June 9, 2014
Guest: Kiki McLean, Angela Delli Santi, Brian Levin, Dylan Scot
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Primetime attack.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
"Let Me Start Tonight" with what`s just happened, by which I mean a truly
disgusting event. A right-wing group has produced a television ad to air
tonight during former secretary of state Hillary Clinton`s first primetime
book interview. It`s a particularly vicious ad, charging the possible 2016
hopeful with joining in the slander of Israel. That`s the word, "slander."
It attacks Hillary Clinton for not attacking her successor at the State
Department, John Kerry, for using "apartheid" to describe the condition of
the Jewish state when its Arab population exceeds its Jewish population,
estimated to be in the year 2020. Kerry was saying the failure to
establish a separate state for the Arab population would put Israel at that
point into a terrible predicament of having to choose between being a
democracy and a Jewish state.
Anyway, the attack is timed for maximum publicity, but why? Is it to
punish Clinton for not being pro-Israeli enough, which seems a hard charge
to make, given the past positions she`s taken not just as secretary of
state, but of course, as United States senator for New York. Is it to
intimidate her into taking a more hawkish position on the Middle East in
the future? Or is it something to hurt her politically, to convince
nervous supporters of Israel she`s not to be trusted as president?
In any case, the ad`s an indictment, as nasty as I`ve seen, usually the
sort you see in the final days of a campaign, paid for by a desperate
side, the one seeing defeat in its face. It is also so unfair, so
disgusting, that it might just unite this country, left, center and
moderate, against the hate-mongering crowd that put this thing on the air.
Hillary is as pro-Israel as anyone in the country. To attack her on this
front is to commit the very crime, slander, of which this villainous ad
MSNBC political analyst David Corn is Washington bureau chief for "Mother
Jones" and Kiki McLean was a senior adviser to Hillary Clinton and was
asked to work on the book rollout this week.
The ad was put out, by the way, by Bill Kristol`s Emergency Committee for
Israel, and will air in Washington and New York during the Clinton
interview tonight. Let`s watch the ad.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Secretary of State John Kerry said Israel could
become an apartheid state. America`s most prominent Jewish groups
condemned Kerry, but not Hillary Clinton. Democratic Party organizations
called on Kerry to apologize, but not Hillary Clinton. Democratic senators
and congressmen criticized Kerry, but not Hillary Clinton. When John Kerry
slandered Israel, Democrats spoke out. So why not Hillary Clinton?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Kiki, what do you make of that ad? Let`s go with the timing of
it. It`s timed to coordinate exactly, coincidentally, with the book
rollout this week.
KIKI MCLEAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: It is no surprise that desperate
people frequently attempt to leverage something off of Hillary Clinton for
their own personal gain. This ad is clearly that. You know what`s really
sad about it, though? Is it`s not about Secretary Clinton or the --
MATTHEWS: It isn`t?
MCLEAN: No. What`s sad about it is it does nothing to help peace in the
MATTHEWS: Well, that`s for sure.
MCLEAN: And so those people who would argue with that are just bald-faced
MATTHEWS: David, let`s be -- let`s be really objective here. I think
Hillary Clinton is a regular Democrat on Israel, meaning pro-Israeli. I
mean, I think she`s right there in the normal spot of being supportive
whenever she can be. And on issues like the settlements, she`s been more
than favorable to Israel. When Obama wanted to say, You have to stop the
settlements to talk peace, she said, No, that`s putting too much pressure
on the Israeli government.
DAVID CORN, "MOTHER JONES," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: This is a demagogic
ad because if -- you know, I have clips here from "Ha`aretz," which is "The
New York Times" of Israel, in which columnists repeatedly talk about the
possibility that Israel may have an apartheid problem down the road, as
John Kerry said. So the debate --
MATTHEWS: Let`s just explain it to people who don`t really study it. And
I`ve been thinking about this since I was in Israel in `71 for a month.
The problem is that you have all the Arab people --
MATTHEWS: -- who are Muslim living in the disputed territory since the
`67 war. They are growing in population probably faster than the Jewish
population. So by the year 2020 -- 2020 is six years from now -- it`s
projected -- you never know for sure -- there`ll be more Arab, Muslim
people and Christians, in that country --
MATTHEWS: -- than there are Jewish people. And therefore, you have the
problem. There it is right there. You have --
CORN: So this is the --
MATTHEWS: So that`s a problem for --
CORN: But this --
MATTHEWS: -- people who believe in Zionism, which is a Jewish state, and
believe in a democracy have a conundrum to deal with.
CORN: There are a lot of people in Israel, who support Israel, who see
this as a problem. This is something to talk about --
MATTHEWS: And that`s why the two-state solution.
CORN: -- honestly, not to turn into a demagogic ad attacking Hillary
Clinton for really not doing anything. I mean, that`s the -- that`s the
thing here. It has nothing to do with anything she said. Most ads try to
at least distort your own words --
MATTHEWS: Listen, I think objectively, even when Kerry said it, it was the
use of the word apartheid, which is obviously laden with all kinds of bad.
MCLEAN: What you have to be aware of is the fact that this really has
nothing to do with Hillary Clinton, that they`re trying to use Hillary
Clinton in the hopes to get a pop of press out of the deal.
MCLEAN: Well, if we cloak this in Hillary Clinton --
MATTHEWS: But the ad is viciously anti-her.
