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tv   Hardball With Chris Matthews  MSNBC  December 28, 2018 11:00pm-12:00am PST

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it may be the only time someone conned us out of more money than when he was due back >> that's tonight's last word. i'm ari melber. that's tonight's last word. i am ari melber. you can catch me 6:00 p.m. on the beat right here on msnbc. i wish you a very happy new year. keep it locked right here on msnbc. president trump threatens to close the border, again. let's play "hardball." good evening, i'm steve kornacki in for chris matthews. the partial government shutdown now in its seventh day with no end to the shutdown stalemate in sight. president trump renewed his demand today that congress fund a border wall, adding a threat to shut down the southern border
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with mexico. the president writing on twitter, quote, we will be forced to close the southern border entirely if the obstructionist democrats do not give us the money to finish the wall and also change the ridiculous immigration laws that our country is saddled with. hard to believe there was a congress and president who would approve. in a string of additional tweets, trump doubled down on the threat saying, quote, i would consider closing the southern border a profit-making operation. in a separate tweet the president issued a warning that, quote, a new caravan is forming. trump's incoming chief of staff, acting chief of staff, mick mulvaney, telling reporters the president is serious about that threat to shut down the border. >> is the president seriously willing to do that? >> yeah, he absolutely is. all options are on the table. listen, it's the only way we can get the democrats' attention. >> mulvaney said the white house is in the fight for the long haul it would appear. so are the democrats.
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in a statement, house democratic leader nancy pelosi's office said, quote, democrats are united against the president's immoral, ineffective, and expensive wall, the wall that he specifically promised that mexico would pay for. this comes as homeland security secretary kirstjen nielsen visits the southern border with mexico amid controversy over the deaths of two migrant children in u.s. custody over the last month. for more i'm joined by annie carney, the white house reporter for "the new york times." ben rhodes is a former deputy national security adviser to president obama. and david frumm is a former speechwriter for george w. bush. annie, let me start with you just on the basics. that threat from trump today via twitter to close down the southern border, his chief of staff there, new chief of staff mick mulvaney saying, hey, this is serious. what is your sense, what is your reporting? twitter bluster or is there a potential plan that could be implemented here that would actually close that border?
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>> for now my reporting shows that this is the latest sign that he is just not backing down from his demands. this is just putting his foot on the pedal trying to get the democrats to agree to money to fund the wall. the latest sign that they are just in this intractable position and aren't planning to move from it. other administration officials have met with democratic leaders over the past week, last saturday, and offered -- hinted that there could be room for negotiation. this is the president saying he really doesn't mind keeping the government shut down and he's going to fight for the wall. >> so if it's a sign of intractability on his side, okay. but let me ask you the additional question on that. are there will any indications that there are discussions taking place, planning taking place, anything about actually closing the southern border? >> i haven't heard any of that today. this isn't the first time he threatened to close that southern border. he did it last month, threatening if asylum seekers
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were coming over the border, he would close the southern border. it's not the first time he made that threat and hasn't done it yet. i didn't hear of any planning for this. more this was just a threat of how serious he is about getting that $5 billion for his wall. >> david frumm, i guess that gets to another question here. in terms of trump's posture on this, we know how central that promise of a wall was to his campaign, this supposedly being his bottom line. i guess one of the questions is so much of this is about that trump base that got behind him, stood with him. how much to them is the wall a physical, tangible promise, something that has to be there at the end of trump's term? and how much of it's a metaphor for being just the most lard behind guy in the room in these conversations? >> i think his comment about closing the border shows how metaphysical this is. that's a threat after the 6th, seventh or eighth bourbon. does that mean if steve mnuchin's vacation ran a little long he would not be allowed to
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return to washington from los cabos? does that miean that be -- mexico is the largest export market for u.s. cheese. no more cheese across the border? does it mean oil and gas stop flowing? does it mean we stop airline travel? it's a $615 billion border. how much is he going to change. what he thinks the border is, is just people driving across to move without any sense of the u.s./mexico relationship. so it's the kind of threat that actually the president can make and interlocutors say you go ahead because they know it's empty. this whole discussion has been empty. donald trump is backed into a trap. he has no options. if you saw mick mulvaney's face, he knows he's a man with no cards who looks like a fool. >> i think the question i'm asking, though, if so much of
