updated 6/17/2013 11:45:19 AM ET 2013-06-17T15:45:19

HARDBALL
June 14, 2013
Guests: Robin Wright, Josh Green, Nick Confessore, Susan Milligan, Michael
Scherer

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Ten years, four wars.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

Let me get it started tonight with this. The United States is now
committed to an act of war against the government of Syria. OK, well,
let`s get the tally up to date. We attacked and went to war with
Afghanistan in 2001. We attacked and went to war with Iraq in 2003. We
helped to overthrow the government of Libya in 2011. Now we`re targeting
the government of Syria, promising military support to the rebels there.

It`s an interesting pattern, when you think about it. Back in 2001, George
W. and the committed hawks he brought into our government with him,
including Dick Cheney, talked of going after Iraq. That was a big item on
their agenda. Just as important, it was the first item on their agenda.

And now, looking back, and what we`re doing now, that`s precisely what
we`re doing, going down the list, going from country to country, setting
our sights on government after government, regime change after regime
change.

Night after night, on worldwide television, this country of ours is out
there taking sides with anyone who wants to bring down an Islamic
government. Regime change, as I said, in the Islamic world has become our
national pastime. Don`t believe me? Then I recommend you stop, look and
listen. Next stop, Iran.

Joining me now is Robin Wright with the Woodrow Wilson Center and David
Corn of "Mother Jones." He`s also an MSNBC valued political analyst.
Thank you for joining us.

The White House, by the way, as we all know, today is stepping up the
military aid to the rebels in Syria. "The New York Times" reports that
it`s likely to mean supplying troops there with small arms and ammunition,
though heavier weapons have not been ruled out.

Well, today Senator Angus King of Maine raised an important point about
where all this could be heading. Let`s listen to him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ANGUS KING (I), MAINE: I`m reluctant and cautious about this because
I want to know what the end game is. We`ve done this before. We`ve done
it three or four times before. And it`s just not so easy to go in, you
know, with some kind of surgical strike or something like that. And the
question is, once we get in, how do we get out? What`s our mission?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Great question, "What`s our mission?" By the way, we`re no
longer having clean hands. You give guns to somebody -- small arms,
they`re called -- they`re going to shoot at somebody. Who are we
encouraging people to shoot at with the guns we`re giving them in Syria?

ROBIN WRIGHT, WOODROW WILSON CENTER: Obviously, we`re going for the Syrian
government. The problem is, who do we arm, and whether this will make a
difference. And the likelihood is the small arms, the kinds of ammunition
and perhaps anti-tank equipment we`re talking about, probably won`t make a
serious difference in this conflict.

MATTHEWS: Well, let me get more primitive. If you give a gun to somebody,
you intend them to use it, right? Like lending them your car, they`re
going to drive the car. So you`re going to shoot and kill people, right?

Have we decided that the rebels in Syria are more in America`s national
interest than the government of Syria, which is just another Ba`athist
government, a rejectionist government around Israel that really doesn`t do
anything except be a pain in the butt, but it doesn`t threaten us.

My question is, why are we taking sides in a bloody war where some people
are killing other people? Just an open question.

WRIGHT: Well, the Assad...

MATTHEWS: Are they good guys?

WRIGHT: No. The Assad dynasty...

MATTHEWS: The rebels?

WRIGHT: The Assad dynasty has a long record of killing tens of thousands
of its own people, in one three-week period alone, up to 25,000 people in a
town called Hama.

MATTHEWS: When was that?

WRIGHT: That was in 1982.

MATTHEWS: You mean, we`ve done the "Vogue" layout since then about the
great Assad family? So when did we decide that they were our mortal
enemies, is what I`m saying.

WRIGHT: Well, look...

MATTHEWS: Not...

WRIGHT: Listen, when it comes to...

MATTHEWS: ... a long time ago.

WRIGHT: Syria has long been the spoiler in the Arab/Israeli conflict...

MATTHEWS: But don`t we have diplomatic relations with Syria, the Damascus
government?

WRIGHT: We did with the Soviet Union, as well. The...

MATTHEWS: We never went to war with the Soviet Union!

WRIGHT: Absolutely right. And the question is, will this make a
difference? And the danger is that it doesn`t.

MATTHEWS: OK, you`re not getting at my (INAUDIBLE) question, why are we
taking sides?

DAVID CORN, "MOTHER JONES," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: That is the question.
What is the U.S. interest there? Now, you can have a humanitarian argument
that 93,000 people have been killed, mostly by the Syrian government, so we
want to try to do something to end that violence.

MATTHEWS: We`re trying to kill Assad!

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Just a minute!

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... the rebels! They`re fighting the government!

CORN: Hold it. Let me finish.

MATTHEWS: That`s why they`re fighting!

CORN: No, but the question is, it`s not just if you give a gun, they`re
going to use it. But Robin`s right, who are you giving the gun to, and why
are they using it? And are they going to be Islamist extremists who are
going to use the gun at somebody else, or the Stinger missile or the --
whatever you give them somewhere down the line?

I mean, every -- you have John McCain out there, who`s been running around
for weeks saying, Do something! Do something! We`ve got to have a war!
We`ve got to do something!

MATTHEWS: He`s not the president.

CORN: He`s not the president.

MATTHEWS: For a reason.

CORN: But the question is -- they still can`t get their stories
straight...

MATTHEWS: OK...

CORN: ... on who the rebels are and whether they themselves are worth
getting in bed with.

MATTHEWS: Call me old-fashioned, but shouldn`t we have a debate and a
declaration of war before we go into another war? This is the fourth in 10
years. And we know Iran`s coming. Just a reasonable national debate. We
know overwhelmingly -- three quarters of the American people don`t believe
in this. Shouldn`t that be a relevant consideration, or does the president
decide when we go to war?

