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updated 6/26/2014 10:29:09 AM ET 2014-06-26T14:29:09

HARDBALL
June 25, 2014

Guest: Jonathan Turley, Susan Page, Margaret Talev, Frank Schaefer

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC GUEST HOST: Boehner v. Obama.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Steve Kornacki, in for Chris Matthews.

Leading off tonight, a potentially historic legal and political
confrontation. Yesterday, multiple reports hinted that the Speaker of the
House, John Boehner, was considering suing the president of the United
States. The charge, that President Obama is illegally ignoring Congress
and abusing his oath of office. And today, Boehner made it official.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you planning to initiate a lawsuit against the
Obama administration and President Obama over some specific executive
actions?

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I am. The Constitution
makes it clear that a president`s job is to faithfully execute the laws.
In my view, the president has not faithfully executed the laws.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: The White House met the news with shock.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: In this case, it seems that
Republicans have shifted their opposition into a higher gear. Frankly,
it`s a gear that I didn`t know previously existed. The fact that they are
considering a taxpayer-funded lawsuit against the president of the United
States for doing his job I think is the kind of step that most Americans
wouldn`t support.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: Let`s not lose sight of the world that Boehner finds himself in
here. Last fall, he reluctantly led the hard-right kamikaze "kill Obama
care," which shut down the government. And last month, he conceded to one
of the hard right`s wild demands to form a special select committee on
Benghazi.

Despite those attempts to insulate himself his leadership team from the red
hots in his party, his top deputy, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, was just
taken down in a historic and unexpected way by a virtually unknown Tea
Party challenger in Virginia. And now Boehner is suing the president.

Jonathan Turley is a professor of law the at George Washington University
who consults regularly with members of Congress on constitutional issues
and has testified on the Hill several times on executive overreach. And
Howard Fineman is an MSNBC political analyst and editorial director at the
Huffington Post Media Group. So thank you for joining us, both of you.

There`s legal, there`s political questions here. There`s questions that
are both legal and political. I want to start with the explicitly
political ones. And so Howard, I`ll ask you -- we are a few months before
the 2014 midterms. The Speaker of the House, the Republican Speaker of the
House, is going to sue the Democratic president. Where did this come from?

HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST MEDIA GROUP, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:
Well, let me give you an explicitly political answer, Steve. This is
feeding red meat to the hungry people at the base of the Tea Party branch
of the Republican Party.

They already view President Obama as a somehow not quite valid, not quite
legitimate usurper. They view him as a strange outsider, somebody who
doesn`t someone have the interests of the American people at heart,
somebody who is an Other, with a capital O, that they suspect. And this
plays right into their hands.

This is -- we`re we are going to sue the guy. We`re going to take him to
court. And if he doesn`t answer, maybe we`ll do something else. Maybe
we`ll try to impeach him. Who knows? That`s what this is. In naked
political terms, that`s what it is.

KORNACKI: Well, OK, and that gets to a -- what I think is going on here.
And I think John Boehner was adamant today that the goal of this legal
challenge is not impeachment, the word you just heard Howard use there.

Here`s what John Boehner said today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOEHNER: It`s not about impeachment. This is about his faithfully
executing the laws of our country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: But Boehner may have to convince his fellow Republicans of that
because just last week, one of Boehner`s colleagues raised impeachment on
this very topic.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s just absolutely ignoring the constitution and
ignoring the laws and ignoring the checks and balances. You know, the
problem is, you know, what do you do? For those that say impeach him for
breaking the laws or (INAUDIBLE) the laws -- you know, could that pass in
the House? It probably -- it probably could.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: In fact, Republicans on the hard right have raised impeachment
on nearly every subject imaginable, even during last year`s debt ceiling
negotiations.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would you allow us to default on our debt?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, let`s get on the elevator. Thank you.

REP. LOUIE GOHMERT (R), TEXAS: That would be an impeachable offense
(INAUDIBLE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: They do it constantly when talking about Benghazi. Here`s just
one example there.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WOLF BLITZER, CNN: Jason Chaffetz of Utah is joining us right now. Among
other things, he`s suggested that perhaps -- perhaps President Obama`s
handling of the Benghazi terror attack could be -- could be -- an
impeachable offense.

REP. JASON CHAFFETZ (R), UTAH: I was simply asked, Is that within the
realm of possibilities, and I would say yes. I`m not willing to take that
off the table.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: And they recently threatened impeachment over his release of
Gitmo detainees.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: It`s going to be impossible for
them to throw prisoners out of Gitmo now with just a huge backlash.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)

GRAHAM: There`d be people on our side calling for his impeachment if he
did that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: Even the South Dakota Republican Party passed a resolution last
weekend calling for his impeachment.

So Howard, what I think is going on here -- tell me if this is a misreading
of the situation. But the story of John Boehner as speaker of the House
has been a speaker who wants to stay one step ahead of the Tea Party, a Tea
Party that`s constantly looking for the moment when the speaker is going to
sell them out, prove he`s a RINO, prove that they couldn`t trust him all
along, and they`ll throw him overboard.