MCLEAN: The ad was viciously anti-her, but if they hadn`t had her in the
ad and they just ran an ad against John Kerry, Chris, would you have a
segment about it tonight?
MATTHEWS: OK, I have a theory that it has to do with about three things,
and I don`t know which one --
MATTHEWS: You start. No, you start because you have started. First of
all, it`s just an old partisan ad.
MATTHEWS: They don`t want any Democrat back in the White House for another
eight years because that means 16 years, these guys are out of work.
MCLEAN: Check. You got it.
MATTHEWS: Because they`re all working for Heritage Foundation or American
Enterprise -- I`m going to get to this the end of the show. These people
who write op-ed pieces for a living (INAUDIBLE) Daddy Warbucks who give the
money -- make them senior fellows. That`s all they do for a living! But
they really want to be back and be undersecretary of this, undersecretary
CORN: No, no. That`s exactly right. These people -- they`re going to use
anything they can against Hillary. They`ll accuse her of -- you know, some
people will accuse her of being too hawkish, some of not being hawkish
enough. It`s going to go back and forth.
You know -- you know, people tended to like her, even conservatives, when
she was secretary of state. And now she`s going to be portrayed as being
feckless. They`ll do whatever they have to do. Remember, this is being
given to us by Bill Kristol, who gave us the whole Iraq war campaign --
MATTHEWS: Why is he so tough on her? Because of all the Democrats who
might be nominated -- and I think she`s still the most probable nominee --
MCLEAN: He`s tough on her --
MATTHEWS: -- the least dovish.
MCLEAN: Chris --
CORN: They don`t want any Democrat. They want back into power --
MCLEAN: Chris --
MATTHEWS: -- so they can do Iraq again, or whatever --
MCLEAN: You mistake a true intellectual exercise by Bill Kristol with a
desire to be in the press, OK?
MATTHEWS: Yes, well --
MCLEAN: Let`s be honest. So when he attacks her, it`s not about the true
intellectual exercise because what you and David are talking about is true.
This is a woman who believes and a leader who believes in an integrated
foreign policy, that you`ve got to have all the tools there, you`ve got to
have both diplomacy and development right along with defense to deal with
things. And so they`re not really out to make a legitimate argument.
They`re about to make a buck or they`re out to make a point.
MATTHEWS: Let`s make a point about some of the book that`s come out. In
her book, Hillary Clinton includes a memo to President Obama about Russian
president Vladimir Putin in which she writes, "Don`t appear too eager to
work together. Don`t flatter Putin with high-level attention. Decline his
invitation for a presidential-level summit in Moscow in September."
And one of the first times she spoke about Putin`s actions in Crimea back
in March, she said, quote, "Now, if this sounds familiar, it`s what Hitler
did back in the 1930s." And on whether to arm the Syrian rebels, she
writes, "I returned to Washington reasonably confident that if we decide to
begin arming and training moderate Syrian rebels, we could put in place
effective coordination with our regional partners. The risks of both
action and inaction were high. Both choices would bring unintended
consequences. The president`s inclination" -- that`s President Obama --
"was to stay the present course and not take the significant further step
of arming rebels. No one likes to lose a debate, including me" -- this is
Hillary Clinton writing here -- "but this was the president`s call, and I
respected his deliberations and decision."
So let`s go through it both ways of looking at this thing. It seems to me,
and I`ve said this positively, Kiki, that I believe that Hillary Clinton`s
positions on issues like Syria and arming the moderate forces, if you can
find them, on the Iraq War back then, on issues like dealing with Putin,
how tough to be, she`s on the more the hard-line side for the president --
more hard-line than the president. I think he`s on the softer line.
CORN: Well --
MATTHEWS: I think that`s what most people would say. But I also think
it`s the sweet spot. I think the country probably in the next election
wants somebody a bit more hard-line than the president.
CORN: Oh, I --
MATTHEWS: Well, you just -- go ahead, both you guys with your views.
CORN: I don`t think that her position on Syria is a popular position.
Either she believes it, or she thinks it`s a good political position
because she wants to be more hawkish. And we talked about this a little
bit last week, and it`s an interesting question to me. Does a woman who
wants to be president feel more compelled to come across as tough because
of people having concerns about women in leadership roles than she might
MCLEAN: The only people who think that are guys. So -- no offense, but --
CORN: But she doesn`t think about getting some male votes?
MCLEAN: No. No.
CORN: She has to get a few male votes to win.
MCLEAN: No. Listen, the reality is she has a tremendous record as
secretary of state. She has a tremendous record from her time in the
Senate. And what she does is, she believes, as I said before, in having
all the tools in the toolbox. You know, is she a hawk because she spoke
her mind there and laid out what were strong points of view about action?
Or is she a dove because she also spent as much time around the world
making sure that she was lifting women and girls up into places that --
CORN: Soft power.
MCLEAN: You know -- and that`s why she never called it strong power
because she called it strong power --
CORN: Yes, I know.
MCLEAN: -- because they go together, right? I had the great fortune to
be with her on her to her first trip to Asia, her first overseas trip as
secretary of state. And that was as much about opening up the Pacific and
shifting a --
CORN: -- but her remark on Hitler, though, was very ill-advised and did
seem to have a reflexive action to being tougher than the president and
being, really, the Bill Kristol camp, much too prematurely. It`s not right
historically. It wasn`t helpful. It just seemed to me like she wanted to
get out there and just use tough rhetoric to make an impression.
