Date: December 12, 2014
Guest: Joe Madison, Nia-Malika Henderson, Phil Mattingly
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Power and torture.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
Power and torture are the big questions tonight. Who is calling the
shots in Washington? And has the United States sworn off the use of
enhanced interrogation techniques in the future?
On the power front, the emerging power of Senator Elizabeth Warren
tells us which way the wind is blowing in the Democratic Party. People
want to get on the winning side, with the winning team. With the party
smaller after November`s elections, it`s also more progressive.
With the party out of power on Capitol Hill, it is more driven by
anti-Wall Street fervor than by the need to strike and honor deals with
either the Republicans or the White House. President Obama still has to
lead. The majority of Democrats seem more taken with their new role as
The battle reaches a head tonight as the Senate tries to pass that
huge spending bill to keep the government working, which Warren opposes
with all her zeal, with all the passion of the new Democratic left.
It`s where we start tonight. How far can this insurgency go? And how
much trouble will it bring to a united Democratic Party that looked last
night to be in tatters?
Let`s take a look at how we got here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: The American people didn`t
elect us to stand up for CitiGroup, they elected us to stand up for all the
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We took some steps that
were contrary to who we are, contrary to our values.
BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS: This report says it was not successful.
Dick Cheney, FMR. VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES The report`s
full of crap. Excuse me. I said "hooey" yesterday, and let me use the
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC: Protesting inside before the game were NBA
stars like Lebron James and Darren Williams, who wore, "I can`t breathe" T-
GEORGE W. BUSH, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He knows I want
him to run. If I need to reiterate it, I will. Run, Jeb.
GOV. RICK PERRY (R-TX), FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Running for the
presidency`s not an IQ test.
REP. DARRELL ISSA (R), CALIFORNIA: Are you stupid?
JONATHAN GRUBER, MIT PROFESSOR OF ECONOMICS: I don`t think so.
ISSA: Does MIT employ stupid people?
GRUBER: Not to my knowledge.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Darrell (INAUDIBLE) Darrell Issa asking about who`s
stupid? Anyway, the roundtable tonight, radio talk show host Joe Madison,
"Washington Post" reporter Nia-Malika Henderson and Bloomberg White House
correspondent Phil Mattingly.
I want to go right down the line here about where we are tonight right
now. It looks to me like the people in the Democratic Party who think
about the future -- a lot of Black Caucus members, are thinking, You know,
it`s time to go left. It`s time not to be making deals. It`s time to be
an opposition party, not a government party worrying about deals.
JOE MADISON, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Yes, but the Black Caucus members
are in safe districts. Every last single one of them are in safe
MADISON: I`m sorry?
MATTHEWS: Ergo? In other words, they can do what?
MADISON: Oh, that means that they can -- they can go as far left as
they want. They`re going to get reelected...
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, "WASHINGTON POST": And they`ve always been...
MATTHEWS: And their only fear is somebody younger and to their left.
MADISON: Well, that`s absolutely...
MADISON: That`s exactly right. So that`s exactly where they are.
MATTHEWS: OK, what about the Pelosi crowd, the people from the Bay
area, from New York, the liberal whites, moderates, those people -- not
moderates, liberals. They`re going with them.
MADISON: Well, once again, here`s what`s going to happen. This -- as
we talk (ph), this is going to push the Hillary Clinton group a little more
to the left. She has this reputation, as you know, of being a centrist.
MATTHEWS: Well, what is she?
MADISON: Well, she`s a centrist.
MATTHEWS: I just have to ask for clarification.
MATTHEWS: So what does she do when she sees these torrential winds
blowing last night and tonight, where everybody wants to get on the team
with Elizabeth Warren?
MADISON: Her rhetoric changes.
HENDERSON: Yes, her...
HENDERSON: ... and we`ve seen some of that already. We saw her on
stage with Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts when they were campaigning...
HENDERSON: Talking about...
MATTHEWS: ... how businesses don`t create jobs.
HENDERSON: Yes, and it -- it was...
MATTHEWS: All right.
HENDERSON: You know, she had...
MATTHEWS: So the wind is blowing.
HENDERSON: ... to sort of walk it back, and you know...
