July 31, 2014
Guest: Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, John Feehery, Steve McMahon, Carol Leonnig,
Katie Glueck, Joseph Hoeffel
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Nada.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
"Let Me Start" with this horrific display today by the Republicans in
the House of Representatives. After three weeks in the headlines, three
weeks of outcry at the humanitarian crisis on our southern border, it today
became clear and possibly final that the U.S. Congress will agree to give
the president not a single Lincoln-headed penny to deal with this crisis --
nada, nothing, no way -- that`s right, nothing for the 57,000 young people
now in the hands of the American people.
The blame for this lies on the reputation of a weak speaker of the
House, who is unable to even tie his shoe without the daily permission of
the Tea Party caucus, a firebrand Texas senator named Ted Cruz, who killed
John Boehner`s fragile hold on a majority vote for even a minimal response
to the border crisis, the failure of the president to take an out-front
lead to correct that 2008 law against human trafficking passed by President
George W. Bush which helped open the gate for the flood of young people
from Central America, and the effort by Senator Harry Reid to tie the
urgent measure to alleviate the border crisis to the Senate`s larger
comprehensive immigration reform bill that has been awaiting action in the
The effort to do a lot, compress their advantage, by both sides, ended
in the Congress about to leave town and doing nothing at all as they pack
their bags for a five-week vacation. Mission accomplished? You got to be
And basking in the afterglow is the circus ringleader of them all, and
certainly of the Republican Party, Ted Cruz, whose sole purpose in politics
has been to parachute into moments like this and raise hell.
U.S. Congressman Emanuel Cleaver is a Democrat from Missouri and Joan
Walsh is an MSNBC political analyst and editor-at-large at Salon.
Congressman, I`ve been listening to you lately, and I think you --
you`ve got a lot to say about this, but I am dumbfounded at the utter
incompetence of our government, coming at this thing in a crisis mode for
three weeks, everyone in America caring about those kids one way or the
other, and nothing! Looks like the Congress is going to leave with nothing
REP. EMANUEL CLEAVER (D), MISSOURI: Well, they`re talking about
trying to stay overnight and do something tomorrow morning, but even that,
Chris, is absolutely nothing.
This is insulting to the people of this country. It`s insulting to
people who are in Washington because we thought we were here to solve
problems. And I`m not a name caller, a bomb thrower, but I can tell you
I`m sick and tired of what`s going on here in Congress because there`s
nothing going on.
And you know, there are people who, it seems, are coming -- have come
to Washington for the sole purpose of disrupting the government. They are
anti-government. And the people out in the country are the ones who are
going to have to stop this.
MATTHEWS: Well, who wins when Ted Cruz, the senator from Texas, the
firebrand of all firebrands -- he comes over and meets with a dozen of your
Republican colleagues. Next thing you know, Boehner, the supposed speaker,
at least the nominal speaker of the House, finds he doesn`t have a majority
to do anything.
What`s going on where a senator -- there he is walking across the
Capitol or whatever, and just jamming everything up.
CLEAVER: Well you know, in some ways -- I don`t want -- I hate -- it
troubles me deeply to believe that one human being can disrupt the
compassion a nation of 300 million people. In a real sense, that troubles
me deeply. But I know that there are some people who, under normal
circumstances, are good and decent people, but they come around here with
people who hate the government, and they are different. They don`t get
ulcers, they`re carriers.
And that`s what`s going on here. We have a lot of carriers of people
who come in and get the whole body of politics sick. And we are sick right
now, maybe sick unto death.
MATTHEWS: Is there a fear in the Republican caucus any time there`s a
line drawn -- for example, are you for suing the president or not -- you
have to always be on the right side of that, the right-wing side of that?
CLEAVER: Well, I mean, what people won`t say -- and Nancy Pelosi,
I`ve got to give her a lot of credit. I mean, she continues to remind
people that that was a question that the media dropped on her repeatedly
during her speakership, and she always said impeachment is not on the
table. No matter how many weapons of mass destruction...
CLEAVER: ... were not found, that`s not going to be impeachment,
Speaker Boehner won`t do that.
MATTHEWS: Yes, he won`t. He doesn`t want to offend anybody. He
won`t even say that birtherism is wrong. You remember? He said a while
back, I don`t -- I don`t want to tell people how to think.
I want to go to Joan on this for a second. I`ll be right back to you,
Joan, we`ve been watching politics a lot, me a lot longer than you.
I`ve never seen such failure and such fear. They won`t help those kids.
They won`t give them a nickel -- as I one said, not one Lincoln-headed
JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Not one Lincoln-
MATTHEWS: Nothing! Your thought.
WALSH: No, it`s tragic, Chris. And you know, the congressman is
right. There are some carriers of a real sickness. And you know, Ted Cruz
is doing his best to spread it.
But Bill Kristol laid it out this morning in "The Weekly Standard." I
got to give him credit. He basically told the House GOP, Kill this bill
because we don`t want to see you do the heavy lifting of governing. We
don`t want you back in your districts having to defend something you did or
didn`t do. We want to drop this on the president. We want the finger of
blame pointing at one man, President Obama, and we don`t want you to get
your hands dirty with compromise, with actually thinking about the
complicated set of reasons that this problem wound up at our border. You
can`t do that. We don`t want you implicated in governing.
And when you have one party...
MATTHEWS: That`s called scorched earth.
WALSH: It`s scorched earth. It`s sabotage.
MATTHEWS: That`s when you burn your own field so the enemy won`t eat.