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this is -- he's conveying an attitude and not so much a carefully formulated policy. if this is about his base, what is the base willing to accept here? is the base willing to accept a posture even if it falls short of an actual wall? >> is the base willing to accept a major global recession? which is what closing the u.s./mexico border would mean. obviously not. i think the point is the base wants theater. donald trump delivers theater. but the people around him actually have to now do a negotiation in an environment that is increasingly inhospitable to them and they know they are trapped. >> ben rhodes, from the standpoint of democrats, because it looks like this thing is now -- this shutdown, this dispute over the wall, the border, is going to spill over into 2019. january 3rd, 2019. first major political event of the year, democrats get back control of the house for the first time in eight years. from the democrats' standpoint, if this is a shutdown fight that stretches into january that
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maybe defines the month of january, how comfortable are democrats having their first month back in control of the house be benigned by this shut down potentially over any other plans they had? >> i don't think democrats are going to budge. donald trump tried to close the midterm election by focusing on the border, as you know well. that did not prevent the blue wave from taking back the house of representatives. all the public opinion polling shows the public knows trump is to blame for the shutdown. trump has said in his own words that he's the one shutting down the government. so democrats are in a very strong position here. there's no reason to give in to a pointless wall that is not necessary to secure the border. everybody knows is basically a stand-in for promises that trump made in the campaign where he said mexico would pay for this wall. i think what we're about to see here is how donald trump reacts to divided government. he does not control all the levers of power in washington anymore. for two years he's been able to set the agenda, to shape the conversation. now there's real power in the hands of democrats and there is no reason whatsoever for nancy
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pelosi to have one of her first acts as speaker caving to donald trump on a wall that the american people don't want just because 30% of americans who support donald trump want it. >> i guess that's the question then, from a democratic standpoint if we say for republicans how committed is the base to a tangible, physical wall, i guess the question for the democrats is for their base looking at this fight, ben, what would define caving in? because you've got the situation where trump is saying $5 billion for the wall. the democrats are saying $1.3 billion for fencing, not a wall. they're saying fencing along the border. now you've got some activists on the left saying, hey, not even $1.3 billion for that. what's the bottom line here where democrats would say this is okay, but this is a cave-in? >> well, look, i think the reality is we don't need this wall nor do we even really need plus-ups in border security. the number of people coming into this country illegally has been dropping significantly over the last decade.
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i do think what the democrats can say is look, we've been reasonable. we'll allocate money for border security, not for the wall. that's what we're willing to do. that's a logical compromise to say we'll do some plus-up for additional border security but we're not going to pay for this wall. people know the democrats don't control the entire government. what they can do is say we have a different agenda. we have an agenda to rebuild our infrastructure. we have al agenda to secure voting rights for the american people. we have an agenda that can put people to work and donald trump is focused on a wall. that's a very comfortable fight for democrats to have. to say, look, we were willing to compromise on border security but we're not going to pay for a wall that we don't need and people don't want. >> it needs to be stressed, $5 billion doesn't buy a wall. $5 billion is a figure leaf. it's a way for donald trump to cover a retreat. the question and it's going to be an interesting question what democrats decide. do they want to give the president a face-saving exit or do they want to impose a
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humiliation on him because they could do either and it will be a tactical question which they want to do. >> this is not the first government shutdown we've been through. a couple of high-profile ones over the last generation. during one of those donald trump said he believed responsibility for a government shutdown belongs to the president. back in 2013 he said that president obama should be fired over a pending government shutdown. >> who's going to bear the brunt of the responsibility if indeed there is a shutdown of our government? >> if you say who gets fired, it always has to be the top. problems start from the top and they have to get solved from the top. the president is the leader and he's got to get everybody in a room and he's got to lead and he doesn't do that. he doesn't like doing that. that's not his strength. and that's why you have this horrible situation going on in washington. it's a very, very bad thing and it's very embarrassing worldwide. >> that was trump back in 2013 during that shutdown. today trump again argued that democrats in congress must provide money for the wall even though his most prominent theme during the campaign stressed a different message.
