tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC January 17, 2017 11:30pm-12:01am PST
and that does it for "the 11th hour" for this evening. thank you for being with us. "hardball" begins now. foreign and domestic, let's play "hardball." ♪ good evening, i'm chris matthews in washington. tonight there are two loud voices heard across the country. one of russian president vladimir putin accusing the obama administration of undermining the legitimacy of incoming president donald trump. the other voice is that of congressman john lewis, openly denying trump's legitimacy. tonight we go to the heart of both developments to find out their meaning. i start with putin. is it possible the russian dictator has no real idea about the politics of a free country with a free media?
is it possible he thinks our cia is like his intelligence operation that it's a political tool of the president? is it possible putin thinks the media in this country are directed by president obama the way rt, russian television, is his propaganda arm? and on the home front, what are the members of congress who are boycotting saying? are they agreeing trump is not legitimate? or are many of them carrying out a protest triggered by lewis's charge against what they condemn and what trump has said, what he's promised to do? at his news conference this morning, putin accused the obama administration of attempting to undermine the legitimacy of the president-elect, by leaking that 35-page dossier of unsubstantiated allegations against donald trump. here it is. >> translator: people who order such false statements that are now being spread to compromise the newly elected president of the usa, fabricate them and use them in their political
struggle. those people are worse than prostitutes. they don't have any moral boundaries. we, russia, deal with such people on a regular basis. but the fact that it's been used against a newly elected president, makes it a unique event. this hasn't happened before. it indicates a significa level of degradation of the political elites in the west, including thu.s. >> putin's charge echoes the very accusation that trump has made himself against the intelligence community. most recently trump questioned the cia director john brennan was the leaker of fake news. responding in the "wall street journal" brennan denied responsibility for the leak and slammed trump for attacking the patriotism of the agency. tell the families of the 117 cia officers who are forever memorialized on our wall of honor, that their loved ones who
gave their lives were akin to nazis. i find that to be very repugnant and i will forever stand up for the integrity and patriotism of my office. that's john brennan. that's coming up in a moment, but first breaking news late today, president obama has commuted the sentence of chelsea manning who was convicted for wrongfully publicizing intelligence belonging to the united states. it means that manning's 35-year sentence will expire this coming may. joining me now with their reaction, david corn, and levy farc is former secretary of defense. what do you make of it? >> i was surprised and i wonder if it has anything to do with the tweet that wikileaks put out, saying if he granted clemency to chelsea manning, julian assange would agree to be extradited to the united states. i don't think that's going to happen.
i think what motivated him is the harsh treatment chelsea manning has gotten after being held in the brig. >> i think it's an act of mercy. i think she's been cracking up in prison. i think it's been a pretty rough go for her there. and i think that he's getting a lot of pressure on the left to do something. i think that's why he did it. >> yeah, i think as an act of compassion, i agree with that. but important to note, he didn't pardon here. >> tell the difference. >> commutation is basically saying, you're not going to have to serve out the rest of your sentence. you're still guilty, but you don't have to sit in jail. i'm letting you go. >> and why is that important? why does he want to say that she is guilty? >> so wikileaks came onto the radar because chelsea manning dumped diplomatic cables and information over to wikileaks.
it was released to the public. that was the first big, massive leak. that was before wikileaks got firmly into bed with russia, which we can talk about later. but president obama is saying it's not okay to leak information, but i feel badly for this woman and i'm going to say, she's paid her price to society and now let's move on. but we are not done with wikileaks. >> let's get to the big question, which is shattering everybody now. putin has jumped into our politics again. now saying that the obama administration, which i believe has been incredibly courteous to the incoming president, even as of today with josh earnest saying i'm rooting for the young men and women who are coming to town looking for jobs with this administration, like we're all in this together. but now the dictator of russia is saying that our president, and his administration, are using our intelligence arms, the media and everybody -- what do you make of this- trying to delegitimize mr. trump. >> i think it's wrong to see this as just a defense of donald trump. i don't think putin wants a strong president trump.
he wants chaos. he wanted trump over hillary. and the whole way we went about it today, he's trying to sew discord against the cia, which is the agency that watches him, and at the same time, he started talking about the allegations against trump, saying they were fake and false and then he starts describing them in detail. that's not what you do if you're trying to defend somebody. >> if i were trump, i'd make the same charge against our intelligence agencies. distribute information about the gang of eight on the hill, but we don't want it to get out. >> i'd like to agree with you. i think he's trying to cause chaos in the american electorate. >> does he want to weaken trump? >> of course. >> he wants to weaken america. >> both. i think he wants to do anything he can, which is done in all the border countries around him. he's sewed this chaos all over the place. he's a bad dude. we all get that. >> well, trump doesn't. trump does not get that. that's the big difference. >> this is the problem.
vladimir putin and the kremlin, the people around him, what they want to do is weaken america. why? because we are the only country that can bring together the rest of the world to counter russia, we have the biggest military -- >> is he going to be like that character in batman, the jack nicholson character who keeps interfering with what's going on? >> yes. . is he going to be in our face for the next four years? >> yes, unless we stand up to him. it's dangerous for president-elect trump. he can get trapped very easily by vladimir putin. president-elect trump is going to rely on his intelligence people to warn him -- [ all speak at once ] >>'ran expert. w long can trump be -- if you say he's being duped by mr. putin -- >> i can only assume that. >> how long can we dupe him, before it becomes clear that it's a trap, to trump? how long can we get away with -- oh, we're going to work together fighting terrorism, everything else is off the table. all we're going to do is work together fighting terrorism, how long will that last?
