July 11, 2014
Guest: Bill Richardson, Howard Dean, Michelle Bernard, Piper Kerman
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in
"Let Me Start" this Friday with a political leadership of this country
that`s so screwed up, it cannot take action even with the urgent situation
of 52,000 children now warehoused down on the Texas border. The U.S. House
of Representatives, as every high school of civics is taught, controls
government spending. Yet the speaker of the House, who happens to be -- or
should I say, thinks only of being a Republican, refuses to act. He sits
around pointing his finger at the president for causing the problem of
these children, as if pointing the finger somehow deals with the situation
The president, I have to admit, is also refusing to do his part, which
is to admit that one cause of the current debacle at the U.S. border is the
law that president George W. Bush signed intended to kill sex trafficking,
a law that`s being exploited right now in countries like Honduras to ship
children overland to the U.S.
Nancy Pelosi, with all her progressive and compassionate views for
these children, said there needs to be some accommodation between the two
parties on this issue. Here`s Pelosi yesterday on changing that 2008 law.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: Really, what`s important
is to get the supplemental. What price we have to pay to do that, we`ll
see in the course of the debate. But I would have hoped that they would
not have made that change. I don`t think -- it`s not a deal breaker.
There`s an emergency. There`s a burning building. We have to put out
the fire. I`m not going to have a conversation about the color of the
buckets that the water is in.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Wow. So why can`t people whose job it is to be politicians
figure out how to do the job of politicians and work this out? Why does
this debacle have to be one more piece of evidence to remember the question
Casey Stengel asked when he was managing the then hapless New York Mets --
Can`t anybody play this game?
Why can`t politicians do what politicians are supposed to do, find a
way to get through the disagreement, pass around the hot potato, if you
have to, but get this done, get these children taken care of?
Bill Richardson was governor of New Mexico. And Howard Fineman is an
MSNBC political analyst and editorial director of the Huffington Post Media
Group. Gentlemen, thank you. I need veterans. I`ve got two here. OK.
The president did not include in his proposal the other day, this
emergency proposal for $3.7 billion to deal with the situation on the
border -- he didn`t propose formally a revision of that law, which really
probably encouraged those kids to be shipped up here. At the same time,
Pelosi, who`s a liberal and wants to help the kids, says, Look, if we have
to make a deal here to get this emergency aid, I`m willing to make some
changes in that law.
How are we going to solve this problem, get the two sides together?
Boehner is sitting on his butt.
BILL RICHARDSON (D), FMR. NEW MEXICO GOVERNOR: I think the speaker
has to finally say to his Tea Party constituency, Look, we`ve got a
humanitarian crisis, 50,000 kids. The borders are porous. A deal needs to
be made, I mean, in exchange for the president getting is $3.7 billion,
which is going to be more judges, it`s going to be detention centers.
It`s -- what is really needed is cracking down on those smugglers and
traffickers because the kids are victims. But there are a lot of bad
people involved in this. In exchange, you know, you clarify the law. You
basically plug the loophole that I believe has become a problem.
MATTHEWS: And it`s doable.
RICHARDSON: It`s doable. The problem, Chris, is this dysfunctional
Congress may not act before the August recess. If that happens, this
crisis -- it`s going to get to $100,000 kids by the end of the fiscal year.
I saw that from the Homeland Security...
MATTHEWS: Well, what -- look at (INAUDIBLE) Howard (INAUDIBLE)
Howard, listen to this, too, the same question. What happens when we get
more pictures of these kids sleeping on the floors of bathrooms? They --
these kids come -- they`re pretty well dressed, these kids. Their parents
put them on their best -- put their best clothes on them. They`ve got
sneakers like the kind I grew up with. They`ve got polo shirts, like I
grew up with.
They look OK right now, but two or three more weeks of this, two or
three more months of sleeping like they are on the floor, with no education
opportunities, no parental contact -- and these are babies, these are kids
-- this going to make, you would think, the Republicans look really bad.
HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST MEDIA GROUP, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:
Well, I think -- I think...
MATTHEWS: Go ahead.
FINEMAN: I think there are a number of Republicans who are -- who are
beginning to worry and wonder about that, actually. It`s fascinating to
watch within the Republican Party and the conservative movement what
amounts to a war between Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck right now. Glenn
FINEMAN: Well, Glenn Beck, who can be very scary on a number of
fronts and an ultra-conservative, ultra-libertarian, call him what you
will, has expressed a lot of concern and sense of compassion and about --
and expressed the need to do something about the humanitarian -- it is a
humanitarian crisis, certainly potential, if not actual crisis on the
border. And as a result...
MATTHEWS: What`s Limbaugh say?
FINEMAN: Well, Limbaugh says, you know, build a fence, secure the
border. You know, he`s totally -- he`s totally taken the, Let`s stop the
flow, let`s be afraid, let`s blame Barack Obama for having almost a
conspiracy to let -- to let illegals in. I mean, that`s where some of the
Republican thinking is.
But I think there are a number of Republicans -- Glenn Beck, oddly
enough, Karl Rove, to name another -- and several others who are saying,
Hey, wait a minute. Even before the 2014 elections, which is what all this
calculation is about -- even before 2014, the Republicans need to change
their tone in substance about this.