MCLEAN: I don`t think she went out there to use tough rhetoric. I think
she answered a question in a frame (ph) in terms of a sequence of events
that have happened in history, and what would the sequence of events --
MATTHEWS: So you thought it was smart to reference Hitler with regard to
MCLEAN: I think it was -- I think it was an effort to communicate that
there are parallels in history that we should to pay attention to when we
try to --
MATTHEWS: Fair enough. You stated that very well.
MCLEAN: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you a question that`s tougher --
MCLEAN: -- tough already?
MATTHEWS: Not tough at all.
MCLEAN: OK. All right. Let`s go.
MATTHEWS: I don`t need a coach. What is the reasonable assumption by the
voter out there who`s undecided next time? Is it reasonable to assume that
Hillary Clinton, based upon her record, will be more hard-line than
President Obama, a notch or so to the right, if you will?
MCLEAN: I think that`s a false choice, Chris.
MATTHEWS: No, I`m just asking. Is it a reasonable assumption of hers to
MCLEAN: I think it`s an unnecessary assumption.
MATTHEWS: You don`t think that`s a correct one.
MCLEAN: I think -- I think -- I think that history and actions in the
world are moving so quickly, no two presidents will be measured on the same
MATTHEWS: But people have to vote. They have to decide.
CORN: She definitely tried to do that in 2008.
CORN: That was the -- that was the political space she tried to occupy.
She tried to make Obama --
CORN: -- seem more dovish and that she was -- you know --
MCLEAN: If she makes the decision to run for president. Let`s not talk
MATTHEWS: I think -- I think that she made that decision a while ago.
MATTHEWS: But let me go -- let me go to this, I think that one of the
reasons she lost in 2008 is she supported the Iraq war resolution. And I
think this time around, she`s made a very smart move to recant that. And I
think she`s done it 100 percent. Do you agree?
CORN: Oh, I --
MATTHEWS: I`ve given her credit.
MATTHEWS: -- recantation. She turned the candle upside down and snuffed
it. It`s over. But I think (INAUDIBLE) you have to look at the pattern.
And I think it`s a fair question for the following debate, and we will have
it here for a year-and-a-half because when she comes time to formally
endorse herself for president, probably a year from now, we`ll have you
back. But probably in the meantime, you can play this game with us.
Thank you, David Corn. And thank you, Kiki McLean --
MATTHEWS: -- a real pro here.
Coming up: A top aide to Governor Chris Christie admits under oath that his
boss waited four months to ask him about those infamous closures on the
George Washington Bridge. And then the governor refused to tell the press
what he heard, that Bridget Kelly knew that Fort Lee mayor -- the Fort Lee
mayor suspected that the bridge closures were an act of political payback
by him, the governor.
And Ted Cruz is back at it, leading the haters of the right, maybe those
opposed to marriage equality. Wait until you see what the Republicans of
Texas just put in their new platform about gays. Hint, it`s about turning
And tonight, we`re learning chilling new details about the police ambush in
Las Vegas that was carried out by anti-government white supremacists.
There they are.
Finally, "Let Me Finish" tonight where I started, that shot across the bow
of Hillary Clinton.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Well, Republicans need to pick up six seats to take control of
the United States Senate. Democrats need to hold the line, lose no more
than five. But new polling suggests the Democrats may have a tough time in
a state they expected to win, Iowa. Let`s check the HARDBALL "Scoreboard."
According to a new poll for Loras College, Republican Joanie Ernst, the one
who talks about castrating hogs in her campaign ads, now leads Democratic
U.S. Congressman Bruce Braley by 6. It`s Ernst, the hog castrator, 48, and
the Democrat, Braley, at 42.
We`ll be right back after this.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. The investigation in Trenton into
Governor Chris Christie`s office continues to gather momentum. Last month,
we heard testimony from one of Christie`s campaign staffers laying out a
compelling sequence of events.
According to that testimony, on the night of August 12th, Christie`s deputy
chief of staff, Bridget Kelly, calls the campaign and learns that Fort Lee
mayor Mark Sokolich is not endorsing Christie`s reelection bid. The next
morning, she gives what looks like clear orders for political payback when
she tells David Wildstein at the Port Authority, quote, "Time for some
traffic problems in Fort Lee."
We`ve also heard testimony from a top staffer in Christie`s office that
Bridget Kelly instructed her colleague to destroy a potentially
incriminating e-mail linking her to the lane closure.
And today, we heard testimony from a heavyweight inside Christie`s office,
his chief of staff, Kevin O`Dowd. Christie has repeatedly said that he
only had two direct reports to him, and O`Dowd was one of them. O`Dowd
testified today that Governor Christie asked him to personally question
Bridget Kelly last December, and by all appearances, she said she had
nothing to do with the lane closures.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEVIN O`DOWD, CHRISTIE CHIEF OF STAFF: I said, Bridget, I need to ask you
about the lane closures. I think she said something like, Sure. What
about? I said, Did you have anything to do with closing the lanes at the
George Washington Bridge? She responded with, Absolutely not.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you find her denial credible?
O`DOWD: I did.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why?
O`DOWD: Bridget Kelly is someone that I had worked with and known for four
years, someone who I thought very highly of, hard-working, energetic,
loyal, someone who I believed and trusted.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: And it`s not just Bridget Kelly in the spotlight, either.
Today, we also learned an interesting series of events that preceded
Christie`s denials in December of any knowledge of the bridge closures.