HENDERSON: ... sort of then finesse it going forward. But I think
that`s what we -- that`s what they`re going to -- that we`re going to see.
That`s what this Elizabeth Warren wing wants to see, folks like the
Moveon.org, Ready for Warren. They...
MATTHEWS: I know someone who`s even better at politics than Hillary
Clinton, I think, and that`s Nancy Pelosi, who to me is the toughest
leader. She`s tougher than Tip ever was, who I worked for. She`s very
tough. She`s a great disciplinarian, and people like her. So she has that
magical Machiavellian thing not to be hated, just feared...
MATTHEWS: ... which is where you want to be, OK? Now, why is she
moving away from the president as we speak?
HENDERSON: well, she`s moving away from the president partly because
-- I mean, and she -- remember, she was a big foot soldier for Obama. His
agenda couldn`t have passed without her. But she`s also sensing that she`s
been cut out by this president.
HENDERSON: But also, she senses where the winds are going, too.
MADISON: And the president made a big mistake, and that was he showed
his cards too early.
HENDERSON: That`s right. Yes.
MADISON: Too early.
MADISON: When he said, I will sign this bill...
MATTHEWS: The big thing...
HENDERSON: They sort of gave away the store before they got to the
MATTHEWS: So it had this little gimme apparently written by
CitiGroup, which basically rolls back, right, Phil -- it rolls back the
tough stuff in Dodd-Frank to stop the crap that happened -- I hate to use
MATTHEWS: ... the stuff that happened after 2008.
PHIL MATTINGLY, BLOOMBERG: Right. So the largest banks -- this is
the derivatives -- this is -- this is a small piece in a very complex part
of the bill that banks have been pushing very hard for four years to get
rid of. Now, the interesting...
MATTHEWS: They wrote it, right?
MATTINGLY: They wrote the vast majority of this bill. But the
interesting thing here is Democrats have actually supported this provision
over the last four years, co-sponsored bills to do it. House Republicans
put it on the floor, 70 Democrats voted for it before.
You want to watch the power not only of Senator Elizabeth Warren, but
of Nancy Pelosi, when she grabs onto the message that Elizabeth Warren is
pitching. No one was willing to go against Nancy Pelosi, at least on that
first procedural rule vote.
MATTINGLY: The Wall Street -- the anti-Wall Street strain and the
Democrats` willingness to grab onto it with both hands and run is a
fascinating dynamic to watch.
MATTHEWS: I`m watching two things. We`re going to talk about it
later in the show. We`re going to have some fun tonight because in
addition to talking about what`s happening right now in Democratic Party in
the U.S. Senate -- tonight -- women. I mean, look at the Golden Globes...
MATTHEWS: ... strong women...
MATTHEWS: ... are the leaders of the pack.
Anyway, today Democratic leadership is striking back at Senator
Warren. The old pros are going at her. A senior Democratic aide went
after Senator Warren today, telling HARDBALL that, quote, "She`s the Ted
Cruz of the Democratic Party." That`s a tough shot from a Democrat -- the
purist who may stand on principle, but refuses to be part of the governing
And President Obama fired this shot at his critics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: This by definition was a compromise bill. This is what`s
produced when you have the divided government that the American people
Had I been able to draft my own legislation and get it passed without
any Republican votes, I suspect it`d be slightly different. That is not
the circumstance we find ourselves in, and I think what the American people
very much are looking for is some practical governance and the willingness
to compromise, and that`s what this bill reflects.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: So there you have the president using a spray (ph) there
with all the reporters there...
MATTHEWS: ... to make a point -- he didn`t have to do this -- that
he`s there trying to make the government work, the bipartisanship of the
(INAUDIBLE) government (ph)...
MATTHEWS: ... get us through the Christmas season, cut deals on both
sides. Put in something for Ebola for him, something for the banks for the
other side, you know, the good old meat stew that often works.
And along comes Elizabeth Warren, the crusader rabbit here -- well,
actually, wouldn`t say "rabbit," I should say "crusader" -- who comes on
and just says, No, we don`t do that.