But right now, John Boehner is being controlled by the Tea Party
caucus in his chamber, and Harry Reid doesn`t have the full, detailed,
full-out backing of the White House, with details about what the $3.7
billion is for, with willingness...
FINEMAN: ... to change that 2008 law. So everybody`s sitting on
their hands, and it`s a humanitarian crisis.
MATTHEWS: You know, Glenn Beck sends teddy bears to these kids. It`s
a nice token. How can it hurt? But I`m thinking about the weird part of
the Republican Party. And I can understand, we`ve got a right as Americans
to have border rules (ph) and to enforce them. It should be progressive.
But look what happened. Rick Perry got in trouble because he had in-
state tuition for children of illegal immigrants, right? The kids.
MATTHEWS: Rubio got in trouble for even talking reform. It seems
like there`s a wall they`ve got, the Republicans. If you show any
compassion or looseness in terms of people here illegally without paper, or
if you do anything to show you`re shaking hands with the president on any
issue, you`re dead meat.
RICHARDSON: But especially on immigration. And I think the
Republican Party is going to have to get out of this cocoon, where the
moderates that have been reasonable, like former president Bush...
MATTHEWS: And Lindsey Graham.
RICHARDSON: ... and Lindsey Graham, and say, Look, we can`t continue
doing this. It`s going to look awful if these kids from Central America
that are fleeing from oppressive governments...
MATTHEWS: How about if they get...
RICHARDSON: ... they start getting sick -- yes, I mean, there are
some diseases coming in, too.
RICHARDSON: And these smugglers and traffickers get rich and they
exploit these kids and these families that somehow -- the pictures are
going to be such that Republicans will lose Hispanics not just this
election but in 2016, because, really, you know, you can`t say, Well, these
are Central Americans. These are not Mexican-Americans. I think the
politics for the Republican Party are explosive.
Now, differently for the president. You know, the president, I think,
has to move forward. And I like what he did with the...
MATTHEWS: Will he touch the hot potato and talk about revising the
2012 law -- 2008 law, or not?
RICHARDSON: I think what should be explored is maybe there`s an
executive way that through an executive order that law can be tightened and
clarified. But what also has to happen is...
MATTHEWS: But you know the Republicans are watching him like a hawk.
RICHARDSON: Oh, I know.
MATTHEWS: Any administrative action he takes, any executive order.
Maybe they`ll want him to do this one, but generally, they think any time
he does anything administratively, he ought to be impeached or sued or
RICHARDSON: But you know, another step, Chris, the governments of
Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala -- they`re our friends, but they`re doing
nothing. They see it as, well, a safety valve for them. Let it happen.
It`s not becoming our problem. It`s the U.S.`s problem. So...
MATTHEWS: But wait a minute. You know, when Castro, who I`ve never
liked, unloaded the Mariel boatload back in 1980 and cost Bill Clinton his
re-election on it, he was letting people who had mental problems, they were
criminals, all kinds of people down there. These are the victims of that.
MATTHEWS: These aren`t the bad people. He`s not getting rid of the
drug dealers. He`s getting rid of the victims!
RICHARDSON: That`s true, but there are a lot of drug dealers and
smugglers and what are called pojeros (ph) that come in and exploit these
kid that these governments could control a lot better than they are doing.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, here`s what Boehner, the speaker -- his caucus
apparently wants done on the border. Quote, "They want to limit the 2000
(sic) law designed to protect children against human trafficking, something
President Obama is looking at doing, as well." Of course, what we`ve been
talking about it.
Senators McCain and Flake, both of Arizona, want mandatory detention
or monitoring of these young people at the border now, including the use of
ankle bracelets or (INAUDIBLE) monitors. Others want to cut off aid to
those dangerous Central American countries themselves, many of which are
plagued by gangs and violent criminals. Anyway, John Boehner also wants to
send in the National Guard to help guard the border.
Howard. these solutions -- I think we all know that ankle bracelets
on 8-year-olds seems a little extreme. I mean, you don`t really do that
even to tax evaders, let alone to kids.
MATTHEWS: Your thoughts?
FINEMAN: Chris -- OK, my thoughts here, and based on the campaigns
I`ve covered and the Tea Party rallies I have attended, this is about
holding up a hand and saying, Stop, staying, No, saying that the president
is somehow not on our side, that somehow, he doesn`t have America`s best
interests at heart. It`s a deeply emotional and xenophobic appeal.
Sure, there are problems at the border. Sure, there`s problems with
immigration. Sure, the Central American countries haven`t always been
cooperative. And sure, the other problems that the governor talks about
But what the Republicans care about for addressing their core
constituencies in the 2014 midterm elections, low turn-out elections, is
that fear factor. And it`s that fear factor that they address with these
kinds of measures, talking only about deterrence, talking only about
sending people back, talking only about military solutions.
And they`re sort of trying to do on a domestic basis what they used to
do to Democrats in foreign policy and defense, that they`re weak, that
somehow, the Democrats are weak.
FINEMAN: And instead of the communists that we were weak in the face
of, it`s the immigrants that they`re weak...