We`ll get to that in a minute.
Brian Murphy`s an MSNBC contributor and was the managing editor of
Politicsnj.com, and Angela Delli Santi is a New Jersey statehouse reporter
with the Associated Press. Thank you both for joining us. I see you`re
sitting outside the state assembly there.
What do you -- Brian, you start. You`ve been on this show before. You
know what I want. I want to know the crux of what happened today. I`m
watching the whole thing, and I`m saying what`s interesting is what nobody
seems to say.
Why did Christie, the governor, go through this sort of, well, very
formalized way of asking what happened, sending the one guy he talks to?
Why didn`t he go in and ask Bridget Kelly himself? And then he gets this
answer back, and the answer tells him, Hey, there was a complaint by the
mayor of Fort Lee that maybe he was getting screwed by the governor`s
That never gets into the press conference the next day. The governor`s
asked about it. He acts like he didn`t know anything about any politics
here, when, in fact, he`d been told by O`Dowd, the guy who testified today.
He knew exactly what was going on. There was an accusation of political
payback by the mayor already at work in his office. He knew about it, got
it from his chief of staff, Wouldn`t tell the press.
Why was he hiding all this information if he was supposedly coming clean?
BRIAN MURPHY, FMR. MANAGING EDITOR, POLITICSNJ.COM, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:
Chris, I think there`s something -- it`s important to remember the timeline
here, that when these investigations are going on, they know that there`s a
clock that`s going to run out in early 2014.
The committee that`s investigating this has subpoena power, but that
subpoena power was due to expire. And I think if they thought they could
just run out the clock, make it seem like nothing was going on -- and you
see what`s happening there on the 12th of December. And that morning,
Kevin O`Dowd finds out, walks in on this meeting at the governor`s mansion
with Bill Stepien, asks Bridget Kelly, gets the denial from Kelly, has a
meeting later that day with Bill Barone, their man at the Port Authority,
tells him that he`s toast, but tells him also that he`s going to get set up
with a new job with another Republican political consultant.
I think Christie is tying up a bunch of loose ends and preparing to wait
out the clock for only a few more weeks until that subpoena power expires.
Then they think they`re going to be scot-free.
MATTHEWS: Angela, tell me about the AP reporting, I mean, the standard
reporting. What is the news value of today`s testimony, from the AP`s
point of view, your point of view, as a reporter?
ANGELA DELLI SANTI, ASSOCIATED PRESS: Well, I think that, first of all,
this is the highest-ranking Christie official to testify.
And so this is someone that we hadn`t heard from before. We had seen some
of his interview notes in the Mastro report. But this was a chance to hear
him up front, to get him to answer questions firsthand. And I think that
I think we learned also that he said, like the others, he had no direct
involvement in the lane closings or any foreknowledge of it. And he also
answered another key question, or didn`t answer another key question. He
said he`s not aware of anyone who may have had that knowledge. And he
certainly doesn`t know why it occurred.
So his testimony today advanced the ball forward a little bit, but we`re
still left wondering what the key answers are here.
MATTHEWS: Brian, what doesn`t make sense to me is four months into a
controversy, the governor of New Jersey finally asks his chief of staff to
very carefully, almost hermetically sealed, go talk to another staffer
where he`s not in the room so he doesn`t get infected by information.
It`s so Nixonian. It`s so the way Nixon dealt with Dean, the whole thing
about, you know, just trying to avoid -- to make it look like you`re
investigating, when you`re not.
Anyway, Christie`s chief of staff testified today that he didn`t want to
know why Christie wanted him to talk to Bridget Kelly. He never even asked
why the governor asked him to talk to Kelly. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEVIN O`DOWD, CHRISTIE CHIEF OF STAFF: He said, ask her whether she had
anything to do with closing the lanes of the bridge?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you ask him why?
O`DOWD: I did not.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you ask the governor if you should ask questions of
O`DOWD: I did not.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you raise to the governor any question about
whether there were other people that you should make inquiries of?
O`DOWD: I did not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: It`s so Nixonian, Brian.
Here you go. The governor targets one staffer, and he has his top person
go to that person, again, hermetically sealed, so he`s not listening to it.
And he can always deny everything, except what O`Dowd tells him.
O`Dowd must know what he`s supposed to tell the governor. He only tells
what he wants to know, perhaps. We don`t know what he tells them because
that`s between the two of them under oath. The whole thing is so carefully
run by someone who doesn`t want to get blamed, clearly.
MURPHY: That`s right, yes.
Someone asked the question today, pointing out that there are 31 years of
prosecutorial experience combined when you look at the staffers in the
governor`s office, and yet nobody had any curiosity. Right?
The line they keep saying in this building back here is, there`s a curious
lack of curiosity in terms of looking at what`s going on here. And I think
we`re seeing that play out, that, again, that it`s baffling, right, that
you find out about this e-mail. You never check with the person who
received it. You never check with the person who sent it.
People are referenced in e-mails. There are long phone calls that
happened. No one ever does any follow-ups. No one checks back on
I think you`re seeing -- to some extent, you`re seeing their defense has
been, this is an administration full of prosecutors who would never do
anything illegal. The counter, the flip side of that is, it`s full of
prosecutors who studied corruption cases up close and know what can get you
tripped up and know what can get you in trouble.
And they have determined that they`re not going to do any of those things.