WALSH: It is sabotage dressed up as political genius. So it`s not
just Ted Cruz, it`s a lot of people. But Ted Cruz is the symbol. He is
one man out for himself. There is no principle in this.
You know, he wanted to -- he wants them to cut the funding for
deferring the deportations. It`s not funded by Congress. These
applications -- it`s a self-funded program by application fees. They can`t
even cut the money. What he`s trying to do can`t really even be done.
But that doesn`t matter. What matters is grinding up the gears of
government and making people believe that we can`t do anything as a
country. And it`s very sad.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, it`s August vacation time.
MATTHEWS: It looks like Congress is going to leave and not get this
done, although there`s a last-gasp chance tomorrow.
Let me look at this -- Congressman, look at this comment by the
governor of Texas. Anger and outrage has already begun to pour in from
some members of the Republican Party after the House pulled the border bill
today. Texas governor Rick Perry, of all people, issued this statement.
"It`s beyond belief that Congress is abandoning its post while our border
crisis continues to create humanitarian suffering and criminal aliens still
represent a clear threat to our citizens and our nation. Congress should
not go into recess until the job is completed."
What`s your bet right now, Congressman Celler (sic)? Do you think
that the Republicans are going to scatter back tomorrow, have a quickie and
pass it? And will it go anywhere in the Senate? Will we get anything to
the president`s desk?
CLEAVER: I doubt it. They don`t have the votes right now, and so
they`re going to -- they`re going to beat people up all night long and hope
to have them tomorrow morning. And even then, it`s going to be
questionable. And if something comes across, it`s going to be watered down
from what it is now, trying to accommodate the far right in the Republican
And so when it gets over to Senator Reid and a more sensible Senate, I
don`t think it`s going to go anywhere, which ought to make Americans so
angry that they began to react to all of these people who`ve come to
Washington to disrupt the nation. It is sick. And I`m sick of it, and I
hope the people around the country are sick of it and that they`ll come out
and express their sickness in November.
MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you about this -- and I`ll go to Joan on
this, too. You know, back in 1948 -- I love history, like you all do, too.
And I was thinking, you know, Harry Truman had a do-nothing Congress back
after World War II. They did nothing except investigate people for
communism. And maybe they caught a communist here or there, but basically,
they were wasting time. They used to open with a prayer and end with a
probe, as somebody once said. It was all wasting time in investigations.
(INAUDIBLE) Darrell Issa right across the floor.
Now, my question is, do you think the American people are going to
vote for nothing, a party that stands for nothing, Congressman? Because
that`s what the Republicans are saying, Elect us, we`ll do nothing.
CLEAVER: My fear is people that don`t realize that there`s only one
human being who can actually bring a measure to the floor in the House of
Representatives, and it is the speaker. And I appreciate what the governor
of Texas is saying. That sounds like something I could have said.
The problem is, he needs to -- instead of saying Congress, he ought to
say the Republicans in Congress and call names because my fear is that the
American public doesn`t understand the nuances and they may not understand
that it is the Republicans.
MATTHEWS: I know.
CLEAVER: It`s not the Congress, it`s the Republicans.
MATTHEWS: Well, the border bill in the House, by the way -- Joan,
respond to this -- was reworked four times, as you know, to appease the
red-hots and it still failed.
MATTHEWS: Here`s the timeline. July 8th, President Obama asks
Congress for $3.7 billion to address the crisis on the border, all those
young kids down there. The House does nothing until July 23rd. Then it
began putting together a $1.5 billion counteroffer. Three days after that,
the package is scaled down to $1 billion. On July 29th, it shrunk to $659
Last night, Ted Cruz began whipping support against it, so this
morning, Boehner announced -- the speaker announced a package to attract
their support by attaching a plan to block the president`s power to halt
deportations of certain groups of immigrant children. And this afternoon,
still without enough support, the speaker pulled the bill from the floor.
Joan, he tried to appeal, he tried to pander to the hard right. It
didn`t work because as Congressman Cleaver just said, they don`t want to be
at peace. They want to be able to go home and say, We don`t have our hands
on this thing.
WALSH: No. Exactly. And if you read that statement that the
speaker`s office released, Chris, where he says the president can take
actions on his own without Congress -- that`s what they`re suing him for!
That`s what some of them want to impeach him for.
MATTHEWS: Isn`t it ironic.
WALSH: They`re saying he does too much through executive action, and
now they`re saying, Well, he can handle this problem through executive
action. It is crazy. It is a set-up.
And I know some of my friends in the mainstream media want to go on
and on about how it`s the left and Democrats that are talking about
impeachment. Certainly, we didn`t start it. I don`t know that we`re going
to be the ones who get to finish it, either. This is designed to make this
man, to depict this man, our president, as a tyrant and a dictator who is
usurping power, and they`re telling him -- they`re now telling him to do
it. And then next week, they`ll be telling us they`re going to impeach him
MATTHEWS: Thank you so much for joining us, Congressman. By the way,
sorry for misproducing (sic) your name. I was thinking of Manny Celler,
Emanuel Celler, who was around this place for a thousand years.
CLEAVER: I remember.
MATTHEWS: You are far more -- you`re far more lively and more alive
than that gentleman.
MATTHEWS: Thank you for joining us, very much, tonight. And thank
you, Joan Walsh.