FINEMAN: ... we are weak in the face of. That is the emotional
appeal to the base of the Republican Party that I think the Republicans are
going to pursue in 2014, no matter what the consequences for 2016. The
only question is whether it could hurt them in 2014. And that`s something
I think that Karl Rove, among other people, is actually worried about.
RICHARDSON: The problem here, Chris, is this is a result of the
failure of the Congress not coming up with immigration reform, which would
address the issue of border security, technology, plugging this loophole...
RICHARDSON: ... the legalization, the path to citizenship for the 11
million, and the most important issue, the economic issue, you know, the
H1-B visas, the skilled workers...
MATTHEWS: Yes, I know.
RICHARDSON: ... bringing them in, good for our economy. Immigration
reform is dead. And so any kind of maneuver that deals with it or any kind
of piece of legislation is immediately suspect.
But look, I know I`m biased, but the Republican Party, the emergence
of that middle has to come up and stop this, or they`re going to be hurt
MATTHEWS: Well said. Thank you, Governor Bill Richardson -- always
liked you, sir. Thanks for coming on the show on this topic. Howard
Fineman, as always, you know your stuff.
Coming up: If John Boehner`s attempt to sue President Obama was
intended to put off the impeachment talk, it`s done just the opposite.
He`s put more fire into the gasoline -- or gasoline into the fire.
Also, the facts prove to be the right`s enemy again in Benghazi. We
now know that that stand-down order preventing aid from coming to save
those people never came from Hillary Clinton or any other administration
official. It was from the military itself. Please proceed, Chairman Issa.
Plus, a treat for fans of "Orange Is the New Black." Piper Kerman,
whose book about her time in prison herself inspired the series, joins us
tonight here on Friday.
And finally, shutting down the government nine months ago didn`t stop
certain other activity. We`re talking baby boom. It`s like when the
lights went out in New York all those years ago!
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, if New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who obviously
still faces all kinds of legal questions back home, wants to win the
Republican presidential nomination for 2016, he`s got to win New Hampshire,
of course, that primary. And so far, he`s looking good up there.
According to a new Granite State poll from WMUR and the University of
New Hampshire, Christie, the governor of New Jersey, leads the Republican
field in New Hampshire by 5 points. Look at him up there. It`s Christie
on top with 19, his highest total since last July, before his troubles
surfaced in Jersey. Rand Paul second at 14, followed by Jeb Bush at 11.
Mike Huckabee and Marco Rubio round out the top five with 8 percent each.
It`s worth noting that if Mitt Romney gets (INAUDIBLE) watch this --
he`d dominate the field with nearly 40 percent support. I think Romney`s
getting in this race. I don`t think Christie`s going to make this race.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. House Speaker John Boehner`s
attempt to put out the impeachment fire stoked by Republican extremists may
have inadvertently poured gasoline onto the fire. If Boehner figured he
could satisfy the rabid lions in his party who want to impeach the
president with a lawsuit, it hasn`t worked.
As Sarah Palin made clear on Fox News, Boehner`s lawsuit is a weak
effort at best.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH PALIN (R-AK), FMR. GOV., FOX CONTRIBUTOR: Americans, Congress,
those who are concerned about protecting our Constitution and using the one
tool that Congress does have to halt what is going on -- this lawlessness
coming from the top -- the one tool they have are articles of impeachment.
Let`s get going on that. And it`s not necessarily, Sean, a lawsuit being
filed by Congress because you don`t bring a lawsuit to a gun fight!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Everybody`s a little worse when they do Sean Hannity.
Anyway, Boehner`s lawsuit, which will narrowly sue the president over
a delay in the Affordable Care Act employer mandate provision, will hardly
be the hunk of red meat necessary to satisfy the crazies.
Joining me right now is former Vermont governor Howard Dean and
MSNBC`s Ron Reagan. Thank you, gentleman. I like you both. Thank you for
Start with the governor. You know, I think Boehner -- I always
sympathize with him as sort of a Jack Lemmon character in, like, "Save the
Tiger," some movie where he`s the beaten-upon business guy who`s trying to
just save the business. And yet he comes on -- Luke Russert asks him a
question, he looks like he`s going to burst into tears. And then the guy
says, I just want to sue the president. I don`t want to impeach him. And
now it turns out his suit is so narrow and puny that people like Palin are
jumping all over him for not having enough macho!
HOWARD DEAN (D), FMR. VERMONT GOVERNOR: You know, it`s fascinating to
watch the Republican Party implode. I thought the segment you had earlier,
where the Republican Party was characterized by this Tea Party extreme, it
made me think, you know, where is the Joe McCarthy -- where is the Joe
McCarthy moment, the Joe Walsh or the Ralph Flanders standing up to
somebody in his own party, Ralph Flanders, and calling him out? That`s
what`s going to happen, and Boehner`s not the right guy.
Boehner -- I`m -- I -- you know, when Boehner came into office, I
thought, OK, this guy`s got what it takes to be speaker. Obviously, he`s a
Republican. I`m not going to agree with him. He doesn`t have what it
takes to be Speaker. He`s been trying to temporize the whole time. He`s
lacked the guts, except in a few instances, which he did show, to stand up
against the extreme right. He`s not calling them out.