WRIGHT: Almost 70 percent of the American public is skeptical about...

MATTHEWS: So the president decides! We don`t.

WRIGHT: ... about going in.

MATTHEWS: We don`t matter. We don`t matter!

CORN: It was interesting today that Eric Cantor put out a press release
that said, The president must do something! This is awful! This is
terrible! But he himself won`t say what is to be done. They know what the
polls are, the Republicans. They`re using this as a cudgel against the
president without having any idea...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Yesterday, Ben Rhodes, number two or three on the National
Security staff -- I don`t know what he is -- has a conference call and
announces we`re going to an act of war against a government, while the
president is doing LGBT events somewhere because he doesn`t think it`s
important enough to do it himself.

This is weird! We used to have debate over war. We used to have votes on
it.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... in the Constitution. Now we just let some staff guy
announce on a conference call we`re committing an act of war.

It is unusual, Robin. I know you`re an expert in the field of the Middle
East, but politically, this is unusual.

WRIGHT: It may be unusual, but remember, we`re going into a big meeting
with the G-8, the world`s eight industrial powers, in which...

MATTHEWS: Are they going to vote?

WRIGHT: ... this will be -- this will be a key decision, where we get our
allies on board...

MATTHEWS: OK...

WRIGHT: ... and what the Russians do. But the problem for the United
States, both Republicans and Democrats, is that no one has addressed the
issue of what is it that we want...

MATTHEWS: Yes! OK...

WRIGHT: ... to see...

MATTHEWS: OK...

WRIGHT: ... and how do we do it. How do we -- do we -- once we get
involved, do we then inherit the problem of what comes next...

MATTHEWS: OK, what`s our end game...

WRIGHT: ... and rebuilding Syria?

MATTHEWS: Let me go back to the end game quickly. I got some here -- but
I have visual memories in my mind of an embarrassing, humiliating hanging
of Saddam Hussein. Well, we put that on our television and watched that.
And we`re all growing up intellectually with this. Now we see a guy named
Gadhafi, who he used to be around in our neighborhood. We saw him all the
time. Now he`s hiding in a storm sewer. He ends up there.

What do we want for the Assad family? How do we want this to end on our
big day, where our military involvement in Syria reaches its fruition?

CORN: Well, we know...

MATTHEWS: A bunch of crazy people running around shooting at each other
saying, We won! We take off the head of the Assad family, and then what?

CORN: Well, Afghanistan...

MATTHEWS: What do we get out of this?

CORN: Afghanistan is a better example, when you look what happened -- we
supported the mujahadeen. They went in there, and eventually, we had a
problem in Afghanistan because we thought at the beginning, Hey, we don`t
like the communists, the Soviets, and this is a way to get involved.

MATTHEWS: OK. Is anybody doing what I`m doing right now, questioning this
involvement? We`re getting into another war...

CORN: Angus King! You and Angus.

MATTHEWS: The independent senator from Maine. I don`t know (INAUDIBLE)
you two guys are.

Anyway, a spokesman for the rebels in Syria today said small arms may not
be enough. OK, they`re making demands. Quote, "We welcome the decision,
but it is a late step. And if they send small arms, how can small arms
make a difference? They should help us with real weapons, anti-tank and
anti-aircraft and with armored vehicles, training and a no-fly zone thrown
in."

Anyway, that`s the assessment shared by some in Washington. "The New York
Times" reported today, quote, "Many in the American government believe that
the military balance has tilted so far against the rebels in recent months
that American shipments of arms to select groups may be too little, too
late."

Why not let Saddam -- Assad win, by the way?

WRIGHT: Well, he may just win. But this is not a good scenario. You
don`t want the region`s most brutal dictator to stay in power...

MATTHEWS: How about...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... 10 years of civil war? You complain about, and righteously
so -- rightfully so, about people being killed. Suppose because we give
small arms and we keep this war festering for another six months or six
years or ten years, is that a better outcome?

WRIGHT: Oh, and the real danger is that -- first of all, that our
involvement then makes this not a war about the future of Syria but a major
powers around the world...

MATTHEWS: OK, my biggest concern.

(CROSSTALK)

WRIGHT: ... and then a civil war that plays out in the aftermath of the...

MATTHEWS: OK. Vladimir Putin, sitting over in the Kremlin. He sees all
this talk about us being a lone superpower. Well, he`s not alone in the --
he`s not all -- he`s not disarmed. He can give the Syrian government of
Assad state-of-the-art aerial defense systems. We start talking about
doing some kind of no-fly thing, all of a sudden, we`re at war with Russian
equipment.

CORN: Right.

MATTHEWS: At some point, he`s going to say, They want to upset the balance
of power by giving more aid to the rebels, I have been holding back on
giving the state-of-the-art aerial defense systems to the Assad government.
Why don`t I go in there and give it to them now?

CORN: Well, the question...

MATTHEWS: What stops him from escalating?

WRIGHT: They already have it. They already have it. Since 2007, they`ve
built...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I just looked at "Time" magazine. They said he`s been holding
back on this.

CORN: But he could -- he could always do more. That`s for sure. He could
do more. He could put troops in, whatever. The question...

(CROSSTALK)

CORN: ... whether we`re going to let this be a proxy war for other
matters. And you`re -- you know, you raised a good question. What
happens? Do we want a civil war or not? To me, it`s interesting that the
Israelis -- and you probably know better than I, Robin -- they don`t seem
to be rushing in to support the rebels. I think they actually want a 10-
year-long civil war between extremists and Assad and keep them all busy.

But this can really suck us in. And you`re talking about going up against
Iran.

MATTHEWS: You know...