>> the minute that putin does something that flies in the face of u.s. national security interests, then trump will be in a bad situation. so that would be something like getting involved in the middle east -- >> latvia or attacking one of the baltic states. >> even with little green men or something more subtle -- >> what are little green men? >> people who are not in classic military uniform. >> like in ukraine? >> ukraine, crimea. the other thing, the russian government, putin and his kremlin, they think they're at war already. it's just a war without bullets. it's an information war, it's a war to weaken america. we sound like weirdos saying that we're at war with russia. but in the eyes of the kremlin, they think they're at war with us. >> let me ask you, madam secretary -- >> not anymore. >> no, it's a permanent title. why are the russians afraid of us having a couple things? they don't want us to have any ballistic missiles, non-nuclear
weapons. what are they afraid of us doing? do they think nato is going to attack russia? do they believe that? >> they do. they do have a paranoid belief that nato is going to attack and encircle russia. and it's not rational. but they believe that their war with nato -- >> troops in poland right now, the germans -- is that an act of aggression as they see it? >> it's absolutely not. it's an act of deterrence. >> as they see it. [ all speak at once ] >> as theyee it, yes. but remember, you know what they've done, this is not discussed very much. they've broken out of the international nuclear forces treaty. to ungeek that, what it means is that in the '80s the russians developed a missile to strike our european allies. reagan got rid of them, so neither the u.s. nor russia can have those weapons anymore. we can't fight with nuclear weapons in europe. so they broke out of that treaty.
>> now let me ask you, john, about these politics. trump's going to be president on friday. it's going to happen. it's like the turning of the earth. it's going to happen. where does this take us? is he going to meet with putin? it's not going to be in canada. it's going to be moscow. what comes of that? given what's been going on the last couple of hours. >> it's all very confusing. the cia under mike pompeo and donald trump can declare peace can come up with a unified plan. i think a reset with russia is not a bad idea. and we have a better relationship with the russians, that's not the worst case scenario. if we do things that are provocative with the russians, they're going to strike back. and they are sewing chaos. all of us have to understand, these are big stakes and the more we try to undermine our
president, the more we undermine our president, the worse off we are as a country. >> wait a second. you were probably once a reagan republican. >> and that was during the cold war. >> she told you the cold war, from their perspective is not over. there are a lot of challenges with russia now. i'm not a hawk in saying we have to go to war with russia. john mccain and lindsey graham are hawkish on it. but at the same time, you have to recognize the discord that putin is sewing here, not just here, but across democracies in europe. what he did in ukraine, these are bad things. you can't just say we're going to have a reset and move on. [ all speak at once ] >> they laughed at hillary clinton for that. so this whole notion now, you're just following donald trump's lead because he really has no idea what he's doing.
and the idea of saying, we all have to get behind donald trump now, so we have a strong approach to russia. name me one republican who did that in the last eight years with barack obama. on anything! so don't come to me now and say, we have to get behind a guy who knows nothing about what he's talking about. >> mccain and lindsey graham backed him. >> okay, you got two. he's not owed anything. >> let him act like a grown-up first. >> but he's still our president. >> not until friday. >> what do you think is going to happen between now and friday? he's going to be our president. why don't you start acting like it! he's going to be our president. >> what did he do it barack obama for years and years?
he delegitimized him. now you come along and say, we have to honor the presidency. this is hypocrisy. you didn't do it for barack obama. >> sure we did. i did. >> your party did not. [ all speak at once ] >> what's the smartest move for critics of this president to take? american critics? >> based on the psychology of it, you've got to praise him? >> praise who? >> praise trump and tell him how you're going to help him. he can try reset. >> child psychology, that's great. >> he should try reset. >> thank you all. coming up, trump's war with the intelligence community. the director of the cia is firing back hard after donald trump likened the agency to nazi germany. can trump's administration rebuild that relationship with the agency he needs to tell him what's going on in the world. this is "hardball," the place for politics. odors in your car,sed to swy you think it smells fine but your passengers smell this... eliminate odors you've gone noseblind to for up to 30 days with the febreze car vent clip break out the febreze, and [inhale/exhale mnemonic] breathe happy.