Coming up, Tea Party types are thrilled, of course, with the
immigration breakdown. There`s a lot of hand-wringing among establishment
Republicans about the trouble this could cause the party in November. How
can they sell this to the American people? They`re the nada party. That`s
Spanish for "nothing."
Also, the businessman on the stand at the trial of former Virginia
governor Bob McDonnell and his wife -- well, prosecutors showed notes of a
meeting between Jonnie Williams -- that`s the businessman -- and the
governor to discuss a loan to McDonnell. Not a good day for the former
governor. We`re seeing a lot of quid pro quo stuff here.
Plus, true lies. A former Democratic congressman talks about how he
was duped by the Bush administration into voting for the war on Iraq.
There`s some powerful history, recent history.
Finally, "Let Me Finish" tonight with my question for all time when it
comes to our involvement in the Iraq war. How did we get talked into it?
Not me, a lot of people.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Well, the Congress is already on track to become the least
productive in history. And now everyone`s about to head out for five weeks
of August vacation. Let`s compare this Congress with Congresses in the
Back in 1948, when Harry Truman famously ran against the do-nothing
80th Congress, that group managed to enact 906 public laws. That`s the
blue bar there, by the way, all the way to the left. Compare that to the
112th Congress, which was from 2012 -- rather, 2011 to 2012, which enacted
just 283 bills into public (ph) laws (ph). But so far, this current 113th
Congress has enacted just 142 bills into law as of today. Again, on track
to be the least productive ever, and a lot of those bills are just, Oh,
let`s make it Maple Sunday.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Yesterday, with Republicans in
Congress racing to vote to sue him, President Obama had these strong words,
calling out the do-nothing Congress. Let`s watch him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The main vote that
they`ve scheduled for today is whether or not they decide to sue me for
doing my job. They`re mad because I`m doing my job. And by the way, I`ve
told them -- I said, I`d be happy to do it with you. So the only reason
I`m doing it on my own is because you don`t do anything.
(LAUGHTER, APPLAUSE, CHEERS)
OBAMA: But if you want, let`s -- let`s work together.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: "You don`t do anything." That`s my favorite throwaway line
of his in a long time.
Anyway, as if on cue, Congress then lived up to the president`s words
by literally doing nothing today in the face of that crisis on the border.
How will all this play out with the American public, and who will they
Republican congressman Peter King of New York has his finger pointed
in one direction, southward, to Ted Cruz. He told "The Washington Post"
this morning, before Republicans pulled the vote, quote, "The Obama White
House should put Ted Cruz on the payroll. We have a chance to pass a good
bill, not a perfect bill. Boehner`s working hard to get to 218 votes. And
yet there is Ted Cruz telling us to do nothing. If he wants to come over
and run for speaker, that`s fine. But otherwise, he should stay over there
in the Senate."
I love Peter King. Steve McMahon is -- sometimes. Peter King is --
Peter McMahon -- Steve McMahon is a Democratic strategist and John Feehery
is a Republican strategist.
This is set up politically, for obvious reasons. John Feehery, it
looks to me like the president has found a message, a Harry Truman message,
which is, I`m not running against the right, I`m running against nothing.
These guys` whole strategy is freeze the ball, do nothing until the
election is over. Turn that into, They`re a lazy bunch of no-good people
who are not out to help the American people. You just heard Congressman
JOHN FEEHERY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: And yet the president`s approval
ratings keep going down.
MATTHEWS: He`s 41, the Congress is 7.
MATTHEWS: Just get that straight, 41 to 7, OK?
FEEHERY: Well, we`ll find out. I think that this is going to be like
all midterms, going to be a vote about President Obama and his popularity.
And I think that`s why Republicans are going to do quite well. Now, I have
not given up hope yet on this border bill. I think that they`re going to
meet tomorrow and I think they`re going to pass something. It`s going to
be hard, and you know...
MATTHEWS: Where`s it going to go?
FEEHERY: ... Peter King makes -- it`s going to go over to the Senate,
and the Senate, maybe they`ll pass something, which they haven`t done...
MATTHEWS: The word I get is nothing`s going to happen. Let me ask
you this. Do you think that Congress deserves reelection based, on its
performance? Forget party for a second. Do you think the Congress, which
has a 7 percent approval rating right now, led by Republicans in the House,
Senators -- Democrats in the Senate -- do you believe the body of Congress
has done a good job?
FEEHERY: I believe the House has done a much better job than the
Senate, and I think that`s why the Senate is going to change control.
STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Oh, my God. Are we living on
the same planet?
MCMAHON: I mean, watching what they did today, John comes on the show
tonight and says he thinks the House is doing a better job than the Senate
-- the Senate, which passed an immigration reform bill, by the way. You
know, John`s normally a level-headed Republican.
FEEHERY: I`m very level.
MCMAHON: Today, he`s defending the indefensible. And he`s also right
about what midterms generally are. They`re generally a referendum on the
president in power, unless the boneheads in the other party step in the way
and make a skeptical of things, which...
MATTHEWS: Like in 1998.
MCMAHON: Like in 1998, and like today. And the president has found a
voice and he`s found someone to run against. And he`s going to do so very
effectively, I think.
MATTHEWS: OK, listen, for three weeks now, we`ve had pretty good
headlines about the American people. Now, some people think we have --
there`s just too much illegal immigration, so they generally have a
mindset. But even within that group, there`s a lot of sympathy for the
kids because they came over from a horrific situation -- not from Mexico,
which has problems but not horrific problems, from places like Honduras,
which are horrendous, like the worst neighborhood in the United States is
better than these places. And so they don`t know what to do with these
kids. People are actually conflicted.
