September 4, 2014
Guest: Michelle Bernard, Robert McCartney, Clarence Page, Arsalan
Iftikhar, Bobby Ghosh
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: A devastating verdict.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
In a devastating rebuke to politicians today, those who abuse their
power, a jury in Richmond, Virginia, today found a former Virginia governor
and his wife guilty of a series of felonies that could keep the couple in
prison for the rest of their lives. Both Bob and Maureen McDonnell wept
openly in court as the verdicts were read. The jury found him guilty on
all 11 counts of conspiracy, she on nine counts, leaving their stunned
families howling in tears.
This is what it means to face the American people in the year 2014, a
time when the people look upon politicians as failures, at best, abusers of
their offices at worst. Guilty today means guilty before the people,
guilty at a time just 1 in 15 Americans believes the United States Congress
In the program tonight, we`re going to get to two other staggering
stories, one the deep nationalistic reaction to the beheadings of Americans
by the Islamic State, and the relatively few but dangerous cases of
Americans who join the other side.
And finally, we devote time to the death of a pioneering woman, the
first female comic to bring a sharp nightclub edge to her humor.
But we begin tonight with the guilty verdicts for Bob and Maureen
McDonnell. Pete Williams is the NBC News justice correspondent. Thank you
very much, Pete, for joining us. How much time are we talking about if
they really get the book thrown at them here?
PETE WILLIAMS, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, the maximum is 20 years, but
of course, there are sentencing guidelines that will modify that. They
won`t serve anywhere near 20 years. If this sentence stands, let`s
remember that it`s a certainty that the lawyers will appeal. They had
strenuous objections, Chris, to the judge`s instructions to the jury. They
thought that the judge was too weighted to the prosecution on a couple of
questions. One is, what`s an official act? The McDonnells said they never
really did any. The judge said an official act is anything a governor
does, basically, whether it`s in the law or not, anything in the
performance of their duties.
And the second is what the definition is of a bribery agreement. What
the judge said is you don`t have to get anything in return. You just have
to have an agreement to do something to help someone. And on those counts,
the defense lawyers thought the judge was wrong. They`ll certainly appeal.
But if this guilty verdict survives appeal, then they will definitely
be doing some prison time.
MATTHEWS: Where do you think they`ll go? Do they go to a place like
Allenwood, where they have tennis courts, or Lewisberg (ph), or are they
going to face medium security, something like that, both of them?
WILLIAMS: Well, these -- these are -- these are not violent crimes.
These are white collar crimes. This is a former governor. So those would
be taken into account. And they`ll -- yes, they undoubtedly would serve
their time in a minimum security prison. They won`t be going to supermax.
There`s no question about their dangerousness.
WILLIAMS: And you know, back to that -- back to your intro. I think
one of the things that`s so interesting about this verdict is that going
into this trial, the general feeling was Robert McDonnell was in good
standing. He was considered to be a -- sort of a Boy Scout as governor.
He was well respected.
And so that, I think, is one thing that makes this verdict all that
much more surprising because he was well liked in Virginia, so the jury had
to get past that.
And one other thing. The judge did say to the jurors -- and this was
sort of a pro-defense thing at the end. He said, Look, they have to have
known that what they were doing was wrong. If you, the jury, think they
acted in good faith, that they were just taking all this money, roughly
WILLIAMS: ... in cash and loans and gifts from this man -- if you
thought they really thought he was just a friend and not somebody who was
looking for state business, then you should acquit. Obviously, the jury
didn`t buy that defense at all.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Pete Williams.
Michelle Bernard is, of course, the president and CEO of the Bernard
Center for Women, Politics and Public Policy and Robert McCartney has been
following this trial for "The Washington Post."
Reports from people in the courtroom tonight depict a highly dramatic
scene. As I said, the former governor was sobbing, with his head back, his
family howling with their own tears, his wife, Maureen, crying, too. In a
minute, we`re going to get a report from someone who as inside that
And here`s McDonnell, by the way, composed as he left the courtroom
this afternoon. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOB MCDONNELL (R), FMR. VIRGINIA GOVERNOR: All I can say is my trust
remains in the Lord. And thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, he put his trust in the jury. And this guy could
have walked away with a minimal admission, a minimal plea. You`re the
MICHELLE BERNARD, BERNARD CENTER FOR WOMEN: Yes. Absolutely.
MATTHEWS: And his wife would have been off scot-free. Instead, he
chose to face a jury. Pete has his assessment of the law, but my
assessment`s American politics.
MATTHEWS: I don`t think you want to face an American jury today if
you`re a pol accused of misbehavior.
BERNARD: No, I...
MATTHEWS: I think they`re going to go down and hit you with
everything they got, as they did with this. Twenty years they`re facing.
BERNARD: Absolutely. And you know, going into this, I expected the
exact opposite, never expected a jury to find them guilty on all the
conspiracy charges. We have a Congress that doesn`t work. We have a lot
of state governments that don`t work. We have government -- the federal
government shuts down. They can`t pass a budget.
And I think that this was a case of the jury looking at very broad
jury instructions but also saying to themselves, you know, our politicians
today fill their pockets and the American people continue to suffer...
MATTHEWS: And they look out for their special friends who give them
MATTHEWS: I think it`s (INAUDIBLE) 11 of 13 counts, guilty. For the
wife, Maureen -- she`s not even a public office holder. She`s just sort of
a companion in this sort of stuff -- 9 of 13. You know, Pete said the
judge made the decision. The jury made the final decision here.