And he`s constantly trying to stay one step ahead of them and also to sort
of protect his party institutionally the best he can. So this is a guy who
recognizes on some level that impeachment is bad politics for the
Republican Party. He doesn`t want his party going down the impeachment
route, like they did in 1998. He knows his base wants it. So he sues the
president to forestall impeachment.

Do you think that`s the calculation here?

FINEMAN: Well, I think that`s quite possible, but I think he`ll still keep
that thought about impeachment in the back of his mind and in his rhetoric,
if he has to. I think the first part of what you said is absolutely true,
which is that John Boehner is looking for ways to provide emotional rescue,
if you will, emotional comfort to the Tea Party, which is powerful,
wounded, but very important, and one that he dares not totally dismiss.

So he might be able to do some other deals on some other things, but if he
gives them this bone to chew on, they`ll like him for it and they`ll pursue
it with all their hearts, which is what he`s perfectly happy to see them do
as he prepares to be speaker again next term. You know, I don`t think he
thinks he`s going anywhere, and this is a way for him to win some points
with people whose support he will need inside his own caucus.

KORNACKI: That`s right. Boehner made it clear earlier this week that he
plans to stick around...

FINEMAN: Right.

KORNACKI: ... past this November`s elections into the next term of the
House.

But Jonathan, let me bring you in now. We`ve covered the explicitly
political. Let`s get to the legal, then. OK, the speaker of the House is
intent on suing the president of the United States. It`s unclear,
apparently, from the remarks John Boehner made today, from the information
they put out, exactly what the specific, you know, examples they are --
they`re using here of presidential overreach, of executive orders that they
think sort of undercut Congress.

But you know and you`ve been following this, sort of their complaints for
the last -- you know, last few years, really. Legally speaking, is there
any kind of a case here?

JONATHAN TURLEY, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: Oh, I think there is a case
against the president for exceeding his authority. I happen to agree with
the president on many of his priorities and policies, but as I testified in
Congress, I think that he has crossed the constitutional line.

KORNACKI: Where has -- where has he crossed it? Like, what specific issue
has he crossed it on?

TURLEY: Well, you know, when the president went to Congress and said that
he was going to go it alone, it obviously raises a concern. There`s no
license for going it along in our system. And what he`s done I think is
very problematic. He shifted $454 million of the ACA from an appropriated
purpose to another purpose. He told an agency -- he`s told agencies not to
enforce some laws, like immigration laws. He has effectively rewritten
laws through the active interpretation that I find very problematic. While
I happen to agree with him, I voted for him, I think this is a problem.

KORNACKI: OK, so what -- and I know you`ve been involved in a lawsuit with
-- trying to sue the president before over Libya, I think. So take us
through, from a legal standpoint, then, if you think there`s a case here,
where are they going to sue? What court is this going to take place in?
And if the courts end up siding with Boehner, siding with the Republicans
on this, what happens?

TURLEY: Well, first of all, Steve, I think the most likely court is going
to be the courts of Washington, D.C., the D.C. circuit. I represented
members of both parties in challenging the Libyan war, which had some of
the same themes, exceeding presidential authority.

But the greatest challenge that they face will be standing. The case that
we brought for the members in the Libyan war was dismissed on standing.
And what has happened is over the last few decades, courts have made it
more and more difficult for not just citizens but congressmen to even be
heard in federal courts, to challenge presidential -- alleged presidential
misconduct.

So the first hurdle is going to be that standing issue, and it`s a high
one. But it`s not necessarily insurmountable. The court has never truly
closed the door on what`s called legislative standing, particularly if it
is based on the institution, if the House of Representatives empowers the
group that litigates this case.

KORNACKI: Well, so Howard, we say, you know, political, legal questions.
Then there`s that -- there`s a part of the Venn diagram where they kind of
merge. Let me get to the merging point with you right now because -- from
a political standpoint, it`s pretty clear where this is going to go.
Politically, Democrats are going to laugh this off. They`re going to say
it`s the Republicans are attacking Obama for the millionth time. The
Republicans are all going to say this is long overdue.

Privately, though, when you hear what Jonathan just said -- he`s saying as
somebody who agrees with the president from a policy standpoint, he`s still
troubled from a legal standpoint about what is going on. Do you talk to
any Democrats privately who say what Jonathan just said?

FINEMAN: Yes. But this is not a problem that began in its current
iteration with President Obama. It really began after 9/11 with George --
then president George W. Bush, who in the actions that he took to some
extent, some might argue -- a lot of people argue -- in terms of erecting
the new security state after 9/11, that he went way beyond congressional
authority, went way beyond the acts of Congress and arrogated to himself
and to the executive branch all kinds of powers in the name of national
defense that it hadn`t had before.

And I think that the president on the domestic side is -- on the foreign
policy side of the equation, he`s pretty much, for the most part, kept the
powers that George Bush took for himself right after 9/11. What`s happened
is on the domestic side, on the Affordable Care Act, on immigration, on
other matters, he`s played fast and loose with some of the literal language
in the laws, as Jonathan said, enforcement dates of the Affordable Care
Act, some of the appropriations for the Affordable Care Act.

But the question is whether the courts are going to want to get involved in
this because not only do they fear the sort of separation of powers getting
confused, it`s that the American courts run on a system of cases and
controversy where somebody who is harmed comes before the court. And the
question would be, can the institution of the Congress itself be the harmed
party? That`s sort of the...

