updated 1/6/2014 11:38:53 AM ET 2014-01-06T16:38:53

HARDBALL
December 17, 2013

Guests: Dale Ho, Nina Turner, Gretchen Whitmer


CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Roadblock.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

"Let Me Start" tonight with this. Getting to know New Jersey governor
Chris Christie, who`d been until now best hope of a non-Tea Party
Republican running in 2016, has become a troubling matter. Once the great
moderate hope, the questions now abound.

Did he signal his top aides to shut down traffic leading to the George
Washington Bridge? Did he tell them to exact a little punishment on a
recalcitrant mayor on the Jersey side, give him a little kiss to let him
know the governor`s feelings were hurt when he failed to pony up support
for the November reelection? Did he? Or did the two guys he put in charge
of the bridge, in good-paying jobs, simply take the initiative in cutting
off traffic back in September, causing the big backup that`s at the heart
of this story?

Either way, how does Chris Christie get past this big traffic jam in his
own career plans? How does he get past this Democrats` version of
Benghazi, the taunt the Republicans are already tuning up for use against
Secretary Clinton?

And now Senator Jay Rockefeller says he`s investigating this matter, in
addition to seeking a federal probe by the Department of Transportation.
The pattern of scandal is taking shape. First the traffic mess, then the
stories in the newspapers, then the hearings, then the revelations, then
the verdict.

If this continues on course, the man many of us considered the best asset
the Republicans have for national leadership may be leaving the field to
candidates of the Ted Cruz-Rand Paul type, who have little chance to win
the presidency, but an alarmist`s (ph) ability to cause trouble simply by
being out there, raising their accustomed right-wing mischief.

Jonathan Capehart is an opinion writer for "The Washington Post." He`s
Jersey born and raised. And Michael Steele was chair of the Republican
National Committee. Both are highly valued MSNBC political analysts.

Now, this is a great story, and it`s not just a Jersey story. I read
Richard Cohen today in "The Washington Post." I looked at Michael Powell`s
piece in "The New York Times." The great gray lady has yet to rule on this
from New York on high, "The New York times," but it looks like this
governor, who I thought had political moxie, doesn`t.

He`s stuck with what could be a little story, maybe, but begins to blossom
every day.

JONATHAN CAPEHART, "WASHINGTON POST," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: But you
know, Chris, reading the stories from a distance here in Washington, but
having, you know, been a reporter in New York for -- for what, 16 years at
"The Daily News," I read the story and I thought --

MATTHEWS: How old are you?

CAPEHART: I`m not -- 46.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: I thought you were much younger. Go ahead.

CAPEHART: Yes. No, the -- the -- it reminded me of just sort of the
typical story that you read about New York-New Jersey area politicians.
One politician doesn`t do something for another politician, and they -- and
they --

MATTHEWS: Smack him.

CAPEHART: -- exact revenge, sort of your typical petty political thing.
But most people, most politicians in that area don`t have national
aspirations, or if they do, they never come to fruition. Chris Christie is
somebody who has national aspirations, very credible aspirations, and
suddenly, those things that seem typical and petty through the presidential
lens become very problematic.

MATTHEWS: In other words, no Jersey governor will ever get smacked
impeached in Jersey for doing a little righteous vengeance against a guy
who failed to help him.

CAPEHART: Right. Right. And that`s not to say that what -- what Governor
Christie`s aides did --

MATTHEWS: Even -- but here`s the dangerous stuff --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Suppose the time they shut down that traffic coming into the
bridge -- and it`s a huge bridge. It`s one of the most amazing places in
the world, where everything goes to New York, our biggest city, one -- you
know, every hour in the morning, like, two hours.

CAPEHART: Thousands.

MATTHEWS: And my question is, suppose there`d been an accident because of
that? Suppose somebody had a heart attack in one of those cars waiting in
line, or a stroke? These things happen all the time. And the risk that
these bozos, whoever did it, with or without the push from the governor,
did is reckless stuff.

MICHAEL STEELE, FMR. RNC CHAIR, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I think we need
to wait and find out --

MATTHEWS: No, but it -- we know it was done. We know --

STEELE: We know it was done, but we don`t know exactly whose fingerprints
are where.

MATTHEWS: Right.

STEELE: So let`s don`t jump to --

MATTHEWS: Oh, OK. OK.

STEELE: -- conclusions that --

MATTHEWS: No, no, no, no. When Obama -- let me go by the rules of this
table, OK? When health care got blown up and messed up, which we all agree
happened --

STEELE: Right.

MATTHEWS: -- the guy at the top took the heat.

STEELE: Oh, I`m not saying that --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: -- same rules.

STEELE: I`ll play by your rules, but I`m just saying we don`t know what we
don`t know yet. So let`s just see exactly where the fingerprints are on
this.

CAPEHART: But that doesn`t mean that Chris Christie should be blameless.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Before anybody turns the channel because they think we`re
getting murky here, let me tell you something. The two top guys he gave
these sweet, plum jobs to --

STEELE: Right.

MATTHEWS: -- one`s a quarter million, practically. The other was a big
six-figure job to -- I don`t know what to do --

STEELE: Right.