Even if they`re not directly involved in ordering this, they`re not going
to do anything that is going to implicate them or give them any kind of
additional legal exposure, beyond what they already have to take by having
the jobs that they have.
MATTHEWS: Angela, it seems like the story today is that it puts more and
more heat on Bridget Kelly, that the focus of the discussion, if you take
out the politics and maybe some common sense, you`re left with the fact
that they`re all pointing to Bridget Kelly.
They`re saying, she did this on her own, as if she`s out robbing gas
stations. The question I keep asking is, who do you think she was doing
this for? She was doing it for the governor`s reelection. She`s hand in
glove with the campaign on this. She`s getting information from the people
in the campaign. A few hours later, she takes the steps to close the
bridges in some kind of retaliation, and they`re all acting like somehow
she`s the bad guy, when in fact she`s hand in glove with the campaign.
But, legally, I`m not sure what that all means. If she`s just been dog
trained to do what she does, and she does it on some instinct because she`s
told, your job is to screw any enemies of the governor, and then she gets
caught screwing any enemy of the governor`s, but he says, I didn`t tell you
to screw that one guy, then she`s caught standing there holding the bag.
Your thoughts about how it`s coming out in the press and will come out.
DELLI SANTI: It`s very -- it`s very interesting that -- the conflicting
portraits of Bridget Kelly that has emerged.
When Christina Renna testified earlier before the committee, she talked
about how Bridget Kelly was someone who couldn`t make a decision on her
own, that she couldn`t have possibly acted alone. Today, you heard
something entirely different.
Kevin O`Dowd said he asked Bridget Kelly, did she have anything to do with
the lane closings? She said no. He believed her. Why did he believe her?
Because she was a hard worker. He trusted her. He had -- she had never
lied to him.
So, you heard something very different today than you heard a few weeks
MATTHEWS: And just imagine this. The entire George Washington Bridge
apparatus obeyed Bridget Kelly when she said, shut down the lanes. What`s
the context of that?
As you just said, I think, Angela, very well, who gave her all this
authority, all this political license to do something like this? Where did
all that come -- this assumption that she can call the shots all by
herself. At the same time, they try to say, she has no power. Well, she
shut down the bridge. Somebody gave her that power.
Thank you, Brian Murphy.
Thank you, Angela Delli Santi from the Associated Press.
Up next, HBO`s John Oliver has got something on me. He`s caught me being a
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL and time for the "Sideshow."
President Obama faced tough criticism, of course, from both sides of the
aisle as details emerged last week about Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl`s time in
Afghanistan. Even left-leaning political comedian my friend Bill Maher
acknowledged some of those concerns on his show on Friday night, but not
without adding some characteristic levity to this pretty tragic debate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER")
BILL MAHER, HOST, "REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER": There are of course aspects
of this story that are actually controversial, like this guy may very well
have been a deserter, which is not good.
You can`t just fantastic up and leave in the middle of doing your job.
You`re part of a military unit, not the governor of Alaska.
MAHER: Now, of course, the other controversial aspect of this -- and it is
controversial -- is that Obama kind of did do it illegally.
I mean, you are supposed to give Congress 30 days` notice, but the
administration says their excuse for that is that Bergdahl`s life was in
immediate danger. And that`s just because the Taliban was driving a GM
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Anyway, next up, I was honored to have a brief cameo on HBO`s "Last Week
Tonight With John Oliver" last night.
If you missed it, here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "LAST WEEK TONIGHT WITH JOHN OLIVER")
JOHN OLIVER, HOST, "LAST WEEK TONIGHT WITH JOHN OLIVER": Now this.
NARRATOR: Now Chris Matthews reminds everyone who he used to work for.
MATTHEWS: I worked in a business of politics back when you had people like
O`Neill, Tip O`Neill, my boss. I worked for Tip O`Neill, as everybody
knows. My great boss, Tip O`Neill. Tip O`Neill, my old boss. Tip
O`Neill, my old boss.
And I got to go because I was Tip`s guy. Tip, Tip, Tip, Tip O`Neill. By
the way, my old boss Tip O`Neill loved "The Golden Girls."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: So, you can put me down as a loyalist. Some day, he will say
the same about Jon Stewart -- that`s John Oliver -- if he`s a loyalist.
Up next: Ted Cruz and the Texas Republican Party take hate -- and wait
until you catch this -- to a whole new level. They`re not too good on
gays, these guys.
Anyway, you`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger. Here`s
SWAT teams in Los Angeles have captured an armed man after an intense car
chase and standoff. The suspect fled when officers tried to arrest him for
allegedly making criminal threats.
Many county clerks in Wisconsin are issuing marriage licenses to gay
couples, despite the state`s attorney general filing a petition to halt the
President Obama hosted the UConn Huskies men`s and women`s basketball teams
to honor their 2014 NCAA championships -- back to HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Well, Ted Cruz has proven once again he`s the hero of the haters on the far
right. Cruz was greeted with chants of "Run, Ted, run" this weekend at a
Defense of Texas Marriage Amendment rally, where he delivered a speech
defending marriage between a man and a woman.
And in what sounded like a warm-up to a presidential campaign, Senator Cruz
told the red hots at the Texas State Republican Convention that their
liberty is under assault.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: What we`re doing is, we`re building a grassroots
army in Texas and all across this country of men and women who are saying,
we will not go quietly into the light -- night.