But then the Republicans come along and say, We`re not doing nothing.
How`s that going to sell?
FEEHERY: Well, I think, ultimately...
MATTHEWS: Nothing, not a nickel!
FEEHERY: Ultimately, I think they are going to pass something
tomorrow. And I think that`s why Boehner has been pushing hard for it, and
I think that`s why Peter King...
MCMAHON: Who`s going to flip?
FEEHERY: I think that`s why Peter King...
MCMAHON: Who`s going to flip?
FEEHERY: They`re working on it. I think that`s why Peter King is so
frustrated with Ted Cruz, who should run for speaker if he wants to be
speaker of House. The fact is that they`re going to get something, and
then once they have something, they can bargain with the Senate. I think
it`s important that they do get something.
MATTHEWS: How can one guy, who verges on Joe McCarthy every day of
the week in his accusations about people, show up and walk across the
Capitol -- you know, this no-man`s-land between the House and the Senate --
I never heard of a senator going over to the House and lobbying.
FEEHERY: It`s stunning, actually. And I think that`s why more and
more House members are getting frustrated with Cruz`s leading role. And I
think, ultimately, that`s why the...
MATTHEWS: ... happy little bunch of 30 of them waiting for his
FEEHERY: Well, it`s about 15 to 20.
FEEHERY: And that`s what makes it difficult.
MATTHEWS: Waiting for his orders.
FEEHERY: And that`s what makes it difficult.
MCMAHON: He comes over there. He brings the cameras. These people
generally don`t get on camera, because they`re backbenchers.
MATTHEWS: No. He had them over for pizza the other night.
MCMAHON: He has them over for pizza.
MATTHEWS: And they all went over. The United States congressmen,
it`s like in a movie like "Mr. Smith." What, are they on the take with
FEEHERY: Well, you know what? I think that, ultimately, a lot of
these members are listening to the views of the American people.
And they`re -- the -- the phone lines for the American people are
melting down. And that`s a problem. And I think that for Ted Cruz and the
speaker, they have got to get on the same page and they have got to find a
way to get this thing done.
MATTHEWS: OK. Right now, it looks like the Democrats could lose the
Senate this fall. How is this going to play, this completely abandonment
of responsibility? Is it going to hurt these Republican challengers?
MCMAHON: This is the best thing -- this is the best thing in the
world for the Democrats running for Senate, and running for reelection,
running in the House.
Every single time the Republicans trot out and the only thing they can
pass is a bill to sue the president, or the only thing they can talk about
or not talking about is taking impeachment off the table or not off the
table, every time these conversations sort of extend themselves, it`s great
for the Democrats.
We`re not talking about the things that Republicans were talking about
a few months ago. We`re talking about the things that make even John
FEEHERY: Almost every analyst understands and has predicted that the
Republicans are going to take over the Senate. This has not gotten better
for the Democrats. It`s gotten worse for the Democrats.
MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s listen to some of your party members, guys that
you hang out with. Ready?
Here we go.
MATTHEWS: This afternoon, U.S. Congressman Steve Stockman tweeted --
quote -- "Any border package bill that doesn`t defund Barack Obama`s
amnesty is a crap chimichanga." Those are his words.
MATTHEWS: Figure them out.
And conservative blogger Erick Erickson of Red State defended Ted Cruz
against critics, tweeting -- quote -- "House GOP Twitter fans are behaving
towards Senator Cruz like Justin Bieber fans after someone has pointed out
his lack of talent."
MATTHEWS: Well, that`s playing to the younger crowd.
MATTHEWS: What do you make of that? You have got some crazy people
FEEHERY: Pretty good sound bite.
MATTHEWS: You got the crazy card chasing after the speaker.
FEEHERY: Stockman is always going to be a no. And that`s not the
person. They have got to get other folks who are going to vote for the
package and not worry about the folks who are always going to vote no.
FEEHERY: And I think Scalise is going to be able to do that.
MATTHEWS: Is there more crazy people in the Republican Party than
there were when you were working up there?
FEEHERY: No, I think it`s about the same amount of crazy.
MATTHEWS: You are -- that`s flackery. There`s far more.
FEEHERY: And I think that actually -- but I think actually with
social media, people are more able to express their opinions in a crazy
MATTHEWS: So, the tweeting world is filled now with wing nuts.
MCMAHON: Here`s what the Republicans -- this is a story about
It`s also a story about gerrymandering about 57 percent of the
Republican base thinks the president should be impeached. And these guys
are trying to -- these guys are trying to navigate the speakership and hold
the House with a bunch of crazies who are perfectly willing to take it
down, perfectly willing to vote to impeach the president, and perfectly
willing to change the entire conversation...
MATTHEWS: Let`s stop right now. Let`s be fair. I give you full
opportunity. Why doesn`t the speaker take impeachment off the table?
FEEHERY: He has like 30 times. He`s taken it off time and time
FEEHERY: The only one talking about impeachment is you guys. And you
guys do it because you want to raise money, and everybody knows it.
MCMAHON: Did you see the "FOX News Sunday" show this weekend when
Scalise was asked three times to take it off the table? And he wouldn`t do
MATTHEWS: He`s in the leadership.
MCMAHON: He`s in the leadership.
FEEHERY: It`s off the table.