MATTHEWS: -- except stop traffic on the Jersey side when he calls.
These guys did it, and they`ve all quit. Why`d they quit? Because of
this.

STEELE: Well, yes, probably because Chris Christie said, You`re fired for
doing what you did.

MATTHEWS: And?

STEELE: And what? That`s the end of it.

MATTHEWS: Did he ask them why they did it?

STEELE: He may have. I don`t know. Let`s ask him and find out.

MATTHEWS: That`s what we`re going to have a hearing for. What began as a
local brushfire has now ignited a national political storm. The issue
began to gain national attention after two of Christie`s appointees, as we
said, at the Port Authority, Bill Baroni and David Wildstein, resigned over
the issue.

For his part, Christie has tried to nip the issue in the bud. At a recent
press conference, he adamantly denied having any involvement in the lane
closures leading to the George Washington Bridge.

He`s also dismissed accusations made largely by Democrats that it was a
form of political retribution aimed at Fort Lee`s Democratic mayor for
refusing to endorse Christie`s reelection bid.

But at that point, the genie was already out of the bottle. The Senate
Commerce Committee announced yesterday -- this is -- yesterday, Monday --
that its opening up an investigation into the matter. The committee`s
chairman, a sober guy, Senator, Jay Rockefeller, about to retire, a
Democrat from West Virginia, told the Port Authority that, quote, "The
gravity of this situation demands a comprehensive investigation."

In short, it doesn`t look good for Christie -- that`s me talking -- and the
political fallout has already begun. The larger-than-life governor has
meticulously built a national image as a reasonable non-crazy Republican.

But as Richard Cohen wrote it beautifully today in "The Washington Post,"
quote, "The damage has been done. Christie`s all but declared presidential
campaign has taken a hit. His Jersey bona fides" -- there`s a combination
of words -- "a certain swagger and cocksureness, have been highlighted.
Christie is a man of rare political ability, but he has a short temper, and
the affect of a bully -- the affect of a bully. Worse, he unaccountably
lacks affection for the media and sometimes shows it. Lots of politicians
play hardball. Christie plays beanball" -- in other words, he throws at
the pitcher`s head -- rather, I`m sorry, throws at the batter`s head.

CAPEHART: Right. Well, look, As somebody who`s gone toe-to-toe with
Governor Christie on "MORNING JOE," I know how he plays beanball. And the
way he has -- he has --

MATTHEWS: Is he personal?

CAPEHART: Is he personal? He doesn`t get personal, but he does try to
sort of slam the messenger, rather than listen to the message, rather than
address the message.

So when it comes to, in the early days, early moments of this George
Washington Bridge lane closure thing, he tried to bluster his way through
it. He tried to pretend it wasn`t happening until people kept -- reporters
kept doggedly going after --

MATTHEWS: OK, we have to change --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Michael, let me --

STEELE: Can I just say this?

MATTHEWS: Sure.

STEELE: Would you two just have a glass of eggnog and call me in the
morning?

MATTHEWS: OK. Let me -- let me ask you this --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: OK. OK.

STEELE: I cannot believe you`re blowing this up to some national, you know
--

CAPEHART: The guy is going to be running for president!

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you a question.

STEELE: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Mother Superior, now that you`re looking down at us two.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Push your vestments aside for a moment and answer this question.
You`re his consiglieri. You`re sitting with the guy.

STEELE: Yes.

MATTHEWS: You`re his guy. You`re his Valerie -- whatever, Valerie --

STEELE: Jarrett.

MATTHEWS: You`re his best friend.

STEELE: Right.

MATTHEWS: OK. What would you tell him to do right now, if he`s watching
this show?

STEELE: I think --

MATTHEWS: Because I think there are things he can do. I`m not sure he
didn`t give this guy a wink and a nod and tell these guys, Give this --
rough this (INAUDIBLE) you know, or how about this, more simply. I can`t
stand that damn mayor. He could have backed me. Everybody else did.
What`s the problem with that guy? And his aides heard it and they acted.
It could be that innocent.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: It could be that innocent.

STEELE: And if it`s that innocent, then --

MATTHEWS: Why doesn`t he say so?

STEELE: Then I think he should. I think he should say so, number one.
And I would advise -- You`ve taken the first step -- if, in fact, his hands
was the one that caused the firing of these two people. Good. Put that
out there and tell people why you did that --

MATTHEWS: Because they went beyond my instructions.

STEELE: They went beyond my instructions, and there were no instructions.
They inferred, they interpreted, they shouldn`t have, and they paid the
price for it.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, he`s caught in the crossfire now because he is a man
relatively in the modern politics of the 2013 to `14 reality we`re living
in right now, he`s somewhat in the center, OK? Well, Christie`s faced
constant fire, of course, from the Tea Party fringe of his own party for
being -- for not being a real conservative.

And now he`s also facing an all-out onslaught from the Democrats because
Democrats fear this guy on the national stage because they see an
opportunity to bring this guy low because they think he`s a guy that might
be able to beat Hillary Clinton, if she runs.