KORNACKI: Right, and...

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN: ... mental leap that you have to make here.

KORNACKI: When you talk about the deferred action on the -- you know, the
young undocumented, you`re not talking about people who`ve been harmed,
you`re talking about people who`ve been helped. You`re saying Congress is
harmed because Congress didn`t want to help them, only the president wanted
to help them.

FINEMAN: Yes, that`s a very good way to put it. So you know, yes, I think
-- I think there are plenty of people watching who are concerned over about
the last 12 or 13 years of presidential overreach. Of course, I would also
say that Congress has brought a lot of this on itself by its partisan
gridlock, by its refusal to try to make deals with the president. And I
think to some extent, the Republicans have brought a lot of this on
themselves, and now they`re going to go to the court and complain about it.

I wouldn`t put anything past the Roberts court, OK, the Supreme Court. But
I think it`s highly unlikely that the courts are going to give the Congress
standing in this matter. I think it`s very unlikely, and I think most of
the American people in the meantime will view it as the kind of political
ploy to satisfy the base of the Republican Party that it really is.

KORNACKI: And one late development this afternoon. FOX`s Neil Cavuto went
after Michele Bachmann, who`s been a major proponent of taking legal action
against President Obama.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R-MN), FMR. PRES. CANDIDATE: What`s very important
is this -- the president trying to establish lawlessness in the United
States. That`s a big issue!

NEIL CAVUTO, FOX NEWS: Democrats said...

BACHMANN: That`s big!

CAVUTO: ... George Bush did the same, Congresswoman. I`m just saying...

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: ... waste of time. Waste of time!

BACHMANN: So what we need to do -- so what we need to do is defund the
executive branch, number one, and then impeach...

CAVUTO: Defund...

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: Think about what you`re saying, defund the executive branch.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: Congresswoman, if Democrats had said, We`re going to defund
President Bush, we`re going to defund the executive, you would have laughed
them out, and so you should have then. I think Democrats would be in their
right mind to laugh you out now. Defund them, Congresswoman.

BACHMANN: What we can do further is impeach the elected officials that...

CAVUTO: Oh, man. Oh, man! Oh, man, oh, man, oh, man!

BACHMANN: ... have broken the law...

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: Rome`s burning and you`re silent! All right...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: Wow! Thank you to Jonathan Turley and Howard Fineman.

Coming up: Two weeks after the Tea Party scored a stunning victory over
Eric Cantor in Virginia, the Tea Party stuns again, this time by losing in
Mississippi. What this means for the Senate map this November and for
right-wing hopes in other upcoming primaries.

Plus, Hillary Clinton`s recent verbal stumbles have been well documented.
But could it be she is smart to work out the kinks now? Two years from
now, hers going to remember her gaffes while her opponents are doing on-
the-job campaign training.

And how do you define a "New York minute"? The time it takes between Chris
Christie put on a softball uniform and David Letterman making a joke.

And finally, "Let Me Finish" tonight with life imitating art imitating
life, two giants roaring for the last time.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KORNACKI: We`ll get to the Senate race last night in Mississippi in a
moment. But late today, we learned that 22-term U.S. Congressman Charlie
Rangel of New York has officially held off his primary challenger. The
Associated Press is reporting that Rangel defeated state senator Adriano
Espailatt in unofficial returns. Rangel won by about 1,800 votes. He got
47.4 percent to 43.6 percent for Espailatt. The AP reported that the
number of absentee ballots that have been issued will not be enough to make
up the difference.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KORNACKI: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Yesterday was supposed to be
vindication for the Tea Party. Chris McDaniel, the right-wing former radio
host who forced long-time incumbent senator Thad Cochran into a run-off in
Mississippi was supposed to walk away with the race. That didn`t happen.
The establishment rallied. The Cochran camp energized its base, and
Cochran stunned the pundit class by edging out McDaniel.

Now, one way they did it is by reaching out to voters not typically courted
by Southern Republicans, or really Republicans anywhere, African-Americans.
According to "The New York Times," some traditionally Democratic voters
were unnerved enough by McDaniel that they voted in the Republican runoff
for Cochran.

That didn`t sit well with McDaniel, and last night, he refused to concede
the race.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS MCDANIEL (R), MISSISSIPPI SENATE CANDIDATE: There is something a bit
strange, there is something a bit unusual about a Republican primary that`s
decided by liberal Democrats. So much for bold colors! So much for
principle. I guess they can take some consolation in the fact that they
did something tonight by once again compromising, by once again reaching
across the aisle, by once again abandoning the conservative movement!

Now it`s our job to make sure that the sanctity of the vote is upheld.
Before this race ends, we have to be absolutely certain that the Republican
primary was won by Republican voters.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: And today in a statement, McDaniel said his team was looking
into, quote, "irregularities" to see if a legal challenge is warranted.
And he said some of the tactics used were, quote, "unbecoming of the party
of Ronald Reagan."

David Corn is Washington bureau chief for "Mother Jones," and Eugene
Robinson is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for "The Washington Post."
Both are MSNBC political analysts.

David, "unbecoming of the party of Ronald Reagan" -- that`s same Ronald
Reagan who we named the Reagan Democrats after because he cultivated all
that Democratic support when he ran for president.

