June 20, 2014
Guest: Scott Raab, Joe Conason, Michael Tomasky, Matea Gold, Marion Barry
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: The circle tightens around Christie.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
"Let Me Start" tonight with the piranha now circling Chris Christie,
the federal prosecutors looking for witnesses ready to sink the garrulous
Jersey governor. According to reporters for "Esquire" magazine, the
federal prosecutor in the Garden State has targeted four top aides to
Christie, with the intention of getting one of them to nail the governor
Charges could include intentional interference in interstate commerce
and obstruction of justice in covering it up. And this refers to last
September`s jamming up traffic on the George Washington Bridge which
connects New Jersey with New York.
Another charge could be the alleged shakedown of Hoboken mayor Dawn
Zimmer for failure to back a waterfront development project the governor
favored. Still another charge could involve alleged illegal diversion of
Port Authority funds to projects in New Jersey, which could involve
Tonight, we study this new look into the criminal investigation that
now heads toward the governor`s office in Trenton. Joining me, Scott Raab
of "Esquire," who broke the story, and Brian Murphy -- actually, Brian
Murphy -- Brian is an MSNBC contributor and former managing editor at
Scott, you reported in "Esquire" that the belt is tightening on New
Jersey governor Chris Christie as the U.S. attorney for New Jersey, Paul
Fishman, assembles his case. And these are the four people who could lead
the federal prosecutor to Chris Christie, according to your reporting --
David Samson, former chairman of the Port Authority board of commissioners,
appointed by Christie, Bill Baroni, former deputy director of the Port
Authority, David Wildstein, former director of interstate capital projects
for the Port Authority, hired by Baroni with a mandate to be Chris
Christie`s eyes and ears at the Port Authority, and of course, Charles
McKenna, former chief counsel to Governor Chris Christie.
Citing conformation from two people, you report that both sources say
that all of those four certainly will be indicted, and both further note
that Fishman, an Obama appointee, hopes to see the entire matter resolved
before this president -- that`s Obama`s -- term ends. But Fishman is
really focused on Christie, says one source. Ultimately, he believes he`ll
get to the governor.
So Scott, tells us about your sourcing, first of all. NBC hasn`t been
able to do this kind of reporting, hasn`t gotten to where you`re at. Tell
me who your sources are generally, what has given you the -- well, you`re
not going to give me the names, but the fact is, you`re way ahead of
everybody on this case, and you to give me some -- pretend I`m your editor.
Give me some generic information about how you know this stuff.
SCOTT RAAB, "ESQUIRE": Well -- well, I think it begins with giving a
lot of credit to my co-byline and my wife, Lisa Brennan, who has been a
dogged and relentless legal reporter since I met her in 1993 in
Philadelphia. We`re talking about someone who, over the years, has earned
the trust of many people in the legal community here. And frankly, without
her sourcing, we would not have been able to advance the story.
I know that we have colleagues who are wary of the extent to which we
advanced the story. But until we got corroboration -- we had all this. We
needed a second source. And both of them are intimately involved -- they
have intimate knowledge of the case. I should not say intimately involved.
Paul Fishman is an old school -- he`s an old school federal prosecutor. He
does not operate by leaks and by press conferences, like his predecessor in
office, Chris Christie, used to do. So...
MATTHEWS: OK, so let`s get to the heart of your reporting, now that
we`ve talked about the sourcing. Let me ask you about this. It sounds to
me like your reporting suggests that Fishman has one target in mind, the
governor. Is that right?
RAAB: I think that what has become clear is he that believes that he
has reason to seek as much information as possible to place Christie in the
crosshairs, especially on the charges that are related to David Samson`s
conflicts of interest.
MATTHEWS: Talk about those. Where`s the heart of this matter leading
the prosecutor, Paul Fishman? What`s he most focused on now in terms of --
I laid out the three options there that are being talked about.
MATTHEWS: We`ve talked about them on this program, except for the one
that had been sitting out there for a long time, diversion of funds from
the Port Authority to projects in Jersey which had a political intent.
But the other two are quite familiar, that perhaps the possible
shakedown -- shaking down of the mayor of Hoboken, which always looked
pretty smelly, the fact that the lieutenant governor said, Guadagno, had
come in and said, This isn`t the way it`s supposed to be, but it`s the way
it is. Either you back this waterfront development project, or you`re
going to get cut off from funds. That sounded like it had the ring of
Tell me which one you think the prosecutor`s focused on for possible
criminality here by the governor.
RAAB: I think right now, the diversion of funds from the Port
Authority in order to -- it enabled the governor not to raise gas taxes.
He took literally $2 billion that was intended for a train tunnel. And the
Pulaski Skyway is not a Port Authority road.
RAAB: In fact, the Port Authority lawyers told the governor`s people
you could not legally use this money to fund that repair. And his people,
Samson primarily, said, Find a way that we can do it, and so they did. I
think that is number one right now on Paul Fishman`s hit list.
MATTHEWS: And what`s the criminal intent there? What`s the self-
interest? Don`t you have to prove in these corruption cases that the
target of the investigation and the possible prosecution did something in
his or her own interests? Don`t you have to show that they were bad
people, to use common parlance?
RAAB: I think whether it`s the quid pro quo that`s demanded by that
theft of honest services, you know, or whether in the case of the mayor of
Hoboken, whether it is a Hobbs Act extortion charge...
MATTHEWS: Right. That one looks right to me.