Anyway, the DNC -- that`s the Democratic National Committee, your old
opponents -- recently released a two-minute Web video -- these are free, by
the way -- attacking Christie. Here`s a sampler.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: But I actually was the guy working
the cones.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, as "The Hill" reports -- that`s the newspaper on Capitol
Hill -- the pro-Hillary group called Correct the Record has jumped on
board, as well. Adrienne Elrod, communications director for Correct the
Record, told "The Hill," quote, "There`s no question" -- I love this --
"that Chris Christie is classified and assumed to be a front-runner.
Should he run, we have an eye on him. This is something we`re keeping an
eye on."

The group released this graphic showing Christie`s image in front of the
George Washington Bridge next to a traffic sign which reads, "Political
retribution." Then there`s the tag line. "The emerging facts aren`t
lining up with the administration`s story."

Well, this is sort of a weak stew, so far, a weak brew (ph) of attack, but
it`s beginning to give us a sense that he`s going to get hit from the
Hillary people, who see him as the biggest challenge, potentially, and the
people on the right, who also see him as the biggest challenge.

STEELE: Oh, they love you until you do something. That`s for sure. I
mean, you know, all these folks were just praising Chris Christie. He`s
fresh! He`s wonderful to politics! And now that he`s gotten over his
election and the presidential frontier lies before him, he`s now become --
Oh, he`s this --

(CROSSTALK)

STEELE: -- politician, this bully.

MATTHEWS: Let me tell you. Let me explain or excuse myself. I have
nothing against the guy. I sort of like his prospects. I like his
personality. I guess I like him, although I hardly know him. But I`ll
tell you one thing about the guy. This bullying doesn`t look good and it
will not sell outside of Jersey.

CAPEHART: Exactly.

MATTHEWS: I`m not sure it`ll sell in Jersey. Your thoughts.

CAPEHART: Exactly. This is the problem Chris Christie has always had.
The act that -- this blustery act that has made him a media darling works
well in the New York media market, it works well down here. The moment he
takes that to Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina -- you think that primary
voters are --

(CROSSTALK)

STEELE: -- disagree with that!

CAPEHART: -- primary voters are going to put up with something like
that?

(CROSSTALK)

STEELE: -- take to Iowa and New Hampshire.

CAPEHART: No, no. But -- and Christie -- other problem that Chris
Christie has here is that with the lane closures thing, this is just one
story. If he or his aides were willing to take such petty action against
someone who didn`t support the governor in his reelection, who`s to say
that there aren`t other stories out there that --

MATTHEWS: OK, can we also -- let`s also stipulate something. If they did
it to help him or to hurt his enemies, it was bone-headed.

CAPEHART: Right.

MATTHEWS: Because they weren`t hurting him, they were hurting people. And
the people are not going to like this. And every time there`s a traffic
jam going into the Holland Tunnel or the Lincoln Tunnel or the George
Washington Bridge or the Tappan Zee Bridge, they`re going to blame it on
the governor of New Jersey.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you --

STEELE: -- governor of New York didn`t seem to take it as far as it`s
been taken in this conversation this evening. So if Governor Cuomo is OK
with this --

MATTHEWS: Because he has to work the other half of the --

(CROSSTALK)

STEELE: -- then I`m OK with it.

MATTHEWS: Is he your leader now?

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I`m going to call Andrew Cuomo tonight and say he`s got a new
recruit. Anyway, thank you. I`m sure he`s never wreaked revenge on
anybody. Anyway, thank you, Jonathan Capehart and Michael Steele.

STEELE: Thanks.

MATTHEWS: I`m sure he hasn`t, actually.

Coming up, the assault on voting rights. Both North Carolina and Ohio are
back at it again, making it easy to purge voters, restrict early voting and
end same-day registration. Got the picture? And what do the states have
in common? A desire to reduce the Democratic vote by making it harder for
minorities and older people to vote. How`s that for politics? Also --
that`s worse than jamming up the bridge.

Also, over the objection of its governor, Michigan has passed a law barring
insurance companies from offering coverage for abortion, even in cases of
rape, incest and dangers to the health of the mother, unless women pay
extra.

Anyway, Democratic state senator Gretchen Whitmer is among those denouncing
the ban.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GRETCHEN WHITMER (D), MICHIGAN STATE SENATOR: I`m about to tell you
something that I`ve not shared with many people in my life. It`s something
I`ve hidden for a long time. But I think you need to see the face of the
women that you are impacting by this vote today.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Wow. Wait until you hear this story. Gretchen Whitmer joins us
later. What a story she has to tell.

Plus, President Obama told us he already planned to impose more limits on
the NSA -- that was in my interview with him -- even before a federal judge
questioned the constitutionality of its collection of phone records. Now
what?

And Stephen Colbert takes on the NSA`s phone records story in HARDBALL
"Sideshow."

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Well, there`s mixed news for President Obama in the latest
ABC/"Washington Post" poll. Let`s check the HARDBALL "Scoreboard."

On the bad side, the president`s job approval matches an all-time low for
the ABC/"Post" poll with 43 percent approving, 55 percent disapproving.
But Mr. Obama has climbed back into positive territory on whether he
understands the problems of most Americans and whether he`s honest and
trustworthy. That`s both good news.

And things are looking up for the health care law itself, 46 percent now
approve of the law, 49 percent oppose. Not great, but a huge improvement
from just a month ago.