ROBERT MCCARTNEY, "WASHINGTON POST": No, they clearly did not buy the
defense at all. I mean, look -- there`s a -- you know, 14 counts
altogether, five-week -- weeks of testimony, two hours of jury
MCCARTNEY: That`s how long just the jury instructions took. And it
only took this jury a little more than two days of deliberations...
BERNARD: I -- I...
MCCARTNEY: ... in order to reach this. I mean, they clearly thought
he and she were, you know, deceiving them. They didn`t buy any of it. And
I think that the poor reputation politicians generally certainly helped
BERNARD: Well, and I also...
MCCARTNEY: Certainly hurt -- helped the prosecution. Excuse me.
MATTHEWS: This is not Illinois, by the way.
MCCARTNEY: No, this...
MATTHEWS: This isn`t a state that has, like, five governors have gone
to prison. Virginia I think has been pretty clean.
MCCARTNEY: No, they`ve never had...
BERNARD: ... accused of a crime before.
MCCARTNEY: They`ve never had a governor or a former governor...
MATTHEWS: And that`s why Terry McAuliffe, the current governor, said
this is going to hurt the state. And it is going to hurt the state.
BERNARD: Well, and -- you know, and the prosecution said it
repeatedly in their closing statements. He -- Bob McDonnell filled the
shoes once held by Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson. There was a feeling
on behalf of the prosecution in this case that they had besmirched the
reputation of the commonwealth...
MATTHEWS: Isn`t he the guy that said...
BERNARD: ... of Virginia...
MATTHEWS: ... Give me the Rolex watch or forget about it?
BERNARD: ... threw his wife under the Ferrari that she arranged for
him to drive in. I also got to tell you, though, I think the jury
absolutely found a conspiracy between the governor and his wife in this
whole crazy wife defense. I think they thought that the two of them
colluded and that this was a smart way to get off...
MATTHEWS: They were (INAUDIBLE) this guy.
BERNARD: They were walking in -- at every pre-trail hearing, the
McDonnells were holding hands and they were the picture of marital bliss.
And then it comes to a trial, and all of a sudden, I hate my wife, My wife
hates me, We don`t speak to each other. And members of the jury had to
have known that the wife went to the prosecutor a year ago and said, I feel
guilty about this.
MCCARTNEY: It`s my fault, right.
BERNARD: It`s my fault. Is there anything we can do...
MCCARTNEY: I think that whole...
BERNARD: ... to save my husband?
MCCARTNEY: I think that whole defense backfired.
MCCARTNEY: In other words, I think that it was so clearly made up...
MCCARTNEY: ... and awkward and concocted that it hurt their
credibility on everything else.
MATTHEWS: Let me -- let me remind everybody we`re talking about
felony counts here, you know, almost a dozen felony counts (INAUDIBLE) two
dozen altogether. And the question -- Pete talks about they`ll probably
get time off. They won`t go the full time of 20 years. But they`re
middle-aged people. You don`t know whether they`re going to be around in
20 years, in the years they`re talking about here.
If I were them, I`d be thinking, Am I ever going to get out of prison?
And when I get out of prison, I`m going to be old.
MCCARTNEY: In their 80s.
MCCARTNEY: ... or 70s.
MATTHEWS: And I will get out with very little life left, if either of
us get out.
BERNARD: Well, and also...
MATTHEWS: And this is because of decisions which don`t seem that
important at the time. I thought it was interesting that Pete said -- Pete
-- Pete Williams pointed out that they had to be proven guilty of having
known what they were doing was evil, was wrong.
MCCARTNEY: Was wrong, yes.
MATTHEWS: How do you prove that? But that jury`s willing to believe
BERNARD: Well, they were -- because the jury instructions were also
are very broad. One of the jury instructions that I think might be
problematic on appeal, for example, is the judge said it didn`t really
necessarily -- you didn`t have to focus on so much on what Bob McDonnell
thought he was doing. Focus on what Jonnie Williams thought he was
MATTHEWS: I do not believe that any judge is going to overturn this
case. This is...
BERNARD: No, I don`t.
MATTHEWS: ... a well run trial. The jury has spoken. It`s a trial
that`s been done. The guilty pleas -- the guilty judgment was made. The
verdict`s in. You go back over this, and we`re going to do it all over
again? They`re going to do this all over again, another trial?
BERNARD: No. No, no.
MCCARTNEY: No, and I think so many guilty verdicts on so many counts,
it`s going to be hard for anybody to overturn this...
MATTHEWS: Can you imagine them saying to the state of Virginia, Do
this all over again?
BERNARD: Well, let`s assume that even happened. For Bob McDonnell,
who just two years ago people were discussing running on the vice
presidential ticket with Mitt Romney -- what an incredible fall from grace!
His political career is over. The American public loves redemption...
BERNARD: ... but it is over.
MATTHEWS: I mean, I`m thinking of B-Rod, we call him, Blagojevich.
He`s in the can right now and watching this. I think -- we`re going to get
in the next segment what message this sends to politicians. You know,
you`re not going to grab the silverware right now, like you might have done
MATTHEWS: ... and the ones who take about -- not (INAUDIBLE) but
getting away with the extras, the trips. You want to go on a golf trip
this weekend? Come on along. It`s -- I`ll take care of you. That kind of
guy`s going to go, Wait a minute. I better not end up like Bob McDonnell.