CORN: You want a war in Iran, this will lead to a war with Iran.

MATTHEWS: Maybe because I read history, and sitting reading the other day
because I`m going to Spain with my kid, my boys -- I`ve been thinking about
the Spanish civil war and how both sides make it into a surrogate war, the
fascists and communists, right? Try to find the good guys in that war, OK?

Anyway, here`s John McCain, who as David mentioned, recently -- in fact, a
few minutes ago -- wants a lot more aid to the rebels, including a no-fly
zone.

Here`s McCain. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: So I applaud the president`s decision and I
appreciate it. But the president of the United States had better
understand that just supplying weapons is not going to change the equation
on the ground, the balance of power. These people, the Free Syrian Army,
need weapons and heavy weapons to counter tanks and aircraft. They need a
no-fly zone.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: OK, let me be balanced in my presentations. There`s one route
to the Indies, if you will, one solution here. If we can isolate a rebel
group, with that General Idris -- if we can find him, who left the Syrian
government and is a credible leader, and certainly a secular leader -- and
you`re the expert on this -- can we isolate the good guys, to use a cowboys
and Indians terms, win with them, knock off Assad, get him out of the
country, send him to Russia, end up in some sort of transitional situation
which is bloodless and we end up with a better government? Is that
possible?

WRIGHT: That`s the best case scenario. And is it possible? Probably not.
Part of that may be -- each one of it (ph) has its own liabilities. The
problem is, how quickly can you do it? How many people die in the process?
Once we cross the threshold of giving arms, how much more do we get sucked?
Because we don`t achieve...

MATTHEWS: Well, you just saw John sucking us in!

(CROSSTALK)

WRIGHT: General Idris can`t achieve the rules we want to, Assad, who
doesn`t step down, the Russians don`t pressure -- these are all things --
everything has to come together at the right moment in a way that...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: So you don`t think it`s possible to have a good solution to
this.

CORN: It goes back to the World War I phrase, in a penny, in a pound.
Once you start doing this and it doesn`t work, John McCain goes back to the
floor and says, We want this. It doesn`t work, it doesn`t work, and you
get more and more involved until finally, you have U.S. troops in. And
then finally, U.S. troops confronting Iranian proxies and has the U.S. in a
full war and...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... Kennedy said about Vietnam? Jack Kennedy said the same
thing about Vietnam. It`s like drinking, which I don`t do anymore. You
have a little thing, you have to have more for effect, more for effect. It
keeps wearing off and more -- more troops, more...

(CROSSTALK)

CORN: If there was a good rebel force, it would make a big difference.

WRIGHT: And remember, we had a no-fly zone in Iraq for five years, and
then still had to send in troops and...

MATTHEWS: Sometimes, I think your logic works against your conclusions,
Robin, because you say we`re not going to win. Then why should we go in?

WRIGHT: Oh, I`m not suggesting that we should go in. I think that -- I`m
with you, that we need to have a national debate and discuss these things.
I think we`re reacting to a situation and not being proactive and figuring
out what is our long-term goal? What is it that we want to do down the
road? Are we willing to invest the national treasure and American lives in
directly or indirectly?

CORN: And then rebuilding Syria afterwards.

WRIGHT: That`s right.

MATTHEWS: If we had a draft in this country, we wouldn`t even be talking
about going to countries like this. We wouldn`t be talking about going --
any of those. Maybe Afghanistan because they hit us. But after that, it`s
all wars of option.

CORN: It`s cost-free for the people making the case.

MATTHEWS: An army that`s based on con description and the draft doesn`t
fight wars of option or choice.

WRIGHT: And...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... fights when it has to for its national defense. And I know
I`m speaking about the American people here.

Robin Wright, you`re an expert. David, you`re always great. Have nice
weekend. Happy Father`s Day, brother.

CORN: Same to you.

MATTHEWS: Coming up: Remember when Darrell Issa announced that in all
likelihood, the IRS scandal began in Washington -- I love the way he uses
that phrase -- and he`s "getting to proving it." Getting to prove it?
Well, where`s that proof now? Is he ever going to show up, or does he just
keep screaming and saying, There`s corruption here, something to do with
Obama? Anyway, the more we see (INAUDIBLE) Issa`s investigation is coming
apart right now at the seams.

Also, a who`s who of conservative presidential hopefuls are now -- here`s a
phrase -- on bended knee at the Faith and Freedom Coalition, whatever it
is, down in Washington. But 1,000 miles away and light years away in time
and space, in Chicago, Chris Christie of New Jersey is with Bill and
Hillary at the Clinton Global Initiative. Christie`s known as a problem
solver. So here`s a problem for him to solve. How`s he going to convince
right-wingers to nominate him for president if he`s hanging out with Bill
and Hillary and Chelsea?

Plus, time to invoke the mercy rule. You won`t believe this, Democrats.
The Democratic congressional baseball team last night wiped out the
Republican team -- this isn`t a baseball score! -- 22 to nothing! That
makes five straight wins for them. What a winning streak.

Finally, "Let Me Finish" with the need to accept that the Obama people had
nothing to do with the IRS screw-up, so enough already!

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Well, here`s a statistic that shouldn`t surprise anyone who
watches this show on a regular basis. Confidence in Congress -- all-time
low. Look at -- these are sad numbers. Gallup asked people about 16
different institutions, and only 10 percent said they had confidence in the
United States Congress, which is at the bottom of the list.

Television news a little bit better, 23 percent approval, Supreme Court 34,
much better, the presidency -- catch this -- 36 of those approved. And
topping the list, no surprise here, was the military at 76 percent. Well,
that`s a little scary in a certain way. Everything else is worse.