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>> mexico will pay for the wall. i promise. >> and of course it was only a few weeks ago that the president himself said -- seemed to say he would take responsibility for a shutdown. >> i will take the mantle. i will be the one to shut it down. i'm not going to blame you for it. the last time you shut it down, it didn't work. i will take the mantle of shutting down. >> annie karni, i'm curious because we're seeing some reporting now that republicans, but also folks in the white house, maybe the president himself, now like the idea of this extending into january when democrats get control of the congress. is there any sense that clip we just showed from that oval office meeting, trump versus pelosi, a lot of people had different interpretations of that, varying interpretations out there, but is there an indication that the white house maybe likes the way that that showdown went and is looking forward to continuing it into the new year? is that part of the calculation here? >> well, ben just talked about
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how this is a comfortable negotiating position for democrats. i talked to a few republicans today who said while it's not clear what trump's end game is here, it's not uncomfortable for him either. you know, he doesn't have an election for two years. in two years, no one is going to remember this shutdown most likely. and what his base will remember is that he fought for the wall. that's something that a former republican congressman said to me today, he didn't see a political downside to that. the counter to that is that trump eventually has to get out of this situation and if he -- he doesn't want to cave today, he's not going to want to cave in two weeks, what's his out? he'll have to eventually find some compromise or find someone else to pin the blame on to get out of this. but it's not uncomfortable for him. he likes having this fight right now. and again, to see nancy pelosi take office, democrats take control of the house and for this to be the first thing they're doing rather than
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investigating him isn't a terrible thing for him. i talked to a white house official today who said trump is in a surprisingly good mood even though he had to miss his 16-day mar-a-lago vacation because of the shutdown and doesn't feel a lot of pressure to end it this second. >> the white house today, mulvaney trying to say there is a divide, a potential divide and he certainly seems to be trying to create that divide a little bit between pelosi and schumer when it comes to this. this might go back to earlier this year during a previous shutdown fight. you had schumer there saying he was ready to offer wall money to trump in exchange for daca. mulvaney out there today saying, hey, look, schumer we can cut a deal with. we're not sure from pelosi's standpoint. that thinking from democrats of the willingness earlier in the year to connect daca to the wall, is that no longer operative or is there still potentially an opening for that? >> if they were willing to provide those protections to the dreamers maybe there would be an opening, but there's not. mick mulvaney and these
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republicans are just talking to each other. there's not a divide between chuck schumer and nancy pelosi. democrats are very comfortable in their negotiating position. here's the bottom line. number one, i was there for some shutdown fights. whoever is blamed at the beginning, that's who people think the onus for the shutdown is on. it is donald trump's fault that the government shut down. it is donald trump's fault that hundreds of thousands of hard-working americans are not getting paychecks. real people who are going to be hurt by this and who are going to remember who is at fault. and the reason this is even more absurd is two years from now when there's an election, there's not going to be a wall built and mexico will not have paid for it. so donald trump is not going to keep the promise he made in the last campaign. the fact of the matter is the laws of gravity hadn't seem to apply to donald trump thus far, but they are going to. they did in the midterm elections and they're going to the next couple of years. those statements that you played by donald trump are going to be played over and over again and people will see that he didn't keep his promises and like an arsonist, he made the rest of us
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pay for the fact that he wasn't able to keep his promises. >> david, that is a question in terms of the polling. in past shutdowns in '95, the polling went strongly against the republicans. gingrich and the congress back then had to sort of cave in. in 2013 it went against ted cruz and the republicans on that shutdown. they backed out eventually. the will republicans in congress, if the polling -- we saw one do by a double-digit margin, folks blaming the president. if that polling continues, will that have a meaningful impact on republicans in congress? >> one of donald trump's difficulties is he doesn't matter that words connect at points to the real world. that they describe something. he lives in a world in which he watches things on tv on one network, sometimes cnn a little bit. in that world he's got designated talkers who are paid by the network sometimes to go on tv and tell donald trump things that he likes. like the democrats are divided, or that the country will blame them. meanwhile, he is about to face this decision.