But look, I mean, clearly, McDaniel kind of got caught off guard by this.
I mean, they...

DAVID CORN, "MOTHER JONES," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.

KORNACKI: They...

(LAUGHTER)

KORNACKI: ... knew in the closing days that the Cochran campaign was
reaching out to African-American voters. I don`t think they thought this
was going to happen.

CORN: Yes.

KORNACKI: There is a bit of a wild card here, as far as I`m concerned,
because if you -- at that speech last night where he refused to concede,
the crowd is chanting, write in, write in, write in.

I can`t read McDaniel that well from afar, but there is a possibility here
that he could still cause some serious headaches for Republicans down there
this fall, if he really, really wants to fight this thing. And I guess the
question in the coming days is, does he want it fight it or does he want to
save and fight another day?

CORN: He certainly looked like he was the martyr who was ready to run
another crusade.

And, you know, I would be happy to tell the Tea Party people who are mad at
Cochran, hey, the best thing to do is vote Democratic in the fall and pay
him back. But I don`t think that is going to happen. I mean, two
interesting things here, Steve, is that, you know, you know, the Republican
Party has been trying to get black people to vote for it for a long time.
And, finally, when it happens, the Tea Partiers get upset.

But, more importantly, there was a real reason why black voters in
Mississippi turned out to vote for Thad Cochran, to defeat Chris McDaniel.
At "Mother Jones" and other places, we reported on lots of statement that
Chris McDaniel made that, it not racist, were certainly racially
insensitive.

And this is a guy who went to events sponsored by neo-Confederate groups
that think that the wrong side won the Civil War. And he also voted
against the Civil Rights Museum. So Tea Partiers always talk about
citizens taking back the government and voting their principles.

Well, here were a bunch of people in Mississippi who saw this guy heading
towards the halls of power in Washington and they realized they could stop
him, and they did.

KORNACKI: And they did, although, Gene, it does raise the other question
of we have seen examples elsewhere of -- and we have seen this -- both
parties have done this, strategic voting, where they have a right to go
into the other party`s primary and try to get the weaker candidate.

And in Mississippi, look, it is rare that a Democrat has a chance to win a
race for federal office, for the U.S. Senate in Mississippi. It is
arguable whether Travis Childers, the Democratic nominee, would have had a
shot against McDaniel. He certainly would have had a better shot against
McDaniel than against Cochran.

Did Democrats shoot themselves in the foot here politically by not
nominating a candidate they actually beat in Mississippi?

EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: No, not really.

(LAUGHTER)

ROBINSON: I have never been -- I have never believed that the Republican
nominee in Mississippi, whoever he might have been, was in serious danger
of losing.

I thought in the end that even McDaniel would probably win. But he won`t
now because -- because African-American voters in Mississippi did something
that I just have to find kind of delicious. They availed themselves of the
democratic process. They voted in counties and communities where you used
to see hardly any votes in the Republican primary.

All of a sudden, there were a whole bunch of them. And, you know, Chris
McDaniel is just have to deal with that. And his Tea Party patrons, the
Ted Cruzes and Sarah Palins of the world, can kind of pile back into the
clown car and I guess drive off to the next state.

CORN: But the thing is, Steve, it is possible -- I don`t know if Chris
McDaniel can pull this off, but if he does decide to run as write-in
candidate, that might give the Democrat an opening.

(CROSSTALK)

KORNACKI: That`s right. That`s what I`m wondering about. How is he going
to behave in the next few days, in the next few weeks?

CORN: Right. But, also, as we saw from Thad Cochran, this is a guy who
might literally fall asleep during a campaign event.

And so -- again, so he is not a strong candidate, although any Republican
should hold that seat. So I -- you know, the way that -- you`re right --
the way McDaniel was talking last night, it looks like he wants to have
this fight. The civil war in the Republican Party, no better place to
fight that out perhaps than in Mississippi.

KORNACKI: Well, and there could be bigger picture implications here.
McDaniel`s backers today cried foul over the Cochran`s campaign get-out-
the-vote efforts. Sarah Palin called the election -- quote --
"questionable," called for an investigation as well. And Rush Limbaugh
mocked the effort, suggesting their slogan should have been -- quote --
"Uncle Toms for Thad."

CORN: Ooh, I missed that one.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE RUSH LIMBAUGH SHOW")

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Insider Republicans in the Senate
bought 9 percentage points, 8 or 9 percentage points, from the black Uncle
Tom voters in Mississippi.

Well, isn`t that what they call Clarence Thomas, Condoleezza Rice? They
call them Uncle Toms? They are Republicans. These guys that voted for
Thad, Uncle Toms for Thad.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CORN: Oh, my.

ROBINSON: Oh, Steve, Steve...

KORNACKI: Gene, what is your reaction to that?

ROBINSON: Steve...

(CROSSTALK)

CORN: Gene, take it away.

ROBINSON: Well, no, I mean, here is my reaction.

Let him keep saying that. You want to see some black voters come out in
the fall election, just let him keep saying it. And play that loop over
and over and over again. Maybe Chris McDaniel want to take that up. I
would love to hear him talk about Uncle Tom voters.

