August 13, 2014
Guest: Steve Clemons, Susan Page, Gen. Montgomery Meigs, Patrick Murphy,
Val Demings, Hogan Gidley
STEVE KORNACKI, GUEST HOST: Hug it out.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Steve Kornacki, in for Chris Matthews.
"Let Me Start" tonight with separation anxiety. For the past two
nights, we`ve covered the Obama/Clinton political tap dance. First Hillary
Clinton`s interview in "The Atlantic," in which she criticized aspects of
President Obama`s foreign policy. Next, dissecting the political
maneuvering. Is Hillary Clinton positioning herself for a 2016 run by
taking the first step in separating herself from the president, who`s
currently struggling in the polls?
And yesterday, the phone call. Clinton calls President Obama to clear
the air and Clinton`s spokesman puts out a statement on the call, saying it
was to make sure the president knows that nothing she said was an attempt
to attack him or his policies or his leadership, and today at the press
briefing from Martha`s Vineyard, the president`s spokesman giving this
assessment of that call and the criticism.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC SCHULTZ, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president
indeed appreciated Secretary Clinton`s call, as he does every opportunity
to chat with the former secretary of state. They have a close and
resilient relationship. The president appreciates her counsel and advice.
But more importantly, he appreciates her friendship and that`s why he`s
looking forward to seeing her this evening.
QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) upset (INAUDIBLE)
SCHULTZ: Sure. I`m not going to go ahead get into a behind-the-
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: The event this evening that deputy press secretary Eric
Schultz referenced is a birthday party for the wife of Democratic insider
Vernon Jordan that both Clinton and Obama are going to attend and at which
a Clinton spokesman said she looks forward to "hugging it out" with the
The intense focus and parsing of words as Hillary Clinton begins to
reestablish her own political brand following four years as President
Obama`s secretary of state just reminds us that everything Clinton does
will be seen through the prism of a likely 2016 run. Even late night
comics are in on the political moves.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Political experts say that Hillary Clinton is
trying to distance herself from President Obama as she gears up for 2016.
You know, I think she`s been trying to distance herself from Obama for a
while. Check out this interview that (INAUDIBLE)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know, her
discipline, her stamina, her thoughtfulness and her ability to project...
OBAMA: ... I think made her an extraordinary talent. She also was
already a world figure.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Joining me now is Steve Clemons, editor-at-large at "The
Atlantic" and Susan Page, Washington bureau chief of "USA Today."
If you want proof that the Clinton/Obama foreign policy rift is big
news, just look at the headlines from this week. The one that started it
all in "The Atlantic" deftly bolded the sharpest criticism with this
headline, "Hillary Clinton: Failure to help Syrian rebels led to the rise
"The New York Times`s" wording was more sedate, but the Obama/Clinton
discord was clear. The headline -- "A rift in world views is exposed as
Clinton faults Obama on policy." "The New York Post" front cover blared,
"Hill blames Mideast crisis on Obama`s stupid policy."
Well, Susan, so look, there -- according to the White House, I guess,
these are just two old friends talking on the phone. I`m not sure if I
quite buy -- buy that line. But look, I mean, this is something we`re
going to be seeing a lot of between now and 2016, obviously, where Hillary
Clinton feels this -- this sort of broader, I think, general election
imperative, we could call it, where she wants to distance herself from the
president, who at least for right now, isn`t doing that well in the polls,
but at the same time, very delicate balancing act here because this is a
president who`s still beloved by the Democratic Party base, so she walks
this fine line.
Looks like this particular episode`s going to kind of come to an end
tonight, if and when they hug. How did she do in this sort of trial run
for this separation strategy?
SUSAN PAGE, "USA TODAY": Well, you know, I`m not -- if she`s running
for president, and I think she is, she`s going to need to talk about what
it is she believes and what her world view is, what her policies are. And
we shouldn`t forget that when they ran against each other in 2008, they, in
fact, had somewhat different world views and policies.
And these differences in policies that are now being exposed are
things that she talked about to some degree in her book. So they shouldn`t
be a surprise to us. It shouldn`t only be seen as a political calculation.
She needs to talk about what her view would be as president.
Now, that said, I think it is a delicate dance, and it`s something
that`s going to be dissected every step of the way. So the conversation
we`re having tonight is a conversation we should expect to have for another
two years. I don`t know if that`s good news or bad news.
KORNACKI: Well, I`m interested, too, Steve -- I wonder what you make
of it -- the sort of political artistry that`s involved here because,
clearly -- let`s stipulate, there is a difference in world view here and
that was on display in 2008. It`s sort of back on display now.
But she wanted to get that out there. She wanted to communicate that.
She wanted to communicate distance. And I -- I -- it keeps coming back to
me. She made a very intentional decision here in terms of who she chose to
give this interview to. She gave it to a reporter -- she gave it to a
writer, who I think, you know, was clearly going to play to sort of for
maximum separation effect. She knew that when she made the decision to
give him the interview.