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december 31st, new year's eve is coming up. there are people who have paid $200,000 annual membership to go to mar-a-lago and schmooze with the president. that's money that goes into his pocket. he's expected there. the secret service has paid $50,000 for tents for the secret service for them at this mar-a-lago new year's eve party. will president trump go? i assume he will want to go. how will things look the next day when there are images of the president in black tie talking to people who paid $200,000 a year for access to the president while people are out of work. this is a dynamic situation. and there is no exit for the president. he's already begging for a fig leaf. $5 billion doesn't build a wall is just an excuse. there will be a second offer. give us $2.5 billion. eventually give us $1.3. at that point democrats will say do they want to give the president cover and maybe for a lot of reasons they'll want to do that and proclaim it a victory or they won't and make him eat it. there's only one way this ends. trump backs down, no wall. >> david frumm, annie karni, ben
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rhodes, that you for being with us. >> and coming up, it looks like both sides are digging in for a protracted sh protracted battle on this shut down. is it destined to go into 2019. some big surprise events in north carolina. i'll head over to the big board and break down what is going on in that uncalled and very much contested election in the ninth district of that state. plus, the white house reportedly feels like it is winning the fight over funding for a border wall, but is there a price that that is coming at for them? do voters care enough to make this shutdown worth it for them in the end? >> finally, let me finish with the big stories i'll be keeping my eye on in the new year. this is "hardball" where the action is. this is "hardball" where the action is.
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welcome back to ""hardball." as the standoff over the partial government shutdown enters its
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second week, both sides are digging in, despite the fact that the president already assumed responsibility in that famous oval office meeting with chuck schumer and nancy pelosi, he and his allies are now trying to shift the blame to democrats and the likely next speaker of the house, nancy pelosi. here's what white house press secretary sarah huckabee sanders said this morning. >> look, nobody wants anybody to struggle. nobody wants the government to be closed. that's why we're asking democrats to sit down and negotiate something they actually support. the real question here is nancy pelosi is only looking to protect her speakership and not protect our borders and that's why she's unwilling to negotiate with us and unwilling to make any type of a deal and unwilling to help do what is necessary. >> however, according to a statement from nancy pelosi's office, quote, the last time there's been any outreach to pelosi directly from the white house was tuesday, december 11th. the president's acting chief of staff, meanwhile, mick mulvaney
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also piled on saying the democrats simply skipped town. >> i wish all options were open. again, we need folks to talk with us. we need folks to at least discuss with us. i cannot -- it still strikes me as very unusual that the democrats did not provide a counter offer to our last discussion. the president is here. the president cancelled his plans. where are chuck schumer and nancy pelosi? they are not even talking right now. >> meanwhile a sense of urgency among republicans who still control the house for a few days at least. right now that may be missing on their part. congressman louis gomert of texas said without concessions on a border wall, the president should continue the shutdown indefinitely. >> because we keep seeing people losing their lives without one. >> how long, january, february? >> until hell freezes over. >> until hell freezes over. >> meanwhile, politico is reporting that a coalition of liberal groups including the
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aclu are pushing democratic leaders to deny the president money for his fence all together rather than give the department of homeland security a year of funding at the say level at last year. i'm joined now by democratic congressman john garamendi of california and christian whiteman a senior advisor to presidents trump and bush. we had a little reporting from some liberal groups now telling house democrats, hey, no money at all. this $1.3 billion that democrats had previously been willing to sign off on for what they say would be fencing along the border, they say not a wall but fencing, now you've got liberal groups including the aclu saying, hey, democrats, offer nothing, not even that. it gets to what david frumm said in our last segment. he was basically saying trump ultimately doesn't have any leverage in this. he's going to have to keep backing down. do you agree with that assessment? >> no, i think he does have leverage.
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he has a pretty good issue on his side. it's fun to play the blame game of who's at fault for closing the government. the vice president, the white house chief of staff, the president's son-in-law went to capitol hill and made an offer to democrats. i know nancy pelosi actually did leave town. she's the one in hawaii right now, a beautiful resort, i highly recommend it. the president is here, ready to make a deal. but the democrats are being pushed into a corner by their left wing. mulvaney signaling he's willing to make a compromise and come down off that very low $5.7 billion figure. but if you look at this, the democrats won congress by winning moderate districts in orange county, western pennsylvania, upstate new york, and by going to the far left. i really think they're the ones who are going to be under increasing pressure. >> congressman garamendi, let me ask you about that. let me ask you about that reporting. where do you stand on that? if you've got the aclu and other groups saying, hey, democrats, you're going to have a majority in the house january 3rd -- >> steve -- >> hang on, a specific question here.