HENDERSON: Yes. And she`s, you know, sort of standing up for the
Democratic wing of the Democratic Party, and that`s certainly the ascendant
wing, as well. But you know, this sort of new reality is that Democrats
aren`t going to be in control. They have to compromise. So her role was
complicated by that. But also...
MADISON: You mean Republicans are going to be in control.
HENDERSON: Right, Republicans are going to be in control. I think
the question is, how far is Elizabeth Warren willing to go? This idea that
she`s like Ted Cruz -- I mean, Ted Cruz, A, is not in leadership.
Elizabeth Warren is in leadership...
MATTHEWS: Nia, you keep on here.
MATTHEWS: What happens if we have a country the next two years which
is dominated by two forces, a president who wants to negotiate because he
wants to get some things done for his record...
HENDERSON: Yes. Right. Right.
MATTHEWS: ... his legacy, and (INAUDIBLE) support that, with a party
led by people who don`t want to do any of that. Go ahead.
MADISON: Look, I don`t understand...
MATTHEWS: Who want to fight.
MADISON: This is -- this is -- you`re absolutely right. I hear him
saying, This is what you get. You compromise. It`s like making sausage.
You -- everyone in Washington knows that`s how bills are passed. But you
know and I know and everybody sitting here knows that the first vote that`s
going to be taken in Congress is going to be to repeal "Obama care." These
people do not want to compromise...
MATTHEWS: Well, that`s -- that`s...
MADISON: ... or give this president anything!
MATTHEWS: Let`s be clear. They`re doing it for home consumption.
They`re throwing red meat back to the people at home so they can...
MADISON: Yes, and they`re going to continue to do it for two years!
MATTHEWS: But how does that matter?
MADISON: Well, it matters because he`s not going to get anything
MATTHEWS: No, but how are those votes going to matter? Can`t they do
good things while they`re doing that nonsense? I mean, sure, pass those
bills, he vetoes them. Let`s go on to the next...
MADISON: ... sound bites for the next election...
MATTHEWS: How does that hurt Obama`s attempt to try to govern this
MATTINGLY: Well, I think...
MATTHEWS: I don`t think it gets in the way. I think it`s a
distraction for now. By the way, they did it 40-some times in the last two
years. It didn`t affect...
MATTHEWS: Well, it didn`t affect anything! Who cares?
MATTINGLY: The frustration with the White House...
MATTHEWS: As long as he`s got the veto.
MATTINGLY: ... with what Senator Warren`s doing right now is what
they`re doing is taking spending bills, taking cliffs, taking things off
the table for nine months to be able to actually try and govern. Are there
going to be issues where Republicans pass bills that the president is going
to veto? Absolutely. Are there going to be things that the president does
unilaterally that Republicans will go bananas over? Absolutely.
But are there things that they actually can get together on and work?
I think there`s a feeling in the White House that there -- there will be,
or at least they`re going to give it a shot. And when Senator Warren does
stuff like this, I think there`s a lot of frustration that she might
undercut whatever will, good or otherwise, currently exists.
HENDERSON: What those things are, though, is unclear. I mean...
MATTHEWS: Well, look...
MATTHEWS: ... give up? I mean, the -- I`m not go to give up on this
president`s last two years, Joe.
MADISON: No, I`m not trying to give up. But I mean, so what do we
get? What do retirees get? They went after retirees` pensions. You know,
what -- what -- you sit up here, and now it`s 10 times more -- very wealthy
people can now give $324,000. What -- you know, what...
MATTHEWS: To pay for the convention.
MADISON: Yes, but does the average person -- what does the average
person get? What do we, as working people...
MATTHEWS: You know, it`s...
MATTHEWS: All three Philadelphia Congresspeople voted for this thing.
MATTHEWS: Do you think it might have something to do with getting the
convention? Just asking!
HENDERSON: And it also has to do with, you know, parties wanting to
be relevant again. I mean, you`ve had these super-PACs that were
dominating a lot of the politics now, and the parties not, you know, making
a lot of the decisions and the calls. And so in some ways, that will
revive the parties.
MATTHEWS: I know. Anyway -- by the way, candidates` money is only a
small portion of what they spend on TV. Most of the money comes from the
parties and the super-PACs.