(CROSSTALK)

KORNACKI: And somebody was pointing out earlier, too, this is the same
Rush Limbaugh who, in 2008, in the Democratic primary between Hillary and
Obama, was urging operation chaos, Republicans, go flood the Democratic
primary.

(CROSSTALK)

KORNACKI: But there is a question here, David, about, as I say, sort of
the bigger picture implications for the Tea Party.

Look, if they aren`t going to get their candidate in Mississippi, I`m
watching this reaction. Limbaugh has the most over-the-top reaction.

CORN: Yes.

KORNACKI: But I`m hearing this from so many conservatives last night and
today.

CORN: Yes.

KORNACKI: And I`m wondering, is this the thing they are going to be
pointing to for years to come, the ultimate betrayal of the establishment?
They teamed up with Democrats to beat our candidate. That`s how much they
fear us. Is this going to be a rallying cry for the Tea Party?

CORN: I would encourage them to take that perspective. I think that would
be great. The stabbed in the back, you know, meme lasts forever. It`s the
gift that keeps on giving.

But the thing about the Tea Party is, in your first segments tonight, you
have John Boehner doing their work. They got a government shutdown. They
got a debt ceiling crisis. They got 57,000 votes for the repeal of
Obamacare in the House. So, there are -- they have got David Brat beating
Eric Cantor. And yet it is never good enough.

And if you watched that Chris McDaniel speech, he said, look, there they go
again, compromising, being reasonable, working across the aisle.

ROBINSON: Oh.

CORN: They just can`t suffer anything other than full power to destroy the
government as we know it.

(CROSSTALK)

KORNACKI: Well, and that`s what I`m -- what I`m curious about here is,
look, the rules are the rules. Thad Cochran`s campaign, as far as I`m
concerned, were brilliant.

CORN: Oh, yes.

KORNACKI: They won this thing. They found the rules that worked for them
and they exploited those rules.

ROBINSON: Yes.

KORNACKI: Good for them.

But there are other states where those rules don`t exist, where it is not
open primary, where Democrats can`t come in and vote.

CORN: Yes.

ROBINSON: Yes.

KORNACKI: And I`m just looking at the energy of the conservative
grassroots after this thing, how outraged and how angry they are at the
establishment and I`m thinking ahead to Tennessee and to Kansas.

And I`m just wondering, if you don`t have Democrats who can vote there, do
they take it out -- does the base take it out maybe on Lamar Alexander
there? Do they maybe take it out on Pat Roberts of Kansas? I think that`s
the story to come.

We are out of time here, though, unfortunately.

Thank you, though, to Gene Robinson and David Corn.

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

KORNACKI: Up next, it doesn`t take long after Chris Christie dons a
softball uniform for David Letterman to start cracking jokes. That is
ahead in the "Sideshow."

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN")

DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, "LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN": They had fund-
raiser over the weekend and you know who was playing softball in the fund-
raiser? New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

We have video of him going after...

PAUL SHAFFER, BAND LEADER: Got to see it.

LETTERMAN: ... a hard-hit bouncing grounder down the third base line.

SHAFFER: All right.

LETTERMAN: You see Governor Christie and third base. Take a look, Yankee
Stadium. Watch that.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: Time now for the "Sideshow."

It was only matter of time before David Letterman got his hands on that
video. True to form, he pushed the envelope as only he could.

Next up, here something you don`t see everyday, John Boehner, Harry Reid,
Mitch McConnell, Nancy Pelosi and other members of Congress joining hands
in what appears to be a rare moment of unity on Capitol Hill. No, they
haven`t suddenly buried the hatchet. That is not kumbaya they are singing
either. They are actually singing we shall overcome in commemoration of
the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act yesterday.

As awkward as it might have been, this occasion certainly deserved the
bipartisan recognition, even if some lawmakers forgot the words to the
song.

And, finally, former President Bill Clinton came to his wife`s defense
yesterday after Hillary claimed last week that she and Bill were dead broke
when they left the White House in 2000. The remark struck many as an
exaggeration. And it was a minor controversy among 2016 prognosticators

Well, Newt Gingrich used a creative metaphor of his own yesterday on CNN to
describe the political dynamic between Hillary and Bill Clinton.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Bill is to politics what
Fred Astaire was to dancing. He is just automatically amazing.

And he wants to have a Ginger Rogers who is out there dancing, just as Fred
Astaire did. Instead, it`s a little bit like watching Kim Kardashian get
kicked off the set by Prince because she couldn`t dance.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: It`s good to see Newt is up on his pop culture references.

Coming up, Hillary Clinton has made some well-publicized missteps in the
past few weeks. Why that might be a good thing, that`s next.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ALEX WITT, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, everyone. I`m Alex Witt. And
here`s what`s happening.

Secretary of State John Kerry is warning other countries not to take action
against insurgents in Iraq. He says it could exacerbate the sectarian
turmoil.

In Lebanon, a suicide bomber blew up part of a Beirut hotel. It`s the
third bombing to hit the country in less than a week. Authorities believe
the activity is linked to ISIS, the militant group destabilizing Iraq.

And General Motors has asked dealers to stop selling new and used 2013 and
2014 Chevy Cruze models due to a potential air bag issue.