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where do you stand on this? >> where i stand is where the -- >> congressman, let me just get the question out, it's a specific question and you can add your context to it. the specific question is this, the $1.3 billion that you've already agreed to for fencing, not the wall, for fencing, they're saying take it out. first act when you get control, do you want to do that? >> no, not at all. by the way, the $1.3 billion is for border security, including repairing fences, adding where necessary, but it's border security, including things such as upgrading the various ports of entry, providing better services. by the way, we really ought to put a lot of money into making sure that the border patrol folks are able to take care of people, able to provide the necessary medical services. all of those things. we will stand by the $1.3 billion. we're not going to take it back. but what we really need to do here is to understand that the democratic party wants to get on with this agenda, the health
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care, the transportation, infrastructure issues, making sure the jobs are there and really dealing with the corruption in government. those are the things we're going to do, and we can do two or three things all at the same time, not to worry. we're going to get the job done come january 3rd, 4th and 5th. >> second question to you then, because earlier this year previous shutdown drama, there did seem to be the makings of a potential deal there about some money, some funding for a wall. chuck schumer offered this at the time in exchange for daca, a daca fix the democrats would be willing to sign up for. the president on twitter seemed to suggest that possibility again in the last few days. is there any circumstance you could sign off on that deal now or is that no longer operative? >> well, we have been very, very clear for the last five years that we do want to solve the daca problem and we're willing to put together a deal that includes border security, some of that is fence.
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back in 2013 the democrats in the senate together with republicans put forward a very comprehensive immigration reform, including some $700 million -- excuse me, $40 billion for border security, including fences and all of the other drones and observation and the like. we're willing to do that. most recently just this year, 2018, democrats and republicans came together on a very comprehensive way of dealing with daca and providing border security. all of the elements, fences, improve the fences, repair the fences. put in all of those things. >> could it include money for a wall? >> where necessary, yes. but let me be very clear about this. on the committees on which i serve, the transportation infrastructure and the military, we're talking about most of the discretionary money. we require the government, the administration to come in with specific plans. what exactly do they want to build, where will it be, how will it be built, what is the
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purpose of it? we do that for the military, we do that for all of the infrastructure programs, and this member of congress isn't about to give the president a $5 billion slush fund to go build a wall wherever he wants to build it, whether it's necessary, whether it's useful or not. tell us precisely where you want to build that wall, mr. president, precisely how you're going to use the money for observation devices. and by the way, are you going to take care of the people that do arrive here seeking asylum rather than letting them die of some illness. >> meanwhile, politico is reporting that, quote, the white house has ratcheted up rhetoric, has done nothing to move democratic leaders. moreover trump's threat to close the border is emboldening democrats that they are winning the shutdown messaging war. this comes after david winston concluded earlier this month that the president's message on immigration and the caravan during the closing days of the midterms actually hurt his party, according to winston.
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the closing focus in the final days of the campaign was on the immigration caravan message, popular with the base and those at president trump's rallies but also controversial and divisive, particularly with independents. the people who made their decision over the last few days voted democratic by a 12-point margin. christian, you were talking about this a minute ago saying that the political pressure shifts to the democrats, but i do wonder is that -- if the wall and immigration is going to be what defines this shutdown, is there a cautionary political note for republicans there in what just happened in the midterm elections? >> not really, no, because 86% of republicans favor what trump is doing on the wall, so he is actually doing what his base and what those who elected him want him to do. frankly, again, the democrats are the negative of that. they are 90% opposed if you look at polls to building a wall. so why nancy pelosi has chosen this issue to fight on. the congressman made a good point which is to lead in the new congress with the democrats'
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agenda. that's not going to happen. hr-1, the first piece of legislation in the new congress is going to be over this fight. and also there's been another tactical problem here and that is half the government, more than half, has been funded by appropriations bills that actually made it to the president's desk because the armed services committee had their act together. for example, they're fully funded through the end of the fiscal year so we're not in the middle of a shutdown, we're in the middle of a partial shutdown. the post office is open, the military is operational, dhs is closed but tsa is screening people. >> the republican base for the wall stipulated. the democratic base against the wall stipulated. the polling we've seen is pretty consistent. there's a recent one from quinnipiac a week ago. it showed support for the wall is in the low 40s. opposition is well over 50%.