MATTHEWS: I get on this plane with you, buddy, and I`m guilty of
taking a service from you. And if I do anything for you, I`m guilty of the
same charge this guy`s swinging for.
MCCARTNEY: And I`m thinking this is also sending a message to
prosecutors. I mean, if you`re an ambitious federal prosecutor out there
right now, you really want to go after anything...
MATTHEWS: ... the big guy in Trenton. We got -- we got...
MATTHEWS: ... you know, Scott Walker...
MATTHEWS: ... out in Madison, a lot of governors now facing juries,
potentially, down the road -- potentially. They`re thinking, if they get
offered a plea...
MCCARTNEY: They`re going to take it.
MATTHEWS: Take the plea.
BERNARD: It`s dangerous. They have opened the floodgates (INAUDIBLE)
MATTHEWS: Anybody who wants to face a jury in a civil -- in a
political case right now is really taking chances. Thank you, Michelle
Bernard, attorney, esquire, Robert McCartney, "Washington Post," real
Coming up: As I said, today`s verdict is a blaring warning about what
Americans think of politicians in this year of 2014. This jury is saying,
We don`t accept business as usual from our elected politicians. That`s
going to have a chilling effect, I think, on everyone in public office
today. They are watching this, talking to their spouses about it, and what
Plus, Vice President Joe Biden said yesterday that they`ll follow --
we`re going to follow ISIS to the gates of hell. Well, that`s a sharp
contrast from what we heard from the president, don`t you think?? But it
does square with the nationalism most of us feel right now at the
beheadings of fellow Americans.
And more on ISIS -- why do some living in this country want to join a
group against us -- hell-bent against America? Why would they want to sign
on with that, with the beheaders?
Finally, we`re going to pay tribute to an early trailblazer for women
comics, Joan Rivers, who brought a real nightclub bite to her humor.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Well, a victory today for President Obama`s health care
law. A federal appeals court in Washington threw out an earlier ruling
that said financial subsidies are not available for people who buy health
insurance on the federal exchange. Well, an earlier ruling by the court
back in July was made by a three-judge panel of the court, but the Justice
Department urged the full court to hear the case, which it will now do.
And the full court is thought to be more sympathetic to "Obama care."
And we`ll be right back after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re very disappointed but we`re not deterred.
The fight is a long way from over.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: We`re back. More on the fallout from former Virginia
governor Bob McDonnell`s 11-count conviction today on charges of
corruption. What effect will McDonnell`s fall from grace have an other
governors, and their wives or husbands, who are also facing inquiries into
There are now three Republican governors and one Democratic governor
facing various investigation, and all are said to be considering 2016
presidential bids. Texas governor Rick Perry was indicted by a grand jury
on two felony counts. New Jersey governor Chris Christie and his office
are facing two criminal investigations over last year`s notorious lane
closures on the George Washington Bridge and related affairs. Wisconsin
governor Scott Walker is being investigated by a special prosecutor for
possible illegal fund-raising activities. And New York governor Andrew
Cuomo, a Democrat, and his staff are under federal investigation for his
potential interference with his own anti-corruption commission.
A word of caution. After today`s McDonnell verdict today, you don`t
want to be a governor facing a jury heading into 2016.
Howard Fineman is editorial director of the Huffington Post Media
Group, and of course, an MSNBC political analyst. And Clarence Page is a
columnist with "The Chicago Tribune" who holds a Pulitzer Prize.
But we begin with NBC 4`s Dave Culver, who was inside the courtroom
today. Dave, thank you for joining us. What did it look like? Give us a
picture of the scene when the verdict came down.
DAVID CULVER, WRC-TV: Well, Chris, you think of Governor Bob
McDonnell and you think of a guy who we saw on the campaign trail as he was
running for governor here in Virginia, very confident, very easygoing as he
was coming into the courtroom throughout this five-plus-week trial.
What I saw in there about two hours ago now was a man who, as I`ve
described, was broken. As soon as the first of those guilty counts came
out, I saw the former governor put his hands into his face and break down
and to sob.
He`s always been accompanied by family. He had three of his five
children sitting behind him in the benches there, and they were all holding
onto each other, a daughter -- two daughters and one son. They were
holding onto each other, praying initially. But as those verdicts were
being read, about eight minutes long, they were just sobbing in hysterics.
And their hysterics were then causing a few of the jurors to break down
into tears. I saw two of the jurors wiping tears from their eyes.
I have never seen Bob McDonnell like I saw him about two hours ago
inside that courtroom. Maureen McDonnell -- she was rather stoic. She
wiped away a few tears, but she seemed to be more in a state of shock than
anything else. But the hysterics, the tears, the sobbing -- that was the
former governor, Bob McDonnell, that we saw inside that courtroom.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, David Culver from NBC 4 here in Washington.
Thank you for joining us.
Howard, I want to go to you on this. I`ve known you a long time.
This -- when you look at this guy -- he was sort of a calm, somewhat
debonair governor, made -- looked like he had it made.
HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST MEDIA GROUP, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:
Well, I`ve covered...
MATTHEWS: His wife and (ph) going to the can for maybe 20 years.
FINEMAN: I`ve covered...
FINEMAN: I covered him from the beginning, Chris. He was a
phenomenon in Virginia politics and thus national politics because he came
out of the Pat Robertson school, literally. He attended Regent University.
And yet he was able to have mainstream appeal. He seemed like the perfect,
almost created in the laboratory modern Republican Southern candidate.