RAAB: But With the Pulasky Skyway, there`s also the fact Port
Authority issues bonds in order to raise its money, you know, to invest in
capital projects. The bonds are issued on the basis of the Port Authority
obeying the statutory requirements of the spending. In this case,
securities fraud and conspiracy to commit that securities fraud are in
MATTHEWS: Let me go to Brian Murphy. You`ve been watching this case
and studying it from the other side, from the New York side. Give us a
sense of what you make of these three areas of possible prosecution which
may get to the governor, the interstate commerce, obviously, obstruction --
I mean, by definition it`s obstructing interstate commerce, keeping cars
from crossing the bridge from New Jersey to New York. Couldn`t be more
clear. It sounds like a constitutional case.
Secondly, this shaking down, perhaps of the mayor of Hoboken, which
always had a smell to it, and this more complicated case of diverting
funds, possible security fraud.
BRIAN MURPHY, FMR. MANAGING EDITOR POLITICSNJ.COM, MSNBC POLITICAL
ANALYST: You know, it`s funny, David Samson becomes the grand unifying
theory for tying all of those together. When we saw what came out in the
documents in "bridge-gate," we saw that Bill Baroni calls on David Samson
to help him run interference against the New York side of the Port
Authority, the people who opened up the bridge again.
When we look at what happened in Hoboken, even if you strip away what
the Hoboken mayor alleged about being shaken down, we saw documentary
evidence that shows that David Samson was using -- sort of pivoting off a
Port Authority grant in a way that would benefit one of his clients, this
real estate development group.
And we look at the financials that the Port Authority filed in the
process of diverting money into New Jersey`s transportation infrastructure.
It`s important to remember that one of every $4 that was in Christie`s
transportation budget was coming out of the Port Authority. And though,
you know, we think about the Port Authority as this giant agency, it`s got
a 25-mile radius around the Statue of Liberty, 1,800 square miles, that`s
not a uniform area. And the specific projects that they were diverting
money to were in very much a gray zone.
MATTHEWS: Yes. You know, I want to go back...
MURPHY: So David Samson ties it together.
MATTHEWS: I want to go back to Scott. I want to go back to Scott
because I`ve had a perception about this case, from what I know about
politics. Politicians who have big ambitions like to keep their army fed.
That means they like to make sure the lawyers who used to work for them for
good deals. There`s money to be made.
You got to keep your army -- they`re not all selfless people, the
people who help you in politics, including the bundlers. And there`s a big
triangle that works there. You get money, they get something back. You
keep feeding your army, they keep working for you. They keep bringing
other people in to help work for you.
This sort of feeding frenzy which goes on in politics at the
disgusting end of it, which we`re watching here -- tell me about that here.
Why would he want to help Samson? Why would the governor care about
Samson`s project, whether it`s in Hoboken or there`s something else going
on there with Samson?
RAAB: Well, it`s kind of stunning when you sit back and realize when
we`re talking about David Samson, talking about a former attorney general
of the state of New Jersey. We`re talking about a 74-year-old man who has
a long and distinguished career, someone who`s known for being careful.
What happened here -- and I think it`s important to bring Andrew
Cuomo`s name into it, by the way, because Christie does not have authority
solely over the Port Authority. He shares that with Governor Cuomo.
What happened here was essentially a takeover of the Port Authority,
with at least the implicit permission of Andrew Cuomo, and Samson became,
in some ways, a fixer, in some ways a bundler. But on a day-to-day
operations basis -- not policy, operations -- the chairman of the board of
the Port Authority commissioners was running the show.
And what he was doing was exactly -- whether Christie has any
deniability in any of these matters remains to be seen. But what David
Samson clearly was doing was operating as a head of state, and the country
was the Port Authority.
MATTHEWS: What are -- what are -- you brought in -- you brought in
Andrew Cuomo. What are you saying he did here, or didn`t do?
RAAB: Well, I think, at this point, it`s what he didn`t do. Even
when the "bridge-gate" boiled over, you know, the executive director,
nominally the CEO of the Port Authority, a Cuomo appointee, Patrick Foye,
raised hell and...
MATTHEWS: Yes, well, that`s -- that`s good. That`s good government
for Pat Foye to raise hell.
RAAB: Yes, but...
MATTHEWS: The only question I have is when is Andrew going to bring
down the hammer on Christie because there was a time when Christie asked
him to call off the dogs, you remember?
RAAB: Absolutely. And both governors deny, along with Christie`s
staff, that there was a phone call. But none -- one of that -- that issue
was never raised in (ph) the phone call, which I think is pure hokum. Pure
hokum. So I really think the question is, why hasn`t Andrew Cuomo brought
any sort of hammer down? In fact, he`s hidden himself away on this issue
and said, You know what? That`s New Jersey business. Not the case. It`s
a bi-state issue.
MATTHEWS: OK, you haven`t mentioned Bridget Kelly, who was definitely
the star character in this race (sic), except the governor. Everybody`s
looking at pictures of her, a young woman, a mother -- you know, a single
mother with three, four kids at home, very much in the -- in the -- as you
say,the crosshairs of this whole investigation, the one who basically said,
"Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee," right there in the incident
itself. Is she involved in any of your reporting now?
RAAB: Well, right now...
RAAB: Right now, she herself -- I mean, she`s in a horrible position.
And no. No one -- no one has been able to speak with Bridget Kelly, as far
as I know, on or off the record.
