tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC December 15, 2016 11:30pm-12:01am PST
clinton aide huma abedin having connections to the muslim brotherhood. the road to confirmation for ambassadors goes through the senate foreign relations committee. it takes only one republican crossover to join democrats and block any nominee for an ambassadorship. all eyes will be on them. that does it for our broadcast tonight. thank you for watching. "hardball" with chris matthews is up next. it's trump and putin versus u.s. intelligence agencies. let's play "hardball." good evening, i'm joy reid in new york in for chris matthews. there isn't much disagreement when it comes to russia's role in interfering with the u.s. election this year. 17 intelligence agencies said they were confident it was russia, many republicans in congress agree.
the white house has publicly named the kremlin. but there is one notable exception and it comes from a man who's being given intelligence briefings when he chooses to take them, president-elect donald trump. he continues to question the findings about russia's involvement. before the election he said for all he knows it could be some 400 pound guy in his bedroom in new jersey. according to a new report from nbc news, not only was russia involved in the plot, it reached up to the highest level of the kremlin. nbc news reports u.s. intelligence officials believe with a high level of confidence that russian president vladimir putin became personally involved in the covert russian campaign to interfere with the u.s. presidential election. a spokesman for putin told the associated press the report was "laughable nonsense." and donald trump tweeted this morning "if russia or some other entity was hacking, why did the white house wait so long to act? why did they only complain after hillary lost?" that isn't true. on october 12 white house press
secretary josh earnest publicly blamed russia for the hacking and said there would be a response. >> the president will consider a range of options in terms of determining what is appropriate or proportional. >> the intelligence assessment earnest was citing was made public via a paper statement from the obama administration five days earlier on october 7 which happens to be the same day the lurid "access hollywood" tape of trump bragging to billy bush about assaulting women came out. according to nbc news, 11 days later at an october press conference, obama was not asked a single question about the russian hacks. today senator lindsey graham called russia's role in the hack indisputable. >> i'm 100% certain that the russians hacked into podesta's e-mails, the dnc, and other political organizations. most of the information that was released was unfavorable to clinton not trump. i don't know what their motives were other than create discontent and discord and to
undermine democracy. >> earlier today, i spoke to senator dianne feinstein of california, she's the vice chairman of the senate intelligence committee. i want to start with getting your reaction to the reporting by our own cynthia mcfadden and others that vladimir putin not only sanctioned the hacking of democrats, both hillary clinton and democrats down the ticket but that he actually participated or that he was the driving force behind it. what do you make of that reporting? >> well, i can't really go there. i can't really say where he was or wasn't a driving force. as a matter of fact i don't know whether he was or wasn't a driving force so let me make that clear. the thing is, with both cozy bear and fancy bear and the evidence that leads that the intelligence bureaus use them and the damage that was done,
what we know now was at least four house campaigns and the presidential campaigns and both political parties with material being put out in large amounts to embarrass the democratic side but not the republican side. and that is pretty conclusive and i think the intelligence agencies when we were briefed, briefed us with high confidence. and we don't often have that. i mean -- and it was obvious by their body language, by their emphasis, by the passion that they had in the briefing. it's usually pretty cut and dry that this was really fairly unique and therefore would a country do this, which is actually foreign espionage, on another country without the assent or direct order or the
head of the government? particularly when you know the head of that government runs everything in that very large and very powerful country. >> and what do you make of it? you talk about the high confidence that you have in the assessment and definitiveness of the briefings you receive from the intelligence community. what do you make of the fact that the soon to be next president of the united states, donald trump, does not believe the assessment of the intelligence community as it is in fact ridiculing those findings? >> well, i have just learned that mr. trump, president-elect, is taking more intelligence briefings. if they are the pdbs, we don't see that. that's the one thing on the intelligence side of our committee work that we do not see. only the president sees that so if he has a similar briefing that we have had from director clapper, from others at the
highest levels and with the information and i think there's more out that he would be given than we have been given i think he will take a different view. now what his reaction will be i certainly don't know. but i think he will see the seriousness of this regardless of political party, regardless of which side has benefitted and which side is hurt. i think he will see that this is not good for the future of the american democratic system and therefore we need to do something. now what we do is another story. having said that, president obama, it's my understanding, before he leaves office will put out a report with the facts and hopefully declassify this so the american people can actually see what happened. that's a good measurement because this is, in my view a