And I know for a fact that Barack Obama and his political advisers
were keeping an eye on him from the beginning. And Obama himself said,
There`s a guy we`ve got to watch. And then it turned to this. It`s really
one of the most amazing rises and falls that I`ve ever seen in a short
period of time.
MATTHEWS: It`s shocking, but the law matters.
CLARENCE PAGE, "CHICAGO TRIBUNE": Oh, yes.
MATTHEWS: They broke the law, according to that judge, according to
PAGES: It does. And also -- well, you mentioned earlier the context
of politics here. A jury`s being very impatient now with politicians who
are accused of misbehavior. And I think that Governor McDonnell himself
was a victim, in a way, of that national spotlight because when you get
into the national spotlight, like Chris Christie in New Jersey and various
others you mentioned, Scott Walker, suddenly, prosecutors -- you look very
interesting to them, too, and you become subject to extra scrutiny. And
you have to make that decision about whether to try to plead not guilty or
take the deal. I think in this case, McDonnell made the wrong choice.
MATTHEWS: Well, all three of us grew up in big cities, and we got
used to that sort of thing where your ethnic group voted its (ph) ethnic
way. That`s the way it was. It was -- Howard Washington, one of our guys,
one of your guys, whatever.
MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) one of my guys, some Irish guy. And they would
say, Well, of course he`s a little crooked, but he looks out for us. He
brings (INAUDIBLE) they bring the turkey around at Christmastime, or
whatever. Today, I`m not sure that attitude is there anymore, this
attitude, OK, he`s our guy.
MATTHEWS: But we`ve had it with these crooks. We don`t care if he is
our guy politically.
FINEMAN: Well, it`s very interesting, Chris, I think you`re right,
because voters don`t have the personal neighborhood relationships, if you
will, with these candidates. The candidates present themselves through
television. They hype their credentials. They talk about their
wholesomeness. That`s one of the things with Bob McDonnell -- Regent
University, Pat Robertson, picture-perfect marriage. And one of the things
that the jury didn`t believe here was the sudden fact that they were all
going in the other direction.
The other thing that`s going on here, legally, is that the definition
that the judge accepted in this case of what is an official act that
somebody receiving money or favors is doing is so broad that, if I were a
politician anywhere in America, I would be worried that a federal grand
jury could go after me, even if I did nothing official, nothing legal, no
administrative change, no legal change.
If I set up a meeting with a guy, I could be cooked, because that`s
what happened to Bob McDonnell here.
MATTHEWS: It could be if the governor comes to your wife`s birthday
MATTHEWS: Wow. He showed up with the state trooper. That`s public
MATTHEWS: And, by the way, we live in a city where ambassadorships go
out to the bundlers.
PAGE: Yes. That`s right.
MATTHEWS: The people that raise a lot of money in elections get the
MATTHEWS: Who gets invited to the state dinners when President
Hollande of France arrives? You look at the list. It`s the bundlers.
PAGE: That`s a good example. That`s a good example of the kind of
habits. A lot of people say, what, is that unethical? Because it`s been
done for so long.
MATTHEWS: What would this judge say?
PAGE: It`s a gray area with a lot of people.
Well, that`s what is interesting here. I compare Virginia with
Illinois, for example, or New Jersey or Louisiana.
MATTHEWS: You never did before.
PAGE: States where we are more accustomed to occasions like this
where you have got states that are more accustomed to this kind of scandal.
I was amazed after the first four governors were convicted, let alone
the fifth one back in Illinois, that more pols didn`t say, hey, maybe I
better behave better. But there is a culture that rises up from the
MATTHEWS: ... insurance deal for the city to one of his kids? He
said, who am I supposed to give it to, a stranger?
PAGE: And there is mistletoe on my coattails, as my mother used to
say. That`s what Daley said for anybody who frowned on that kind of
FINEMAN: I agree with you, Chris. I think the thing -- I think that
giving ambassadorships to bundlers is sort of hiding in plain sight here.
That`s an obvious quid pro quo of an official action for a bunch of money
to your campaign. And yet...
MATTHEWS: Keep watching, ladies and gentlemen. Keep watching. By
this message today, a lot of governors and their wives or husbands are
sitting around tonight saying, what have we taken? What have we done?
Could this be us? And talk about a quiet conversation.
Even the kids aren`t listening.
MATTHEWS: Howard Fineman, Clarence Page, this is serious business
when you`re talking 20 years is prison.
Up next, Joe Biden`s rhetorical response to ISIS may have upstaged the
president`s. It certainly did, I think. That`s ahead.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Well, with ISIS, the Islamic State, threatening to behead more Western
hostages, President Obama was in Wales today at a NATO summit trying to
build international support for action against the terror group. But it
was his vice president who connected with the American people.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The American
people are so much stronger, so much more resolved than any enemy can fully
As a nation, we are united. And when people harm Americans, we don`t
retreat. We don`t forget. We take care of those who are grieving. And
when that`s finished, they should know we will follow them to the gates of
hell, until they are brought to justice.
BIDEN: Because hell is where they will reside.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, was that what the American people want to hear? I
think so. And if so, how far is this war-weary and war-wary country
willing to go?