RAAB: And look, this is someone, like Bill Stepien, who was the
former campaign manager fired the same day -- someone who, whatever their
culpability may be, was clearly not just kicked to the curb but kicked to
the curb and run over in the hope that they could seal off the damage just
MATTHEWS: OK, we`re going to see a lot of catch-up reporting going on
over the weekend to catch up to you, Scott. We`re going to hear a lot of
people trying to catch you or knock you. I can see it coming. Scott Raab,
who did this wonderful piece with his wife on "Esquire." Brian Murphy, as
always, thanks for checking the facts with us.
Coming up: Chris Christie isn`t the only Republican governor with
prosecutors on his tail, or his trail, if you will. Five local prosecutors
say Wisconsin`s Scott Walker was part of an illegal campaign fund-raising
scheme. What`s happening to the Republicans` 2016 bench? It`s getting
But first, the neo-cons` "no apology" tour. Even as we may be forced
to go back into Iraq, the often wrong, never in doubt neocon war boosters
out there refuse to admit the obvious fact that they were tragically wrong
about getting us into this war in the first place, and tragically wrong
about where it would take us, this terrible aftermath.
And former Washington, D.C., mayor Marion Barry says -- we don`t
usually talk like this on the show. He says white people have been trying
to retake the city of Washington from African-Americans. I`m going to ask
him about his evidence and the whole theory he has here.
Finally, "Let Me Finish" tonight with a plea for help for people with
Alzheimer`s and for dealing with that disease.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Well, here`s a troubling poll for Democrats. President
Obama`s approval ratings are actually lower in the year`s key Senate
battleground states than they are generally in the country. And that`s the
finding of a new NPR poll. In the 12 states with competitive Senate the
races in the country, just 38 percent of likely voters -- just 38 percent -
- say they approve of the job President Obama is doing. And that`s lower
than the national average.
Nationally, the president`s approval rating average is about 4 points
higher than that, that we know. Of course, 8 of those 12 Senate
battleground states are red states -- in other words, states that Mitt
Romney won in 2012, which underscores just how truly difficult it could be
for Democrats simply to keep control of the U.S. Senate this November.
And we`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHEN COLBERT, "THE COLBERT REPORT": But it`s especially nice to
see the return of the leader of the Iraq pack, old dead eyes.
COLBERT: Cheney writes, "Rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong
about so much at the expense of so many." Yes, rarely. Maybe only one
other time. It`s easy now to Monday morning not invade Iraq. But Dick
Cheney remembers how it felt at the time so right!
DICK CHENEY, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You`ve got
to go back and look at the track record. We inherited a situation where
there was no doubt in anybody`s mind about the extent of Saddam`s
involvement in weapons of mass destruction.
COLBERT: Yes, there was no doubt about the extent of Saddam`s
involvement in WMDs. But we did the right thing and invaded anyway.
Folks, it takes huevos rancheros to blame the outcome of a war you started
on the man who ended it!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: How, I love the lingo of the neocons -- "WMD." They love
Anyway, like a bad rerun, your TVs have been filled lately with the
same hucksters, hawks and neocons that pushed into war in Iraq in the first
place a decade ago. They`re at it again, apparently, incapable of shame,
certainly unable to appreciate irony. The people who got it so wrong in
2001, 2002 and 2003 are now pushing to get us involved in a sectarian
religious civil war over there in Iraq.
On CNA -- CNA, whatever that is -- CNN yesterday, "Weekly Standard"
editor Bill Kristol, one of the biggest cheerleaders for war in 2003,
responded to a suggestion from Senator Harry Reid that he, Bill Kristol,
ought to apologize for his past war advocacy. Kristol, of course, refused
He also had an interesting back-and-forth with Carl Bernstein over his
role hyping the conflict.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL KRISTOL, "WEEKLY STANDARD": I`m not apologizing for something
that didn`t -- that I think was not wrong. I think going to war to remove
Saddam was the right thing to do, and necessary and just thing to do.
But look, we can debate 2003. Carl can go on about how terrible it
was. I could debate what Harry Reid said before the surge, that it
couldn`t possibly work in 2007. We could go over 2011, the failure to
leave a force there, the failure to get involved in Syria, which I think
was the real disaster.
But I would like to say in my defense and I think others who`ve tried
to write things in the last few days, we`ve tried to look at the situation
on the ground and say, Let`s not even relitigate the past. What do we do
CARL BERNSTEIN, JOURNALIST: Apologies would be in order at this point
from the neoconservatives who banged the war drums so disastrously, Bill.
KRISTOL: Oh, hogwash!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Hogwash. I guess "fiddle-dee-dee" wasn`t available.
Anyway, how convenient, his not wanting to, as he put it, relitigate
the past, since he got it so disastrously wrong in the beginning.
Eugene Robinson`s a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for "The
Washington Post" and an MSNBC political analyst. Joe Conason joins us also.
He`s editor of the NationalMemo.
You know, they`re all back. And it`s so fascinating that they do get
space. They sort of own the op-ed pages of "The Wall Street Journal."
They seem to have easy entre to your newspaper on a regular basis.
EUGENE ROBINSON, "WASHINGTON POST," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.
MATTHEWS: What do these people do besides write these op-eds?
MATTHEWS: They`re in organizations like the American Enterprise
Institute and the Heritage Foundation. They get paid what, a quarter
million a year to write an op-ed every three months?