And we`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Well, this year alone, legislation to
suppress the right to vote has advanced or been implemented in 36 states
altogether. And in each case, the voter suppression bills were introduced
by Republicans.

North Carolina`s are the strictest in the country and include voter photo
requirements, shortened early voting, and the elimination of same-day
registration. And now a federal judge has ruled that challenges to North
Carolina`s restrictive voting laws won`t come to trial until 2015. That
means these impediments to vote, all except for the voter ID requirement,
which kicks in 2016, will affect the 2014 midterms there.

Well, as reported on MSNBC.com, quote, "There`s little question that the
law hits minorities especially hard. In court filings, the Justice
Department has noted that blacks make up 23 percent of the state`s
registered voters, but 34 percent of those who don`t have an ID issued by
the DMV. Studies show black voters in North Carolina are also more likely
than whites to vote early." So they`re going to get hurt.

And now Ohio is about to challenge North Carolina in the voter suppression
sweepstakes. Already, the Republican-led house and senate in Columbus
passed a bill that makes it easier to purge voter rolls and reduces the
minimum number of voting machines -- I just love that terrible thing.
Republican governor John Kasich`s expected to sign it. And here`s what`s
coming up -- cuts to early voting, the end of same-day registration, and
making it harder to vote absentee.

What do Ohio and North Carolina have in common? They`re purple, they`re
swing states, they have Republican governors and Republican-controlled
legislatures, and they`re making it harder to vote, especially if you`re a
Democrat.

Dale Ho is director of the ACLU Voting Rights Project and Nina Turner is a
Democratic state senator from Ohio who`s running for secretary of state, a
position in which she`d have a lot of say over voting issues in her state.

Let me start with Mr. Ho. Tell me about North Carolina and what`s going on
there. I went to grad school down there. I love that state. But it seems
like there`s something turning really hard right in the legislature, which
is already affecting the school -- the university system down there.

But tell me about the voting system and this attempt, it seems to me, to
reduce the number of black votes down there, especially coming up to the
Senate vote for Kay Hagan. They can knock around that Senate seat by
simply, it seems to me, reducing the size of the electorate to the
Republicans` advantage.

DALE HO, ACLU VOTING RIGHTS PROJECT: Well, North Carolina passed, as you
noted, Chris, the most suppressive voting law last year that the country
saw. It may be the most suppressive voting law that we`ve seen in any
state in decades.

And in our view, this is a case, an issue that needs to be resolved in
advance of the midterm elections in November. North Carolina doesn`t see
it that way. They want to put this case off until 2015.

But if they really believed in election integrity, which is what they say
they believe in, then they`d join us in our sense of urgency because if a
court later decides that this law is unconstitutional or violates the
federal Voting Rights Act, there`s no way to undo that election and get
people their right to vote back after they`ve already lost it.

MATTHEWS: Now, is there a cause for this, a cause of alarm? Is there
voting violations in that state, corruption, voting, cheating of some kind,
vote stealing, whatever, ballot box packing, any significant example of why
they have to move so quickly to implement this law?

HO: No, there`s absolutely no evidence of any systematic problem of voter
fraud in North Carolina. And there`s certainly no problem of voter fraud
that cutting a week of early voting would address, that preventing students
from registering to vote would address, that ending same-day registration
would address.

So there`s no serious problem in North Carolina, and these proposals that
they have no rational relationship to any hypothetical problem.

MATTHEWS: So if somebody goes to school at Greensboro or Charlotte or
Chapel Hill or at Durham, at N.C. central university there, or one of those
schools, they wouldn`t be able to vote where they go to school. They have
to get in a car or truck and head somewhere home to get back to vote,
right? That`s the idea of this, to screw them.

HO: Well, they`re -- they`re making it harder for people to vote where they
go to school.

Now, the law is very clear that you can register to vote and cast a ballot
at the place where you live while you`re in school. North Carolina tried
to make that harder. And some local boards of election tried to make that
harder, to no avail, earlier this year. And we don`t expect them to be
able to implement those kinds of changes successfully.

MATTHEWS: Senator Turner, tell us about what Ohio is up to.

And I`m seeing this pattern. We talk about it -- I do -- a lot on this
program because I think sometimes there`s a lot of -- most political debate
is reasonable. You can argue about the size of the debt. You can argue
about tax policy. You can argue about all kinds of things in foreign
policy. I don`t think there should be a debate on whether you get the
right to vote.

NINA TURNER (D), OHIO STATE SENATOR: I agree with you.

MATTHEWS: And I think that`s just out of bounds of the usual Democrat-
Republican fight. And that`s why I take one side on this, the right to
vote. That`s my side.

(CROSSTALK)

TURNER: I agree with you, Chris.

I mean, there should not be partisanship when it comes to voting.

The measure should be whether or not what we implement expands and protects
the vote. But, as you can see, in places like North Carolina, Texas, and
even Ohio, Republicans are out to crush the demographics. The points that
you bring up, Chris, about African-Americans, Hispanic, poor people,
working-class people, these types of bills have a disproportionately
negative impact on those communities.