Now she sort of walks it back, you know, a little bit in terms of,
Well, we`re just friends, you know, didn`t intend anything by this. It
seems to me that`s how she`s -- you know, she clearly wants to communicate
separation here, but then when somebody says, Hey, you`re trying to
separate yourself, she doesn`t actually want to be the one saying it
STEVE CLEMONS, "THE ATLANTIC": Well, first of all, Jeff Goldberg, my
colleague at "The Atlantic," scored a staggeringly important interview
because this will be the punctuation point of the separation of the Clinton
franchise from the Obama franchise.
I think that for years, she subordinated her views, her very different
views from President Obama. You know, there are a lot of other areas that
she didn`t speak about, China, for instance, in which she was a very, very
hard (INAUDIBLE) tough person on China. And when she came in, she
subordinated that and went over and did exactly what she needed to do, was
be the president`s emissary with China and play a softer line, a more
She is defining herself very differently, and she knew exactly what
she was doing in putting (ph) this. So -- so while they may hug it out
tonight, the bottom line is, she is on the way to sort of define herself in
a very, very different way from the Obama presidency.
KORNACKI: Well, so yes, so what does that look like? What`s the next
step on this? You mentioned China. You mentioned there are obviously
other differences between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. They had a
year-long campaign about their differences.
So what`s the next step? Is it every time she does it, are we -- are
we in for this where, you know, I mean -- it felt to me the other day -- I
turned on Twitter in the morning, I got David Axelrod and they`re saying --
basically, saying, Hey, Hillary Clinton voted for the war in `02, felt like
I was back in the middle of the 2008 campaign. Is that what we`re going to
get every time she introduces some distance here?
CLEMONS: Well, look, she`s -- she`s walking into this with the frame
of what she feels is missing in the Obama presidency, and that is an
ideological frame, one to say that we`re about democracy, we`re about human
rights promotion, and we`re willing to put some muscle behind those things.
In a way, she`s a Democratic version of neoconservatism, of being much more
willing to intervene, being less comfortable with traditional calculations
of costs and benefit when it comes to American interests, and being much
more expansive, you know, in what I would consider a kind of magic wand
approach to solving things.
But you know, she looks at these issues as very important in terms of
putting people`s values and our values forward. President Obama inherited
a crappy economic situation and a crappy foreign policy situation, and has
basically (INAUDIBLE) what can I do to get the stock of power of America
back in gear? And Hillary Clinton`s saying, It`s already there, we just
need to push.
KORNACKI: Well, Susan, it just -- that Axelrod thing just -- it
strikes me as the White House isn`t necessarily going to enjoy what Hillary
Clinton is up to for the next two years. And again, I mean, you have the
official line is that this is just a couple of friends talking on the
phone, but then David Axelrod goes out there on Twitter and basically says,
you know -- you know, Don`t -- don`t do stupid stuff -- here he is the
quote here exactly. "It means stuff like occupying Iraq in the first
place, which was a tragically bad situation."
Well, of course, that`s a way of reminding people, Hey, Hillary
Clinton was somebody who voted for that back in 2002. Barack Obama didn`t
vote for that. Barack Obama opposed it at the time. It seems to me the
White House showed us something here about how it`s going to be reacting
and responding to Hillary Clinton doing this.
PAGE: Yes. I thought the Axelrod tweet, to the degree 140 characters
can mean something, was kind of a brush-back pitch at Hillary Clinton, a
little reminder that they would not let offenses go unanswered.
And you know, you said, Steve, that she tried to walk it back. You
know, it was interesting. She said she didn`t mean this as an attack. She
did not say she was misquoted. She did not say that she was wrong. I
mean, this position she outlined that has caused so much furor the last few
days are the positions that I think she is going to hold and repeat. So I
think we probably ought to get used to it.
KORNACKI: And what do you make of -- I mean, we`ve got, apparently,
the -- I don`t know, we`ll call this the hugging summit tonight, or
whatever. You know, they`re going to -- they`re going to come together
tonight. And you know, the Clinton camp sort of went out of their way
yesterday to put the story out there that she had called, she tried to make
amends, they`re going to hug, all of this stuff. Did this bother the
Clinton camp at all, how this -- how this played out, Susan?
PAGE: I think the Clinton people are not happy. (sic) I think the
Clinton people are not unhappy (sic) with this. I think this is not -- I
think -- I mean, it`s been a little inept, or a little "inartful" might be
the word that Hillary Clinton would use. But I think this is what she`s
going to do. This is what she started to do in the book itself, in her
book itself on "Hard Choices."
I think the Obama people are more unhappy because they are trying hard
to maintain the power that he has as president for as long as possible.
And this is a little bit of a reminder of what it`s like to be a second-
term president, where attention begins to go away. And remarkably early
for this president, attention has turned to his potential successor, to the
next (INAUDIBLE) earlier than I think we`ve seen in previous times. And I
think that is of concern to the White House.
KORNACKI: Well, there`s 2016 and there`s 2014 because by pointing out
foreign policy differences with the president, it`s possible that Hillary
Clinton has also provided ammunition for Republicans in midterm races.
Let`s listen to an exchange at today`s press briefing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: The president -- he had a fund-raiser here just a couple of
days ago to help Democrats keep the Senate. And in this context,
Republicans don`t even have to say, Don`t listen to me, just listen to the
former secretary of state. Isn`t that awkward for the president and all
those Democrats running for reelection?