>> it's not a good situation for our country, chris, to have a president of the united states and soon to be commander in chief, having this kind of contentious relationship with the intelligence community. it's just not good for our national security. it's not good for the country. >> welcome back to "hardball." that was former cia director panetta reacting to the war of
words between president-elect donald trump and the u.s. intelligence community. once he's sworn into office in three days, president trump will need to rely on these agencies for spy information to execute policies, and that requires both sides to heal the rift. cia director john brennan explained why he's taken such offense at trump'sriticism of the intelligence community. quote, we don't expect our information and our assessments to be swallowed whole. it's when there are allegations made about leaking, or about dishonesty, or a lack of integrity, that's where i think the line is crossed. but in an interview in this network today, on this network, james woolsey, former adviser to the president-elect, said that
brennan should tone it down. >> well, he's going to be the president of the united states in four days and it would seem to me that a less angry response in public would have been far preferable. i don't think he is doing a service by getting into the pit and getting angry back. i think he needs to speak respectfully to the soon to be president of the united states. i'm joined by jeremy bash and shane harris. let's talk about how whacky this is. because, fact, whatever the feelings everybody here has, and everybody else in the country has back and forth about trump being president, it's gonna happen. he'll need the minute he gets that oath of office, walks off that platform, has lunch with the members of congress, he'll need to know what's going on. his only source of information besides the news we have is the cia. so how does he have this relationship develop here? how does it work? >> and he can get angry at director brennan, but even when director pompeo comes in on friday, the very first day, it's the same intelligence professionals providing the same assessment, that russia tried to interfere with our election.
his intelligence officials will be watching to see what al qaeda does, what china does, what isis does. >> if there's a troop movement somewhere, mobilization by the russians -- [ all speak at once ] >> perhaps the baltics, god hope that never happens because that's nato. >> what brennan told me in the interview yesterday, look, we need a president who knows this is credible, apolitical intelligence. what are our allies going to think if the president is openly questioning the integrity of the cia? you don't need the president going out, saying, i think what they're giving me is garbage. >> do you think it's possible trump doesn't know what objective truth is? >> i don't know. i can't get inside his head. but you're laughing. if somebody says, tokyo is the capital of japan, i mean, does he question obvious information? >> he's been questioning unassailable facts, like what russia was going to do. >> or that president obama was a legitimate president of the united states.
>> that's right. every meeting starts with an intelligence laydown, and they established the facts that will govern how the policy decisions will be made. if he wipes that away, they're going to get the wrong answer. >> and he's selectively questioning facts. it's only russia that he's questioning it. >> you think he's on the hook? >> he has his own views about russia that are impervious to anything the cia tells him. that's not true about north korea or -- [ all speak at once ] >> people are good at only listening to things. i can remember a phone number if i repeat it out loud to myself,
better than remembering the numbers myself. and bill clinton liked to get on paper, he didn't want anybody talking to him every morning. he wanted to read it. that's what he wanted. some guys like to have it quickly thrown at them. trump seems to be a guy who doesn't want it any way. how are you supposed to give the morning briefing -- say trump gets up at 8:00 in the morning, walks down to the oval office and he wants to know what's going on that day. thank you, jeremy bash and shane harris. when we return, trump watch for this tuesday night. this is "hardball," where the action is.
happen. i say this not because i'm happy with the noisy transition that's clobbered us since election night, it's because i remain impressed and encouraged by our certitude of elections and the changing of the guard. every two years since the ratification of the constitution, we've had elections for president every four years. what we don't like, we can change in november of next year. . as obama told us, yes, we did. there will be a lot of protest of donald trump's presidency. we'll see it before and after the swearing-in itself. on saturday, people will be coming here for the women's march, saying they don't like this man becoming our president. what i'm hoping for is that members of congress see what good can be done and avert having something bad getting done. that will take pressure, brains and a good bit of patriotism thrown in. something walt disney put in a movie a long time ago. it's not what you got, it's what you do with what you've got that counts. opposition, the right, smart, committed kind can play a life
or death role starting friday at noon. those who want to make the best of what's coming need to get their heads into it. you can skip the inauguration, but you can't skip the hard work and smart politics of steering the next president towards what needs doing and away from what no president should ever do. that's "hardball" for now. thanks for being with us. join me again tomorrow night at 7:00 eastern. see you then.
tonight on "all in" -- >> no puppet. >> three days before inauguration, vladimir putin steps in to defend donald trump. >> vladimir putin's priorities are to restore the russian empire, stock? that's what they are. >> while the outgoing cia director blasts trump's attacks on the intel community. >> that's something nazi germany would have done and did do. with obamacare now more popular than health care. >> our core believes are what unite us. >> as new controversy facing trump's pick to lead that fight. ful senator chuck schumer joins me live. plus, obama's surprise announcement on chelsea manning. and why richard nixon's former lawyer is literally having nightmares about trump's presidency. >> when the president does it, that means it is not illegal. >> when "all in" starts right now. good evening from new york. i'm chriha