ROBINSON: Well, I don`t know what salaries are like at AEI or
MATTHEWS: Well, you know what they`re doing!
ROBINSON: But you know...
MATTHEWS: That`s what they do!
ROBINSON: ... what they`re doing now pretty full-time is advocating
for a different Iraq/Syria policy, one that involves more use of U.S.
military force, which I think is a highly dubious proposition, in my view,
MATTHEWS: But they`re talking like -- Kristol`s now talking about
going in on the ground. This week, Bill Kristol and Fred Kagan wrote an
opinion piece for "The Weekly Standard" -- that`s Bill`s magazine -- in
which they argued for sending American forces back to Iraq. It would mean
not merely conducting U.S. air strikes, but also accompanying those strikes
with special operatives and perhaps regular U.S. military units on the
So they`re going right back into the war. But take a look at that
headline, "What to do in Iraq." Well, perhaps the editors at "The Weekly
Standard" are playing a joke on us -- not really -- but 12 years ago, Bill
Kristol and another Kagan, his brother, Robert, did a piece called, believe
it or not, "What to do about Iraq." In it, they made the case for removing
They wrote -- quote -- "Although we hear only about the risks of such
action, the benefits could be very substantial. A devastating knockout
blow against Saddam Hussein, followed by an American-sponsored effort to
rebuild Iraq and put it on a path towards democratic governance would have
a seismic impact on the Arab world for the better."
Same title, same bad advice. Well, it turns out Kristol was wrong
about a lot about when he came into us going into Iraq. Listen to his
exchange on C-SPAN in March 2003 in which Kristol predicted a very short
military engagement in Iraq.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": Whatever else you can
say about this war -- and let me just make a quick point -- George Bush
isn`t fighting this like Vietnam. Whatever the -- we don`t need to refight
the whole history of Vietnam.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Saddam may be. That`s the danger. Saddam may be.
KRISTOL: But we`re -- it`s not going to happen. It`s not going to
happen. This is going to be a two-month war, not a three-year war.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: What do you say about that, Joe Conason? That was -- by
the way, do you remember it was only a two-month war in Iraq?
JOE CONASON, NATIONALMEMO.COM: Oh, yes. Which two months are we
MATTHEWS: 2003 to 2014.
MATTHEWS: How do these guys -- if they were selling used cars, people
would be punching them in the nose.
CONASON: They would be arrested. No, they would be arrested, Chris.
They would be arrested.
MATTHEWS: The idea -- at the end, they come back and say, remember
the car I sold you 12 years ago and said it was going to last forever and
it turned out to be a lemon? I would like to sell you another car now.
It`s the same model, same deal.
CONASON: When they go on TV every time, a clip like that should be
shown. And there are many of them.
Bill Kristol, Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, all the rest of them, made
lots of predictions that turned out to be false. They predicted, for
instance, that there would be no Shia/Sunni civil war. There would be --
the insurgency would be mopped up in a few months if there was one.
It would only -- it cost us nothing.
MATTHEWS: The gas would pay for itself. We would get gas the free.
CONASON: It has cost us $3 trillion. This is -- the record here is
really outstanding in its complete failure to confront reality of any kind.
These are guys that -- this will remake the Arab world and the Middle
East. Well, do you know what it did? It turned Iraq over to Iran,
essentially. Right now...
MATTHEWS: This is the interesting thing. And I`m a student of this.
Gene and you, Joe, we`re all students of this. We read the papers every
day. We try to figure out the points of view. The new point of view is,
it`s bad enough we have this ISIS running around trying to create a new
country between the Sunni part of Syria and the Sunni part of Iraq.
They are really worried about this new friendship which has been
developing for years now between Iran and Iraq, because they`re -- and now
they are all saying we have got to be afraid of that. That`s the new
drumbeat. We must go in and fight for Maliki so that he won`t go to Iran.
ROBINSON: So, they haven`t been paying attention for the last 10
ROBINSON: They haven`t been paying attention to the Maliki
MATTHEWS: So, we get rid of the one buffer to Iraq -- to Iran. The
one thing that stood in the way of Iran was Iraq. We get rid of it.
ROBINSON: Right. The main effect of this war has been to greatly
strengthen the hand and position of Iran, which is, you know, our mortal
ROBINSON: We have actually made things much easier for Iran. We
eliminated their number one competitor, their neighbor.
MATTHEWS: Hegemonic -- their hegemonic rival.
MATTHEWS: I don`t even understand the politics sometimes, because if
you look at the regional threats, the threat from Iraq was never anything
like the threat from a real country like Iran.
It has got a real economy, it`s got really educated people, that is
going to really be a threat, particularly to Israel. But it was also the
other Sunni countries like Jordan and Egypt. And yet they spent all this
effort going after a fellow Sunni-led country like Iraq, which was not a
problem for Jordan and was not a problem for Egypt. It was not really a
problem in any kind of strategic sense for Israel. It just wasn`t. Iran
is a strategic threat to Israel.
Your thoughts, Joe.
CONASON: The difficult thing to figure out from the beginning of
this, Chris -- and you and I were on a college campus discussing this with
our friend Joe Scarborough and some other people before the war started --
is to figure out why they wanted to do this so badly.
The argument over the WMDs, I`m sorry to say, Dick Cheney is wrong.
Not everybody believed that. I certainly didn`t. I don`t think you did
either. Lots of people said the Colin Powell`s appearance at the U.N., all
of the rest of it was very, very thin.