Here in Washington, there is a drumbeat for action. It`s coming from
Democrats and Republicans alike. Does the president himself hear that
Mike Barnicle is an MSNBC contributor and Michael Steele is the former
chair of the Republican National Committee -- Michael -- and an MSNBC
Michael, I watch you every morning. And have to tell you, I do
remember one really good thing W. did. He went into the war he had to go
into after Afghanistan going after them. He followed them all the way back
to their caves. And when he said, we are going after the people that did
this, who knocked down these building, that was one moment of almost, oh,
it was fabulous, Henry V stuff coming out of the president then.
This president doesn`t want to give us a Henry V. moment. Why not?
MIKE BARNICLE, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think he`s a little
protective of himself, Chris. I think he`s clearly a thoughtful guy.
He is a methodical guy. Joe Biden is a thoughtful guy, but he is not
a methodical guy. And that clip that you just showed of Joe in Portsmouth,
New Hampshire, you have got to realize he`s standing within a 45-minute
drive of the home of the Foleys, the parents of Jim Foley, who was executed
two weeks ago.
And Joe was unafraid, unafraid to express out loud the horror that
most Americans feel about these executions and about what might be on the
horizon. You used the phrase war -- everybody uses the phrase war-weary.
You used the phrase war-wary, W-A-R-Y, and that`s an apt phrase to use
today, because we ought to remember, all of us out there ought to remember,
with all of this talk, all of these op-eds, all of this radio conservative
right-wing talk, all of these tweets, that 50 years ago this summer, Chris,
the Gulf of Tonkin resolution was passed.
And 11, 12 years later, there were 58,000 names on a wall in
Washington, D.C. We are going to get ISIS. We`re going to clean their
clock. But let`s pump the brakes and do it the correct way with a bunch of
other nations in a coalition.
MATTHEWS: Here is a question I put to you about the visceral
reaction, which a lot -- I felt it during the Iranian hostage crisis, when
I was writing speeches for President Carter. I hated every day. I loved
the job, the honor of it.
MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.
MATTHEWS: Hated every day. I would go to a bar and people are mad at
me, because here our guys were just being trooped around and the flag was
MATTHEWS: But they weren`t beheaded. I don`t think any president can
take two weeks, every two weeks another beheading or whatever the sequence
is going to be.
And the president can talk, as Mike did well there, about how some day
we will get them, we will encircle them, we will put an alliance together
against them, a coalition, we will get them eventually. Eventually? That
could be 60 beheadings from now.
STEELE: Well, right.
And I think that that`s part of the problem, the paradox that this
administration finds itself in. You have got Joe Biden, who is saying, we
will follow them to the gates of hell. Well, some of us are asking, well,
what does that mean? Does that mean boots on the ground? Does that mean
an upped military engagement? Does it mean coalition forces?
The definitional aspect of this, Chris, I think bothers people more
than anything else. So, whether you are war-weary or war-wary, what are
you want to know is, what are you going to do, given the crisis that is
currently in front of the administration?
It`s boxed in a corner.
STEELE: And you and have talked about this before -- on its earlier
efforts to get out of Iraq. And now it finds itself having to circle back
in through another -- through another door, if you will. And that`s a
problem, rhetorically and otherwise, for the president.
BARNICLE: Michael, Michael, the road to the gates of hell -- you know
this -- a lot of people know this -- the road to the gates of hell leads
through Damascus, through Syria.
We do not need, 10 years after we invaded Iraq, we do not need another
crusade. In Riyadh, they know that ISIS is coming for the throne. In
Cairo, they know ISIS is coming for them. They know it all throughout the
Middle East. There is a shot clock on this attack against ISIS,
definitely, I agree with you. But it`s not going to be forever.
It`s not going to be months. It`s going to be, I think, within a
couple of weeks. From the reporting I have done, from what I have heard,
it is going to be within a couple of weeks. It`s going to be fierce. It`s
going to be determined.
MATTHEWS: What`s it going to look like, Michael? Yes. What will it
look like, Michael? Michael Barnicle, what will it look like?
BARNICLE: Well, I think you are going to -- I think you already have
people on the ground, American soldiers, American special ops on the ground
in Syria right now. You certainly have them in Iraq.
You`re going to see -- it is going to be very reminiscent of the Bush
attack against Afghanistan, with people on the ground rooting out and
getting the Taliban in the initial stages of that, where it`s going to be
very much like that scenario, but it`s going to be with the expressed
support -- the express support of the Saudis, of the Jordanians, of the
Turks. It`s got to be.
MATTHEWS: Well, I can`t wait.
MATTHEWS: I have been watching -- we have been giving arms -- and I`m
not against it -- to all those Arab countries for years. We have given
money to Jordan, to Egypt, to the Saudis, as you point out. We give them a
lot of firepower from the air. Why are we the only firepower from the air?
But thank you, Michael. I`m hopeful now that you have got some
reporting behind you.
STEELE: If I could just on that last point, I just want to make it
very clear that Mike Barnicle and Joe Biden have expressed with more much
clarity about what this should look like and how it should proceed than the
president has. And that`s part of the frustration that a lot of people
MATTHEWS: I agree completely, completely.
Anyway, I do think there is a visceral reaction that Americans feel in
their guts. They want their leader to have that visceral reaction. We are
patriotic. We love this country. This is an attack on America. It`s not
a criminal act by one little group of people against some Americans. This
is an attack on our country, us.
MATTHEWS: I want to hear some of that noise from the president. But
he`s the president and he`s a little different than Michael Barnicle and
Michael Steele, and certainly a lot different than Joe Biden.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, up next -- thank you, Michael, for coming on,
staying up late tonight. You have been on all day.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, the frightening cases of Americans -- here`s the
scary stuff, the guys who join the other side and fight against us, the
ones who are joining the Islamic State. What`s driving them?