And, in 2008, for example, in Ohio, 50 -- 56 percent of African-American
voters utilized early in-person voting. And what are the GOP targeting?
Early in-person voting, absentee ballot applications, shrinking the numbers
of machines, making it easier to purge people from the voting rolls. That
is not --

MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s talk about that. Let`s talk about that, Senator.
I`m sorry to interrupt.

I was in South Africa for those historic elections in `94. And I watched
people. As I have said, it was biblical, the people lining from one
horizon to another.

TURNER: Yes.

MATTHEWS: But those votes were over in four hours.

And then I hear about in the United States, where we have the best
technology in the world available to us, and people waiting 11 hours to
vote, I mean, incredible times. It`s chilling to think how long people had
to stand outside and vote.

TURNER: That`s right.

MATTHEWS: Now, you go Cuyahoga County, Cleveland, Ohio --

TURNER: Yes.

MATTHEWS: -- and it`s a lot of minority people live there.

TURNER: Yes.

MATTHEWS: And so what you do -- what`s the game plan they play? They take
away the voting booths so you have to walk further or go drive further to
vote? Or what`s the game? And longer lines.

TURNER: Well, they did that in 2004, Chris, which is why a lot of folks
here can`t understand why they`re trying to regress instead of progress.

You may remember in 2004 Ohio made all headlines for all the negative
reasons.

MATTHEWS: Oh, I remember.

TURNER: Some people standing in line for up to 11 hours. In Knox County
at Kenyon College, 1,300 voters, two voting machines. One broke down. The
last voter voted at 4:00 a.m. in the morning.

Communities like Hough in Cleveland, people standing outside in the rain
for four and five hours. The same thing in Columbus. Chris, this is
deliberate. And that is why everybody who cares about the sanctity of our
democracy should be up in arms. We should have a righteous indignation
because our country is founded upon one woman, one man, one vote, great
equalizer. And we can`t stand for this.

MATTHEWS: And I think -- I think Republicans, the good Republicans
watching should say, the end doesn`t justify the means.

TURNER: That`s right.

MATTHEWS: You start playing these games just to win elections, that`s not
going to help you in the long run.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, since the Supreme Court`s decision in June to strike
down the part of the Voting Rights Act that required clearance, that`s
Section 5 of voting rights, changes in certain areas, primarily in the
South.

The following states have already implemented new restrictions. For
example, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, South Carolina, North
Carolina, and Virginia have all gone there.

Mr. Ho, tell us about that where these patterns of they just jumped -- like
the Cherokee Strip. Here`s land we can grab. Here`s votes we can steal.
And they just moved on a dime to implement the Supreme Court rule.

HO: Well, the thing is, Chris, it`s not just those states that you
highlighted. I like to say that voter suppression in the South -- or the
South is not like Las Vegas when it comes to voter suppression.

What happens there doesn`t stay there. So when you see proof of
citizenship laws that force people to show a copy of their birth
certificate when they register to vote in Georgia and Alabama, those laws
spread to Kansas and other states outside of the South.

I don`t know about you. But I don`t carry a birth certificate around with
me when I`m walking up and down the street. These laws are really aimed at
preventing voter registration drives. I think there`s unfortunately a
segment of the -- of our elected officials who have decided that as the
electorate gets more diverse and gets younger, instead of deciding to try
to compete for those votes, which is what you`re supposed to do in a
democracy, they`re trying to squash those emerging voices in our
electorate. And we don`t think that`s the best practice for our democracy
at all.

(CROSSTALK)

TURNER: Agreed.

MATTHEWS: You guys are -- you two are two great guests on the show. I`m
glad you both made it tonight. And I`m glad we`re on top of this story.

And I promise you, Senator and Dale, we are going to stay on top of it.

TURNER: Thanks.

MATTHEWS: Thank you so much for coming on, Dale Ho and of course Senator
Nina Turner of Cleveland.

TURNER: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Up next, the latest on the FOX News Santa Claus controversy
courtesy of Jay Leno.

And this HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE COLBERT REPORT")

STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE COLBERT REPORT": In a desperate bit to find
out how much intel Snowden took, NSA officials recently floated the idea of
offering Edward Snowden amnesty.

Just come back with all the intel, and all is forgiven.

I will tell you what. To make you feel safe, we will meet you in a special
amnesty zone.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: It looks like a rat trap.

Anyway, time for the "Sideshow."

That was Steve Colbert last night on NSA leaker Edward Snowden, who still
has temporary asylum in Russia. While the NSA and the White House have
both come out against an amnesty deal for Snowden, the agency was struck a
blow yesterday after a U.S. district court judge approved a preliminary
injunction against its surveillance program, describing it as almost
Orwellian technology. We will have more on that later in the show.

At a White House meeting with technology CEOs earlier today, President
Obama couldn`t help but ask Netflix CEO Reed Hastings for an early look at
the second season of their Emmy-winning hit series "House of Cards."

Here with the president -- here`s what the president had to say about that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`m just wondering if we
brought advanced copies of "House of Cards."

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think you have a cameo.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you willing to do a little cameo?

OBAMA: The -- well, I wish things were that ruthlessly efficient.

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: It`s true. I was looking at Kevin Spacey. I was thinking, man,
this guy`s getting a lot of stuff done.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: God, I wish things were that ruthlessly efficient in Washington.
That`s the -- that`s the show in which he kills his enemies.