Confidence in Congress as measured by Gallup reached a peak, by the way, in
1973 just as the Watergate scandal was unfolding because Congress did a
right (ph) job there in changing the presidency.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. DARRELL ISSA (R-CA), OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: The full
transcript will be put out. We understand these are in real time, and the
administration is still -- their paid liar, their spokesperson, picture
behind -- he`s still making up things about what happens and calling this
local rogue. This is a problem that was coordinated in all likelihood
right out of Washington headquarters, and we`re getting to proving it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, welcome back to HARDBALL. That was, of course, House
Oversight Committee chairman Darrell Issa vowing to release transcripts
that, according to him, would prove that Washington, and by inference the
White House, had coordinated the IRS targeting of conservative groups.

Issa has said he wants to expose, quote, "the full truth," but his actions
prove otherwise, of course. Case in point, how Issa spun the excerpts he
has released. On CNN, as we just saw, he said that the transcripts proved
that the IRS officials in Cincinnati were, quote, "directly being ordered
from Washington." Well, it was that ambiguity which opened up the idea
that, somehow, officials outside the IRS, like at the White House, were
ordering the targeting.

Well, the actual transcript of that IRS agent Issa is talking about says,
quote, "I was taking all my directions from EO Technical." That`s -- EO
Technical`s a unit inside the IRS in Washington -- very clearly saying he
got his advice, his leadership from the officials he works with at the IRS
in Washington, not from anybody outside, although Issa would love to say
the phrase "Washington" over and over again, so that people think, Well,
maybe he means maybe at the means somebody from the White House. Maybe he
means David Plouffe from the campaign, something else nefarious.

Anyway, Josh Green`s a senior national correspondent from "Bloomberg
Business Week." He authored a column today called "Darrell Issa`s IRS
Investigation Is Falling Apart." And Nick Confessore is a reporter for
"The New York Times."

Gentlemen, I am struck by what comes across to me -- and Nick you start --
with what seems to be the integrity of Elijah Cummings, the congressman and
the ranking member -- he`s from Maryland, the ranking member on the
committee that Issa heads.

He has said he`s looked at all of the transcripts, at all the raw data, all
the interviews with the IRS officials in Cincinnati. And he`s come to the
conclusion that there`s no evidence whatever that there was any influence
from outside the IRS, in other words from the White House or any
politicians, to what happened there, whatever you want to call them,
Screwups, whatever, bad management, whatever.

And yet Issa keeps playing this card of "Washington" as if Washington
implies something beyond the IRS. Your thoughts on the honesty going on
here, or dishonesty?

NICK CONFESSORE, "NEW YORK TIMES": Well, just to clarify for your viewers,
Chris, you know, all of the IRS tax lawyers are in Washington. Even the
ones that work on a case-by-case basis with the people in Cincinnati, who
are not tax lawyers.

So when a troublesome case comes up, a tricky case, a case that has hard
law questions, they go to Cincinnati -- I`m sorry, to the lawyers in
Washington. That`s what that technical -- that EO unit you were talking
about earlier is all about.

MATTHEWS: Sure.

CONFESSORE: So, we do hear this heavy-handed invocation of Washington,
Washington, Washington.

MATTHEWS: Well, what`s with the sleazy intonation that suggests, like in
the war movies, call Berlin, like there`s some sort of Washington or
Hollywood. No, in this case, it doesn`t mean Washington generally. It
means their head office.

CONFESSORE: Yes, that`s right.

I mean, look, we have seen the selective release of transcripts. And when
I see them, at first, I think, well, there`s something there. And you go
back and you look at the fuller transcript that was released after that.
And the picture is a lot more muddy. It suggests a person in Cincinnati
consulting the lawyers in Washington, what does this mean, and then the
lawyers in Washington saying, can you send us a couple of those cases so we
can look at them?

MATTHEWS: Yes.

CONFESSORE: Again, that doesn`t mean something wrong didn`t happen here.
And it doesn`t mean that these delays weren`t unconscionable.

But it`s a very different picture from the White House pushing a button,
making a call and ordering this up from the IRS.

MATTHEWS: Josh?

JOSHUA GREEN, "BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK": Well, the salient debate here is,
I think Issa is trying to conflate two things, the idea that the scandal
originated in Washington, either under orders from somebody at the IRS or
the White House, with the fact that, as Nick just said, of course, there
are IRS lawyers consulting in Washington, because that`s where they`re...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: But he hasn`t found -- or has he? Correct me here if I`m wrong.
Has he found a witness within IRS that says I got influenced by somebody
outside the IRS?

GREEN: Not that he`s put out in any kind of a full context.

MATTHEWS: Wouldn`t he have done that? Wouldn`t he have done that if he
had such a person?

GREEN: Well...

(CROSSTALK)

GREEN: Yes. And the piece I wrote based on the fact -- it was basically
based on the fact he said he was going to release these transcripts. He
hasn`t released these transcripts. And the guy pushing him to do it is the
top Democrat on the committee, Cummings.

MATTHEWS: Elijah.

GREEN: So, you have to figure that...

MATTHEWS: OK. Look, I want to follow up this. I want to show you the
timeline, Issa`s behavior and behavior around him all along on this, what
do you think is still left in his ammo, what he`s going to do next.

June 2, you just saw there, Issa releases extremely limited pieces of an
IRS group of interviews. He calls the White House paid liars -- we saw
that with Candy Crowley -- and says the full transcripts which he vows to
release will prove that Washington is the cause of the IRS mess, without
saying IRS Washington or the White House. He always keeps that foggy.

June 6, for Politico, the political newspaper, reports that House
leadership had delivered a message to Issa, cool it. Last Sunday, in
response to Issa`s selected disclosures, Democrat Elijah Cummings, as you
said, Josh, releases other parts of the transcripts that directly
contradict Issa`s assertions. Cummings also vows to release the full
transcripts himself if Issa won`t.