SCHULTZ: I`m not going to handicap potential Republican campaign ads
from the podium today. I will say, as you point out, keeping the Senate
majority is a priority for the president. That`s why he did attend the
fund-raiser two nights ago. He looks forward to doing what he can to
maintain the majority.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Steve, what about that? I mean, I imagine a lot of
Republicans are going to look forward to going out there this summer, this
fall and the rest of the summer and fall and basically saying, Hey, look,
it`s not just me, it`s not just my party that has issues with how President
Obama`s -- you know, foreign policy, it`s his former secretary of state.
CLEMONS: That`s absolutely going to happen. I mean, she painted him
as a weak president. As Jeff Goldberg wrote in the interview, she
described herself not leaving an inch between herself and Israel`s point of
view on the recent conflict, which is not the president`s message. She
raised questions to some degree about the way Iran is being handled.
So all of that is fodder, potentially, for these Republican elections
of -- who are going to paint the president as feckless, spineless, unable
to move the needle on lots of policy issues. So whether she intended to or
not, this will definitely be part of the 2014 campaign.
KORNACKI: Yes, and Susan, (INAUDIBLE) indication of how Democrats
respond to that on the campaign trail? Are they going to have to start
distancing themselves from Hillary Clinton, or do they go along with it,
PAGE: Well, you know, I don`t think Hillary Clinton matters much in
the midterm elections, but Barack Obama matters a lot. And for these
candidates in the House and the Senate who are in very competitive races,
if Obama`s approval rating is a point higher or two points higher or a
point lower or two points lower, that could make the difference in these
very close races. So the degree to which Hillary Clinton`s criticism
creates problems for President Obama`s approval rating -- that I think is a
serious thing for Democrats this November.
KORNACKI: All right, thank you to Steve Clemons, Susan Page. We will
be returning to this one a lot, I have a feeling, the next few years.
Coming up: The limited U.S. engagement in Iraq is becoming less
limited by the day. American officials say they can avoid the dreaded
mission creep. Not everyone is so sure.
Also, troubles outside of St. Louis after the shooting of an unarmed
black man. Could incidents like this be avoided if the police looked more
like the people they serve? Other cities have done it.
Plus, establishment Republicans hope to squash the Tea Party this
year, and they have in most primary elections. So why is the Tea Party
still dictating policy on huge issues like immigration?
And Jimmy Fallon channels Frank Underwood in a "Tonight" show spoof of
"House of Cards."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIMMY FALLON, HOST, "TONIGHT" SHOW: Last looks are the final touch-up
before the show. Even the finest furniture needs a good polish every once
in a while.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Fallon, you have a phone call.
FALLON: A phone call is when someone calls you on the phone.
KORNACKI: Connecticut is ready for a rematch in the race for
governor. Former ambassador to Ireland Tom Foley easily won the Republican
nomination. Now he`ll meet incumbent Democrat Dan Malloy in the general
election. Malloy beat Foley in 2010 by just over 6,000 votes.
Other winners last night include Mike McFadden, the establishment
Republican favorite in the Senate race in Minnesota. He`s going to run
against incumbent Democrat Al Franken in November.
And the Wisconsin governor`s race is now set. Former Trek bikes
executive Mary Burke faces incumbent Republican Scott Walker.
We`ll be right back.
KORNACKI: Welcome back to HARDBALL. The U.S. involvement in Iraq
continues to escalate. Nearly 130 Marines and special forces are now on
the ground in Iraq as the U.S. scrambles for a way to free thousands of
innocent civilians that ISIS is looking to slaughter. U.S. officials tell
NBC News that a special forces team has now landed in the hot zone on top
of the Sinjar mountains to begin assessing the possibility of a rescue
mission. Pentagon is maintaining that this new influx of troops will have
no combat role, but they are now in an area that has been a hotbed of ISIS
activity, and White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes is
not ruling out using U.S. ground forces in a rescue mission.
Since ISIS began its march of terror in Iraq in June, the U.S. has
deployed more than 800 military personnel to Iraq. We`ve now conducted
roughly 25 air strikes on the insurgents, including another one today, with
many of those missions flown by U.S. pilots.
President has not put a timetable on our involvement, and an armed
showdown with ISIS is still a very real possibility. On top of all of
that, the head of the Iraqi army, Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki, has
thrown the country into a constitutional crisis.
No matter how you describe our involvement, as a humanitarian mission,
an effort to protect U.S. personnel or helping Kurds beat back ISIS, the
U.S. military is back in Iraq, plain and simply, and our presence is
Montgomery Meigs is a retired Army general and MSNBC military analyst.
Patrick Murphy is an Army veteran, former congressman and host of "TAKING
THE HILL" here on MSNBC.
So General, I`ll just start with you. And when you look at sending
more forces over there right now to take a look at the possibility of
sending even more for a rescue mission that`s being defined as a
humanitarian mission, the total new getting close to a thousand new U.S.
forces who`ve been sent over there, basically, this summer, do you look at
this and say there`s a distinction between this as a humanitarian mission
and this as potential combat mission, or is it all the same to you?