The Republicans are going to just -- are going to implode over this
kind of stuff, and I think it may happen in 2014. They may snatch defeat
from the jaws of victory in 2014.
MATTHEWS: Well, Governor, along that line, just while you`re talking
there, do you think he might be a little bit scared by the fact his number
two guy, in fact, his number one friend, Eric Cantor, gets knocked off,
right next to him? Two days later, he comes out with this idea of suing
the president. He seems like his way of defending himself against
elimination is to offer this weaker version, this impeachment lite, if you
DEAN: I think he`s such a nuts and bolts guy, which you do have to be
if you`re going to be the speaker, but he`s forgotten the most important
characteristic in any successful politician is courage. I don`t believe he
doesn`t have any courage, we just haven`t seen any yet, except in those
rare instances where he did, in fact, team up with Democrats to overthrow
the Tea Party and get some reasonable piece of legislation passed.
So you know, this lawsuit is just, as they say in the Bronx, bupkes.
I mean, it really is.
DEAN: It`s -- and I`m not a lawyer, but you know, first of all, I
can`t imagine they`re going to get -- they have standing. What harm has
Congress been done? Second of all, it looks awful politically.
DEAN: That this guy is so impotent that they have to go to the court
to resolve this?
And third of all, they have now voted down Obamacare 45 times. And
now they are going to try the courts, and now, when 9.5 million more
Americans have health insurance, including some conservative people who are
pleasantly surprised by all this? I just am scratching my head trying to
figure out what the hell it the matter with this party.
MATTHEWS: Bubkes, Ron. How`s your Yiddish tonight?
MATTHEWS: I don`t know whether we call him a schlemiel. What do we
The guy doesn`t come off as a leader, but let me go back to the
particular point here. He thought after Eric Cantor got knocked off that
he was going to play Mr. Tough Guy against the president by pushing this
legal lawsuit, at which point Sarah Palin comes out and says, like she`s
Jimmy in "The Untouchables," don`t bring a lawsuit to the gunfight. She
thinks she`s a Chicago cop or something. Your thoughts?
By the way, welcome back, Ron.
RON REAGAN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Thank you. Thank you.
Well, as a political party, you can hardly lose by following Sarah
Palin`s advice, can you? Why does she always have to bring guns into every
discussion? I`m not really sure.
MATTHEWS: She`s a bear killer.
REAGAN: Yes, exactly.
But here`s the Republican Party once again presenting themselves with
all sorts of catch-22 situations. I assume that John Boehner is trying to
appeal to the -- as well as to people in his party that are there in
Congress, the 20 percent of America that`s really the most ignorant 20
percent of America, i.e., the Republican base.
The problem with that is that while you are appealing to that ignorant
20 percent, the more reasonable-minded 80 percent of the country comes to
think that you`re really crazy and irresponsible.
And as you have pointed out, the second catch-22, he`s obviously
trying to placate his fellow Republicans in Congress. See, immigrant do
this lawsuit thing so maybe you will put away your impeachment stuff. No,
no, no, they want him handing out pitchforks and torches. They want him to
suggest that we draw and quarter Obama on the South Lawn. That`s where
they are going. This thing isn`t going to satisfy them in the least.
MATTHEWS: You have just given them a new standard, draw and
quartering the president. If you`re not for that, you`re not a real
REAGAN: That`s right.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, the lawsuit appears to have energized President
Obama. Let`s listen to him. He`s making movie references now. Here he
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There is a great movie
called "The Departed," a little violent for kids, but...
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: There is a scene where Mark Wahlberg -- they`re on a stakeout.
And somehow the guy loses the guy that they`re tracking.
And Wahlberg`s all upset and yelling at the guy. And the guy looks up
and he says, well, who are you? And Wahlberg says, I`m the guy doing my
job. You must be the other guy.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: Sometimes, I feel like saying to these guys, I`m the guy doing
my job. You must be the other guy.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, I`m convinced -- the president of doing one thing.
He is doing movie references more than he used to.
Anyway, the president is admittedly letting it rip, lately pointing
out that he`s not running for office again. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: So when you -- when folks say they are frustrated with
Congress, let`s be clear about what the problem is. I`m just telling the
truth now. I don`t have to run for office again. So I can just, you know,
let her rip.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Governor, thanks for joining us tonight.
I just wonder what -- what a joke this all is. I mean, I love
politics. I believe the system works somehow. I still believe it. But
when they spend all this time on Benghazi and they spend all this time
refusing to help the president deal with these 50,000 kids, which is not an
immigration. It`s a humanity issue right now, short-term, urgent. Let`s
deal with these kids and make sure they are taken care of well, they get
their fair rights.
It`s not about the long-term big questions. They can`t even deal with
the basic blocking and tackling of politics, which is cutting a damn deal
when you have to and moving on, like Pelosi, who is a pro, suggested you
have to do in these situations.
DEAN: Yes, I think that`s right.
If I were leading the Republican Party right now, I would say, OK, Mr.
President, I will give you your 3.7 percent -- your $3.7 billion. Now in
this bill is going to be some border security. Why not? Then they can go
home and declare victory to all their friends.