MATTHEWS: Well, this morning, Speaker Boehner warned President Obama
-- here we go -- not to act unilaterally on immigration. Let`s watch the
latest threat from the speaker to the president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: The president takes
these actions, he will be sealing deal on his legacy -- legacy of
lawlessness. He will be violating the solemn oath he made to the American
people on the day of his inauguration. And he will be sacrificing the
integrity of our laws on the alter of political opportunism. And I can
guarantee you the American people will hold him accountable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: OK. You know, if it talks like a duck.
MATTHEWS: He constantly references the president giving up the
integrity of his office, breaking this law, breaking the Constitution over
and over. You don`t think that`s a threat? What is that?
FEEHERY: Let me say, the actual politics of this are that Democrats
don`t want Obama to overreach on immigration either. They`re -- especially
ones in red states.
MCMAHON: He`s not overreaching. He`s enforcing the law that was
passed and promoted by George W. Bush.
FEEHERY: He`s decided that he`s going to do executive authority and
not follow the law. That`s a real problem for Senate Democrats. You know
MATTHEWS: You think the president is going to issue work permits?
FEEHERY: I don`t know what he`s going to do. I think he`s going
MATTHEWS: I think there is an area here he better be avoiding, but
I`ll tell you, these are threats that are endemic. Speaker of the House
Boehner talks like the Tea Party people think. He talks about the
president betraying the Constitution, betraying the integrity of his
office, all the lingo you would use in an impeachment trial.
MCMAHON: That`s exactly right. That`s exactly right.
MCMAHON: The 57 percent of the Republicans who vote in primaries
would like to see Congress impeach the president. And he`s aware of that,
and so is the Tea Party.
MATTHEWS: Are you in the 57 percent? Are you a minority Republican?
FEEHERY: Listen, I have lived through impeachment. It doesn`t work
politically, because it`s never going to get through the Senate no matter
what. So don`t bother.
And I think we tried shutting down the government. We tried
impeachment. What we should probably do...
FEEHERY: This lawsuit thing is not a bad alternative.
MATTHEWS: If it worked, would you do it?
FEEHERY: Impeachment? No. Impeachment is...
MATTHEWS: You don`t want to go back and read Ken Starr`s footnotes
FEEHERY: Impeachment is -- it`s a dumb idea.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you.
Those were great reading habits.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, Steve McMahon. You`re Steve McMahon.
And John Feehery, it`s great to have you on. And you were flacking a
little bit tonight.
But up next, one of my colleagues responds to a cold water challenge.
You know who she is.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST, "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW": So, when I heard that
somebody at FOX News had said I should go soak my head, I was like, happy
Tuesday. What else is now?
But then I found out it was Shep Smith. Ah, more interesting. So,
because I`m about to have that bucket of ice water dumped on my head, Shep
is going to have to make a $50 donation in my name to his chosen charity.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, that`s my friend and colleague Rachel Maddow
responding to a challenge from FOX News host Shepard Smith. They`re both
participating in something called Chilling for Charity. And the concept is
simple. If a person accepts the challenge, it allows himself or herself
that be drenched in ice water, then the challenger, in this case Shep
Smith, must donate to a charity of his choosing or her choosing in this
So, let`s take a look at how that played out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: You ready?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Couldn`t be readier.
MADDOW: I hate cold.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
MADDOW: Let`s go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
Should we count down?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Three, two, one.
MADDOW: OK. Bye.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: And that`s her executive producer, Bill Wolff. That`s
Anyway, in turn, Rachel has now challenged none other than Liz Cheney.
Hopefully, she will take that plunge.
Next up, the Library of Congress has released a full correspondence
between former President Warren G. Harding, and his mistress, Carrie
And as we saw from the advanced selections already published, Warren
G. Harding`s love letters were decidedly R-rated.
Jimmy Kimmel celebrated the occasion with a dramatic reading by a hip-
hop artist who has something in common with the former president, his name.
Here is Warren G -- Warren G reciting the works of Warren G. Harding.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE")
JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE": Here tonight to read the
love letters written by Warren G. Harding, please welcome Warren G.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
WARREN G, MUSICIAN: "Honestly, I hurt with insatiate longing until I
feel that there will never be any relief until I take a long, deep, wild
draft on your lips, and then bury my face in your pillowing breasts.
Oh, Carrie, wouldn`t you like to get sopping wet out on Superior, not
the lake, but the joy of fevered fondling and melting kisses?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Wow. Nothing changes.
Anyway, finally, on Monday, we looked back at Barack Obama`s keynote
address at that 2004 Democratic National Convention. A lot has changed
over the last 10 years since that speech, and David Letterman made that
perfectly clear. Let`s take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN")
DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, "LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN": So, we have
a segment for you. I think this is a valuable comparison. It`s called
Barack Obama then, 2004, and now, present day, Barack Obama then, now.
NARRATOR: Barack Obama then.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are one people, all
of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the
United States of America.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
NARRATOR: Barack Obama now.
OBAMA: What are your ideas?
NARRATOR: See you next time on Barack Obama then, Barack Obama now.
Same Barack time, same Barack channel.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Anyway, up next: It wasn`t personal. It was strictly
business. The businessman at the center of the ex-Governor Bob McDonnell
trial now going on in Virginia says he and the first couple weren`t
friends. The thing was all about money.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
PAGE HOPKINS, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Page Hopkins. Here`s what`s
Israel and Hamas have agreed to a 72-hour cease-fire. It`s set to
begin at 8:00 a.m. local time Friday. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke
a short time ago and talked about the difficult road that led to today`s
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: It is up to the parties, all of
them, to take advantage of this moment. There are no guarantees. This is
a difficult, complicated issue years and years in the building. And I
think everyone knows it has not been easy to get to this point.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOPKINS: Meetings are expected to get under way shortly in Cairo. The
most recent violence has left more than 1,000 citizens dead in Gaza; 56
Israeli soldiers and three civilians have also died -- back to HARDBALL.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Governor, what was it like to sit there listening to Jonnie
Williams on the stand yesterday?