GEN. MONTGOMERY MEIGS, U.S. ARMY (RET.), MSNBC MILITARY ANALYST: Not
yet do I look at it as a potential combat mission. There`s a couple things
that have to happen for that to take place. One, the ISIS will have to
make a move to try to take out the attempt to try to move those Yazidi
people out of there and we`ll have to start it make a fight out of it. And
we do have a national interest in making sure that ISIS`s ability to mess
things up in the Middle East is minimized to the maximum extent, and that
may take -- it certainly will take the action of the Iraqi government.
And the key to this is, now that Maliki lost the support from Iran,
there has to be a government formed that`s acceptable to the Sunni tribal
chiefs, and they are the ones that should be leading the charge. Now, if
all that happens, there doesn`t have to be an American large-scale combat
role on the ground, but that`s -- that`s a -- that`s a hard thing to pull
off with all these different moving parts.
KORNACKI: Yes, well, I mean, Patrick, look, you`ve been over there,
so let me ask you, I mean, the bottom line question here about the special
forces. Apparently, right now, the special forces -- some of them are on
the -- (INAUDIBLE) on the Sinjar mountains right now, assessing whether
more forces should be sent.
Apparently, there are fewer -- we`re told there are fewer Yazidi who
are left. A lot more have been evacuated than I guess we realized. And
apparently, also, the air strikes have done some good in terms of getting
ISIS away from the bottom of this mountain, so it may be a safer situation.
But just in terms of, you know, looking at, you know, 130 U.S. Marines
special forces who are over there now, in terms of -- what -- what is it
the United States needs to do to guarantee their safety in a situation like
PATRICK MURPHY (D), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: Well, Steve, you have
got to send in the best.
And you can`t send in -- this is a volatile area, the Sinjar
Mountains. It is a volatile situation. You can`t send in the Peace Corps
for this humanitarian mission. You need to send in those Marines and those
special operators from the U.S. Central Command, assess the situation, to
make sure that they can get the thousands, if not tens of thousands, of
Yazidis off that mountain into safety, and not to be crushed by ISIS that
is potentially choking off the arteries there.
But I will tell you that, Steve, if there`s -- I`m worried about
mission creep, of course. But now that we`re approaching those -- those
935 U.S. personnel, military personnel in Iraq. But I will tell that you
if there`s one president that I have confidence in that he will not allow
mission creep, he will not drag America back into referring a religious
civil war, it`s Barack Obama.
KORNACKI: But when do we -- Patrick, when do we know -- I think the
question a lot of people have then is, when do we know it`s over. Right?
I mean, we have a couple different objectives here we`re apparently
looking at. It is an open-ended commitment, from everything the White
House is saying to us. And I think a lot of the objectives sound
reasonable enough to people, but they say when do we know -- when do we
know we have succeeded and it is time to come back?
You know, especially with the group like ISIS, maybe we stop its
momentum, but we don`t completely obliterate it. Do we come back then or
do we stay there until it`s just gone completely?
MURPHY: No. Well, there`s two operations, obviously the Sinjar
Mountain humanitarian mission, but also protecting Americans, Steve.
As you know, we can`t leave anyone behind. And we have State
Department personnel in Irbil. We have military advisers in Irbil. And
they were within artillery range of ISIS. And that`s why we took out those
artillery assets of ISIS.
Now, ISIS, if they continue to make a move, then we have to make sure
we`re doing everything necessary to protect our own interests. But I will
tell you, ISIS , the biggest promise this week was the fact that al-Maliki
was shunned by his own party`s own religion, the Shia. And there`s a new
Shia leader coming.
They have to ratify that government within 30 days. But, as you know,
that is the final answer. That is what will help the Kurds and the Sunnis
step up and form one Iraq again and not a splinter of Iraq, which we have
KORNACKI: Well, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel told an audience of
military personnel in California that the latest developments in Iraq are
not a combat force. Here`s Hagel.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHUCK HAGEL, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: This is not any extension of --
of any role, other -- for the United States, other than to find ways to
assist and help advise the Iraqi security forces, which we have been doing.
Very specifically, this is not a combat-boots-on-the-ground operation.
We`re not going to have that kind of operation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: But in today`s White House briefing, Deputy National
Security Adviser Ben Rhodes was grilled by CBS White House correspondent
Major Garrett, who noted that these forces could very well face combat in
Iraq. Here is a bit from that exchange.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAJOR GARRETT, CBS NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Defining it as a
humanitarian mission doesn`t mean it is not dangerous and doesn`t mean it
couldn`t turn into a combat situation.
BEN RHODES, U.S. DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Major, absolutely,
there are dangers involved with any military operation. We would
absolutely acknowledge that.
There is danger when pilots are flying sorties. There is danger when
you`re in a very difficult situation as we are in Iraq. But he is
confident that we can have a limited military objective.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Well, General, I mean, I guess, to follow up on something
we were talking about with Patrick just a minute ago, accepting what the
administration is saying, that they think you can -- you can do this in a
very limited sense, ISIS itself, in terms of completely defeating ISIS, if
that is going to happen at some point, if the threat of ISIS is going to be
removed completely, is that something the United States can accomplish just
through limited strikes?
MEIGS: The answer to that is no.