real attack at our system of election, democratic election and i don't think our country can just stand by and let this happen because once it happens it's open sesame. >> but senator, what if he doesn't change his view? what if after receiving even substantially more top secret briefings, he still doesn't believe it, can the american people have confidence in the congress to be the investigative authority in that case when senator mitch mcconnell the leader of the senate, his wife is about to soon be working for donald trump and be in his cabinet and he is said to have blocked putting this information out in a partisan manner during the campaign. so if trump doesn't change his view and mitch mcconnell already seems to have blocked this information getting out and will have a family tie to the white house, who would the american people be able to turn to to do a real investigation? >> let me make a comment on that. i know senator mcconnell, he's a
republican, he's the majority leader of the senate, he wants our elections to function fairly and without influence from foreign countries and strike me dead if that isn't true. it is true and i think this would be completely irrelevant. his wife elaine is wonderful, she'll be a good transportation secretary and i don't think that would be relevant at all in his mind. i really don't. i think what would be relevant to him is who did -- who would do an investigation and if i understand it up to this point he would leave it up to the intelligence committees. this is why i think it's so important that what president obama is reportedly doing in the preparation of a report gets done. after all, this broke in the summer. we've known about this for six months. and i think the facts need to be put before the american people
so because this is major and what people are telling me today is, oh, americans don't really care, well, mr. and mrs. america, wake up, you better care, this is our whole system. this is everything the constitution has put forward for us to be a nation under law, to be able to conduct free and fair elections. and if we can't do that and if other nations are going to come in and essentially manipulate elections by releasing data to one side which they may think is unfavorable to that side, we've got a big problem. >> senator dianne feinstein, i think everyone can agree on that. thank you so much for your time. >> you're welcome, joy, nice to talk to you. >> same here. at the white house today, josh earnest reacted to trump's tweet casting doubt on who was
responsible for the hacking of democrats' e-mails. >> another one came in today, this wikileaks is like a treasure trove. did you see where on wikileaks it was announced that they were paying protesters to be violent? $1,500. donna brazile did it again. wikileaks today. she gave the questions to a debate to hillary clinton. wikileaks just came out with a new one. just a little while ago. her campaign in wikileaks has spoken horribly about catholics and evangelicals. they got it all down, folks. wikileaks. hillary should fire podesta. how do you have people working that say these horrible things about you? i love reading those wikileaks. >> well, based on that tape reel, there's no question donald trump made information from the wikileaks hack a major focus during the final weeks of the
campaign. now let's listen to josh earnest today. >> it was obvious to everyone who was paying attention, including the gentleman whose thumbs authored that tweet that the impact of that malicious activity benefited the trump campaign and hurt the clinton campaign. that's why the republican nominee was hoping they would do more of it. that is why in the days leading up to election day the republican nominee himself was encouraging people to check out wikileaks. >> meanwhile, today the "new york times" reports the russian campaign to disrupt the u.s. election wasn't limited to the race for the white house. dozens of democratic house candidates were also targeted. the hackers linked to russian intelligence went by the name gucher if 2.0. according to the "new york times," the seats guccifer 2.0 documented were hardly random. coming up, new concerns over the president-elect's conflict
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to avoid long-term injury, get medical help right away for an erection lasting more than four hours. if you have a sudden decrease or loss of hearing or vision, or an allergic reaction, stop taking cialis and get medical help right away. ask your doctor about cialis. welcome back to "hardball." there is new alarm today over donald trump's potential conflicts of interest as president after trump's president, eric donald jr., ivanka trump and her husband jared kushner attended a meeting with the top executives of multiple silicon valley companies. trump promised he'll take steps to separate his presidency from his personal business interests but he has yet to clarify how he intends to do that. on monday trump tweeted he will leave his company to his two adult sons and that under their management "no new deals will be done" during his time in office but eric and donald jr. are also playing a role on their father's transition team and their
involvement in yesterday's tech summit suggests they'll continue to have a seat at the table. addressing the issue in separate interviews today kellyanne conway and rnc communications director sean spicer emphasized trump was being transparent. >> i find all this hand wringing over who was in that meeting yesterday to be really over the top. the meeting was so transparent. you've seen clip after clip, excerpt after excerpt, it's all been reported. it was quite transparent and open, there was nothing secretive about it and these are adults who have a great deal to offer to the conversation. >> we brought the suppress in to show who was at the meeting so it's not like there's anything nefarious going on or sneak owe. we've been clear about the role of his family, the importance they play and the advice they give them. >> i'm joined by karine jean pierre and michael steel. karine, the trump team understands the media. they love the worth transparency, it's said everyday on tv. what in the world is transparency saying we'll have