That same, Issa changes his tune, saying he won`t release any transcripts.
He then attacks Cummings` proposal of releasing them as reckless. Well,
yesterday, Cummings respond by calling Issa`s actions hypocritical, giving
him a Monday deadline, this coming Monday, to review the transcripts before
they`re released.

Well, on the heels of the Cummings letter, Reuters reports that Issa is
widening his probe. In addition to the 18 interviews Issa has already
done, his committee identifies 20 more officials for future interviews.

So, he keeps interviewing. It`s a fishing expedition hoping -- has he got
any hope or is he just playing for time here?

GREEN: At this point, it looks like he`s playing for time.

But the important thing here is what Cummings wants to release is the
interview in Cincinnati with an IRS official who is a self-described
conservative Republican who says: I`m the one who started this.

So, Cummings...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I`m the one that said target the Tea Party, target the patriot
groups.

GREEN: Let`s give these guys some extra scrutiny.

MATTHEWS: So, that -- if he`s right...

GREEN: So, if that`s true, then the scandal couldn`t have originated in
Washington or the White House. That`s why Democrats are pushing so hard to
get this testimony, to get these interviews released.

MATTHEWS: OK.

Nick, what do you tell your editors, the people at the top of "The Times,"
the best paper in the world, how do you tell them, this story is only going
to go so far as until Issa says uncle and says I don`t have any hard
evidence of Obama involvement? Or does he just keep -- this is an
interpretive question -- does he keep saying, I`m going to get it, like I`m
going to prove this is a scandal, when he doesn`t have any evidence it is a
scandal?

CONFESSORE: Yes. I mean, look, it`s important to stick to the facts,
right?

We haven`t seen, as Josh points out, any evidence of White House
involvement. And, look, I think it`s appropriate...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Isn`t that enough for the usual criminal trial or any kind of
indictment? If you can`t show any evidence somebody did anything wrong,
don`t you sort of stop saying they did something wrong?

(CROSSTALK)

CONFESSORE: Look, it was an important question to clarify. It was worth
finding out because if the White House was involved, that would be a huge
problem.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

CONFESSORE: But the next step should be -- and this is the problem.

Congressional oversight shouldn`t just be about scandal. It should be
about fixing the problem.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

CONFESSORE: There were problems in this office.

MATTHEWS: He`s not interested in that.

GREEN: There were problems with the process. They should go work on that
and figure out next time how to do it better.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Do you think that Darrell Issa wants to be the guy who improves
the reputation of the IRS? No. He wants to run against government and
blame it.

CONFESSORE: Listen, Chris, if only for the sake of the groups that were
hit up in this, that waited years for approval, they shouldn`t suffer.

MATTHEWS: I see.

CONFESSORE: He shouldn`t want them to suffer. No one should.

MATTHEWS: OK.

GREEN: And what he should do, Issa ought to declare victory and get out
now. He can say, look, I pointed to a culture of poor judgment, bad
communication, wasted taxpayer money with these silly conferences.

MATTHEWS: He wants to..

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... Obama. He wants Obama.

GREEN: Right. But if he knows he`s not going to get Obama, then he ought
to get now and move -- get out now and move on to something else and say,
look, I exposed a problem. It`s on the path to being fixed.

MATTHEWS: Study this guy further, Josh.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Darrell Issa is aiming for the big time. This guy couldn`t get
elected to the Senate. He spent tons of money getting elected -- not
getting elected.

He thinks he can turn a House seat into the biggest deal in the world. And
he`s doing it right here, because we`re talking about him.

Anyway, Joshua Green, thank you for coming on.

And, Nick Confessore, thank you, sir, for that great reporting.

Up next: Nancy Pelosi and Kathleen Sebelius rock out with Mary Wilson, one
of my favorites from my youth of the Supremes.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL and now to the "Sideshow." And what a
"Sideshow" tonight.

It all came to a head last night for members of Congress, the congressional
baseball game at Nationals Park, where the Nationals play, Republicans vs.
Democrats.

Republicans went into the game with high hopes, despite a four-year losing
streak. But it wasn`t to be, way not to be. Democrats dominated the
night. How is this for a baseball score, 22-0? Well, Democrats had an
edge with Louisiana Congressman and former college player Cedric Richmond
as their pitcher. Looks like he knows what he`s doing out there, doesn`t
he?

Anyway, California Democrat Linda Sanchez, the only female member to
participate, was also a crowd favorite.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CROWD: Let`s go, Linda! Let`s go, Linda!

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Solid single for Linda.

Anyway, yesterday marked the 56th annual game between the two sides.

Next, yesterday`s tribute to Michigan Congressman John Dingell, who just
became the longest serving member of Congress in history, took a turn for
the musical. Mary Wilson of the Supremes, my personal favorite when the
Supremes came to Holy Cross back in the `60s, serenaded the room with "Stop
in the Name of Love" and called on Nancy Pelosi, Kathleen Sebelius and
others to jump in as backup dancers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(SINGING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: That`s the music I listen to in the car driving home at night on
XM Radio, "60s on 6."

Anyway, there were about 40 -- 400 people in attendance to take in that
performance. Congressman Dingell, who spoke at the event, called himself
the luckiest man in shoe leather for his family, friends and his time
serving Michigan all these years.

Finally, a couple of new roadblocks in the Republican plan to attract more
women and minority voters. What`s causing the divide? In Maine`s state
legislature over accepting federal money to expand health care coverage,
guess what? Republican State Rep. Ken Fredette in Maine thinks he`s solved
the mystery. Roll the tape.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KEN FREDETTE (R), MAINE STATE REPRESENTATIVE: If you listen to the debate
today, in my mind, a man`s mind, I hear really two fundamental issues.