MATTHEWS: Why are they doing that? You`re a politician. Why can`t
they do that?
DEAN: Because they have completely lost their way.
And, honestly, there are a great many of them that are completely
incapable. I saw the chairman of the Finance Committee the other day talk
about the -- or excuse me -- the Budget -- or one of the committees in the
House, Banking Committee, I guess it was -- talk about how the restrictions
on banks are hurting the economy.
The restrictions on banks are hurting the economy? How did we get
into the economy? We got into the economy by not having the restrictions
on big banks.
MATTHEWS: Of course.
DEAN: This is lunatic -- this is ideological nonsense. It reminds me
of the who lost China debate in the 1950s, where one side is frothing at
the mouth and finding communists under every bed, and the other side,
including some reasonable Republicans like Dwight Eisenhower, are actually
trying to run the country.
I think the American people look at this. I`m predicting right now,
Chris, we hold the Senate 52-48, right now, because...
MATTHEWS: Good for you. I hope you`re right.
Let me go to Ron on this question, because I think the governor is
right are. A lot of these lawmakers are sitting around reading Ayn Rand`s
"Atlas Shrugged" like it`s the little red book of Mao.
It`s like all the information is in this book. All we have to do is
deregulate, which is how we got into the problem, as the governor points
out, in terms of the financial crisis. Everybody knows that. We got into
problem because of deregulation. They say the answer now is deregulation.
REAGAN: Well, the subtext for all of this, whether it`s the
Affordable Care Act or immigration or anything else, is the idea that the
Republicans have that government can`t do anything good.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, they`re proving it.
REAGAN: You can`t let government do anything, whether it`s health
care or immigration.
MATTHEWS: Well, don`t they win that argument, Ron, by the way they
screw everything up? Don`t they win by screwing it up?
REAGAN: Well, that`s what they`re trying to do. By screwing
everything up, you prove that government can`t do anything good.
And if Obama is going to do something, even if it`s something the
Republicans want to do, like more border enforcement, they`re, well, no,
you can`t let him do it either, because then his government would be doing
something good, even if it`s something you want them to do.
MATTHEWS: Ron, it`s that sick.
REAGAN: It is that sick.
MATTHEWS: You have nailed it. They don`t want -- they won`t even do
what they want to do deeply and primordially because it might give this guy
a brownie point.
REAGAN: That`s right.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you.
Governor Dean, it`s great to have you back. I missed you all the
And, Ron, take care of yourself. Thanks for coming on, Ron Reagan.
DEAN: Thanks, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Up next: the one lively and productive side to last year`s
government shutdown. It was definitely productive, even creative, more of
us because of less of government, truly. Wait until you see this story.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL and time for the "Sideshow."
Recent news suggests that there may have been at least one positive
outcome from last October`s government shutdown. But in this case, it took
a full nine months before anyone could evaluate the data with conclusive
Doctors have noticed a baby boom in the Washington area lately, with
Sibley Memorial Hospital reporting that live births are up by three per
day. So, despite being furloughed from their jobs during the shutdown,
thousands of government workers at home last October were still able to
keep themselves busy. Well done, Washington.
Finally, the U.S. Selective Service in the agency in charge of
drafting citizens to serve in the military, should that need ever arise.
But this week, draft registration notices were accidentally sent out to
over 14,000 men born in the years between 1893 and 1897.
Yes, you heard that correctly. The recipients of those letters would
be well over 100 years old today. As you can imagine, the mistake left
many of the living grandchildren and great grandchildren of those
But, as it turned out, the culprit was a computer glitch which
confused the 20th century with the 19th. Of course, the agency didn`t
realize that they had loaded the wrong database onto the letters before
they had -- after they had already gone out.
And this is why people -- you heard it here -- have a problem
believing in government effectiveness.
Up next, new facts disprove the right-wing accusations over Benghazi.
It turns out the military never got a stand-down order from Hillary Clinton
or anyone else.
And that`s ahead. You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
PAGE HOPKINS, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Page Hopkins. Here`s what`s
The 15-year-old girl who survived the Texas shooting rampage that left
the rest of her family dead, she is out of the hospital. Ronald Lee
Haskell is charged with murdering the girl`s parents and four siblings. He
appeared in court earlier today.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says airstrikes on Hamas
targets in Gaza will not stop until rocket fire from the area is halted.
And Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Fidel Castro in Cuba.
The two reportedly spoke for about an hour -- and now we`re going to take
you back to HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Well, now there`s fresh indication for the Obama administration on
Benghazi that won`t make critics on the right very happy. Outspoken
Republican critics of this administration`s response to the 2012 Benghazi
attacks, GOP red hots Darrell Issa and Jason Chaffetz, have hammered away
at the theory that someone, perhaps Hillary Clinton, gave a stand-down
order which held back military personnel who could have saved U.S.
Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans killed at the diplomatic
outpost and CIA annex.
But on Wednesday of this week, transcripts of closed-door interviews
with nine military officials conducted by leaders from two GOP-controlled
House committees, Republican committees, were released. And those military
leaders said Republicans are just wrong. No stand-down order was ever
given for the attacks on Benghazi.