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
FRANCES RIVERA, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Frances Rivera. Here`s
The Justice Department is launching a civil rights probe into the
Ferguson, Missouri, Police Department. It will look into whether the
department`s practices violated the laws.
Fast food workers staged protests in cities across the U.S., calling
for higher wages.
And Kansas Democrat Chad Taylor is challenging a decision to keep his
name on the ballot this November. Yesterday, the little known candidate
announced he was dropping out of the race to unseat Senator Pat Roberts.
It presumably bettered the chances of a well-financed independent -- now we
take you back to HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Yesterday, Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel said there are over a hundred
U.S. citizens fighting with ISIS and for them. In his words, there may be
more we don`t know. Well, today, Pentagon officials walked back those
comments of the secretary, saying that there are about a dozen Americans
believed to be fighting alongside the radical terrorist group.
Whether a hundred or a dozen -- you would think they would get it
close to that -- the horrifying question remains, why did these people join
against us? What`s driving these Americans to join up with the most
extreme, bloodthirsty terrorist group of all time, anyway, a group that
engages in biweekly beheadings of U.S. citizens and brags about it on
Bobby Ghosh is the managing editor of the online news site Quartz and
Arsalan Iftikhar is the senior editor of "The Islamic Monthly."
Gentlemen, you know what I`m talking about.
Anyway, I want to begin with this remarkable NBC report which found an
interview, an American who pledged his alliance to ISIS and then traveled
to the Mideast to join up. He was turned away at the Syrian border by
Turkish officials and was arrested on an unrelated weapons charge upon his
return to the U.S.
But if you are looking for a portrait of an American traitor, this is
not what you would expect. Don Morgan is 44. He grew up in suburban North
Carolina. He was educated at a military academy. He served as a deputy
sheriff locally. He wanted to be part of the United States Special Forces.
He was raised Roman Catholic.
Then, in a stunning and haunting transformation, if you will, his
allegiance went from serving his country to very much opposing it.
NBC` Richard Engel secured that interview with Morgan through a
freelance journalist while Morgan was in the Mideast this summer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DON MORGAN, PLEDGE ALLEGIANCE TO ISIS: Someone has to defend Islam.
And somebody has to defend innocent Muslims. I purchased a ticket with the
intent of entering to Syria, either joining up medical and food aid convoys
or directly with Islamic State.
RICHARD ENGEL, NBC CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: Colleagues and law
enforcement describe an angry man struggling to fit in and finding a cause
in radical Islam.
MORGAN: This is it. This is the path. And this is the way you`re
going to go. A push came from being mistreated by people around me who
didn`t share the views I had. I think there is a strong possibility that
they will charge me with supporting terrorist organizations and
participating in terrorist activities.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Bobby Ghosh, what do you make of hi explanation? Is it
illiteracy on his part, he doesn`t understand the religious and terrorist
purposes of the Islamic State, or is he of sound mind and body and knows
exactly what he`s doing? Where are you on this?
BOBBY GHOSH, MANAGING EDITOR, QUARTZ: Well, Chris, the people -- the
Americans who went to Syria three years ago and didn`t very much about
ISIS, many of them were with going there to fight what they saw as the good
fight, the fight of ordinary Syrians being oppressed by a dictator who was
killing tens of thousands of them.
And at that time, the distinctions between ISIS and other groups
wasn`t clear. But if you have -- if you have gone to Syria in the past
year, when we have had a very full, clear view of who ISIS are and what
they are doing, well, then you`re somewhere in the spectrum between stupid
And I suspect that Mr. Morgan is much more closer to the stupid part
than the psychotic part.
MATTHEWS: Let me go to Arsalan.
Your view of this, of this -- all we have is the interview. We have
the guy`s background, Roman Catholic, in the Carolinas. He was -- you
could call him a misfit, but I don`t want to get into this Soviet technique
of the old days of every time you disagree with somebody, you call them a
mental case. He may be uninformed. A lot of people are uninformed of all
kinds of things. What do you make of him?
ARSALAN IFTIKHAR, HUMAN RIGHTS ATTORNEY: Well, Chris, he sort of fits
the profile of what experts in the last few years have come to call --
quote, unquote -- "the new jihadi cool," which is essentially a global
street gang that tries to recruit disenfranchised people, normally in their
young -- younger years, in their 20s to 30s.
He -- Don Morgan is a little bit of an outlier at age 44, but people
who tend to self-radicalize themselves, lone wolves, on the Internet, via
social media, then on their own without any sort of connection to central
terrorist organizations, go abroad, try to fight, as Bobby said, what they
feel to be the good fight.
Now, we obviously know in the last few weeks ISIS is a lot more global
in its reach with the execution of American journalists James Foley and
I actually knew Steven Sotloff. We`ve been Facebook friends for a few
years since he was in Libya. So, you know, his death really sort of hit
It`s part of the trend of the jihadi cool which a lot of
disenfranchised young men tend to associate with.
MATTHEWS: I have to tell you that his behavior when he was being
executed and that of Mr. Foley, James Foley, was the strongest character
I`ve ever seen. The ability to just sit there in the desert, knowing
what`s coming, and facing it with amazing ability.