From the other side of the aisle, I hear the conversation being about free.
This is free. We need to take it and it`s free. My brain, being a man`s
brain, sort of thinks differently, because I say, well, it`s not. If it`s
free, is it really free? Because I say, in my brain, there`s a cost to
this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: His man`s brain has it all figured out? His man`s brain should
have said, don`t talk about men`s brains being smarter than other brains.

We now turn to Virginia and the state Republican Party`s pick for director
of African-American engagement, the Reverend Joe Ellison. Well,
unfortunately, it looks like Ellison might draw the wrong kind of
attention. Example? In 2010, not so far long ago, far-right evangelist
Pat Robertson suggested that the earthquake down in Haiti was the result of
that country`s pact with the devil made during a voodoo ceremony two
centuries ago.

Well, Reverend Ellison, who you just saw there, the Virginia outreach guy
for African-Americans, here`s what he said at a press conference.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REV. JOE ELLISON, REPUBLICAN PARTY OF VIRGINIA STATE DIRECTOR OF AFRICAN
AMERICAN ENGAGEMENT: I know his comments angered a lot of the so-called,
in my opinion, liberals, what he said about the comment about Haitians.
And from a spiritual standpoint, we believe Dr. Robertson`s point was on
target about Haiti, Haiti in the past with the voodoo.

And we believe in the Bible that the practice of voodoo is a sin and what
caused the nation to suffer. Those who read the Bible and study history
know what Dr. Robertson said was a biblical truth.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: What were those people thinking? Listen to this nonsense.

Anyway, I`m reminded of the Cole Porter lyric, that voodoo that you do so
well.

Up next: The man who could save the GOP, we think, I think, Chris Christie
snubs the Faith and Freedom Coalition. But will conservatives snub him?

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SEEMA MODY, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Seema Mody with your CNBC "Market
Wrap."

Stocks cut their gains from yesterday across the board. The Dow dropped
105 points. The S&P 500 lost nine and the Nasdaq sank 21. Oil prices hit
their highest level in nine months as tensions escalate between the U.S.
and Syria. Industrial projection flatlined in May, as manufacturers
boosted production, but the gain was offset by a drop in utility output.

And Groupon shares jumped nearly 12 percent on an analyst upgrade from a
hold to a buy.

That`s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide -- now back to HARDBALL.

MATTHEWS: We`re back.

Over the past two days, politicians frequently mentioned in the same breath
with the words 2016 Republican hopeful have been speaking to religious
conservatives at the Ralph Reed`s Faith and Freedom Conference. Take a
listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: The left likes to think that we are the
fringe. Guess what? You, us, we are the mainstream.

JEB BUSH (R), FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR: We`re facing a crisis on the family
front in this country. The last census numbers depict that fact. Forty-
two percent of the babies brought into the world today will be brought into
the world out of wedlock.

It is a breathtaking statistic that describes family life in America today.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: Today, we have a culture that accepts the
wanton disposal of millions of innocent children and sends aid to countries
that persecute Christians. I, for one, will not rest until this injustice
ends.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: I`m going to rely on my personal faith, the
Christian faith, for some guidance as to some of the things I have often
looked at both in times that I`m discouraged and at times in which I
wonder, what is the purpose of all this? Why do I spend these days away
from our family? Why do you run for office when everything you know about
politics tells you, you can`t win?

Why do you get engaged in the political discourse when, simply because you
disagree with someone on the definition of what a marriage is, you`re
called a bigot or a hater?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, there`s one noticeable exception in that group, New Jersey
Governor Chris Christie. He sent his regrets since he had another
engagement.

And what was that engagement? Well, appearing on the same stage as Bill
Clinton out in Chicago at the Clinton Global Initiative Conference. And
that`s a surprising move for a Republican who may have presidential
ambitions. We certainly think he does.

Of course, Christie`s already seen as apostate to some on the right, given
his relationship with President Obama forged in the aftermath of the
Hurricane Sandy. Christie and Obama spent some time together on the Jersey
Shore, as we saw -- there`s the pictures -- recently again to see how the
recovery was going.

Christie certainly doesn`t fit the mold of the modern-day Republican
leaning to the right. And that raises a lot of questions about his
prospects come 2016 and what exactly his strategy is if he chooses to run.

Joy Reid`s the managing editor of TheGrio and an MSNBC political analyst.
And Susan Milligan is a contributing editor for "U.S. News & World Report."

You know, I was thinking the other day back to when you could win a
Republican nomination simply because you are the best candidate, that you
come out of nowhere, like Wendell Willkie did back in the Philadelphia
convention, and stormed into that big convention out of nowhere, a former
Democrat, and won overwhelmingly because everybody said, this is the only
guy on this planet who might possibly defeat Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
And he did give him a hell of a run. He was the best candidate.

But can Christie, with all his pizzazz and I think performance of the last
couple of years, come into a Republican convention filled with hard right
people and Christian right wing conservatives and win them as the best
secular candidate to take on probably Hillary Rodham Clinton, Joy?

JOY REID, THE GRIO: Well, here`s the problem for Chris Christie. And it
was what Paul Ryan said at the beginning at the montage. Paul Ryan told
those people you are the mainstream. Obviously Christie disagrees. He`s
and looking at the broader mainstream of the country and he would like to
run from something more like the center.

But the Republican base think they are the mainstream, the far right of the
Republican Party, they`re tired of waiting and being disappointed including
by Ronald Reagan, by George Bush, Sr., by George Bush, Jr., on issues of
the culture of life and the culture broadly and the culture wars. He isn`t
playing in that arena. So, he can`t win them.