Congressman Murphy had it dead on the money. You have to get the
political system wired properly, so that military, the Iraqi army, the
military, the paramilitary forces of the Saudi -- Sunni sheiks are unified
in the effort to go after ISIS. They are the ones that ought to be doing
Given the political situation now looks like it`s falling into place,
that`s what should happen. But if that doesn`t happen, and we are in that
business of trying to get the last American out doing that under fire,
you`re going to see a much greater effort.
And the answer to your earlier question is, when do we know it`s over?
It`s over when we`re out of there.
KORNACKI: Yes. Well, there we go. I guess a lot of people are going
to even ready for that for now -- right now.
Anyway, thank you, though, to General Montgomery Meigs and Patrick
Murphy. Appreciate that.
And coming up, Jimmy Fallon channels Frank Underwood as "The Tonight
Show" spoofs the hit political drama "House of Cards." That`s next in the
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
KORNACKI: Back to HARDBALL. Time now for the "Sideshow."
Last night, Jimmy Fallon debuted a seven-minute parody of the hit
Netflix series "House of Cards," which is a favorite this Emmy season among
political junkies. Fallon called it "The House of Cue Cards," as you can
see there, and he re-imagined his role as host of "The Tonight Show" in the
mold of Frank Underwood.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JIMMY FALLON")
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Last looks?
JIMMY FALLON, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JIMMY FALLON": Last looks
are the final touch-up before the show. Even the finest furniture needs a
good polish every once in a while.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Fallon, you have a phone call.
FALLON: A phone call is when someone calls you on the phone.
FALLON: Hello? Yes, dear, I will be right there.
My wife. I love that woman more than people love their friends`
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And much like the real "House of Cards," Fallon`s version
ended with a shocking plot twist, one that nobody could have predicted.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JIMMY FALLON")
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
JAY LENO, FORMER HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO": Remind me to
send him a thank-you note.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: But Kevin Spacey didn`t seem too impressed with Fallon`s
impression of him today. He reacted to the sketch in character, writing
Fallon on Twitter -- quote -- "The next time you go a parody and call it
`House of Cards,` actually using them would be of help," signed with
Underwood`s initial. Ouch.
Well, Fallon also responded last night to the ice bucket challenge for
ALS, the viral sensation that in relatively short order has taken the
country by storm. He, his guests and his band, The Roots, drenched
themselves on the "Tonight show" set after Fallon received multiple
challenges, including one from the target of many of his late-night jokes,
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who himself took the plunge just
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Patrick and Bridget, let`s go.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Didn`t even flinch.
We will be right back after this.
TODD PIRO, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Todd Piro. Here`s what`s
The Pentagon says a mission to evacuate Yazidi refugees from Iraq`s
Mount Sinjar is unlikely because there are fewer refugees on the mountain
than previously thought.
Israel`s military says it conducted strikes on terror sites in Gaza
after multiple rockets were launched from positions inside the territory.
It is unclear whether the fighting will unravel a deal to extend the truce
to five days. Talks aimed at ending the month-long conflict have been
taking place in Cairo -- now back to HARDBALL.
KORNACKI: We are back.
For the past three nights, protesters have clashed with police in the
Saint Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Anger has grown over the killing
Saturday of an unarmed black teenager by a still unnamed police officer who
witnesses say was white.
Police say the teenager, Michael Brown, struggled for the officer`s
gun, but Brown`s friend, a man who says he was an eyewitness to the
shooting, said Brown had his hands up when he was shot. During the
protests, police have fired rubber bullets and tear gas into the crowds of
protesters. They say protesters have thrown bricks and bottles at
Last night, an officer shot a man who allegedly pointed a gun at him.
But there is no indication that this incident had anything to do with the
protests. Today, the police department asked protesters to refrain from
gathering after dark -- quote -- "We ask that any groups wishing to
assemble in prayer or in protest do so only during daylight hours in an
organized and respectful manner."
Police Chief Thomas Jackson explained why earlier this afternoon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THOMAS JACKSON, FERGUSON, MISSOURI, POLICE CHIEF: I think that`s a
really good idea, because although all the people that are marching and
protesting are -- most of them, they are very peaceful. They have a very
strong message they want to get out. They`re looking for answers. I
understand that. I understand the anger.
But there are some people that come out and, after dark, it does get a
little dangerous. So we think it`s better for peaceful demonstrations to
occur during the daylight.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Anne Allred is a reporter for the NBC affiliate in Saint
Louis KSDK. Val Demings is the former police chief of Orlando.
Anne, let me just start with you on the ground out there. Can you
just kind of take us and get us up to speed right now on what the latest is
that is happening in the community there and also in terms of this
investigation, in terms of finding out some answers to happened, what the
latest is on that front?
ANNE ALLRED, KSDK REPORTER: The FBI, they have just announced that
they are going to launch a criminal -- or a civil rights investigation, in
addition to their criminal investigation.
And also today the body of Michael Brown was released to the family.
So, we had the preliminary autopsy results yesterday that he died of
gunshots wounds, plural, didn`t know how many. Now his body has been given
back to his parents and they are looking to do an independent autopsy.
And also the chief of the police in Ferguson gave us a reason as to
why the autopsy, further details were not given. They haven`t talked to
all of these witnesses yet. They want to make sure they do that before
they possibly poison any accounts.