The decision to remain in Tripoli was a military one, it turns out,
not a political one. The Associated Press writes today -- quote -- "The
senior military officer who issued the instruction to remain in place to
those military people and the detachment leader who received it said it was
the right decision, it turns out, and has been widely mischaracterized by
the media and the opposition."
And this comes from a third House committee controlled by the GOP. A
new special select committee plans to spend as much as $3.3 million to
conduct another investigation into Benghazi. These new revelations not
only vindicate President Obama and Hillary Clinton, who critics say were
guilty of dereliction of duty, but dealt another blow to right-wing hopes
to turn the Benghazi tragedy into an election issue designed to hurt
Democrats this November and beyond.
MSNBC political analyst David Corn is Washington bureau chief for
"Mother Jones," and Michelle Bernard is president and CEO of the Bernard
Center for Women, Politics and Public Policy.
I bow to you, sir. You`re good at this. How does this challenge the
narrative, the new term, that somehow Hillary Clinton was screwing around,
didn`t take it seriously, in fact, actively said don`t send anybody there
to help these guys?
DAVID CORN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, it doesn`t change
anything, because we knew this already. Some of these guys had testified
or told reporters the same story. The fact that their testimony is coming
MATTHEWS: Where did the stand-down argument that somebody at the top,
the secretary of state, secretary of whatever or the president said don`t
let those guys go to help them from Tripoli to Benghazi?
CORN: Well, Darrell Issa, Jason Chaffetz and others have been
Even Trey Gowdy, the responsible person they brought in to head up
this new $3 million-a-year Benghazi investigation for the House
Republicans, have all suggested or said explicitly that there was a stand-
down offer -- a stand-down...
MATTHEWS: Where did they get it from?
CORN: I don`t know. But you know what it involves?
MATTHEWS: You don`t know. They just dreamed it up?
CORN: It involves four special operations officers who were in
Tripoli. And the idea that they could fly 600 miles to Benghazi and stop
something after it was already under way was bizarre to begin with.
But they were never told to stand down. They stayed in place in
Tripoli and actually one of them ended up saving the life of somebody
brought back from Benghazi.
CORN: But we knew all this. So, it`s not going to change anything.
But, again, you have to wonder. What dot House Republicans have? The
talking points? That doesn`t mean anything anymore. The stand-down order,
Hillary Clinton, who is not even in the chain of command? They don`t even
know the basic way the government works. She couldn`t give a stand-down
command to military officers.
But that`s gone now. So, it`s really quite a mystery what they will
spend $3 million on over the course of the next year.
MATTHEWS: It`s become, I don`t know, one of those things, what did
they use to call them, El Dorado for Republicans, some place they are going
looking for somebody, looking for the land of gold and youth forever.
CORN: The fountain of youth.
MATTHEWS: The fountain of youth. There`s an absurd journey they`re
Where are they going with Benghazi?
MICHELLE BERNARD, FOUNDER, BERNARD CENTER FOR WOMEN, POLITICS AND
POLICY: Well, I think they belief is that if they keep saying it over and
over and over again, there`s someone who is going to believe it.
BERNARD: If you take a look at Hillary Clinton, obviously they are
doing this because she more likely than not is going to run for president.
And if she wants it, I believe personally it`s hers.
If you look today at TownHall.com -- it`s a conservative Web site, a
lot of opinion-makers -- they have got a big survey out there. And it sort
of, I think, sort of foreshadows what to come. And it says, vote for the
worst Hillary Clinton scandal.
And they have Benghazi number one, Whitewater number two, Vince Foster
number three, Travelgate number four, and the next one says the next one,
and after that, not sure, undeclared. And they want you to vote on it.
MATTHEWS: But none of them are real. Even Travelgate wasn`t that big
BERNARD: But this is all they have got. This is the 2016 game plan,
Travelgate, Travelgate, Benghazi, Hillary Clinton, scandal, scandal,
scandal. There`s nothing else left to do.
CORN: And I do think Benghazi has become not a matter of reality but
a matter of theology for the Republican base. They believe it doesn`t
matter what the facts are, that Obama or on Hillary, probably both
conspired to do something.
BERNARD: To kill -- they believe they conspired to kill Americans.
It`s absolutely --
MATTHEWS: They killed Vince Foster and then they killed this guy.
CORN: Trey Gowdy -- Trey Gowdy seriously says he goes back to his
district in South Carolina and the number one question on people`s mind is
Benghazi. The people come up to him. They don`t ask about the economy,
they don`t ask him about Iraq. They ask him about Benghazi.
MATTHEWS: He`s chairing a committee on it.
CORN: But they are living in a different world.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, let`s look back at some of the harsh words they
made against the Obama administration. Of course, also against Secretary
Here is a list of some of the attacks, starting with Utah Republican
Jason Chaffetz on FOX.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JASON CHAFFETZ (R), UTAH: The administration, including
Secretary Panetta, were very crystal clear. There were no military assets.