I`m Alex Witt -- now back to HARDBALL here on MSNBC.

KORNACKI: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

As former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton`s full-blown book tour rolls
on, Ezra Klein points out on Vox.com that her timing could not be better.
He writes: "Clinton`s string of highly public, vaguely embarrassing
interviews speak to one of her real advantages. She can spend the next two
years relearning how to run a national campaign. Her competitors can`t."

Clinton`s comment to Diane Sawyer that she and the president were dead
broke when they left the White House and her tussle over how she evolved in
the issue of gay marriage with NPR`s Terry Gross could be chalked up to a
test run, and Clinton could be stronger for it.

As Katherine Miller of BuzzFeed wrote: "Clinton`s book tour is the media
version of an iron man race for one of the most recognizable people alive."

Will Clinton be more politically powerful if she runs in 2016 thanks to the
iron man book tour she has taken on?

Susan Page is Washington bureau chief for "USA Today." Margaret Talev is
the White House correspondent for Bloomberg News.

So, Susan, this is -- let`s treat this as what it is. This is some kind
after warm-up act for 2016, even though she is not allowed to really talk
about that and probably can`t for a while. But let`s say that`s what it
is. The Hillary Clinton you are seeing on this book tour, the Hillary
Clinton who got into a little bit with Terry Gross, the Hillary Clinton who
talked about her wealth maybe in an inartful way, compare that to the
Hillary Clinton of 2008 who lost in the Democratic primaries to Barack
Obama.

Are you seeing a different Hillary Clinton? Did Hillary Clinton learn
lessons from that? Anything new this time around?

SUSAN PAGE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "USA TODAY": Yes. Well, one thing we
saw toward the end of that 2008 campaign by Hillary Clinton was what a
great campaigner she became.

You know, at the point she was losing, she kept fighting. She was really
connecting with audiences. And that`s been a long time. You know, that
was -- that was in 2008. It is 2014 now. I think now she is rusty. I
think it`s not that she learned lessons from them. I think she has
forgotten some of the muscle memory that you need to have in a campaign.

So in that way, maybe this is useful, because it gets her back out there
answering the kind of questions you answer as a candidate that you don`t
necessarily have to answer when you are a secretary of state.

KORNACKI: And, so, Margaret, yes, those kinds of questions, you look at
the approval rating that Hillary Clinton racked up as secretary of the
state, as secretary of state, and it is through the roof. It`s one of the
reasons why she is a front-runner like we have never seen before.

But part of that was she was kind of removed from politics. She was not
giving interviews to Terry Gross or somebody, who is asking her very sort
of critical questions about her positions on domestic policy issues. She
was removed from that. She kind of got a pass. That`s what happens when
you`re secretary of state.

Do you think she has been a little surprised? I know she lived through it
for 15 years before, but do you think she maybe got used to that world a
little bit, where you don`t have to answer those questions everyday and
this has been the scrutiny maybe, the critical questions have been a little
bit of a surprise to her?

MARGARET TALEV, BLOOMBERG NEWS: Well, that`s right.

When you can talk about policy, instead of politics, it puts you on a much
different trajectory. When you are a Cabinet official, rather than the
president himself or herself, you are held to a different standard. So,
the challenge for her is going be, can she take that sort of, you know,
excellent ride she had in terms of treatment by the media and in terms of
how the public saw her as secretary of state and translate that in another
presidential run?

And just as much as it may help her to have this dry run, it really also
helps potential opponents, not only the Republicans looking ahead to a
general election, but any Democrats who are still waiting to see how she
performs as they make their final decisions. They will see her
vulnerabilities now.

KORNACKI: Well, yesterday, "Meet the Press" moderator David Gregory asked
former President Bill Clinton about Secretary Clinton`s comment on their
wealth.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID GREGORY, MODERATOR, "MEET THE PRESS": Do you understand some people
who have been critical of Mrs. Clinton, Secretary Clinton, who initially
had to explain talking about being dead broke coming out of the White House
or said in an interview that you all...

(CROSSTALK)

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I do. I might
understand it differently than you do.

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

GREGORY: Yes.

CLINTON: It is factually true that we were several million dollars in
debt. Everybody now assumes that what happened in the intervening years
was automatic.

I`m shocked that it has happened. I`m shocked that people still want me to
come give talks. So, I`m grateful.

DAVID GREGORY, MODERATOR: When you say you pay ordinary taxes, Secretary
Clinton did, unlike other people who are really well-off, who pay taxes
maybe just off capital gains. Can you understand as a political matter
that that can strike people as being out of touch?

BILL CLINTON: Yes, but she`s not out of touch. And she advocated and
worked as a senator for things that were good for ordinary people. And
before that, all her life, and the people asking her questions, should put
this into some sort of context.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEVE KORNACKI, GUEST HOST: And today, Gwen Ifill of the "PBS NewsHour"
asked Secretary Clinton about her husband`s comments?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GWEN IFILL, PBS NEWSHOUR: Here in Denver for the Clinton Global Initiative
conference meeting here, your husband was forced to defend you at his own
conference. He was asked about this idea that you are now -- there`s a
caricature that`s forming of you because of a few things you said, that you
are wealthy and out of touch.