KORNACKI: And what would you say the mood in the community is right
now? I know we have the police chief there asking people not to be out
tonight. Is there a sense, you know, is the protest movement dying down at
all or is it getting even more intense?
ALLRED: Well, we have seen protests every single night. And every
single night, we have had these community meetings that start at 6:00,
7:00, and then they go for an hour or two hours, two-and-a-half-hours. One
started at 7:00 last night and didn`t get out until about 10:00.
And then you have a large group of people, hundreds of people pouring
out of these things and that`s usually when these protests start. Now,
it`s -- to be clear, the chief wanted to make sure everybody knows it is
not a requirement. It`s not a curfew. He is just asking that people
protest during the daylight hours.
And we asked him, well, what happens if they don`t and they protest at
dark? He said, as long as they`re peaceful, absolutely nothing. But as we
have seen stuff happen every single night, we have also seen the police
presence increase dramatically, riot gear, SWAT teams, armored vehicles
every single night, police lines, tear gas, rubber bullets, as you said.
And so things have quieted down each night. But then of course we had
the shooting at 1:00 a.m. Whether or not that is related, we still don`t
know, whether or not it was a protester. And allegedly he did pull the gun
on an officer.
ALLRED: But every night we`re just not sure what is going to happen
next. And no one can tell. So, really, it`s just minute by minute.
KORNACKI: Well, 67 percent of the population in Ferguson is African-
American, but only three of the 53 police officers on the force are black.
In an interview with MSNBC.com, Police Chief Thomas Jackson admitted
that is a problem. He said -- quote -- "Whatever we are doing is not
enough. We are trying, but obviously it is not good enough."
Val, obviously, you`re experienced in law enforcement. I wonder when
you look at this situation, a little bit removed from it from afar, but
when you look at statistics like that and you look at sort of a disparity
like this, two-thirds black in the community, and I don`t know what that
adds up to -- probably less than 10 percent of the police force is black --
what kinds of problems does that create?
VAL DEMINGS, FORMER ORLANDO POLICE CHIEF: Well, first of all, I want
to say that my heart goes out to the Brown family, as a mother of three
sons, as a former police chief.
I know the family is devastated, the community is devastated, of which
the police is a part of that community. I didn`t know what the recruitment
efforts are there in Ferguson. It is not always easy to recruit good,
But what I do know is that I believe a community is better and
stronger when that police agency reflects in the greatest sense the
community in which it serves.
KORNACKI: Well, and I also wonder what you make of -- you know, and
Anne was just describing this a little bit -- a minute ago -- we have seen
all the pictures too, obviously, on the news.
We have heard a lot of the people on the ground there. The response
from the police the last few nights to the protests, police out there, and
I understand a very tough job, obviously, but in riot gear, with shields,
camouflage, all of these things. Is there an argument to be made that that
might be a little bit heavy-handed in terms of their response to protests
at this point?
DEMINGS: Well, you know, let me say this, that I have spent 28 years
in police work. Started out as patrol officer working the streets.
And one thing that I realized early on was that relationship matters.
When the police and the community have an intimate relationship, it does a
couple of things. Number one, it increases and builds understanding,
understanding for the police about what a particular community might be
going through, some of the challenges, and, for the police, about what
particular challenges they might have trying to police that community.
It also builds trust. Relationships build trust. And, also, they
build support. You -- it is tough when efforts to build a sound
relationship occur in a crisis.
I used to say to men and women at Orlando Police Department, this is a
police agency, bad things will happen. But when bad things aren`t
happening, spend as much time as you can trying to build a relationship
with that community, because number one, if do you that, bad things may not
happen. Number two, if they do, I believe the police will give you the --
the community will give the police the benefit of the doubt while that
investigation is going forward.
KORNACKI: Well, yes -- Anne, I`m curious on that point, what Val is
talking about there, that trust, that relationship, certainly doesn`t seem
to me looking that the community is willing to give the police the benefit
of the doubt in this investigation. Can you tell us, before this incident
happen, say if we were talking a week and I asked you a week ago to
characterize the relationship between the police force in Ferguson and
local population in Ferguson, how would you have characterized it?
ANNE ALLRED, KSDK-TV: Well, actually, the people of Ferguson seem to
get along very well. And obviously, yes, there is serious trust issues
we`ve been expressed to us from the people in the community. And to speak
to that point about three black officers in the Ferguson Police Department,
and 53 white officers, we did pose those questions.
And what we were told by the police chief was, I don`t have the
applicants to make things fair. To have it reflect my population of 67
percent of the black population in Ferguson.
And then we went and talked to the St. Louis County recruiter and
posed that same question and they also said, yes, we don`t have the
applicants to mirror this. And we can`t make people want to do this job.
They have to want to do it.
KORNACKI: Yes. There`s a big gap between -- again, the numbers, in
my head is about 7 percent versus 67 percent. Got to be more applicants
than 7 percent, I got to think.
DEMINGS: Well, can I make a comment about that?
KORNACKI: Go ahead.