There was very little evidence that he still had WMDs. And they
invaded before the inspections were completed. So, they didn`t really want
to know whether he had WMDs before they started the war.
So, why did they really want to do it? To this day, it is very hard
to figure out, because none of the theories that they had about it made any
sense, that this was going to remake a democratic Middle East. No. This
was going to empower Iran from the very beginning. If you put the Shia in
power in Iraq, they had been living in Iran. Iran had been protecting
MATTHEWS: I know. Anyway...
CONASON: So, it made very little sense.
MATTHEWS: You know, the funny thing is, the arguments escaped with
the people who made them.
MATTHEWS: Thank you.
Because we can`t remember what they were. George Bush was mad because
they tried to kill his father, blah, blah, blah, blah.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, Gene Robinson, thank you.
ROBINSON: We should always point out, by the way, that Iraq was once
our buddy when they were fighting against Iran.
MATTHEWS: When we were arming them.
CONASON: We paid for that, too.
MATTHEWS: Thank you. We changed sides, too.
Joe Conason, thank you, sir.
And thank you, Gene, as always.
Have a nice weekend, guys.
Coming up, that Republican who changed his name Cesar Chavez to win
Latino votes says he did it because of dog food. Hard to follow this guy.
Got to keep up with his names and his thinking.
That`s next in the "Sideshow." And this is HARDBALL, the place for
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE COLBERT REPORT")
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: People pose and they want to
hear themselves talk or they want to create moments.
STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE COLBERT REPORT": Like unnecessary drama.
CARNEY: They`re creating some drams and sometimes...
COLBERT: Shut the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) up.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
COLBERT: Did you ever -- did you ever want to...
CARNEY: Oh. Oh, did I want to...
COLBERT: Hey, hey, hey, guys. I have got a question for you. Why
don`t you bite me? Ever?
CARNEY: You know, yesterday, I had my last briefing from the podium.
COLBERT: Yes. Yes.
CARNEY: And, you know, I thought about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Time now for the "Sideshow."
Today is Press Secretary Jay Carney`s last day at the White House. He
did announce his resignation last month and delivered his final briefing
Wednesday of this week. He`s been a staple of course from the White House
Briefing Room since 2011, one of the longest serving press secretaries
ever. Carney will be succeeded by the current deputy press secretary --
catch this name -- Josh Earnest. We will have fun with that name.
Next, we have been following the story of the man formerly known as
Scott Fistler. He`s running for Congress in Arizona. But if you know him
at all, you probably know him as Cesar Chavez. He not only switched
parties to run as a Democrat, but also legally changed his name to appeal
to the Hispanic vote.
But Fistler has now been booted off the Democratic primary ballot. A
judge ruled that hundreds of signatures used to get him on the ballot were
invalid. The judge also said that Fistler didn`t conduct a coherent scheme
by posing as an Hispanic man. But Fistler insists it isn`t a scam and had
this reasoning behind why he changed his name.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: So, this had nothing to do with you knowing how popular
Cesar Chavez is in the Latino community? Is that right?
CESAR CHAVEZ, FORMER CANDIDATE: You what to know what? No. It has
nothing to do with him. Because you know what? He`s been dead for, like,
20 years, people. And I`m not dead. And, furthermore, it`s like I also
took into consideration of my dog`s favorite dog food, which is Cesar brand
dog food, people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I have no idea what he`s talking about. Because it was his
dog`s favorite food? That explains everything.
Finally, leave it to Congressman Louie Gohmert of Texas to give an
unusual welcome to the newly picked House majority leader. Republican
Kevin McCarthy took this picture with Ralph Reed before his appearance at
the Faith and Freedom Coalition the other day.
But as you can see in the middle, Gohmert just couldn`t help inserting
himself into the picture. Talk about a photo bomb. That`s Louie Gohmert,
Up next, what`s happening to the Republicans` 2016 bench? Prosecutors
in Wisconsin now say Governor Scott Walker took part in a criminal scheme.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger.
Here`s what`s happening.
In rain-soaked Minneapolis, engineers say Minnesota Medical Center is
structurally sound after a huge chunk of nearby land gave way on Thursday.
Floodwaters have also washed out homes and roadways.
The CDC now says 82 scientists may have been exposed to anthrax,
rather than 75. The researchers thought the virus they were working with
And the Dow has closed at a new record high, within striking distance
of the 17000 mark. The S&P also hit a new high -- now back to HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Move over, Chris Christie. Another potential contender for the
Republicans in 2016 may be facing legal problems. Prosecutors in Wisconsin
allege that Governor Scott Walker directly coordinated with independent
political groups, in violation of the law.
They allege the coordination took place -- that coordination took
place between Governor Walker`s campaign committee and several outside
groups that sought to influence Walker`s gubernatorial recall election in
his favor back in 2011, in addition to several state Senate elections he
was involved in.
They allege the Walker campaign consultants schemed to raise money and
direct spending for those outside groups, money that in turn aided Walker
with so-called issue ads directed against his opponent. Well, the case is
now pending in federal appeals court after the state`s investigation was
halted last month.
No charges have been filed as yet. And Governor Walker denies any
But court documents unsealed yesterday revealed the nature and scope
of the allegations. They include an e-mail that Walker sent to Karl Rove
in 2011, appearing to brag about actually directing outside groups via his
lead campaign consultant, R.J. Johnson.