I`ve got to tell you, we had proximity, we had capability, we had four
individuals in Libya, armed, ready to go, dressed, about to get in the car
to go to the airport to go help their fellow countrymen who were dying and
being killed, and under attack in Benghazi, and they were told to stand
And, Sean, of all the things I`ve seen that`s as sickening and
depressing, and disgusting as anything I have seen. That is not the
American way. We had people that were getting killed. We had people who
were willing to risk their lives to go and save them. And somebody told
them to stand down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Oh, somebody.
MATTHEWS: Isn`t that cute? Here`s House Government and Oversight
Chairman Darrell Issa speaking to Republicans in New Hampshire this
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DARRELL ISSA (R), CALIFORNIA: Why there is not one order given
to turn on one Department of Defense asset? I have my suspicions which is,
Secretary Clinton told Leon to stand down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Again, I notice the worst of the Republican craziness
occurs on Sean Hannity`s show. They pandered to him. It`s like Nixon
talking to Haldeman. He`s at his worst.
CORN: But, again, I have my suspicions. Now, take a step back --
this guy is the chairman of a very, very, very important house committee.
That`s a job in Washington that comes with a certain amount of
MATTHEWS: And staff.
CORN: And staff.
MATTHEWS: A lot of staff.
CORN: And money.
And just to say, I have my suspicions of Hillary Clinton, not an iota
of proof and what Jason Chaffetz said is probably one of the most
irresponsible things. The four guys and the fellow who led the detachment
have said that they weren`t told to stand down. It was decided it was
important for them to stay and protect assets in Tripoli.
So, he`s completely wrong. Will anybody get an apology out of him? I
don`t think so.
MATTHEWS: It`s really irresponsible. Hint, hint, it has to be
BERNARD: It has to be Hillary because Hillary is a threat. There are
many people who believe that Hillary is to the right of President Obama on
military issues. That she is more hawkish. For anyone to believe --
MATTHEWS: I`m one of those, by the way.
BERNARD: Well, I believe it. And that makes her a threat for people
on the right.
MATTHEWS: Because they think she can beat them.
BERNARD: They think she can beat them, if they go back and look at
her book and see the things that she said about Syria, they are scared.
So, they want to say Hillary Clinton was in cahoots with Leon Panetta to
override the instructions of the president of the United States to do
everything that you could to save our people and watch Americans be
slaughtered in Benghazi. It`s ridiculous.
CORN: This is like Glenn Beck talk. This is Rush Limbaugh talk.
People who say things without having -- without knowing anything and it
doesn`t stop --
MATTHEWS: That`s called -- there is a word for it.
MATTHEWS: McCarthyism. Hint, hint.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, David Corn -- you are David Corn, right?
MATTHEWS: And Michelle Bernard. Thank you both.
Up next, the TV show "Orange is the New Black" is up for 12, count
`em, 12 Emmys, a dozen Emmys. When we return, we`re going to be talking to
Piper Kerman whose stint in prison herself inspired the show. And what
we`ve got to learn about this.
"Orange is the New Black," coming up.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: What a week for the city of Cleveland. On Tuesday, the
Republican Party picked Cleveland as the host of the 2016 national
convention. Today, LeBron James, the four-time MVP of the National
Basketball Association announced he`s leaving the Miami Heat to return to
Cleveland where he played those first seven years of his spectacular
career. James made the announcement in a first person essay on
sportsillustrated.com titled, simply, "I`m Coming Home."
We`ll be right back after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chapman, let`s go. Up, up, up.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On your feet.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I thought -- I thought that Foley was on duty
today. Is it breakfast already?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. If you`re hungry, lick yesterday`s off the
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. It`s OK. This -- this is art. This is a
yellow warbler drinking out of a daffodil. She just cannot get enough.
I`m calling it "thirsty bird." It`s almost done.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Smells like old Easter in here.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I hate cooked yolks.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You won`t be finishing.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What`s happening?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Or annoying the living crap out of me. Stand up
on your (EXPLETIVE DELETED) feet, inmate. Do you need to pee?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I need to know what`s going on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: That was a scene from season 2 of the Netflix series
"Orange is the New Black". The show was nominated the other day for 12
Emmys, including best comedy. The surprise hit is set in a minimum
security women`s prison up in Connecticut.
It`s loosely based on the memoir of Piper Kerman. Kerman served 13
months in 2004 and 2005. And like the lead character in the show, Kerman
was an unlikely felon. She had a fancy education, including Smith College
and a middle class background.
But in her 20s, she begun dating an older woman who was involved in an
international heroin trafficking ring. And Kerman herself became a
courier. She was later arrested and pled guilty to money laundering. Her
2010 book, "Orange is the New Black" tells the story of her time behind
bars. She`s now a prison reform advocate.
Piper Kerman joins me now.
Thank you so much for coming here today.
Thank you so much for coming here today. It`s great to have you on,
and I want to ask you about what you know that we don`t know, my favorite
Tell me about the part of prison life and the year you spent there
that would surprise the person who`s lucky enough never to do that.
PIPER KERMAN, "ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK": Well, Chris, thanks for
having me this afternoon. It`s nice to see you. I think the thing that is
most surprising to many people about surviving a prison sentence is the
fact that you will rely so heavily on the other prisoners. People think
that going to prison -- the worst thing about prison will be other
prisoners. That`s far from true in my experience.