DEMINGS: I joined the police department in 1984. You know,
historically, African-Americans were not hired at police departments,
certainly in no great numbers. I did not walk in to the Orlando Police
Department to apply for a job. It is tough for people to believe that they
can do something if they don`t feel a whole lot of other people who look
like them doing that same job. The Orlando Police Department actually came
looking for me.
I believe that it is a good idea, some of the things we did in
Orlando, was to identify community leaders, sit down at the table with
them, share some of the challenges that we were having, including
recruiting. We seized every opportunity in front of the community group to
talk about, we are always trying to recruit men and women to make sure that
this police department reflects the community in which it serves.
I know there`s a lot going on, but you know, that might be something
that would be a good for chief Jackson and the men and women to do, seek
help from some of the other leaders in the community to help them identify
qualified applicants. I know they`re there.
KORNACKI: Well, yes, it sounds like good advice for police
departments across the country, actually.
But thank you to Anne Allred and Val Demings. We appreciate the time
and insight tonight.
We`ll be back with how the Tea Party is driving the Republican Party
on big issues like immigration.
KORNACKI: Up next: Republican leaders vowed to keep the Tea Party in
check. But it`s the Tea Party that`s leading the way on big issues like
immigration. That`s ahead.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
KORNACKI: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
For a party waging an increasingly difficult struggle to win over
Hispanic voters, Republican leaders will probably none too pleased to read
this headline today in "The New York Times". "On immigration, GOP starts
to embrace Tea Party." Jonathan Weisman reports, to the most hard line
anti-immigration voices in the party, got something close to the equivalent
of final cut on two bills addressing the flood of migrant children at the
Weisman concludes that, quote, "On Capitol Hill, the Tea Party wing
continues to drive the party`s agenda." Representative Steve King and
Michele Bachmann even tweeted this photo of them posting they were
reviewing the final language to the legislation.
At the time, King told reporters about the reworked bill, quote, "The
changes brought into this are ones I`ve developed and advocated for over
the past two years. It`s like I ordered it off the menu."
Yes, this is same Steve King in the past talked about immigrants with,
quote, "calves the size of cantaloupes from hauling drugs across the
Other voices on the right with outside influence include Congressman
Mo Brooks, who`s warned that Democrats are launching a war on whites. He
has advocated a "deport them all" position on illegal immigrants. These
are not exactly the faces the party wants to showcase to help make inroads
in Hispanic community. And yet, there they are leading the charge in
Joy Reid is host of "THE REID REPORT" here on MSNBC. Hogan Gidley is
Hogan, let me start with you, because I think there are two things
that are related here. Let me run them by you and let me see what you have
to say about it.
I think it`s not at all a coincidence here we are at the end of the
primary season here in 2014 talking about how, for once the Tea Party
didn`t knock off Republican incumbents. They didn`t take out the
Republican establishment. And the fact we are reading about stories like
this with the Tea Party is basically getting its will on immigration, it
seems to me the Republican establishment in Washington, especially on
immigration, gave into the Tea Party this year and as result, the
Republican establishment protected from Republican Tea Party primary
Am I getting that wrong?
HOGAN GIDLEY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I don`t know if you`ve gotten it
wrong. But, look, if you want to move the ball forward in any piece of
legislation, you got to go to the folks who consistently vote no and won`t
let you move the ball forward, and that`s the Tea Party caucus.
KORNACKI: But how -- moving the ball forward to the Tea Party is
doing nothing, isn`t it?
GIDLEY: I don`t know that it is doing nothing. It is trying to solve
a problem now that equates to 14, 15, unknown amount of millions of people
here have gotten here illegally the last few years. And someone`s got to
get something done. Leadership starts at the top, whether it`s Harry Reid
in the Senate, John Boehner in the House, or President Obama in the White
And right now, Tea Party Caucus, yields a lot of power, wields a lot
of power because they consistently keep things from going through. But the
fact remains, last week, the House passed a bill, and it`s sitting on Harry
Reid`s desk and it`s time for him to move the ball forward and see what he
can do in the Senate.
KORNACKI: Well, Joy, I got a feeling, Harry Reid is not going to be
doing anything with that bill soon.
But, I mean, Joy, in terms of the bigger picture question here, which
we all knew the minute the results in the 2012 election came in, we said
the Republican Party nationally, to win presidential elections, has a real
problem here, especially with the Latino vote going-forward.
Here we are almost two years out from that election, we`re having this
conversation today. How -- are you surprised that it came to this two
years later? Because I thought there would be some kind of movement.
JOY REID, THE REID REPORT: No, I`m actually not surprised, because
for the Republican Party, their short term interests have always been in
contradiction to their long term interests. Their short term interests,
particularly in winning a midterm, which is going to be whiter, older to
voters, then there would be a general election, a presidential election,
their interest is in getting the most active voters out. That is Tea Party
voters who are hard-line against any form of immigration reform. So, you
have to super serve that base in order to get them out to vote this year.
But long term, the messaging, turning over your messaging on
immigration to Steve King and Mo Brooks, the war on whites guy, is the
worst thing you could do long term for the party, because the image of the
party -- there was a really important piece in that Weisman article, where
he talked about the way the immigration debate sounds on Univision, on
Telemundo, on the places where a lot of Latinos are watching the news and
are getting their information.