Quote -- and this is from his e-mail to Karl Rover -- "Bottom line,
R.J. helps keep in place a team that is wildly successful in Wisconsin. We
are running nine recall elections and it will be like running nine
congressional markets in every market in the state and Twin Cities."
Whatever happens in the appeals court, however, Walker is likely to
take a hit in the court of public opinion, complicating his bid for
reelection in a very tough year. The most recent poll in Wisconsin showed
Walker leading his Democratic opponent, Mary Burke, by only three points.
Look at that, 48-45.
Joining us now is Matea Gold of "The Washington Post." Thank you,
dear. And thank you, Michael Tomasky. I will call you, dear, too, just in
MICHAEL TOMASKY, THE DAILY BEAST: Please do.
MATTHEWS: Thank you both. And you`re with The Daily Beast.
Thank you, Matea.
What do you make of this? Now, I`m going to be skeptical a little
bit. We have got this broad basically set of accusations about the
involvement of the governor`s people in these kinds of so-called
independent groups. They are not supposed to do that. They are supposed
to be truly independent.
Is there anything in these papers that ties him personally or his
hands on doing something illegally, himself, personally?
MATEA GOLD, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, we have yet to know if he`s
done anything illegally, obviously. And, as you pointed out, no charges
have been filed.
And we don`t know if any charges ever will be filed. But what I think
was so new and fresh and interesting in the documents revealed yesterday
was information that Governor Walker, according to prosecutors, had a
direct hand and was part of this effort to orchestrate this coordinated
effort on the outside to boost not only him, but Republican senators who
were also facing recall elections.
Now that might not have been illegal under Wisconsin state law.
That`s yet to be determined. But there was a level of kind of intimacy
between his top aides and these outside groups that struck a lot of
campaign finance experts as surprising.
MATTHEWS: You know, it amazes me -- no, it doesn`t amaze me.
I was going to say, people say, why would do that? He wants to run
for president maybe. Why would he get involved in this? He was facing a
country difficult recall. Our colleague Ed Schultz was right on his tail
in terms of raising the labor issues out in that state.
MATTHEWS: And the labor unions were out to get him. They still are,
from what I can tell from conversations.
TOMASKY: Oh, yes.
MATTHEWS: he was worried about getting recalled. So what did he do?
TOMASKY: Yes. What do you do?
MATTHEWS: What did he do?
TOMASKY: Yes, what did he do?
MATTHEWS: What do you see in the charges?
TOMASKY: The same thing Matea just mentioned. It`s amazing to me --
and, again, they`re just allegations -- but it`s amazing to me that he
would directly write to Rove like that.
Usually, that`s done by an aide two places away or done by this guy
R.J. Johnson. It`s not done by the governor himself, bragging about this
thing that brings together 12 groups that can raise money and of shift
money to all these different races. Really weird that the governor himself
MATTHEWS: Why did he do it?
TOMASKY: I don`t know. Is he arrogant? Was it cockiness? Or was he
just trying to -- I bet he was probably just trying...
MATTHEWS: He was trying to show off.
TOMASKY: Trying to brag to Rove, right.
MATTHEWS: He was showing off to the big shot architect about how
clever his operation is.
TOMASKY: Yes. Exactly.
MATTHEWS: Matea, does that make sense as an analysis of this, that
you got somebody you want to shine up, you want Karl Rove on your side to
think that you are as tough as anybody? Look what I`m doing here. I have
got this whole thing organized. Look at this.
I think, Chris, what it really speaks to is the fact that these
independent groups have become so intertwined directly in campaigns and the
actions of political parties now, to the point where the governor clearly
thought that he was on solid ground describing this operation.
Now, whether he was or not, we don`t know. But this is now almost
status quo in elections. And we are seeing increasingly an interplay
between campaigns and these putatively independent organizations.
MATTHEWS: Well, Governor Walker, as I said, has denied any wrongdoing
and is pushing back against the allegations. Here he was on FOX today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have got to point out you were never charged
GOV. SCOTT WALKER (R), WISCONSIN: Correct.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But at one point, they allege that you had a
central role in a criminal fund-raising scheme. OK, tells us what you did.
WALKER: Well, don`t just take my word for it.
Look at the facts. The facts are pretty clear. You have had not one
but two judges, a state judge and a federal judge. A state judge, a well-
respected court of appeals judge and a federal judge recently, have both
looked at this argument. And in the past, not just recently -- remember,
this is not new news. It`s just newly released yesterday because documents
were open. But no charges. Case over.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Mike, what should bother the average person watching now is
ever since Watergate we have tried to tighten up how to get money and how
people can use money to influence you in office.
MATTHEWS: And all these things have been circumvented. You have the
501c4s. You have these so-called issues (INAUDIBLE). You have people that
are doing what used to be soft money. Oh, we are just party building here.
And, in fact, if you watch the ads on television, they look like
TOMASKY: Yes. They look like campaign ads and if you read this
complaint, there are distinctions made, there are people in the Wisconsin
Club for Growth and other groups trying to make distinctions and parse
their language about saying, we didn`t endorse Walker. We didn`t say
anything about Walker. We didn`t say vote for Walker.
But, of course, they said, the other person, his name was Barrett, the
other person is an awful person.
MATTHEWS: Well, I just -- he hasn`t been convicted. He hasn`t been
indicted. Let`s watch the case.