Anyway, NBC`s Robert Windrum reports at least seven Americans, now
eight including Morgan, have been arrested this the last 15 months as they
sought to travel to the region to join ISIS or other Islamist groups
fighting the Syrian government. Many were aimless, quote, "young men
without hope before being radicalized. Actually, six were grabbed at
airports, one at a bus station; another at the Canadian border crossing.
Anyway, let me go back to Bobby.
It seems to me when you heard Arsalan talking there, I want Arsalan in
on this again, they sound like the profile without deciding on legal guilt
or not of the people in the Boston bombing -- the marathon bombing. That
sort of sense of we`re all -- everybody has experienced some loneliness in
our society, everybody has at different times. And a sense you don`t
really fit in at very degrees. Some of it is ethnic, some are just
personality, some of it bad experiences.
Is that what this is about when you join the other side?
BOBBY GHOSH, QUARTZ: With some people, I`m sure that`s what it`s
But look at Mr. Morgan. He`s not some angry young man. He`s a
middle-aged man who had quite a lot of life experience. He`s been in law
enforcement. He was a deputy sheriff.
He`s not somebody -- he`s not some hothead who just got on a plane to
go somewhere. He had plenty of opportunity. If you`re going to sign up
for a group and give your life to a cause, then surely you will have done
And if you did any research at all, there is an abundance of material
that tells you exactly what ISIS is all about. And if you`ve gone there to
join up despite the knowledge then, as I said, you`re either dumb or
deadly. And this poor man, I use that expression sort of carefully -- but
his guy sounds like he`s not sort of fully there.
MATTHEWS: May have been the only college that would accept him.
What do you think, Arsalan?
IFTIKHAR: Yes, you know, Chris, I think it`s important for your
viewers to keep in mind that the Islamic State is about as Muslim as the
Lord`s Resistant Army or the Westborough Baptist Church is Christian. You
know, it`s important to keep in mind that just because you put (ph) a
religious moniker on something, that doesn`t necessarily mean that it`s in
line with the teachings.
And, you know, like Bobby said, you know, keep in mind, Don Morgan was
in jail, he was going through a divorce. You know, when you talk about
disenfranchised people with no sense of self, you know, Don Morgan sort of
fits that profile. He`s just on the higher end of the spectrum.
But, again, it`s people who have, quote-unquote, "broken lives".
These are not religious experts or vanguards of the faith by any stress of
the imagination. The vast majority of Muslims worldwide, including the
grand mufti of Saudi Arabia, the Organization of the Islamic Conference,
the grand mufti of Turkey, Muslim public intellectuals like myself, and
Muslim organizations here in the United States have all categorically
condemned ISIS as being public enemy number one for Muslims.
I mean, the most people that they have killed are fellow Muslims. And
so, it`s important for us to sort of push back on this narrative that it`s
not cool to join these jihadi groups. That it`s actually not only criminal
but it`s against all civilized religious teachings anywhere in the world.
MATTHEWS: Thank you so much. And I say amen to that.
Bobby Ghosh and Arsalan Iftikhar, thank you gentlemen for joining us.
I couldn`t be prouder to be sitting here and listen to your explanations.
Up next, we`ll be back with a tribute to a pioneer for women in
comedy, Joan Rivers. Try to remember her in the early days. She was
really something back in the early days, with Carson and then as Carson`s
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Well, here`s a taste of the first Senate debate in North
Carolina last night between Democratic Senator Kay Hagan and Republican
challenger Thom Tillis.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THOM TILLIS (R), NORTH CAROLINA SENATE CANDIDATE: That`s reality and
math and that`s something that Kay needs to accept. Kay`s answer leads me
to believe she hasn`t been in North Carolina lately. Kay`s math just
doesn`t add up.
SEN. KAY HAGAN (D), NORTH CAROLINA: I`m actually insulted by his
comments. I was vice president at a bank. I wrote billion dollar state
budgets in the state of North Carolina. I understand math. Even when I
was a teenager, I worked at my dad`s tire store and did layaway for people
buying tires. I understand math.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I`d say that fellow was condescending there.
Anyway, we`ll be right back after this.
MATTHEWS: Comedy icon Joan Rivers passed away just this afternoon
after complications following throat surgery in New York last week. She
was a comedic institution, of course, in the public eye for 48 years. She
pushed the envelope certainly in an era when female humor was tame, if you
will, lady-like. Irreverent, self-deprecating and often blunt, Rivers
developed that unique brand of humor early in her career.
Just take a look at her 1966 appearance on the Sammy Davis, Jr., show
with Carson hosting. Here`s she was talking about what a man supposedly
looks for in a wife.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOAN RIVERS, COMEDIAN: When it comes to marriage, a man wants a woman
that will cook for him and sew for him. A man is looking for the mother of
his children, right?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.
RIVERS: When it comes to marriage, a man doesn`t want to come home
after a hard day at the office to find some wild-looking sexy wife lying on
the carpet saying, "Hi, tiger." Yes, he does.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He does.
RIVERS: Do you know who made up these lines?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
RIVERS: All the girls` mothers (ph).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: That was rough. It was during that time in the mid-1960s
when Carson first spotted her talent.