Anyway, while season two won`t be released until February, here`s a clip
from the latest trailer. President Obama may not make a cameo, but look
carefully and you might see another familiar face.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: The road to power is paved with hypocrisy and
casualties.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: I need to prove what the vice president is capable of.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: I know you will do whatever you think is best.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Mr. President, you would be making a disastrous
mistake.

MATTHEWS: So, this goes all the way to the White House?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: It might.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: I told you to stop that.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: I can turn this around, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: You are out of line, Frank.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: For those of us climbing to the top of the food chain,
there can be no mercy.

And the butchery begins.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: I guess it`s time to buy Metflix -- or Netflix.

Anyway, that`s right. I make a cameo appearance this season in an episode
directed by Robin Wright, who stood right here in this room directing me.
We made a lot of -- we had a lot of fun shooting that scene back in
September. But I can assure you, I have no idea what happens in season
two, any more than you do.

Finally, despite recent debate over the ethnic background of Santa Claus,
FOX News isn`t the only one weighing in on the so-called war of Christmas
this season. Jay Leno weighed in on it last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO")

JAY LENO, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO": Political correctness of
course full swing this holiday season. It seems an elementary school in
Frisco, Texas, has banned Christmas trees and renamed its Christmas party
the winter party.

(LAUGHTER)

LENO: And listen to this. The kids can`t even call Santa`s helpers elves
anymore. They`re going to have to be known as undocumented little people.

(LAUGHTER)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

LENO: Times are changing. According to a new survey, 21 percent of us now
say happy holidays, compared to the 56 percent who say feliz Navidad.

(LAUGHTER)

LENO: So, it`s -- you can see the change.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Up next: the woman who is leading the fight against a new
restriction on abortion rights up in Michigan.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger. Here`s
what`s happening.

A hospital in Reno, Nevada, is on lockdown after a gunman opened fire
there. Two people are dead, including the shooter. Two others are
injured.

A Harvard undergrad student has been charged after confessing that he e-
mailed fake bomb threats yesterday that shut down four campus buildings.
Eldo Kim says he did it to avoid taking a final exam.

And tonight`s Mega Millions jackpot is now $636 million. That makes the
cash option $341 million before taxes -- back to HARDBALL.

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

This week, Michigan became the latest state to pass an extremely
restrictive law barring insurance companies from offering coverage for
abortions unless women choose a separate insurance payment. What`s so
extreme about this law and the seven other states that have passed similar
measures is that it doesn`t include an exception in the case of rape or
incest.

In other words, if a woman is raped and becomes pregnant, she would have to
pay for her abortion out of her pocket unless she had already purchased the
additional insurance. One of its leading critics, the Democratic minority
leader of the state Senate, Gretchen Whitmer, blasted her colleagues
Wednesday for passing the bill in an emotional floor speech that has gone
viral.

She revealed something very personal about herself.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GRETCHEN WHITMER(D), MICHIGAN STATE SENATOR: So I`m about to tell you
something that I have not shared with many people in my life. But over 20
years ago, I was a victim of rape.

And thank God it didn`t result in a pregnancy, because I can`t imagine
going through what I went through and then having to consider what to do
about an unwanted pregnancy from an attacker.

And as a mother with two girls, the thought that they would ever go through
something like I did keeps me up at night. I thought this was all behind
me.

You know how tough I can be. The thought and the memory of that still
haunts me. If this were law then, and I had become pregnant, I wouldn`t be
able to have coverage because of this. How extreme -- how extreme does
this measure need to be?

I`m not the only woman in our state that has faced that horrible
circumstance. I am not enjoying talking about it. It`s something I have
hidden for a long time. But I think you need to see the face of the women
that you are impacting by this vote today.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer, the senator, joins us right
now, along with Irin Carmon, a national reporter for MSNBC.com.

Thank you, ladies, for talking about this and bringing it to our attention,
the extreme nature of this law.

Senator, give us a sense of what your colleagues on the Republican side of
the aisle had to say in response to your first-person tragic story.

WHITMER: Nothing. They said nothing.

And I think that was the whole point. I didn`t know that I was going to
share something so personal until I actually looked across the aisle and
saw, these guys never had a committee hearing. They never heard from any
women. They never heard from any health care providers, the doctors, even
people of faith.

They never thought for a second who this was going to impact. And that`s
really why I shared my story. The amazing thing was, not one Republican
stood up and had the temerity to say that this was a good law, to defend
the vote that they were taking. Not one single one of them stood up to
defend what their vote was.

MATTHEWS: Well, this is always tricky territory for a male. But that`s
what I am. And I`m going to try to ask the logical questions for those who
are somewhat conflicted on the whole issue of abortion rights.

They`re certainly for the rights. They have concerns about the issue of
abortion itself. They try to be reasonable and I think they try to be
empathetic.

Now, how can you not be empathetic to a woman who`s violated, who`s
assaulted, raped, or the victim of an in-family incest situation, where the
woman or the girl obviously has no power in this situation because of the
relative strength of the male involved inevitably, and in the other case,
health of the mother which might have nothing to do with the fact that the
woman is pregnant, but the pregnancy has to terminated because of the
health situation?