But that doesn`t mean he can`t necessarily get the nomination. Because if
you look at the history, they didn`t like Mitt Romney either. They weren`t
too want savvy on John McCain. If the establishment wants somebody, the
establishment usually wins.

MATTHEWS: Well, why do they, how do you explain the fact that Barack Obama
won? How do they explain the fact that the Senate is Democrat? How do you
explain the media which doesn`t tend to be right wing, except for FOX? How
do they explain that? Why are so many people in their face disagreeing
with them?

The country`s 80 percent, 90 percent for some kind of background checks on
guns. How do they convince themselves that they`re the majority on these
issues when it`s so patently obvious that they`re not?

REID: It`s simple. They tell themselves a story and the story is this.
All elections that are won by Democrats are won by fraud. We didn`t really
lose. There was --

MATTHEWS: That`s a third world way of talking. That`s what they do in
third world countries. Everybody is dishonest, everybody stole everything.

REID: That`s it. They just don`t believe the reality in front of their
face. They choose to believe the reality on talk radio, right wing blog,
and FOX. They just choose to believe that reality.

MATTHEWS: Wow. How do you match that thinking? That`s pretty tough. I
agree because how else do you explain why they want to run a suicidal
campaign?

SUSAN MILLIGAN, U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT: Well, look, there`s been a lot
of demographic and social changes in this country in the past 50 years, and
particularly last 20 years. You know, when the Tea Party has these signs
that said, we want our country back and the pictures they hold up are the
African-American president, the female speaker and the gay committee
chairman, that`s not an accident. So, they -- their panic over losing the
world that they knew 30 years ago is greater than the panic they have over
not winning a presidential election.

And as long as that is the case, I don`t think they`re going to nominate
somebody like Chris Christie.

MATTHEWS: Yes, well, it might be right. Anyway, Alex Wagner`s great show
today here on MSNBC, President Clinton was asked, boy, did she got a good
get. She got Bill Clinton who was asked about Christie`s penchant for
working with Democrats like President Obama.

Here`s the political expert of the century here -- Bill Clinton talking.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT: In the culture of the
Northeast, if you`re a Republican and you want to get elected and get
reelected, bipartisanship is imperative. In the sort of the way we`ve
separated out our cultures, in the Deep South and some of the Intermountain
West, if you want to do that, you get creamed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: You know, he`s amazingly smart, he makes it pretty simple there.
It`s geography. And I think he`s right.

Joy?

REID: Yes. No, I think that is true in the actually governing of the
country. But, look, we`re in a post-governing phase of American history.
The Republican Party is no longer coming to Washington to govern. They`ve
come to serve this ideology that they feel if it`s not the majority should
be, and they want to dominate the country.

If you think about Chris Christie`s actual prospects, the nuts and bolts of
winning a campaign. Could win New Hampshire? Sure. Could he win South
Carolina? No. He could probably win Florida.

But he does have the one thing he probably would need if he wants to be
competitive, which is he`s right near Wall Street. If the money wing of
the party decides that Chris Christie is the best way to go against
Clinton, it`s hard to believe that this right wing base could stop it
except, except, that the Tea Party has proved that when they want something
badly enough, they can take over the party. They can gum up the works and
grab hold of it.

MATTHEWS: OK, you`re so smart, Joy. I`m going to ask you both -- I`m
going to ask Susan first. Who wins Ohio, Hillary versus Christie? That`s
the state we can always look at as the bellwether.

REID: I think Hillary.

MILLIGAN: I think Hillary as well.

MATTHEWS: Christie will upset here. Is it close enough?

MILLIGAN: No.

REID: Because the union issue is so fresh in Ohio.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: You`re making the point on the right, they might, as well have
fun because they`re going to lose anyway. They might as well run a real
ringer and enjoy themselves, enjoy the joy ride because if you`re going to
lose with a practical candidate like Christie, why run him?

REID: Well, I think because the Tea Party won in 2010 and the country got
to experience them in swing states like Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, I think
those states are lost to them he because the people in those states have
risen up and said we don`t want to go this far. So, I think those states
go back to the Democrats.

Christie could have if we hadn`t had the Tea Party.

MATTHEWS: OK, we`re watching something live right now. There is Christie
and the former president having a nice chat. They`ll make some news for
tomorrow.

Anyway, Joy Reid and Susan Milligan, thanks for joining us.

We`ll be right back.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Remember when Barbara Bush said the country has had enough
Bushes and perhaps your son Jeb shouldn`t run for president next time?

Well, apparently not everyone in the Bush clan agrees. Jeb was asked on
ABC how his dad George Herbert Walker Bush feels on that. His answer, "I
think we`ve got a split ballot among the Bush senior family." I`m pretty
that`s the case. Well, in fact, Jeb spoke today at the conservative Faith
and Freedom Coalition, we just showed him.

I can`t miss out (ph) for Republican presidential hopefuls. I think he`s
running.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Obviously, this is a great
way for us to celebrate Father`s Day and just to remind ourselves those of
us who are fathers how lucky we are. It`s the best job I`ve got. And I
know that all the fathers here feel the same way. And the idea that we
might get afternoon ice cream is always good.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Wow, it`s Father`s Day this weekend, of course. It`s a whole
new world out there for the American father, according to the latest
statistics.

Just this week, golfer Phil Mickelson did something really amazing. It
proved how fathers are putting family first. Look at this -- he traveled
all night before his first round at the U.S. Open at Merion Country Club
outside Philly, arriving with the course just 90 minutes to spare. Also,
he could attend his daughter`s eighth grade graduation and he was nowhere -
- he shot a 3 under par 67. He is just off the lead.