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, you know, I --

IFILL: Is it your fault that the conversation turned to that?

HILLARY CLINTON: I shouldn`t have said that I think five or so words that
I said. But you know, my inartful use of those few words doesn`t change
who I am, what I stood for my entire life. What I stand for today.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: And Secretary Clinton also said in an interview with Gwen Ifill,
"My husband was very sweet today. But I don`t need anyone to defend my
record. I think my record speaks for itself."

Well, we know, Susan, that Bill Clinton is defending the records of others.
That`s what he did for President Obama at the 2012 convention down there in
Charlotte. We also know that Bill Clinton in 2008 when Hillary was
running, he had his own issues on the campaign trail. He caused more than
a few headaches for the Hillary Clinton campaign.

What kind of a role do you think he will play in the 2016 campaign for
Hillary? Do you think he learned anything? Do you think they`ve learned
anything from what he did in 2008?

SUSAN PAGE, USA TODAY: You know, Steve, I really think we`re in a
different place. For one thing, President Clinton has been out of office
for a couple more years. So, some of the flaws maybe we remembered so well
have faded with. Another thing, Hillary Clinton has much more independent
stature now than she did the last time around. Last time around, she had
established that she was candidate in her own right and not just her -- not
just the wife of Bill Clinton, even though she served in the Senate.

That`s not a factor now. She is much more able to accept some help from
Bill Clinton than she was. And I think in this way, Bill Clinton is a
total positive. On the other hand, when she says, "It`s sweet for him to
defend me on this but I don`t need it", the fact is on an issue like this,
Bill Clinton cannot defend her. She needs to make her own case in a
nondefense you`ve way about what she meant and how she -- even though she`s
now really rich and continues to have a connection with Americans who
weren`t.

KORNACKI: You know, just quickly here, I want to get to the current
president. We talk about the former president. The role that current
President Barack Obama would play in a Hillary Clinton campaign.

The one thing that jumped out at me at this tour is Hillary Clinton found
way to distance herself from the White House on Syria. She found ways to
distance herself on the Central American children who are crossing the
border. It almost seems to me like Hillary is thinking ahead to the
general election in positioning for that versus the Democratic primary.

MARGARET TALEV, BLOOMBERG: And Iraq may become another issue as well, as
we`ll see in the weeks to come. But for President Obama, this is very much
about legacy-building. He will be much in the same position that Bill
Clinton was as he was leaving office, which is to say, what`s my legacy for
helping other Democrats?

And he`s already begun to lay the ground work, essentially endorsing a
theoretical Hillary campaign recently at White House Correspondents
Association dinner. It is a different question which is what you`re
asking, will she want it? How much will she want it? How close will she
want to be to him?

KORNACKI: All right. Well, thank you, Susan Page and Margaret Talev.

Up next, the Methodist pastor who was defrocked for officiating at his gay
son`s wedding, he has been reinstated at the church. He`ll join us next.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KORNACKI: Buddy Cianci is making a come back. You remember him, the
former mayor of Providence, Rhode Island, announced late today tat he will
make another run for mayor with 12 years after he was sent to prison on
corruption charges.
Cianci served as mayor for 21 years. He was elected six times, but he was
also forced to resign twice. Once in 1984 for assaulting a man he thought
was having an affair with his estranged wife. Again in 2002 after he was
convicted on racketeering and conspiracy charges.

He says he made the decision to run again with, quote, "much soul-searching
and reflection."

We`re back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PASTOR FRANK SCHAEFER, UNITED METHODIST CHURCH: I love the Methodist
church. I even love the rules. Except the rules that are discriminatory.
And to really refuse anybody ministry based on their sexual orientation is
clearly discrimination.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: We`re back.

That was United Methodist Church pastor Frank Schaefer on HARDBALL back in
December, explaining why he defied church doctrine and officiated at his
son`s gay wedding back in 2007. A day after that interview, Schaefer was
officially defrocked from the church for refusing to uphold the church`s
ban on performing same-sex marriages going forward.

Schaefer spent the last few months appealing the decision by the Methodist
Church, and yesterday he claimed victory.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCHAEFER: I am reinstated as an ordained minister of the United Methodist
Church. Yes.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: His reinstatement has led to a rift within the church, prompting
calls from more conservative Methodists to break away. Reverend Rob
Renfro, the president of Good News, United Methodist organization that
opposes same-sex marriage told "The New York Times", quote, "This will be
confirmation for traditionalists that we are deeply divided and may not be
able to live together. When we have people who are not only disobedient,
but who find way to not have to keep the covenant they have made with the
rest of the church. It helps us see that maybe we are so different and
we`ve come to the end of the road together."

Pastor Frank Schaefer joins me now.

Pastor, thanks for joining us.

So, just picking on that statement I just read right now, the split within
the church, we`re always talking about this sort of, you know, in the
general public about how the attitudes in this are shifting so much. Have
you seen since this whole issue started with you today, has there been a
shift in your that sort of accounted for this reversal?

SCHAEFER: Well, absolutely, I -- you know, this has been going on ever
since my trial and a little bit before that. There has been definitely
talk about schism, and the rift has become more denounced between
conservatives and our denomination and progressives. I believe that the
decision that we heard that was made by the appeals committee is
significant. And I think it may contribute to more of attention.