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does that not tell you there's a political risk there, a political problem for republicans in standing on that with the general electorate? >> there's a risk but it's not overwhelming. it does show support underwater but support has been growing for the wall. it's sort of self-evident. if you're trying to break into some place and there's a wall, it's going to be harder to get into. >> christian whiton and john garamendi, thank you for joining us. up next, a new court ruling, a surprise court ruling has thrown a big wrench into efforts to get to the bottom of alleged ballot fraud in north carolina's ninth district. i'm going over to the big board to tell you what happened, what it means, and when, if ever, we'll find out who represents north carolina's ninth district in the next congress. this is "hardball," where the action is. where the action is.
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all right, welcome back to "hardball." 2019 only a few days away. january 3rd, 2019, democrats will take back control of the house of representatives, first time in eight years. we know they gained, picked up, net gain of dozens of seats in the november elections, but guess what, those november elections are still on the eve of the transfer of power, still not completely resolved. i speak of north carolina's 9th congressional district. here is where things have basically stood since election night. mark harris, the republican candidate, leading dan mccready
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the democrat by 905 votes. a close race, but initially harris was declared the winner here. looked like he had won a very narrow victory. then all sorts of accusations, all sorts of suspicions, all sorts of evidence started popping up in bladen county in particular. part of this district, small rural part of this district, all sorts of questions. and guess what. and the state board of elections declined to certify this election. they said we're going to collect evidence, have a hearing and see. so that's where things stood. that state board of elections has been doing an investigation, holding meetings, scheduled january 11th it seemed to have a hearing but then today, this is the state board of elections, today guess what happened? this state board of elections that has the power to decide who won this election, to certify someone the winner, this board of elections was dissolved by court order at noon today. there has been a long-standing sort of political dispute in north carolina.
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it predates this 9th district special election about the status of the board. so it had been expected that this board was going to be dissolved, replaced by a new entity. it was also expected before today though that this board was going to get an extension of life to see through this whole process in the ninth district. a court disagreed. noon today this board was dissolved. that means that meeting, that hearing on january 11th that was potentially going to decide all of this, that's off. that's cancelled. there's no more power for the investigators of this state board of elections to issue subpoenas, to really have any teeth in their investigation. so what the heck happens right now? the board has been dissolved. the race is still sitting there uncalled. so here's what we know. mark harris, again, with that 905-vote lead, he's saying he's going to sue, it looks like, to force the state to certify him as the winner. say hey, look, you guys don't have this board anymore. i'm up 905 he'll say. certify me the winner. meanwhile as we say, this new
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board, it's not supposed to be in place until january 31st so that would mean there would be no new entity that the could the handle all of this in north carolina at least until february. the governor, roy cooper, a democrat, said okay, i'm going to seek to put an interim board in place between now and january 31st. but republicans are saying, hey, if he does that, we'll challenge it in court. that would probably tie it up again through january. so nothing getting resolved through january. the other wild card, the house of representatives is the judge of its own elections. democrats get control of the house on january 3rd. the house of representatives decides whether to seat or not to seat members. usually that is a very, very mundane thing. they take whoever was sent to them and seat them. in rare circumstances they can say no. today steny hoyer, number two democrat, he'll be the majority leader come january 3rd, he
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saidful harris is sent to them, he says they will not seat him. so lots off suspense. lots of things that are unresolved. the prospect of this being resolved any time before february and then if a new election is called, i don't know, march, april, may, something like that, this one looks like it's going to be stretching out well into 2019. so almost the entire new congress will be seated on january 3rd with one glaring exception right there. north carolina's 9th district. up next, getting out and staying out. the one man whose influence is growing daily in president trump's foreign policy decisions. it is not the secretary of state. you're watching "hardball."
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you're watching "hardball." welcome back to "hardball." president trump is still facing pushback regarding his recent decision to pull american troops from syria.