These are situations which arise from being a human being in a society
where there can be tragic behavior among people. But it`s not about
choosing to have unprotected sex. It`s not about the decision to believe
that abortion is morally less serious than it is for some other person.

And that`s what I have a hard time, problem. Why are the legislatures on
the other side of the aisle pushing this end of the stick? What are they
doing this for? Can you tell, who`s this appeasing or playing to?

WHITMER: Well, I think this is, you know, an extreme agenda that was
drafted by a right to leave of Michigan. They put something like this
forward earlier this year. Our Republican governor, a guy with whom I
don`t always agree, vetoed it because he said it was too extreme to insist
that a woman who is raped had the forethought to purchase a special
insurance rider.

So, who are they appeasing with this? I think it`s just the extreme
interests. There are Republicans and Democrats and men and women who`ve
shared stories with me, who think that this is outrageous. Many of whom
self-identify as pro-life have said this doesn`t make sense. There`s no
exception for rape or incest or a planned pregnancy that develops
abnormally and requires a medically necessary DNC in a hospital stay.
That, too, is impacted here.

This is so extreme that I think it`s this one interest group that is
running their anti-choice agenda, and they`ll do anything to do it.

MATTHEWS: Well, thank you so much for coming.

Let`s go to Irin Carmon.

Tell me how this fits into the pattern of the way states have adopted to
the new health care law and just generally the attitudes towards life
choice questions here.

IRIN CARMON, MSNBC.COM: Chris, well, this is a coordinated and systemic
attack on women`s health care. It starts with abortion but it doesn`t end
with abortion. As we saw in the contraceptive cases, it`s also about
people wanting to deny insurance coverage for contraception which, I know,
helps prevent abortions, whether it`s women who are raped, whether it`s
women who lose their jobs or who their husband leaves them or there`s a
serious fetal anomaly.

No one really plans to have an abortion. And it`s not even clear that
these so-called riders that women are being asked to buy even exist, that
any insurance companies are going to offer them. This is something that
has already passed in eight states, 23 states --

MATTHEWS: What happens in those eight states? So people understand this
issue. It`s new for most people. In those eight states including now
Michigan where the coverage of the regular insurance coverage doesn`t cover
these situations of rape, incest, or even health of the mother. In those
cases, how does a woman buy that coverage or get it ahead of time?

CARMON: She doesn`t. You know, I have spoken to health care experts who
have been trying to find any insurance company or any insurance policy
holder who has been able to purchase a so-called rider.

MATTHEWS: So, what happens to a young mother in childbearing state and
she`s having kids, planning to have kids. How does she insure herself
against this whole situation?

CARMON: It`s something that can create financial ruin. I mean, we already
have Hyde Amendment in this country that prevents low income women from
using their Medicaid to pay for it. I`ve interviewed families that have
been completely financially devastated by having to have a planned
pregnancy and abortion because of a serious fetal anomaly.

So, again, we`re talking about in those cases, thousands of dollars. OK,
let me go back to Senator Whitmer. What`s going to happen? I mean, I hear
your case, it seems so un-American and weird that something`s going to be
coming. Is there a court ruling that`s coming or something that will get
in the way of this decision by the legislature?

WHITMER: I think that there will be legal challenges. I think there could
be a citizens initiative. This came up in the strangest way.

Talk about un-democratic. Right to Life used a loophole in Michigan law
where they collected just 4 percent of the signatures of voters in
Michigan, got this before the legislature, and it passed on the simple
majority, sidestepped the governor, never went to a vote of the public, and
now, it`s law of Michigan. Certainly, there are going to be challenges to
this.

MATTHEWS: Well, good luck with your political career out there. It`s
great to have you on HARDBALL. I wish we didn`t have it on these
circumstances, but thanks for coming on, Senator Gretchen Whitmer. And, of
course, Irin Carmon, thank you for your expertise.

Up next, you don`t like -- you don`t like the NSA collecting phone records.
Neither does a federal judge out there.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Well, the U.S. Senate has cleared the way for the budget
agreement reached last week to be passed by the full Congress. The Senate
today voted 67-33, 2-1 to invoke cloture against the Republican filibuster
and proceed to a final vote. Twelve Republicans joined all 55 Democrats to
proceed and have the vote.

Senators may have been listening to their constituents. The ABC
News/"Washington Post" poll found by a margin of 50 to 35, Americans
support this little budget agreement.

And we`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We`re back. The ruling by a federal district judge that the
NSA`s controversial bulk collection of American phone records violates the
Constitution is the biggest challenge yet to the NSA.

When I had the opportunity to interview President Obama on HARDBALL earlier
this month, I asked him about the concerns that American young people have
over privacy, and the NSA surveillance activity.

Here`s more from my interview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: When you saw the front page of "The Washington Post" today with
the story about the National Security Agency, basically patrolling all of
the cell phones in the world, basically. A lot of young people point to
the privacy requirements. They don`t like being part of anything that`s
collecting information.

Health care, is this going to be one of the detriments of people wanting to
sign up? They want to keep their privacy?