We will not give up on the United States of America. We want our freedom
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, with Cruz as their ringleader, the hate wing of the
Republican Party showed off a side of the party traditional Republicans
don`t want you to see, for example, on gay rights.
The Texas Republican platform already had said -- quote -- "Homosexuality
tears at the fabric of society." But that wasn`t enough. According to the
Associated Press -- quote -- "Under the new plank, the Texas GOP recognizes
legitimacy and efficacy of counseling, which offers reparative therapy and
treatment for those patients seeking healing and wholeness from their
Out of touch? Not according to the Tea Party candidate running for
lieutenant governor down there. State Senator Dan Patrick he said: "We
have to hold the line until some of those other states wake up and start
voting Republican again."
So is this what the Republican Party plans to run on in 2016? Hate?
Howard Fineman of course is an MSNBC political analyst and editorial
director of The Huffington Post Media Group. And Eugene Robinson is an
MSNBC political analyst and a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist with "The
Eugene, I just -- I wonder, what is Texas all ant about? Or is it the
Texas GOP? Or is it what I call the hate wing of the GOP? How wide is
this infection of hatred, where they`re going after gays now, at this point
in our history, after most Americans, including people like Bobby Casey of
Pennsylvania, very traditional people, are moving towards acceptance, and
even, if not celebration, certainly true acceptance?
And I`m wondering, what`s wrong with Texas?
EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, good question.
This must just be the Texas GOP, Chris, because Texas is one of the most
urbanized states in the country. We think of the wide-open prairie, but
three of the 10 biggest cities in the country are in Texas. And, as we
know, cities tend to be more tolerant places, tolerant of all different
kinds of people who live there.
Houston in particular, which is the fourth biggest city in the country, has
a very large and active gay community, LGBT community. So, he can`t be
appealing to Texas broadly. It`s just to that faction of the Texas
Well, let me ask Howard, what about this way-back machine they have got
that turns gay people into straight people?
MATTHEWS: I mean, most people say, scientifically, there`s no evidence of
that thing ever working.
HOWARD FINEMAN, NBC CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes.
MATTHEWS: Isn`t Michele Bachmann`s husband in that business?
FINEMAN: Well --
MATTHEWS: I don`t think it works.
FINEMAN: Chris, I don`t think --
MATTHEWS: I don`t think gay people like hearing about it either, from what
Well, and, by the way, at the convention in Fort Worth, at the Republican
Convention in Fort Worth, which had 7,000 to 8,000 people and bills itself
as the world`s largest gathering of Republicans, other than the actual
convention, there were quite a number of people under the surface who were
against the change on gay rights and who were --
MATTHEWS: What did they want?
FINEMAN: Well, they wanted to take the language out.
MATTHEWS: Not go further.
FINEMAN: Yes, the libertarian, right young libertarian -- there are some
young libertarian Republicans who want to go the other way. But they were
steamrollered in Texas.
Now, they won`t be quite as easily steamrollered elsewhere. But look at a
person like George P. Bush, who is the grandson --
FINEMAN: -- of the president, of H.W. Bush.
He`s in favor in the Bush family way of expanding outreach to Hispanics, of
looking for sophisticated ways to expand the Republican Party. He got
steamrollered, too. They all got steamrolled.
And I don`t think it`s just Texas, frankly. I think Texas is the red hot
center of the current grassroots Tea Party.
MATTHEWS: Yes, well, the country makes face this.
FINEMAN: -- and culture war Republican Party, which still exists. It
goes back to Pat Buchanan in modern times.
MATTHEWS: Oh, here we go.
MATTHEWS: Aren`t you on target?
The Republican confab in Texas this week reminded me of another GOP
gathering in Texas, in Houston, back in 1992. And here`s Pat Buchanan and
his address to the Republican Party National Convention that year, which
they really didn`t want on television, but it was.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAT BUCHANAN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS: I watched
that giant masquerade ball up at Madison Square Garden --
BUCHANAN: -- where 20,000 liberals and radicals came dressed up as
moderates and centrists in the greatest single exhibition of cross-dressing
in American political history.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
BUCHANAN: The agenda that Clinton and Clinton would impose on America,
abortion on demand, a litmus test for the Supreme Court, homosexual rights,
discrimination against religious schools, women in combat units.
My friends, we must take back our cities and take back our culture and take
back our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: OK, Eugene, I think I remember the phrase block by block to sort
of make sure everybody knew what he was talking about.
ROBINSON: Right, right, right.
MATTHEWS: Let`s change the neighborhoods the other direction. I mean, I
thought he was pretty direct. A lot of Republicans thought that was their
death knell, talking like that. And here they are the Texas party in 2014
going right back at it.
ROBINSON: Yes. I just -- is it in the interest of the establishment to
sharpen up those pitch forks and go at it again? And the answer is no,
it`s not. But there is a faction, as Howard said, that is energetic, that
is throwing in a lot of money, that is going to be a factor in the
Republican Party, that has been pulling the party to the right and keeping
the party from moving into modern times. And I think it`s, you know, this
fight is going to continue.
MATTHEWS: You know, you wonder about any large crowd, Howard. And you
think, well, Kinsey (ph) numbers, you know how reliable. There`s a certain
percentage of us are gay and I -- not a percentage of each person, but a
certain percentage of the population is gay. May be a certain percentage
of everybody, but certainly of the population.
And you wonder, don`t those people wince when they`re not in that crowd?
Are they not in that crowd?
HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST: Well, as I said, there were some in that
crowd, from my understanding.
MATTHEWS: Are the gay people (INAUDIBLE) why are they hating me?
FINEMAN: Well, look, the thing is, Chris, that this is a world view, a
sort of, we are under assault, we are under a siege world view that Pat
Buchanan did capture in `92. I was at that convention that night.
And within that hall and within that world, it made sense. Pat Buchanan
made sense at that moment to many of those people in that hall. And Ted
Cruz does the same, not only in Texas, but elsewhere.
Don`t forget, it`s Cruz`s mode of power, as far as I can tell, that was the
main instrument in pulling a lot of these senators, incumbent senators,
Republican senators, to the right and scaring them to the right. So then
run in and survive primary races in their states.
This isn`t just about Texas. Texas is the holy land of this particular
secular religion, and they`re proud of it. And there are other place where
is that resonates. And there`s going to be a big battle in the Republican
Party in 2016 to define who`s in control.
MATTHEWS: By the way, we`re watching --
FINEMAN: The Ted Cruzes of the world, or some undefined other
MATTHEWS: Eugene, we`re both watching this. This goes for all ethnic
who`s black and white, but I was watching that performance by Ted Cruz.
It`s an evangelical, televangelist kind of --
MATTHEWS: -- walking around the stage, no podium, physically almost
And I was thinking of all the applause lines in recent years. When they
list the number of executions in Texas, the people go wild. They don`t
know if the guy is guilty or not, or what he`s crime was, but they love the
idea of an execution. They talk about the gay soldier who was concerned
about some policy. They boo him. I mean, the applause meter has become a
frightening reader of this sentiment.
ROBINSON: You know, if you listen just to this stuff, it is kind of
You know, Ted Cruz is really good at that, right? He`s really good at
speaking off the cuff. And he can just hold a big hall in the palm of his
hand. I`m waiting for the speaker for the establishment Republicans who is
as charismatic and as forceful and is as direct as Ted Cruz is to take him
on. I haven`t seen that person yet.
MATTHEWS: I don`t think the two senators from Tennessee can match this
guy, Lamar Alexander and Corker.
FINEMAN: Yes, somehow.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, Howard Fineman and Eugene Robinson, it`s funny as long
as it doesn`t hurt us. But these guys are there. We`ve had problems in
the past and the history and we laughed at it.
Up next, the chilling details of that anti-government ambush, speaking of
which, out in Las Vegas. Wait tell you catch this hard right horror.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: I want to update you on a member of the NBC family. Actor and
comedian Tracy Morgan remains in critical condition after a crash in New
Jersey that killed another passenger. Morgan who starred on "Saturday
Night Live", of course, and "30 Rock", suffered a broken leg, a broken nose
and several broken ribs and is expected to remain hospitalized for several
According to the criminal complaint, the driver of the truck accused of
triggering that crash had not slept in more than 24 hours when the crash
happened early Saturday morning.
We want to wish our friends best wishes to Tracy and the other victims of
And we`ll be right back after this.
MATTHEWS: We`re learning more about that horrific cop shooting in Las
Vegas, and the two people responsible for it. Jerad Miller and his wife
Amanda Miller have a history of making anti-government and anti-police
According to NBC News yesterday, before the rampage, the couple left home
with a shopping cart of weapons. They ran into one of their neighbors,
quote, "We got to do what we got to do," Jerad Miller told Kelly Fielder,
adding that he and his wife Amanda were departing for an underground world.
That`s what they said.
Anyway, Amanda Miller then embraced the neighbor and said I`m so sorry.
Less than six hours later, the couple stormed into a CiCi`s Pizza, where
two police officers Alyn Beck and Igor Soldo were having lunch.
Well, today, the Las Vegas sheriff`s department described in grisly detail
what then happened.
Jerad Miller shot one of the officers in the back of his head. The second
officer tried to react but was shot in the throat. Then the couple
continued firing multiple shots into his chest.
Here`s what happened next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ASST. SHERIFF KEVIN MCMAHILL, LAS VEGAS POLICE DEPT.: Immediately upon the
shooting commenced or finishing, the suspect pulled the officers out of the
booth and on to the ground, where they placed a Gadsden flag which is a
don`t tread on me yellow flag on the body of Officer Beck. They also threw
a swastika on top of his body. At that point, Mr. Jerad Miller then pinned
a note to Officer Soldo that basically stated that this is the beginning of
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, the couple fled to a nearby Wal-Mart. There, they killed
a civilian who tried to confront them. And then, Amanda Miller shot her
husband before turning her gun on herself.
According to "The Las Vegas Sun", quote, "Jerad and Amanda Miller had a
reputation for spouting racist anti-government views, bragging about their
gun collection and boasting they had spent time at Cliven Bundy`s ranch
during a recent standoff there between armed militia members and federal
government agents, according to the residents at an apartment complex where
it appeared the couple lived."
Anyway, Brian Levin is the director for the Center for the Study of Hate
and Extremism at the Cal State in San Bernardino, and Dylan Scott is with
"Talking Points Memo".
I want to start with Brian. I`ve had you on so many times. Tell me about
this couple, what we know about their politics if you want to call it that,
you just that term loosely.
BRIAN LEVIN, CTR. FOR THE STUDY HATE & EXTREMISM: Look, they had a
presence on social media. And they were allegedly at the Cliven Bundy
ranch. These were folks who posted a manifesto talking about a war,
talking about liberty and tyranny.