MATTHEWS: That they can be helpful?
KERMAN: I mean, my experience was that the reason that I survived
prison was because of the kindness of the other women I was doing time
with. It`s a community. It`s a strange involuntary community. No one
wants to be there. That`s for sure. But it is a community nonetheless,
and I treasure the friendships that I made with some of those women that I
did time with.
MATTHEWS: From what you know, and you were only in women`s prison,
and I was at a medium security prison for a night out in Nashville one time
with a group called the Dimas Foundation, helps people in prison, helps
them when they get out. It`s based upon the name of the good thief, from
the crucifixion and the Catholic group.
And one thing I learn is that women are pretty nice to each other and
certainly they don`t create the kind of fearful predatory notions that you
get from male prisoners. Is that is there real difference in the genders
in that case, in a prison life?
KERMAN: Well, it`s true, Chris, that I`ve never been incarcerated in
a men`s prison, and so, it`s hard for me to speculate too much. But I have
visited men`s prisons including, you know, state men`s prisons with guys
who have very serious felonies. There`s such a huge maze of prisons and
jails in this country that there are big differences between let`s say a
city or a county jail versus a minimum security federal prison camp, the
kind of place where I did most of my time or a high security state prison.
Those are really different places with folks who are struggling with
different kinds of conditions and they`re there for different reasons. So
you`ll find really different settings -- regardless of gender, I think.
MATTHEWS: I get this sense that a lot of women are in prison -- maybe
this is a comment I shouldn`t make but I think it`s true, they get in with
the wrong guy.
KERMAN: Well --
MATTHEWS: And -- go ahead. Take it.
KERMAN: Some -- I believe it might be Senator Sessions has referred
to this as the girlfriend problem. Women are overwhelmingly incarcerated
for nonviolent offenses, 2/3 of women in prison are there for a nonviolent
offense and very often drug offenses. It`s absolutely true that many
women, like me, get involved in a relationship with someone who is involved
with narcotics or some other crime.
KERMAN: And that is the begin of a slippery slope. Certainly that
was true for many of the women that I did time --
MATTHEWS: How many of them are these kind of things like cashing bad
checks over and over again and that kind of desperate action of a person
who doesn`t have an education or that maybe the right personality to get a
job. I don`t know.
Tell me about those women that just were down and out to start with.
KERMAN: Well, I mean, where I did time in Connecticut, I was not the
only middle class woman in that prison by any stretch of the imagination.
And some of the other women who might be described as middle class were
there for things like check kiting. A lot of those women had gambling
You know, there are different things that drive women`s involvement in
crime, but the three most consistent things we know drive their involvement
in crime are substance abuse and mental illness and an experience of either
sexual violence or other physical violence in their personal history.
Those are the three things that are overwhelmingly held in common among
women in the criminal justice system and those are the things that drive
them into crime. Yes.
MATTHEWS: Am I wrong to say that some of them are dragged into it by
the wrong company, male or female, that they just rely on people that lure
them into it? You know more than I do.
KERMAN: I think that -- I think that people get involved in networks
of people who offer them either safety or opportunity. The vast majority
of people in prison in this country come from our poorest communities. You
know, 80 percent of people who are accused of a crime are too poor to
afford a lawyer.
So, you see folks who are dealing with much more narrow opportunities
than the kinds of opportunities that I had, for example. You know, I had a
first class --
MATTHEWS: We got to go.
KERMAN: -- public education and, you know, access to college, all
those kinds of things. So, that`s not true for most people who get caught
up in the system.
MATTHEWS: That`s what I felt, too. A lot of people had a very hard
time in life to begin with.
Piper, thank you.
MATTHEWS: Great to meet you. I think you`re doing great work.
KERMAN: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: We`ll be right back after this.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this Benghazi thing.
To me, there`s been one fine target here for the Republicans. It`s to
somehow show that the president and/or the secretary of state didn`t do all
that was humanly possible to save the American ambassador and his people,
didn`t spend those hours working the phone, working every option to get
help to them while there was still a chance to save them. Anything less
than that would be the kind of dereliction of duty, of course, to warrant
This has been the charge, the adversaries of President Obama and
former Secretary Clinton have been advancing. It`s a shot to the heart, of
course, an attempt to bring both or either of them down with a single
Well, based on the freshest information, they missed. The military
people involved on the ground in Libya at that time say there was never an
order from the political people to stand down. One telling them not to go
to the aid of the diplomats led by Ambassador Chris Stevens in Benghazi.
The order to remain instead in Tripoli to guard the facilities in that area
came instead from the military higher-ups, themselves.
So, it looks right now that this shot to the heart directed at Obama
and Clinton was wide of the mark. We now know neither of them acted to
prevent an aggressive move to save Stevens and the others.
This leaves Trey Gowdy, the South Carolinian chairman of the new
Benghazi committee, to try and build the case that Obama or Clinton failed
to do something they should have, or that they were distracted that night
with other less dire business. But one thing is certain today than was not
before, neither the president nor the secretary acted against the dire,
dreadful situation of our men in Benghazi.
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for watching.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
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