And she should become a frequent guest on the "Tonight Show",
appearing regularly over the next 20 year. They reflected on their long
relationship in 1986 after Rivers published her autobiography.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNNY CARSON: I can only take credit for putting you on the show,
but I did say one thing that night which I have seldom said on this show
over the years. You finished your routine, and you were devastating and
the audience was just falling apart and you walked over and sat down, I
said, you`re going to be a big star. That`s something you don`t say
because it always sounds like -- you know, you just --
RIVERS: I looked behind me. I couldn`t believe you were talking to
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Anyway, her friendship with her mentor, Johnny Carson,
there, soured soon after that interview when Rivers landed her own
competing late night show against him. Through those many ups and downs,
her star continued to rise. And that sense of humor which has become so
familiar to so many of us over the years will surely be missed by many.
Anyway, joining me right now is the host of "Access Hollywood," the
great Billy Bush. And also Ted Johnson of "Variety".
Bill, it`s great to have you on.
I watch you every day when I come in the studio. There you are on
television every day. This is I guess not exactly a sad day, but it`s
certainly a day for reverence to a certain kind of woman who has the guts
to go out there on the stage at a very young age and be really, really
funny. I mean, not charming, funny.
BILLY BUSH, ACCESS HOLLYWOOD: Funny and scathing and -- I mean, you
know, her zingers were stingers, Chris. I mean, people got hit, but Joan
was an equal opportunity offender. She made fun of herself more than
You talk about that moment with Johnny Carson, he reflected with her
and said, I told you, you`re going to be a big star. That happened on this
very set where I`m standing here. This is where Johnny -- our set is the
same one where Johnny did the "Tonight Show" and Joan filled in so many
times. Her pictures are all over the hallway.
She was -- and, boy, this came out of nowhere. Eighty-one years old,
Chris, but she was flying back and forth from New York twice a week. She
just taped a show on Tuesday. She`s writing jokes constantly.
This is not a woman who was slowing down in any way.
MATTHEWS: Ted, you know what, when Bob Hope got older and people got
used to the older Bob Hope, they didn`t think he was that great. They
thought he was a little too establishment.
The early Bob Hope was unbelievable in the great movies, "The Lemon
Drop Kid" and all that stuff. He was fantastic. I think what I`m trying
to remember is how much those early 20 years, most of her career, when she
was young, she was sharp, she was extremely likable, long before she became
this icon. That`s what I`m trying to get back into my head into.
TED JOHNSON, VARIETY: Well, I think what`s really remarkable, and you
reflected on this, is that she came of age at a time when it was really
only the male comics that could have this brand of biting humor. And --
MATTHEWS: Like Rickles --
JOHNSON: Yes, exactly. Females were expected to be like Lucille
Ball. It was comedy of pratfalls, very physical comedy. It could be like
Phyllis Diller where it was all about self-deprecation, but the type of
really biting humor that she specialized in really was new, especially in
the `60s and `70s to the point where sometimes some of these talk shows
didn`t quite know what to do with her.
MATTHEWS: You know, it`s interesting, Billy, that male comedians
don`t have to be good looking but women comedians tend to be pretty good
looking. I was thinking of Sarah Silverman, certainly Joan when she first
started. I think that was a lot of her appeal. She was damned attractive.
BUSH: She was beautiful and what flew out of her mouth made men, you
know, love her even more.
Talk about relevance. You talk about some of these comedians what go
on. When Joan -- Joan was 81. She was the queen of the E! Network --
well, sorry, Kardashians, along with the Kardashians. But -- I mean, she -
- because she made fun of celebrities and took pot shots at them in such a
beautiful way, Chris, you know this better than anybody, we`re in a
politically correct world run amok here, and Joan could make fun of anyone
because she was Joan. She`s grandmothered in.
I don`t -- you say I don`t know, can there be another Joan Rivers? I
don`t know if there can be in the world we live in right now. Joan always
got a pass, no matter what.
MATTHEWS: Ted, when did she become a gay icon? I was in a restaurant
over on the west side of New York, I think it`s the West Side Cafe and all
the young guys in there, I think it was a gay group, were thrilled with
her. Were did that start?
JOHNSON: Well, I think it really started at the beginning of the AIDS
crisis when she was really out front in supporting a lot of organizations.
MATTHEWS: Yes, that`s right.
JOHNSON: I mean, way back in 1984. Nothing was too small for her to
actually go out and attend and support and raise money for -- a lot of
people reflecting on that today, especially out here in Los Angeles.
BUSH: Three weeks ago, she officiated a gay wedding in New York City.
She invited us to bring a camera crew with her. And so, we went. But she
married a couple right there in New York just three weeks ago.
MATTHEWS: Well, I was a big lover of her in the beginning and hated
to see the fight between her and Carson, the other guy I looked up to. But
you know what? They`re at the top of their field, both of them.
Thank you, Billy Bush. It`s great to have you on the show. I`m glad
we had this chance, even if it`s a sad chance.
Thank you, Ted Johnson. It`s great. I love "Variety".
We`ll be right back after this.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this staggering verdict out of
There`s not a politician in the country tonight without this
frightening jury decision resting on his shoulders. The message,
irrefutable, is to only hold public office, don`t abuse it.
And what will grab the politician is the breadth of today`s verdict.
It declares that anything a public officeholder does for someone
constitutes an official act. Use your office or your name in anyway, it`s
official. The McDonnells have, in the words of the law, being stunningly
enforced here, denied the citizens of Virginia their right to honest
And this will have a chilling effect on people even thinking of
running for office. It will keep some bad people, hopefully, out of
office. It will certainly say to the undecided, if you want anything out
of the job, but the job, stay away. This is for the service. Not the
perks you can grab.
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
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