Here`s the interesting thing that I think is worth nothing and I`m not
trying to demonize conservatives. But on his Facebook page he had a lot of
likes for mainstream political organizations. And I think that is a
message that we need to be responsible. For instance, the NRA who once
called government agents jackbooted government thugs gets a like on his web
In addition, he had a picture with a conspiracist and patriot enthusiast
named Richard Mack (ph) who was former sheriff from Arizona, and who has
been known within the antigovernment militia world for many years spouting
MATTHEWS: You know, I just was thinking of someone else in Nevada that
talked about Second Amendment remedies, if you don`t like the way
government is being run. No, it`s not her fault, of course, but this lingo
that`s out there, Second Amendment remedies, it`s a gun. That is when you
shoot somebody if you don`t like them.
DYLAN SCOTT, TALKING POINTS MEMO: Right. I mean, one of the most striking
posts I saw on his Facebook page and I went back more than a year is an
extended tirade about anybody who opposed Second Amendment rights needed to
leave the country or they should die a traitor`s death. I mean, this was
the kind of stuff --
MATTHEWS: Any interest to any other amendments beside the Second?
SCOTT: I didn`t see any reference in the others.
MATTHEWS: It`s a very sick kind of thing.
Anyway, it`s been reported that the Millers, that`s the couple that are
dead now, spent time at the ranch of Cliven Bundy during a standoff there
between armed militia members and federal government agents. Of course, I
just said that. Well, today, one of the Bundy`s sons told "The Associated
Press" the couple was there but was asked to leave due to the husband`s
Here is an interview with a man thought to be Jerad Miller that was done by
Reno`s NBC affiliate, KRNV at the ranch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JERAD MILLER: My name is Jerad Miller. The federal government isn`t
Almighty God, you know? They can`t just go around pushing people around
doing whatever they want anymore. I feel sorry for federal agents that
want to come in here and try to push us around or anything like that. I
really don`t want violence towards them but if they`re going to come and
want to bring violence to us, well, if that`s the language they want to
speak, we`ll learn it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Brian, explain that. Do you think these people are spending a
lot of time with the federal government? You can spend most of your life
and not deal with the federal government if you are smart. Why do they
feel that they are honestly being intruded upon, being invaded if you will
by Washington agents?
LEVIN: They do not view the federal government as we do, as
representatives of us. What they regarded as an oppressive force that is
trying to have a U.N. kind of sanction takeover and elimination of our
rights. I think it`s noteworthy that a lot of these conspiracy theories
have a presence or at least a grudging acceptance within the political
mainstream because they are expedient. And what I think we have to do is
stop this demonization, the birtherism, the conspiracy theories.
Alex Jones in the radio today saying it`s staged and all this kind of
MATTHEWS: That this whole thing was staged -- Alex Jones, you are saying
he went on the radio and said the federal government created this thing and
the two people really didn`t do what they did, they didn`t shoot the two
police officers, didn`t shoot the civilian at Wal-Mart. What do they think
-- I`m always wondering about conspiracy theories. What do they think did
happen if it didn`t happen as we saw it happening?
LEVIN: He thinks it is a false flag operation like the Boston marathon
bombing. And what I think is important there -- there are conservative
people of goodwill and wonderful folks on that side of the fence. But what
we have to have is some kind of agreement about process and demonization
and resolving conflicts.
And more broadly, let me just say to the left as well, something about a
culture of violence that exists in our society generally. Look, this guy
would have been an extremist no matter what. But we don`t need to aid and
abet him the 5 percent or 10 percent extra that he might need to be pushed
What we have here are people who are unstable and who have their aggression
amplified and directed by messages that they get in the culture. Look, he
was on Facebook. He put up a manifesto. We have to be careful with the
messages we send out, Chris.
MATTHEWS: In a free society, we can say what we want. But we`ve got to be
careful we`re not leading people to do stuff, but that is going to have to
be individuals making those decisions, Brian. We can`t do it by law.
Anyway, we can`t shut down people.
Anyway, thank you, Brian Levin. Thank you, Dylan Scott, for joining us.
Sorry, we are so brief.
When we return let me finish with the shot across the bow at Hillary
Clinton we are seeing tonight at 9:00. We`ll be right back after this.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish with tonight`s shot across the bow at Hillary
There is no doubt that the fear of Hillary is growing around the campfires
by her enemies. By her enemies, I count everyone who fears the election of
another Democrat in 2016, for that would mean a 16-year stretch of
unemployment for the professional right. Those who house themselves at the
Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute, and all of the
various groups who channel money from the Daddy Warbucks crowd to their
various senior fellows, those warriors of the word who turn out "let`s go
to war" op-ed pieces for the country`s major newspapers.
It`s not all about money. The money that goes to the right wing think
tanks is mainly to keep the army of literary hawks fed until the next
welcoming, meaning Republican administration, comes to office, is to keep
the arm chair generals rested and ready for the next big push. Bush Sr.
had one, Bush Jr. had his, more coming.
What will be next time? Iran? What`s in the right wing`s little Pez
dispenser for the next war?
And so, tonight, they begin the result with a nasty ad blasting Hillary for
something she didn`t say about something someone else said for which that
someone else has apologized. You know, you can`t be too careful about the
nasty possibility that the Cheneys and he rest of the bunch might be stuck
out of the cold for another couple of presidential terms.
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
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