BOB MCDONNELL (R), FORMER VIRGINIA GOVERNOR: Well, this is -- this is
a marathon. It`s not going to be decided in a day, and we just look
forward to day after day having the truth come out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Today, we`re returning to "Peyton Place," if you will. That was
former Governor, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell on his way into court
today, where the prosecutor`s key witness, Jonnie Williams -- be careful
about guys like that -- Jonnie Williams continued on the stand.
A huge part of today`s testimony involved establishing that Williams -
- that`s the business guy -- and the former governor and first lady were
not personal friends, as the former first couple of Virginia had claimed.
The reporting on this soap opera have become primarily in burst of tweets.
We`re getting this information on tweets. The trial is not on television,
and we`re getting some of the best from the "Washington Post" reporters who
are covering heartily.
"They were not my personal friends," Williams says of the McDonnells.
"I thought it was good for our company." He said that of all those gifts
he got -- he gave to them. Jurors were also shown videos of Mrs. McDonnell
telling a convention that Williams was an old friend of the governor,
though they had met just six times.
Another tweet from inside the courtroom -- quote -- "I wasn`t going to
correct her," Williams says on Mrs. McDonnell`s claim that he was a close
friend of the governor.
And, finally, "I knew it was wrong," Williams says, of the Rolex watch
he gave to the governor. "I shouldn`t have had to buy things like that to
get the help I needed."
And that Rolex watch which Williams bought for the Virginia first lady
so she could give it to her husband for Christmas was presented as evidence
today and passed around by jurors.
Joining me right now is Politico`s Katie Glueck, and "The Washington
Post"`s Carol Leonnig, who broke this story with fellow reporter Rosalind
Helderman two years ago.
I want to start with you at "The Post." And I just think, are you
allowed to say you`re skeptical of both arguments, as a reporter, or do you
have to say, well, I`m just reporting this stuff?
CAROL LEONNIG, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Reporters are always skeptical,
Chris, but I think there`s a lot of evidence that raises doubts about the
idea that Maureen McDonnell was taking a lot of gifts from this fellow
because she was interested in him romantically.
There are a lot of things that raise fundamental questions about
whether that`s true.
MATTHEWS: And what about the prosecution argument that they were not
KATIE GLUECK, POLITICO: Well, that`s...
MATTHEW S: That`s coming from a guy who the governor thought was
GLUECK: Well, the prosecution has been hammering that home for weeks
in terms of some of the pre-arguments and now in the trial.
They`re really trying to stress a case that this individual
businessman really was pursuing this for -- out of business concerns. And,
of course, the governor and the defense team are really pushing back.
MATTHEWS: Let`s generalize a little bit here. I know you`re not a
columnist, but let`s generalize this to the country. You start to run for
office at the local level. You run for state assembly.
And then you run for state senator, and then you work for Congress,
and then you may work your way up to governor or senator. Right? And all
along the line, you`re picking up what we call friends. They`re not
necessarily the guy you grew up with or the woman that you grew up with.
They`re the people that attach to you because you have these offices.
They become your friends because you`re in those offices. They`re
getting acquainted with a slot, and you`re the slot.
And you begin to take -- they take you to dinner. And you try to
honor the rules. You honor the rule says no much -- more than $35 for
lunch or some stupid rule like that. You can`t take them to basketball
games. Well, they find some way to go on vacation together, or they find
some way to invite them to give a speech, and they have the perks that go
But this is, to me, typical politics.
I want to start with you, Carol, on this. You accumulate friends.
Then when they go to court, they throw you under the bus and say, we were
never friends. I was buying influence and I copped a plea. I`m going
home. This guy is going to the can.
CAROL LEONNIG, THE WASHINGTON POST: It`s true that Jonnie Williams
got a great deal.
MATTHEWS: The business guy.
LEONNIG: Yes, all this immunity as a result of agreeing to tell
prosecutors his side of the story.
MATTHEWS: And what they wanted him to say?
LEONNIG: Yes, but you can`t completely fake all of this. I mean,
there is a lot of information that backs up Jonnie. But clearly, here`s
one problem with the friend thing you mentioned. When the FBI went to
interview Maureen the first time, she said Jonnie is a good friend from
forever. My husband and he met back, maybe three decades ago.
MATTHEWS: That`s the harsh picture of Mrs. McDonnell. Oh, there`s the
I love the way we pick these pictures sometimes. Go ahead.
LEONNIG: But, you know, that was a complete fabrication. When the
FBI comes calling and asks you questions, you would think she would say
they met for the first time in a plane when Jonnie wanted access to my
MATTHEWS: So, you think they`re making a pretty good case in court
that he was after influence, he was paying for it?
LEONNIG: Today was a good day for the government. We`ll see what
happens. I`ll agree with the governor, it`s not all one day.
MATTHEWS: Your read, Katie. Do you think the government, the
prosecutors are making a good case that this governor was bought? His wife
KATIE GLUECK, POLITICO: I would agree with Carol that today was a
good day for the government. It was a number of revelations coming out.