But in my book, that`s not a bad thing, because I celebrate the fact that -
- not only that I`m reinstated and that I`m a reverend again, which is
personally, of course, you know, something to be celebrated. But I
celebrate this decision because it`s saying to our LGBT brothers and
sisters in the church, you know, that change is coming, that we no longer -
- go ahead.

KORNACKI: Yes. No, I`m just --these conversations, though, I`m curious in
the last few months, when you`re talking to traditionalists in the church,
like the statement we just read there. You`re talking as -- you`re not
just talking about somebody who disagrees with the policy, you`re talking
about -- you`re talking as a father here, and sort of the most fundamental
thing, right? A parent, it`s your kid.

What do you hear when you tell your personal story as a father, what do you
hear from the traditionalists in the church who on a policy ground oppose
this? What do they say back to you?

SCHAEFER: Well, they say things like, well, I can certainly understand
that you love your son. And I can understand that you want to affirm your
son. But, you know, the Scriptures give us guidelines and give us limits
and even our love and who we love has limits that are very clear in the
bible.

And so, they think that I should actually have disciplined my son. I
should have set limits to my son and said, you know, this is not OK. It`s
not OK to be homosexual, or it`s not OK to act on that, and to actually
practice your homosexuality. That`s the response I`ve gotten.

KORNACKI: And what would you -- what is the split like in the church? I
mean, we look now, the news in the last year has been that the national
level in this country polling has finally gone over 50 percent in terms of
supporters, an outright majority support now in the public in the United
States, for same sex marriage.

Where is that split in the Methodist Church? Where is the number, if you
had to guess, in terms of support for gay marriage?

SCHAEFER: Actually, I think it`s pretty even. It probably is in step with
the national poll. The Pew organization had its own polling main line
denominations, and the results were very similar. So I believe that there
is a majority now in the United Methodist Church that believes that gay
marriage is OK.

KORNACKI: In terms of that threat of a split, is that something that
you`re worried about? I mean, we`ve seen other churches go through this,
too, sort of around the world. Is there really a threat here of basically
two Methodist churches emerging from this?

SCHAEFER: Well, I think the threat is real. That`s definitely a
possibility.

There might be a lot of talk involved, you know, when one side doesn`t like
things that are happening in the church, you know, there are -- they`re
quick to threaten, you know, schism or whatever. So, it may be a lot of
talk, too.

But I think it`s a real possibility especially if nothing changes at the
next general conference in 2016.

KORNACKI: All right. Well, Pastor Frank Schaefer, we thank you for taking
the time. Congratulations on your reinstatement.

And we`ll be back with the last hoorah for two giants.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KORNACKI: And, finally, let me finish tonight with a classic story I found
myself thinking back to last night as the primary results came in. It
became clear that both 76-year-old Thad Cochran and 84-year-old Charlie
Rangel were both going to defy father time and find a way to win one more
time.

The story I thought of as an old book called "The Last Hoorah", also made
into a movie starring Spencer Tracy in the 1950s. It`s about an aging big
city mayor named Frank Skeffington. Skeffington was a fictional character
and the big city was never actually named, though everyone knew the city
was Boston and that Frank Skeffington was really James Michael Curley, the
legendary Irish-American rascal politician who served four terms as the
mayor of Boston, four in Congress, one as governor and two in prison.

In "The Last Hoorah", Frank Skeffington is 72 years old and the world
around him is changing. The ethnic politics he`s mastered are going out of
style. The machine that`s fueled him is running out of gas. The voters
who used to look the other way because they knew he was on their side, who
were in the joke, they`re dying off.

But Frank Skeffington cannot give it up. This is his life. It`s who he
is. It`s what he is.

So, he sets out to run one final time, to stare down his young reformer
opponent, to hold on to the power, to the relevance, to the action that
gives his life meaning. His wife has passed. His son is a disappointment.
There`s nothing else for Frank Skeffington to do, no one to pass the torch
to. This is the only thing that`s real to him and it`s ripped away.

Skeffington runs the campaign of his life. He tries all of his old tricks.
They don`t work in this new world and he losses and he`s finished. It`s
all over for him.

"The Last Hoorah" ends with sadness and loneliness that has stuck with me
since I first read it. And it was on my mind last night.

You could argue that Thad Cochran and Charlie Rangel won pyrrhic victories
last night. Cochran had to rely on the other party`s voters to win his own
primary and his name will be probably be a curse word to the GOP`s base for
years to come. He`s probably not going to have much influence in the
national Republican Party going forward.

And then there`s Rangel, used to be the kind of Harlem politics. He
couldn`t even crack 50 percent in his own primary last night, just to
survive. He had to promise voters that this was it, that he`d never run
again after this. When he gets back to Washington, he won`t have a
committee gavel, he`ll be in the minority party in the House, and Barack
Obama wanted nothing to do with him in this race.

You could argue that the joke is on Cochran, the joke is on Rangel. Sure,
they won, but what this can do now? That misses the point. Because in
their own ways, they`re both just like Frank Skeffington, this is who they
are, this is what they do. Last night, unlike Frank Skeffington, they both
won their last hoorahs.

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

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.


END

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