But this is not good news to get these things spread around the
Matea, good reporting. Thank you for coming. Matea Gold --
MATEA GOLD, THE WASHINGTON POST: Thank you so much.
MATTHEWS: of "The Washington Post".
And, Michael Tomasky, as always, thank you.
Up next, Marion Barry, the former mayor of Washington, D.C., says
white people have been trying to take the city back from African-American
leadership for years. Mayor Barry is coming here to talk to me. This is
going to be one of the most fascinating conversations you will hear,
especially if you don`t know D.C. politics, which I know a little bit
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: New polling in the key Senate race up in New Hampshire.
Let`s check the HARDBALL scoreboard on that one. According to a new
Suffolk University poll, incumbent Democrat Jeanne Shaheen holds a 10-point
lead over former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown. Shaheen, 49, not quite
50. Brown, 39. That`s still a race. Brown moved to New Hampshire after
losing his seat in the Senate from Massachusetts back in 2012.
And we`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: We`re back.
Marion Barry was in his third term as the iconic mayor of Washington,
D.C. when he was arrested for drug possession following an FBI sting
operation in 1990 at a downtown Washington hotel. The mayor served six
months in federal prison but made a gutsy political comeback serving as
Washington City Council -- on the council and then getting re-elected to a
fourth term as mayor of Washington.
He`s out with a new book "Mayor for Life: The Incredible Story of
Marion Barry, Jr." It`s the first time Barry is telling his side to the
story of his tumultuous public and private life. And he couldn`t be more
direct. He blames his fall from are grace at least partially on racism,
writing, quote, "When you start giving black people real money,
opportunities and a real sense of pride in themselves that was taken away
from us, that`s when outside people get mad. That`s what the sting at the
Vista Hotel was all about."
"Well, the U.S. government sent the video everywhere in the country --
everywhere in the world to every embassy in every country to make an
example of me." That`s the mayor talking.
"It was definitely race related. They wouldn`t have are done that to
a white mayor." Quote, "My second term in office was when countless and
groundless allegations about my life and staff began to come up in the
media nearly every week. The war to reclaim Washington for white people
had been declared but I was not giving up without a fight."
Former Marion Barry joins me now.
This is the most blunt book about race relations, Mayor. And I have
watched you for years. You are the most famous politician in the history
of the city without a doubt.
Let me ask this to explain this to the people. Since I have lived in
this city there is a theory in the black community, something called the
plan. The plan is for white people to regain control of the city they used
to have to appointment of people like Walter Washington.
Do you believe in the plan?
MARION BARRY (D), FORMER D.C. MAYOR: I don`t want to get into that
MATTHEWS: You don`t? It`s in the book.
BARRY: I know. But I`m going to put it in context .
BARRY: Things are written about me, about this, about that. This is
the first time people have an opportunity to find out who Marion Barry is.
What gives me the vision, the kind of tenacity, the kind of courage to do
what I have done. I was born black in Mississippi in the delta.
BARRY: My mother and father went to the third or fourth grade. I
went to a one-room schoolhouse. My mother and father were sharecroppers.
At the end of working 10 hours a day, day in, day out, they only
cleared about $3,000 or $4,000 a month and got tired of that and moved me
to Memphis, Tennessee which is segregated from the top to the bottom.
So, this book is about overcoming. It`s about --
MATTHEWS: Yes. Which you did.
BARRY: I know, I`m saying. It takes a lot to overcome.
BARRY: It`s incredible. People say, do this. You can`t do it that
way. You have to have a strong faith in whoever you call God. You have to
have belief in yourself that you can do it. You can hold your head high
but not be arrogant. You can have a vision about what you want to do in
My vision was to make Washington, transform Washington, from the
sleepy Southern town, which it was when I came, to the cosmopolitan it is
MATTHEWS: You were a great one-term mayor.
BARRY: No, I`m a great four terms mayor.
MATTHEWS: I`ll tell you something. I voted for Sterling Tucker
against you the first time. The second time I voted for you. I think
you`ve done it. Downtown Washington, you kept character, but you built it
into a zooming town. You did that.
BARRY: No question.
MATTHEWS: Then I voted for drug-free the third time. I thought you
were into drugs, drinking too much. Something happened to you. It`s in
the book and you talk about it. You said people were giving you two, three
books. Then the next event you get two, three drinks. You said when you
got to prison, it`s the first time you got clear of drugs.
You admitted your problems and then you blame it on white people.
BARRY: That`s true, Chris. Let me make it very clear. What happened
in 1990 was one sliver of my life. I`m 78 years of age. I have done some
incredible things, before that night and after and after that night.
BARRY: We know the FBI spent $10 million trying to do that. But that
was then. I have apologized to (INAUDIBLE) and her family.
MATTHEWS: I think it looked like entrapment. I`m with you, Mayor.
They knew what they were after. They knew they could get you to do it.
BARRY: It was entrapment. But nine of the 12 jurors voted to acquit
me on all charges. Not been charged one time after the six months came
from another situation in Mayflower. This whole period lasted about two
years in my life. I`m not a long-term drug user necessarily. But I
understand those who do it.
And I understand the agony that you go through. So I hope that my
life can be example of what you can do, pull yourself out of it, and for
those who are out there now who are suffering from whatever they`re
suffering from, from people who going through divorces, going through this
MATTHEWS: I`m you on this. I sympathize.