Photographic, you know --
MATTHEWS: How about the Rolex watch being passed around? Why do you
think the judge would say you have to hold it like a religious article?
You have to have this in your hand. It`s worth, what, 3,000 bucks? I
wonder about people wondering where you can go. You have to go to pretty
nice neighborhoods without somebody grabbing it. But the idea of a $3,000
item on your hand.
GLUECK: Right. Well, that sort of gave people sort of a clear sense
of what money we are talking about. That was only one of the gifts that
was talked about today. I mean, we have heard, you know, the whole gamut
from trips for some of the McDonnell children --
MATTHEWS: Could it be people who never had their hands on a Rolex
watch and they knew the jury would never forget.
LEONNIG: I think the Rolex is so critical, too, in today`s sort of
outlay of evidence, trying to say, look, this governor was on the take.
First, they hand it around so you can see what it looks like, because
remember the governor`s son said, I didn`t know it was real. And then they
show the picture.
MATTHEWS: You know what worked for me in the prosecution case? You
start with this, the alleged or the testified argument that Mrs. McDonnell,
the governor`s wife, offered to this guy Jonnie Williams, that she would go
to every doctor in the state, there must be thousands of them in Virginia,
and she would sit with that doctor and make a case for this guy`s products.
That`s one heck of a commitment.
And why would you ever do that except to get something for it? You
don`t do that for a pal.
GLUECK: Well, right, and a lot of scrutiny of their relationship. Of
course, in this trial, as a whole. Of course, that argument.
MATTHEWS: That`s not what you say to a guy you sort of like. I mean,
if there is this flirtation going on, which could be harmless, of course.
A lot of people like each other who don`t get involved. That`s normal.
But the idea she would say, I`m going to every doctor in Virginia to help
self your stuff, sounds like a deal.
GLUECK: Well, that does bolster the prosecution`s argument this was
not just a friend situation and this had nothing to do with the crush that
the defense was bringing up earlier this week. This was a business
MATTHEWS: OK. Well, as you all know, thanks to you guys in
Washington, it`s a huge story. Everybody who doesn`t live here should know
that Washington is sort of between Virginia and Maryland. Heavily
influenced by Maryland. This is a bedroom community around here, hell of a
story. We thought this guy was kind of dull, McDonnell?
LEONNIG: I remember, like six months before this all broke open,
people were saying, gosh, you have to interview him. He really understands
the budget and how to run a state. No one had any idea this was behind the
MATTHEWS: Wow, it`s a sad story. Anyway, either way you look at it,
if it`s a flirtation, whatever it is, a lot of stuff changing hands that
Anyway, thank you, Katie Glueck for "Politico".
GLUECK: Thank you. Yes.
MATTHEWS: And Carol Leonnig -- one of the great reporters -- still
working at "The Washington Post". It`s been said -- I`m just kidding. You
guys have grabbed a lot of them.
Anyway, it`s said the truth is the first casualty in a war. Well,
coming up, how the Iraq war proved that principle before the first shot was
fired. We all know that one.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Well, here`s some new polling on a couple competitive races
this fall. Let`s check the HARDBALL scoreboard.
Starting in Michigan. According to a new Mitchell Research Poll, U.S.
Congressman Gary Peters, the Democrat, leads Republican Terri Lynn Land by
five points. It`s Peters, 43, Land, 38 percent. That`s probably a must-
win for Democrats to keep the Senate, of course.
Next to Arkansas, a Republican challenger, Tom Cotton has a two-point
edge on incumbent Democrat Mark Pryor in a new Talk Business poll. It`s
Cotton, 44, Pryor, 42 percent.
And we`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: We`re back.
The U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 and subsequent nine-year occupation
has already gone down in history as one of the biggest foreign policy
blunders in modern U.S. history. Now, 11 years later, in an already war-
torn Iraq is facing sectarian war, we all know that. A development that
further emphasizes just how disastrous George W. Bush`s decision to invade
Iraq really was, replacing Saddam Hussein with chaos that is arguably a far
greater threat to U.S. national security.
Well, a new book, the Iraq lie by former U.S. Congressman Joseph
Hoeffel of Pennsylvania provides new insight into the Bush administration`s
case for war and the run-up to the invasion in 2003. Specifically, Hoeffel
compares the intelligence the Bush administration was getting themselves to
what they were saying in turn to the American public, what they were
selling, revealing the deceptive nature of White House statements like
these from back in 2002.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DICK CHENEY, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: There is no doubt that Saddam
Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt that he is
amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT: Each passing day could be the one
on which the Iraqi regime gives anthrax, or VX nerve gas, or some day a
nuclear weapon to a terrorist ally. Facing clear evidence of peril, we
cannot wait for the final proof -- the smoking gun that could come in the
form of a mushroom cloud. We agree that the Iraqi dictator must not be
permitted to threaten America and the world with horrible poisons and
diseases and gases and atomic weapons.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Atomic weapons.
Joining me right now is the author, former U.S. congressman, a
Democrat, Joe Hoeffel. He used to talk about how he and many others got
duped into voting for the Iraq war authorization in 2002.
Congressman, it`s great to have you on. It`s great you`ve written
JOSEPH HOEFFEL (D-PA), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: This is going to be part of what I considered the long-
needed commission on this, to find out the truth if there`s ever going to
be any reconciliation.