the kids be in the business and the white house. how does that solve the conflict of interest? >> it's not transparency at all. bringing in the media for a couple of minutes just to show what you want people to see is a photo-op, not transparency. if he wanted to truly be transparent he would have a press conference and allow press to ask questions, b, actually release his personal taxes that we've been asking for that he said he was going to release once he ran for president, never did, and three actually tell us how are you going to divest your companies, your business from the conflict of interest that is right before you and instead what he does is uses twitter, does 140 characters or less to explain his plan, which is not the way to do it. >> and you know and michael steele, in addition to that he
invites cameras in to watch his children both be in his cabinet and do business with him as members of his company. he's literally saying "i'm going to let you watch us do kleptocracy, that makes it better. how can they work >> there you go with another $5 word i have to look up. >> i'll lend you the $5. >> thank you, babe. i hear what you're saying but there's nothing that stops him from doing this, there's no law on the books, the president of the united states is allowed to have at the table advising him whomever he wants and whatever capacity they wants them to advise him, whether it's a family member or a partisan or someone else. they're not getting paid, they're not on the government payroll, they will not be on the government payroll, so that is the reality of it and when you flesh the rest of this out, joy, the new reality we're all having to come to grips with is that
donald trump is in the driver's seat here donald trump understood the law did not require him -- because there is no law that requires him -- to release his tax returns and he didn't. donald trump understands there is no law that sets him in the same box as other federal officials when it comes to conflicts of interest so hi does not see any and therefore will not respond accordingly. >> except here's the problem, michael steele. there is the law against bribery and the emoluments part of the constitution. >> hold on joy -- >> i haven't finished my question. >> you can't set up a straw argument like that. >> ask richard painter who is a former ethics adviser to george w. bush if it's a straw man. >> how did you get to bribery? >> he has been on this air over and over and over that if foreign leaders can check into donald trump's hotel -- >> that's not bribery. >> and pay the president of the united states and get policy
favorable to them, that is akin to essential bribery. called him an inn keeper yesterday. that's richard painter but not me. you can say it's a $5 me but people who are constitutional lawyers -- which neither you and i are -- have said very differently. ask laurence tribe. >> excuse me, as a corporate lawyer i have worked in this area and so you need to establish bribery, you can't just say it or project it. >> would you consider a foreign leader swiping their card at a trump he tell and then get policy favorable then, you don't consider that to be a prescribe? >> and then gets policies. has that happened? >> let's go to karine on this. >> no, joy stop. >> he's not in office yet, michael steele. >> then how can you make the case. >> the point is he has to correct the conflicts of interest before he gets into office. that's what every expert has said including george w. bush's ethics lawyer. not me george w. bush -- >> it doesn't exist for him. >> the constitution applies to him. it does. >> that talks about benefits.
>> your party went after barack obama for using a nobel peace prize and used the. >> the founding fathers did not believe that anybody was above the law, including the president, that's the thing to remember. when they were putting together the constitution there's the trump international hotel. >> so he's the landlord and the tenant. >> he's the landlord and tenant so on day one he will be violating that lease because as an elected official he can not partake. there was a federal government that had a holiday party at his hotel. >> when we return, let me finish
let me finish tonight with the big question facing my profession, the media, and not just democrats and what's left of never trump republicans in the coming years. what are you going to do about it? that's basically what trump is asking when he and his team openly brag his adult children will defy convention and worth both as white house advisers and run trump's businesses, businesses trump clearly won't or maybe can't part with as president. it's what he's asking when he insists, despite all evidence to the contrary, including the intelligence community, that he's about to inherent that, no, russia didn't play a role in getting him elected by hacking democrats. it's what he asked when he refused and still refuses to release his tax returns. trump is almost daring to meet it, to try, try and do or report chicago that might stop him. he's waving around the threat of cutting off press briefings and
he and his campaign with considerable help from vladimir putin and russia have spent a year or more undermining confidence in the traditional press and selling his supporters on the idea that the only voice they can trust is his, whether that voice is heard at a series of televised pep rallies or on twitter it's a putin-like approach that is working among trump supporters and elected members of his party. the big question -- will we let it work on us? that's "hardball" for now, thanks for being with us, we'll be back tomorrow at 7:00 p.m. eastern. see you then. xe