And when they`re seeing Steve King, they know exactly who he is, while
most Americans don`t. That face of the Republican Party is hostile to
Latinos broadly, not just to illegal immigrants, but to Latinos broadly is
a big problem long term, but I don`t think the Republicans can solve it.
For now, they just need those older voters.
KORNACKI: But, Hogan, that`s -- that`s an interesting, point, Hogan,
because the viewers that Joy is talking about it there, they`re seeing --
they`re not just seeing Congressman Steve King on their screen. They`re
seeing Congressman Steve King, and it says, next it was named Republican.
GIDLEY: Right, right. And, look, Michele Bachmann was the one giving
the response to the Tea Party not the Republican Party.
Let`s go back to 2008. We had people on that presidential stage like
Mike Huckabee saying, aren`t we blessed to live in a nation where people
would rather break into it as opposed to one people want to break out of?
And then, fast forward to 2012, when we`re talking about self-
deportation. There`s a disconnect in the last election, between the person
who was the nominee and the actual strong, good helpful rhetoric on this
issue. People like Santorum, people like Gingrich --
KORNACKI: But, Hogan, quickly, hadn`t that disconnect gotten worse,
though, when we`ve reached this point right now. Two years ago, we`re
talking about, can they pass comprehensive immigration reform? Now, we`re
saying they won`t even do a border bill.
GIDLEY: But they just passed it. Look, this doesn`t need to be
comprehensive. Do it piecemeal, OK? Focus on securing the border. Focus
on E-Verify. Focus on getting to the back of the line. Focus on fines.
That`s how you do this thing.
I don`t know how it became so in vogue to make everything
REID: No. But, Hogan, they`re also in that bill trying to take
something away. They`re trying to take DACA away. They`re actually saying
to kids who grew up here, who only know the United States, we always want
to kick you out.
They`re actually saying to kids who are as American as apple pie, we
don`t want you. And then just the attitude, the rhetoric, the tone of it.
And, Hogan, I mean, you are one of those Republicans who gets the tone
thing, but you know what? Most of your party, they don`t get it. And so,
they`re communicating -- again, they`re communicating to American Latinos
and there is this over-thinking that so many people -- most of these people
are Americans who are saying, Republicans don`t like us.
KORNACKI: All right. I got to leave it there. Thank you to Joy
Reid, Hogan Gidley, appreciate that.
KORNACKI: When we return, let me finish with why the White House is
happy to hear Republicans talk up impeachment.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
KORNACKI: Finally, let me finish with the numbers that show exactly
why the White House has been prodding on to Tea Party conservatives who are
talking about impeaching President Obama. That was a surprising story a
few weeks ago. Do you remember it?
White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer went out of his way
to mention that Sarah Palin, of all people, was calling for Obama to be
impeached and said he would, quote, "not discount" the possibility that
Republicans would listen to her and go ahead and do it.
Well, that caught a lot of people by surprise. Here`s a general role,
the White House and most people in politics for that matter, don`t take
what Sarah Palin has to say seriously. But here was President Obama`s
spokesman suddenly acting like she was the speaker of the House.
It was clear: the White House wanted people to be talking about
impeachment, wanted people to believe that Republicans really were on the
verge of doing it. There was a lot of talk that this was about raising
money, but I`m sure that was part of it.
But today, we got some new numbers that tell us what was really going
on here. It`s a new Marist-McClatchy poll and it asks if voters favor
impeaching Obama. Not surprisingly, they`re overwhelmingly against it, 69
percent to 26 percent. Even Republicans are split on it, 45 percent of
them say Obama should be impeached and 48 percent say no.
But look closer, if impeachment proceedings were to begin the poll
asks, would it make you more likely to vote for a Democrat for Congress
this fall or for a Republican? The Democrats win here, 43 percent to 38
percent. Among self-identified moderates, it`s a landslide, 49 percent to
27 percent, for Democrats.
And it`s not just impeachment, the poll also asks about the lawsuit
that House Republicans have initiated against president Obama. This one is
not theoretical or hypothetical. They voted to do it a few weeks ago.
The numbers are lopsided here too, 58 percent of voters say they don`t
like the lawsuit, only 34 percent do. And by a 42 percent to 30 percent
margin, the lawsuit makes them more likely to support Democrats in
Here`s the real key, look at this, among voters who say they`re
Democrats, 88 percent say that the Republican lawsuit against President
Obama will make them more likely to vote this fall. Only 78 percent of
Republicans say the lawsuit will make them more likely to vote.
That`s the bottom line for Democrats. It`s why the White House is
happy to promote all that Republican impeachment talk, it`s why President
Obama actually told Republicans to go ahead and sue him just last month.
These are the -- these are the sorts of actions or potential actions
that make swing voters, the swing voters who are left anyway, make them see
the Republican Party as extremists. But they also rally the Democratic
base, they give Democratic voters fired up and excited about turning out
And that is hugely important for Democrats right now. We all know
that the Republican base is a lot more likely to turn out in midterm
election years than the Democratic base. It`s one of the reasons the
Republicans are so bullish on their chances of winning big this fall.
But all this impeachment talk and Republican lawsuit may just be
leveling that playing field.
That`s HARDBALL for now, thanks for being with us.
`ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
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