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Young people rightly are
sensitive to the needs to preserve their privacy and to maintain Internet
freedom. And by the way, so am I. I said before and I will say it again,
the NSA actually does a very good job about not engaging in domestic
surveillance? Not reading people`s emails, not listening to the contents
of their phone calls.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: And today, President Obama met with the country`s major
technology executives at the White House and they asked him to move
aggressively to limit the top secret surveillance programs that rely on
their software and platforms.

Lawrence O`Donnell is my colleague here on MSNBC and the host of "THE LAST
WORD" at 10:00 p.m. Eastern.

Lawrence, I guess the question is, what do you think about the generational
aspect of this? Because it`s true, we know it`s true. What do you think
about young people, millenials, if you will, are particularly sensitive to
this metadata collection?

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, THE LAST WORD: Well, one of the issues that it turns
on, Chris, as the judge pointed out, is the expectation of privacy.

And I was quite struck by it because, I don`t know -- those of us who grew
up with all sorts of mob prosecutions, using wiretaps and all that stuff, I
don`t think -- I never had an expectation of privacy involving the use of
telephones. I mean, you know, mob guys always use that to go to payphones
and call each other. Nobody thought those things were secure.

But this judge said that he believes there is now an expectation of privacy
and he maintains that the ruling 34 years ago by the Supreme Court was done
in such a different technological era that it had a different expectation
of privacy. And in that ruling the Supreme Court said that it was
perfectly OK to collect phone record data that does not include the actual
contents of the call simply, what number called what number, that that was
collectible without a warrant 34 years ago.

And this judge yesterday said in 34 years, enough has changed that we have
to reconsider that. But I was struck, Chris, by one passage of the judge`s
opinion which I hope other judges don`t do. And that is he cited one of
the Founding Fathers. Now, he said that he --

MATTHEWS: Madison.

O`DONNELL: James Madison, he thought James Madison would be aghast at
this, because Madison wrote about, quote, "The abridgment of freedom of the
people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power."

Now, I get why he used that line. But, James Madison was a slave holder
who 226 years ago at age 36 wrote the Constitution and it is this judge
who`s saying, we can`t rely on what the Supreme Court was thinking 34 years
ago, but we can rely on what this Virginian slave owner was thinking and
what we presume he would think today. This guy was thinking 226 years ago
in writing these provisions.

MATTHEWS: Quick question, why does anybody care that somebody`s got
metadata on them, that I phoned somebody, hang up 10 minutes later, after
that, the person I called (INAUDIBLE) a hot mail (ph) and called someone
else. Why would that concern a 22-year-old grad student that somebody knew
that about them?

O`DONNELL: You know, it isn`t really that clear in the polling exactly who
is worried about this in what way. You -- this thing has to be approached,
the opposition to what the NSA is doing has to be approached in principle
because there is no particular case in practice that anyone can point to at
the NSA and say look, this is the bad thing that they have done with this
metadata. Every mistake that we know that the NSA has made in this
collection is all self reporting mistakes that the NSA workers are finaling
themselves.

They`re saying, oh, look, we discovered that we crossed this line here when
we shouldn`t have. It`s hard to ask the NSA to police themselves better
than they have. Given what we know, but we will probably never know enough
about exactly what the NSA is doing to completely comfortable.

MATTHEWS: Lawrence, tell us about the desks in Malawi, the work you`re
doing to raise money, to get those kids at school does.

O`DONNELL: Chris, we always talk about it this time of year on MSNBC and
it`s an amazing outpouring of generosity from the MSNBC audience, we have
raised over $6 million now since we started the program. It puts desks in
classrooms in Africa that you know, Chris, have never seen desks. You`ve
been there, you worked in Africa as a peace corps volunteer, and you know,
as you and I have talked before, that that kind of experience changes you,
you can`t go into those countries and leave without feeling some kind of --

(CROSSTALK)

O`DONNELL: We do it at TheLastWord.MSNBC, desk, -- at our Web site, that`s
where you can go, and we`ll talk about it tonight on our program.

MATTHEWS: OK. Great. Thank you, Lawrence O`Donnell. We`ll put something
in over that.

O`DONNELL: Thanks, Chris.

MATTHEWS: And we`ll be right back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this:

I have hoped and still do that the Republican Party will find itself back
to its traditional place on the American political spectrum. I`d like to
know that the people of this great country get to face a reasonable choice
when it comes to whom they wish to rule, especially whom they wish to see
in the presidency.

All too many of the candidates showing real interest in running for 2016,
unfortunately, lack the statute to fill the presidential office. I think
of Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, and wonder how bad things have to get in this
country for a majority of us to choose either of those guys. And right
now, it`s entirely possible that the Republican Party will find itself
unable to find candidate who can beat them.

I had and still hold hopes or still hold hopes for Governor Christie. I
believe he showed rare leadership in the way he`d teamed with President
Obama in facing the need for action after Hurricane Sandy. The one popular
picture in the 2012 election was the picture of these two politicians
walking the hard hit beaches of New Jersey. Certainly, there`d be little
else that inspire hopes that our political leaders can actually work
together like these two did.

And this is the message of my new book as well, "Tip and The Gipper: When
Politics Worked". I`m thrilled to recommend it for the basic reason that I
know full as you do the need this country has for a guide book on how to
return to the politics of getting things done.

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

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.

END

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BE UPDATED.
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