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>> there will be a strong deliberate and orderly withdrawal of u.s. forces from syria. america shouldn't be doing the fighting for every nation on earth. if they want us to do the fighting, they also have to pay a price. and sometimes that's also a monetary price. so we're not the suckers of the world. we're no longer the suckers, folks. >> and it appears that kentucky senator rand paul may have had some sway in this, according to "washington post" columnist josh roggin. rogan writes that several u.s. officials who spoke to the president about the decision say, quote, they believe that paul's frequent phone conversations with trump wholly outside the policy process are having an outsized influence on the president's recent foreign policy decisions. he goes on to say that the trump/paul bromance is troubling because trump may be taking paul's word over his own advisers. i'm joined by ali vitali, joseph pinion, and danielle
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moody-mills, host of sirius xm woke af podcast. ali, let me start with you. here's the interesting thing to me about this just sort of politically. for the last couple of years we've seen so many stories about trump having these phone calls, golf outings, whatever, with lindsey graham. that lindsey graham was the senator who had his ear, who was very quietly influencing the policy. i can't think of when it comes to syria and foreign policy anybody more polar opposite lindsey graham in the republican party than rand paul. it turns out maybe, according to this, the influential one on these topics ends up being rand paul. >> but that's really interesting, right, because it's always been a question of who has trump's ear last because that's the person who will influence the policy decision. that's why we pay attention to who's up and who's down in the white house. they'll have a win or a loss with what they whisper to the president. the first thing i thought of was lindsey graham, the golfing
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buddy that you kind of went awry in in scenario but also the fact that rand paul and donald trump have sort of been in lock step on foreign policy in the past. if you think about the debates, donald trump sort of took the wind out of rand paul's sails during the debates because it's not typically republican to be so anti-intervention. but donald trump occupied that lane a little bit during 2015 and 2016 to the point rand paul can come to him and say, remember, promises made, promises kept. you're going into 2020. rand paul might be the person that he needs to hear from to remind him of how do you continue to cowtow to your base. >> if we read from the "washington post" article right there, they make the argument that this is troubling. this is somebody thought officially involved in the advisory policy-making process, that trump is ignoring those folks in favor of lindsey graham. is there a point there? >> no. i think if you look at it from an objective standpoint, historically you've had members of the senate or members of congress who have always had the ear of the president.
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i think that what is different in this case is, first of all, i think millions of people went to the polls on both sides of the aisle saying they wanted america to disentangle themselves from these conflicts that we have in the middle east. i think there was an expectation that it would happen in an orderly fashion, not via tweet. so i think what has most people alarmed, and not specifically the decision to leave but the fact that we're doing it in such a manner that our kurdish allies are left in the lurch. we're doing it in such a manner that individuals who depend on america to be the bearer of freedom, to be a nation that makes promises and keeps promises, not just domestically but also when it comes to our foreign policy decisions, now no longer know how to actually approach us. >> i wonder, danielle, how does that trickle down? i'm curious, we'll probably see polling on this and i'm as curious as anybody how this trickles down to voters across the country. i sense there are two things going on. what joseph is saying, we're hearing voices from, if you want to call it the bipartisan
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policy-making -- foreign policy-making consensus that are making the points that he just made. at the same time, i do sense that in the wake of iraq, in the wake of afghanistan, in the wake of the last 15 years of military engagement internationally, there is a real fatigue and a real skepticism that cuts across party lines when it comes to intervention and when it comes to warnings from policy professionals about we have to do this or if we don't do this x. how do you think the public sorts this out? >> i think the reality is, is that america is no longer a reliable force under trump. that he goes whichever way the winds blows, and that should be unsettling to voters at home and everyone around the world. the idea that we have this president who the last person that he talks to is the -- is what is going to come out of his mouth, we know that he's kind of like a parrot in that way. that's not the leader of the free world. that is not a commander's actions, right? that's the action of a puppet. and so i think what makes me very nervous and what makes the american public very nervous is the fact that he is a destabilizing force.