Anyway, that`s anecdotal. But Pew Research has the facts about how much
more involved today`s fathers are in home life. Catch this: fathers spend
three times as many hours per week with their children as they did back in
`65, 1965, though, 7.3 hours per week. It`s still about half the time
mothers spend.

By the way, I did the statistics. Fathers even at their best, the new
fathers, with the kids about 10 percent of their waking life. So, it`s not
dramatically better. They spend five few hours a week at work than they
did in `65 and fathers spend more than double the hours per week doing
housework than they did back in `65, although again, mothers still do twice
as much housework as fathers, generally.

And one of the starkest changes, mothers are now the sole or primary bread
winner in 40 percent of all households, two out of five. In 1960, that was
just 11 percent of the homes. So, that is a big change. Women carrying
the money load in households across the country.

Joining me are two modern American fathers we think, MSNBC contributor and
former U.S. Congressman Patrick Murphy of Pennsylvania, and "Time"
magazine`s Michael Scherer, who wrote this week`s cover story on the NSA.
There it is.

So, we were taken, Michael, our producers and I, with what a good father
you are, because you make decisions that don`t necessarily help you at
work, but definitely make your fatherhood more richer.

MICHAEL SCHERER, TIME: Yes. I -- well, I don`t see myself as a hero here.
I think I`d say it`s always a trade-off. You can never do it all. You`re
either going to be hurting your work or you`re going to be hurting your
family, and you have to make those decisions. You`re going to have to
leave work and not do as good a job as you would otherwise if you were
single and able to stay at the office all night as I was once was able to.

MATTHEWS: Women for years when they still do who work outside the home
have this terrible tension, which is I`m at work, I should be at home. I`m
at home, I should be at work.

SCHERER: Yes. Well, I feel bad if I`m not home by 6:00. And I`m often
not home by 6:00 and I feel bad.

I mean, right now, my family is going out the have pizza. I will get
there, I`ll be a little late. But, you know, that pulls on you. Every
choice you make is a choice between one or the other, and there`s no way of
doing it all and you just have to battle through this. No right answer.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: When My dad always sitting at the table at 6:00, where is the
dinner? Only a different way of ruling back then. Much more male
dominant, I got to tell you.

Well, Patrick, your happiness story. Please still us how you live and how
you`re a great dad, if you are.

PATCIK MURPHY, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, try to be, Chris. And I think the
key is about quality over quantity. I mean, we all wish we could spend
more time with our children. I have two little ones. Maggie is 6, Jack is
3.

You know, I know my daughter just graduated kindergarten last week, and I
rushed from the studios in New York to be home, you know, for that 6:00
graduation. And, you know, it`s a balance.

But when you have a partner -- I have been very blessed. I have a great
wife who also works outside the home. But we balance it. And we`re a
team. One is not more important than the other.

And I think that the kids see that as a role model and understand it`s a
partnership, and we love them, and we try to spend as much quality time as
we possibly can.

MATTHEWS: Do you know all your kids` teachers?

MURPHY: I do. Mrs. Morrison is a terrific teacher.

MATTHEWS: You know their names.

MURPHY: Oh, yes. Toni Morrison. And Sister Mary teaches religion class.
So --

MATTHEWS: Patrick, I got you on the hot seat here.

Do you know what shots the kids have had?

MURPHY: Who, me or Michael?

MATTHEWS: Do you know what shots the kids have had? You. It`s still on
you. I`m still hitting you here.

MURPHY: No problem. My wife will tell you, Chris, I don`t do enough. I
got to --

MATTHEWS: Michael, do you know what shots the kids have had?

SCHERER: I don`t know the shots. I got the teachers. I actually spent
today on a field trip with my older son.

MATTHEWS: So, could you -- if you had to answer the answer the question,
what shots are the kids -- how would you do it? You go to your wife?

SCHERER: I would go to my wife or the doctor.

MURPHY: Let me tell you a story, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Sure.

MURPHY: The worst thing in the world is I`m there -- when I take my kids
to the shots and specially my son Jack who got his shots 2-year-old shots
about a year ago. And to have to hold his arms down in the chair while the
nurse is doing it, it`s the worst feeling in the world. But you know what?
You had to take care of the little guy so he doesn`t get sick.

MATTHEWS: It`s different. Anyway, thank you. My dad was a hardworking
guy. My mom kept the checkbook, everything.

Who keeps the checkbook? I won`t ask that one.

Anyway, Patrick Murphy, thank you. And Michael Scherer, good daddies for
the weekend. I`m a grandfather now, do you believe it? And Julia waits
for me I hope tonight.

When we return, let me finish with Darrell Issa and his so-called IRS
investigation, which is nothing of the sort.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this.

I`d like to say something now about this thing at the IRS. If Elijah
Cummings is right, it`s not a scandal, it`s more like a screw-up. If it`s
about something else that happened at the IRS itself or beyond that, it
doesn`t look right now. If there is no reason to believe that the Obama
people we involved in singling out the Tea Party and the Patriot groups
looking for tax exempt status, then let`s be honest, everyone, and say so.

Isn`t that the fair thing to do? You know, innocent until proven guilty?
Or is there is a new rule across the land that you can keep accusing
someone of something as long as you darn well please, as long as you`ve got
a mic in your hand or a committee chairmanship. You can spew out charges
until you drop.

Well, if that`s the game, then the rule of fairness, of truth, of common
sense is out the window. If all you`re doing is calling names, you`re no
different than the bully in the schoolyard recess yard, the bully who mocks
and humiliates and is the worst memory from our youths, the person who is
everything wrong in human life, the kid who we try and if fortunate are
able to leave behind in human society`s backwash.

And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.

And all of you dads out there -- have a happy Father`s Day.

"POLITICS NATION" with Al Sharpton starts right now.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
BE UPDATED.
END

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