Here`s the greatness. People don`t know this about you, how good of a
mayor you were for four years. You were a great mayor. And I think --
look, I watch television. I would watch you at the Kentucky Derby with
some stupid hat on, rubber hat, you looked blitzed -- you looked blitzed in
MATTHEWS: I`m just telling you how --
BARRY: Two years of my 78 years.
BARRY: Is what we`re talking about, Chris.
BARRY: I apologize to people.
MATTHEWS: OK, let me ask you this. Let me ask you this.
BARRY: Wait a minute. You`re a citizen, Washington and America is a
country of second choice and third choices. In fact, if you`re Christian,
the disciple of Jesus. How many time, Lord, shall we forgive? He said 70
times 70. I`ve done that. I`ve asked for forgiveness. And I`ve done
fantastic things since then.
So, don`t imply, not that you`re doing that, that I`m walking here
drunk all the time.
MATTHEWS: No, but look, I look at the Marion Barry that was and could
have been more of. But I quit drinking 20 years ago, OK? You didn`t want
BARRY: Hip, hip, hooray.
MATTHEWS: No, but you don`t want to quit.
BARRY: I`m not going to dwell on that. I`m going to dwell on what is
happening to my life and the struggles I had to come out of poverty.
BARRY: First in my family to go to college, first in my family to get
a master`s degree, first in my family to get three years working my PhD at
a predominantly white university of Tennessee.
Came through the civil rights movement. Put my life on the line for
that. God blessed me not to be hurt or injured.
Came to Washington, D.C., and I changed a whole dialogue, the whole
MATTHEWS: OK. Let me give you a chance to sell this book. What
you`ve been able to do, I heard this from a cab driver like most white
people in D.C., we learn what`s going on from cab drivers.
BARRY: That`s the best place.
MATTHEWS: I know. When you had gone away, the other place in
Virginia, then you were up in Pennsylvania. You came back and the cab
driver said to me, he`s not -- Marion Barry is not coming back to be a city
councilman, he`s going to be mayor again. I said, oh, geez. You had power
in the seventh, eighth ward, in the black community. What was it about the
community that stuck by you through all this hell?
BARRY: Could see through all of it, the Barry haters. They could see
through all the trials and tribulations that were -- but also could see
Marion Barry, the person who had persevered, who had changed Washington
from top to bottom for the good, who had moved minority businesses from 30
percent to 47 percent, millions of dollars. Our seniors, our young people.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you one last time, because you rebuilt downtown.
You go downtown, you see wonderful facades there --
BARRY: And neighborhood, too.
MATTHEWS: And the character of the city looks great. Anyone who
comes to Washington, they`re going to see what you built. Why did the
white people stop voting for you, because they did the first time? What
BARRY: I tell you, I got 47 percent of the white vote the first time.
When I got into office, I found that the problems were in the black
community. The social problem, the educational problem, schools were
atrocious, health disparages.
BARRY: Jobs not there.
White people in D.C. by and large, they don`t need job training
programs. They find their own jobs. They don`t need academic or good
schools, and send them to private schools. On the other hand, we have
tried to be diverse, bring people together in this town, and we have some
Barry haters who go around trying to disparage what I did.
MATTHEWS: Well, I wanted people to know what the fight is about you
in this town. That`s why I conducted this interview the way I did.
BARRY: I appreciate that.
MATTHEWS: You know I`m talking like most people talk.
BARRY: That`s right.
MATTHEWS: You know how I`m talking. But I want to tell you
something, you read this book, if you`re African-American, you`ll get a
sense of this town like you`ll never get from anyone else. This man is
blunt. If you`re white and you want to know what the other people are
thinking about you, read this book. This is a very penetrating book, I`ll
tell you. It will knock your socks off. The book is called "Mayor for
Life", because that`s what we used to call this guy.
Marion Barry --
BARRY: Go out and buy some.
MATTHEWS: Thank you.
I`m pushing it. Go to your bookstore. Get this on Amazon.
BARRY: Go to your bookstore. Go wherever you buy your books. Get
MATTHEWS: Thank you. We`ll be right back after this.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with the message to all those good
people who watch HARDBALL and are living with the burden of Alzheimer`s,
living with this right now as I speak in fact, right there in the room with
My mom had it. It lasted 15 years, taking her farther and farther
away from us. It was a long good-bye as you know and I wish I had a better
chance to share those years with her.
Dad, of course, carried the responsibility of helping mom in her
worsening state day after day after day. He earned all the merit badges,
believe me. He kept us up-to-date but never did a thing to take the
responsibility off his own shoulders. He did it alone. It wasn`t the way
it was supposed to be, but he hung in there and carried the weight of the
whole deadly experience.
When we asked how mom was doing, he would answer in a single word,
"classic", he had read the manuals and knew what he was up against. That
helped because it told him that none of mom`s problems were his fault, just
his responsibility. I`m wearing a purple tie tonight in honor of
Alzheimer`s Awareness Month and to mark the events held around the world
tomorrow, the longest day of the year, to support and honor those facing
If you can do something to help Alzheimer`s research, please do it.
If you know someone caring for someone who has it, give them a hand if only
to buck them up. If you, my good friend, watching right now are sitting
with an Alzheimer`s victim, right now, please know that for what it`s
worth, I have enormous admiration for you personally. You are the living
breathing no model of the golden rule, do unto others as we have them do
As we say in our religion, sursum corda -- keep the faith.
That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us tonight.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
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