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what are we going to need to do with this destabilizing force? because when we pull out of these areas, we create vacuums that other terrorist organizations and entities then fill up. and that becomes a threat then to us. and i don't think that he understands that because he doesn't understand much because he doesn't read and doesn't understand history. the idea that he is looking at rand paul for his foreign affairs advisory, rand paul is looking at the headlines. he also isn't deeply invested in our foreign affairs work. so when we have somebody like mattis who resigns in protest, right, and a president who no longer is listening to his advisers, we should all be concerned. >> roundtable are staying with us. coming up next they'll share their political predictions for the fast approaching new year. you're watching "hardball."
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here's the fun part, back with our "hardball" round table, ali, your political prediction for 2019. >> lots of red meat from the president, it's a fair prediction. but i say this, whenever he's backed against a wall he tends to lash out and reach out to his base. you're going into an election year, a year of mueller and democratic probes. i think it's going to be a year of even more red meat than we're used to. >> even more. joseph? >> democrats are going to discover when you have a presidential field north of ten candidates it's very difficult for everybody to push away corporate money. >> it could be more than ten people, more than 20 people the way it's going now. danielle?
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>> incoming new york state attorney general, tish james, she'll be the person to bring down the president. thanking to ali, danielle -- when we return, let me finish tonight with my thoughts on the new year. you're watching "hardball." you're watching "hardball.
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and let me finish tonight with the year that's now just a few days away. what will we be saying 365 days
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from now as the final moments of 2019 flicker away, as the pivotal election year of 2020 prepares for its dawning? what happens over the next 12 months will set the stage for an election year that may be wilder than any we've seen yet. the stakes will obviously be high and the american public's passion already is. so what will the year 2019 bring? well, it's going to start with democrats taking control of the house. and it looks like a partial government shutdown already under way. will that shutdown be resolved quickly? will there be a deal between trump and the new democratic majority. will it all be quickly forgotten so this time next year no one remembers it? or will the shutdown linger? will the finger pointing escalate? more of those tense live on the air oval office showdowns we saw between trump and pelosi earlier this month. what else will the democrats do with their new house majority? what investigations will they launch? what will those investigations produce? how will they react if and when
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there's a report from robert mueller? big question here, will democrats move toward impeachment in the year 2019? they'll probably have to make that decision by the middle of the year before the presidential campaign really gets going. and speaking of that campaign, which in many ways is already under way, how many of those dozens of democratic names out there you are actually going to step forward and run? will joe biden who's walked to the starting line before, his last chance at the presidency. will bernie sanders run again? how much of his coalition is still there with him? and how much of that coles was just the anti-hillary vote back in 2016? what about barack obama, will he try to play an anointing role when it comes to the next democratic nominee? the debates will start in the middle of the year. will someone break out on the stage there, someone surprising, someone we're not even talking about right now? will someone actually pull away so that this time next year
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there's a clear, overwhelming front runner? how will the man in the white house now react to all of this? is trump going to get a challenge in the republican primaries? and what about his political standing? it's been remarkably steady since he was elected two years ago, an approval rating somewhere between the high 30s and the low 40s and that never bundl bundless outside of that is that going to change at all in either direction in 2019? the economy may have something to do with that. will unemployment remain low? will it fall even lower? will it get even higher? will the market volatility at the end of the year turn into something worse in 2019 or will the bulls be running again soon enough? i think of the year we're about to enter as the setup year, over the next 12 months, the basic conditions that will define 2020 will begin to take shape, and harden into place, what those conditions end up being, well, your guess is as good as mine. but i can't wait to see. happy new year to all of you. that is "hardball" for now.
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thank you for being with us. "all in" with chris hayes starts right now. good evening from new york. i'm chris hayes and we are now one week into the trump position weakening with every passing day his strategy is getting more and more desperate. today the president threatened to close the entire southern border, the whole thing, for everyone, like visitors, and passenger trucks and deliveries, if he doesn't get funding for the wall. the wall, of course, that he promised mexico would pay for. it is almost certainly a meaningless threat, akin to a child threatening to hold his breath if he doesn't get his way. sure, mr. president, see how causing a massive economic disaster works out for you. meanwhile his staff and gop allies are forced to act as if this tantrum is an actual strategy. >> shutting down the southern border would cost millions of dollars a day. is the president going to do that? to the detriment of the economy?


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