't. we have a 52-48 majority. all it would take is two or three republicans saying they
can't go along with giuliani orb bolton and i think you'd find there are some that i think would sail through. i think senator corker would go through. i've probably met 15 democrats that said they would vote for his confirmation but they are very, very worried about bolton and giuliani. >> thank you so much, senator rand paul of kentucky. thank you. just been reelected. thank you. the "washington post" today reported on how big a change the trump presidency could mean to one of the most unstable regions in the world. the middle east is bracing for an incoming american president who seems intent on radically reordering the balance of power. trump will seek to bring about the recalibration of the existing order in the middle east in favor of russia away from shiite iran and to the benefit of the sunni gulf states and turkey. during the campaign, donald trump outlined a foreign policy radically different from what most democrats and republicans have advocated. let's watch him. >> if putin wants to go and knock the hell out of isis, i am
all for it 100% and i don't understand how anybody would be against it. i've been looking at different players and watching assad and i've been good at this stuff over the years because deals are people and i'm looking at assad saying maybe he's better than the kind of people we're supposed to be backing. now it's such a mess over there with everybody involved and the airspace is limited. it's not that big an area. the airspace is limited so now what are we going to start world war iii over syri >> joining me, senator bob corker of tennessee, chairman of the foreign relations committee and possible pick to be the next secretary of state. what do you make about what you've been hearing. trump says he's oppose to the iraq war, he supports russia in being our partner with syria. he opposes the nuclear deal with iran. are you in conformance with those positions? >> syria has two efforts under way as i know you know well and one is the effort against isis but there's a whole other
conflict under way and that's the civil war that's taking place between "moderate syrians" kurds and others against the assad regime so you have two efforts under way so i think we could, in fact, coordinate with russia as it relates to isis but we're on different sides as it relates to the civil war taking place within the country so it's much more complicated than just for me to just nantz a patent way as you well know. and the territory has gotten interwoven and overlapped and even if we deal with isis, if we exterminate isis, we still have this raging civil war that's the piece creating so much devastation to the population there and you can't really solve that by just dealing with the isis piece. >> how do we get out of there? most americans -- and generally pro-israeli and we know we need the oil still, despite this
transition to the post fossil fuel era if it comes but we'd like to stay out of this complexity. we don't know sunni versus shi'a. do you do what joe biden says? create a whole new par station where you give the shi'a shi'aland and sunnis sunniland, the kurds their land, separate them all and hope like the britts did in south asia with the indians and pakistanis hope you could keep them apart. what is our goal then next ten years? what are we doing over there? >> well, it could be in syria and i think you're mentioning two different countries there, purposefully, i know. so in syria there has been a concentration of the regime in one area and it's possible over time that is an area that is partiti partitioned. the kurds would love to see that happen. >> thank you senator bob corker. when we return, let me finish today's trump watch. this is "hardball," the place for politics. strous hair...
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trump watch, november 16, 2016. what with relearning about this president-elect high up there in trump tower. one, like a roman emperor, he loves the glad or the y'all spectacle, he likes watching people fight it out for the emperor's thumb's up. we've seen this before. ever watch "the apprentice"? what's the fun? it's watching the face of the contestant telling him or her they failed to make the grade "you're fired." now he's in trump tower listening to the police and pitches hoping to get his okay for the cabinet post. does he go for the guy campaigning or for the candidate who could be signaling his people to dump on the other guy out there campaigning or fire both of the candidates by naming someone else all together difference? what else? what's this force? this death squad within trump tower throwing people out the window telling anyone connected with governor chris christie
you're dead. telling the anti-trump people not to bother pushing for jobs for people who were against trump tuesday night. is this death squad going to go into the white house house? is this mysterious murderous force going to be prowling the halls of the west wing? this much we can figure. on a high floor in trump tower donald trump sits in the eye of the hurricane and says he's the only one who knows is on the final list for the top jobs. in other words, not even mike pence knows. not only does trump enjoy the glad or the y'all spectacle, he knows who's leading the death squad. do you think it might be him? that's "hardball." join us tomorrow night at 7:00 eastern. see you then.
thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. of all the scandals that have ever had the word "gate" attached to them, which is what we do with all scandals after watergate, filegate, travelgate, bridgegate, deflategate, i've always felt that the one that got the best name of all was definitely peanutgate. and part of the reason i've always liked it is because of the sort of admirable restraint that is reflected in that name. if it is about peanuts, if you think about it, it could just as reasonably been called goobergate, right? goober is an even funnier word for peanut. that could have been an even greater thing to call something