My first question to you is, the mushroom cloud. The president of the
United States, George W. Bush, legitimately elected by the American people
twice, sold the idea we were facing an existential threat, an annihilation
under a nuclear war. We were going to get hit with a mushroom cloud. It`s
going to come because Saddam Hussein is going to deliver it somehow to the
United States on some balsawood plane.
Why -- first of all, did they ever produce evidence of that ever --
they had the weapon, they had the delivery system, the vehicle to send it
HOEFFEL: No evidence at all.
MATTHEWS: Why did everybody get sold with the idea of the mushroom
cloud and they did?
HOEFFEL: Well, it was a selling job by the Bush White House. They
took classified intelligence that they were being given about the status of
Hussein`s weapons of mass destruction. That intelligence was filled with
caveats, reservations, uncertainties and they turned around and said in
public it`s absolute, it`s certain, he`s got weapons. He wants more. He`s
about to use them. And none of that was true.
MATTHEWS: Why did they spin it so to pushing us into war if they
weren`t sure? In other words, they got the raw data, they knew the
uncertainties. And yet, was this a selling piece? They wanted to go to
war for other reasons, whatever reasons, Mideast strategy, something to do
with Middle East peace, something to do with pushing the rejectionist
states with Israel? Was it about oil? Was it about George W. being mad
because they tried to kill his dad? What was the real motive behind all
HOEFFEL: Probably some of all those. I think that President Bush
thought he could establish democracy in the Middle East and that was going
to be his --
MATTHEWS: Who told him that?
HOEFFEL: I don`t know. I don`t know who he was listening.
MATTHEWS: He was listening to the intellectuals, the one he never
listened to in college.
Anyway, when you -- when did you first begin to think you made a boo
boo, a classic blunder as I said, in voting for this bill?
I mean, Hillary Clinton voted for it, John Kerry voted for it, Joe
Biden voted for it. A lot of people I like. Ed Markey voted for it. A
lot of people.
So, when did you all vote for it? When did you decide you got
something wrong here?
HOEFFEL: Well, I believed I had to vote to disarm Saddam Hussein, and
I was uncertain about the vote but I thought I had to do it. In the winter
of `03, when the international inspectors were reporting to the U.N., that
they were not finding weapons, they were getting full access but there were
no weapons, I began to realize there was a huge problem.
MATTHEWS: What made you think -- when you saw that they were -- you
never trust Saddam Hussein? Basically, this U.N. people going all over the
place, couldn`t find anything. What did you think then was driving the
administration when they weren`t getting any evidence? Why were they
HOEFFEL: I don`t know. George W. Bush is not willing, or was not
willing to reconsider his decisions. A great president would have called a
time out, would have said, wait a minute, I`m basing this war on weapons of
mass destruction, if they`re not being found, I better hold back.
But Bush, frankly, wasn`t a good president.
MATTHEWS: When Bush got in there and realized there were no weapons
of mass destruction, got in there and took a couple months, then were
blaming the White House. The people working for Cheney were blaming the
CIA. The CIA was blaming Cheney. And the people at -- the special officer
of defense with Wolfowitz and those guys, everybody is blaming everybody.
Why do you think we didn`t come out then? What were we doing in Iraq
after we realized the goal was not going to be there, there was no goal
line there, there was no weapons there? Why did we stay?
HOEFFEL: Well, the country was committed. Our troops were being shot
HOEFFEL: The troops are in danger. Once you go into -- once you
invade a country, you know, you own it.
MATTHEWS: You know Teddy Kennedy, one my --
MATTHEWS: -- the best vote he ever cast was nay.
HOEFFEL: Well, it was my worst vote.
MATTHEWS: Thank you. Thank you.
Read the book. Read the book. Thank you. "The Iraq Lie" by Joe
HOEFFEL: Thanks, Chris.
MATTHEWS: A great congressman. Thank you for coming on.
And we`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this insiders account we got
tonight from a U.S. congressman, a Democrat, who voted for the Iraq war,
who did it based on the sales pitch from the Bush White House.
"I oppose the Iraq war ever since I saw it coming in the days after
9/11, when I got word that Paul Wolfowitz of the Defense Department was
pushing it at that first meeting in Camp David. I`d gotten word that W.
had pushed back on that argument then, only to realize that some time later
before the end of the year, Bush had set us on the course for war.
My question for all times is how a president of such limited ability
was able to sell this country on a war with a country that had not attacked
us. That led the United States of America on a mission to take over a
country in the Middle East, a country that was only, not only secular and
opposed to Islamism, but served back then against Iran.
What we were thinking?
Well, for one thing, we were led to think and think a lot about a
mushroom cloud over our country. A nuclear weapon somehow delivered here
on some kind of vehicle, a ghastly scenario we were instructed could well
occur if Congress and the American people did not make war in Iraq. That
was the benefit of a war, keeping that mushroom cloud from occurring.
As for the cost of the war -- well, we were told it was going to be a
cakewalk, a slam dunk. A matter of a few weeks Dick Cheney said with his
usual avuncular assurance. No worry, we were told. Just go to war with
Iraq and we would protect ourselves from nuclear annihilation. And at a
very cheap price, we`d also get the bonus we were assured by administration
insiders that the war would pay for itself and would get cheap gas
afterwards to boot. Such a deal.
Well, someday, while all the people are still with us, we ought to
have one of those commissions, those truth and reconciliation jobs, to
settle who pulled off this number and maybe, maybe learn when in their
truculent hearts they used to justify it, if only to themselves.
That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
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