Anyway, the roundtable`s staying with us. And coming up, John McCain
enhances the torture debate. He`s taking the high moral ground against
Cheney and the rest of the torture crowd.
Plus, a huge shift by African-Americans towards gun ownership. A
majority now says guns offer personal protection, not dangerous (ph). It`s
nearly doubled in two years from 27 percent to 54 percent, and I`d like to
And fresh reporting today on the 2016 presidential race. It`s no
longer a question of if for Hillary Clinton, but when and how.
And if you`ve missed the Golden Globe nominations, they`ve got a
familiar theme. Politics rules Hollywood, and more than ever, it`s women
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Right now, we`re watching the Senate debate that $1.1
trillion spending bill. That`s the bill that Senator Elizabeth Warren of
Massachusetts has led the charge against because it rolls back a key part
of the Wall Street reforms that were enacted after the 2008 financial
crisis. No word yet on when the Senate will vote or even whether it will
vote tonight, but we`ll be watching.
HARDBALL back after this.
MATTHEWS: We`re back with our roundtable, Joe, Nia and Phil.
This week, we`ve been debating the morality, legality and
effectiveness of torture. On Tuesday, Democrats on the Senate Select
Intelligence Committee released a report finding the techniques used on
several al Qaeda detainees after 9/11 didn`t work. Former Bush
administration officials and members of the intelligence community strongly
disputed that claim.
The issue was largely divided along party lines, but there`s one major
exception. Senator John McCain has spoken out strongly and passionately
against the Bush-era policy. He did so again today in an interview with
Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: We did not torture German or Japanese
prisoners who had attacked the United States and killed untold numbers of
Americans in the course of that war. And why didn`t we do that? Because
we`re Americans, were (ph) prisoners being held by them, as well. And
there is a Geneva conventions that doesn`t apply just to declared wars or
prisoners of war, but people who are held prisoner. And obviously, these
enhanced interrogation techniques, known as EITs, were in violation of
that, as well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: On the Senate floor earlier this week, McCain made it clear
his position is based on experience, personal experience. He was a POW in
Vietnam for five-and-a-half years and was tortured by his captors.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAIN: I know from personal experience that the abuse of prisoners
will produce more bad than good intelligence. I know that victims of
torture will offer intentionally misleading information if they think their
captors will believe it.
Most of all, I know the use of torture compromises that which most
distinguishes us from our enemies, our belief that all people, even
captured enemies, possess basic human rights.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You know, let`s go to Phil on this. This is where I -- my
heart goes with John McCain. I just give him the credibility. He knows
what of he speaks.
MATTINGLY: People just stopped and listened to this floor speech.
There`s not a lot of times where people stop and listen to floor speeches,
particularly in the House, but in the Senate, as well. People stopped and
listened. He`s the moral authority on this, I think.
And I think what struck everybody as they listened to this is how
partisan it has been since the report was released, an issue that I think
nobody wanted to be partisan in the first place. And then John McCain
comes out and just kind of rises above everything else.
And I think that added some clarity to an issue that`s become
extraordinarily divisive in a way that I don`t think people ever wanted it
to be before now. John McCain was the one who actually rose above it.
MATTHEWS: Well, just to flip the coin to the other side, here`s
former vice president Dick Cheney. He has been speaking out about the
Senate report. Here he is on Fox, where he belongs, this week disputing
its key findings.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHENEY: We`re going to find out. We`ve got Khalid Sheikh Mohammed,
who`s the mastermind of 9/11, who has killed 3,000 Americans, and he is in
our possession. We know he`s the architect. And what are we supposed to
do, kiss him on both cheeks and say, Please, please, tell us what you know?
Of course not. We did exactly what needed to be done in order to catch
those who were guilty on 9/11 and to prevent a further attack, and we were
successful on both parts. And I think that...
BAIER: This report says it was not successful.
CHENEY: The report`s full of crap. Excuse me. I said "hooey"
yesterday, and let me use the real word. I think that what needed to be
done was done. I think we were perfectly justified in doing it, and I`d do
it again in a minute.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Somehow, he reminds me of Robert Mugabe.
MATTHEWS: Anyway -- he`s just a great -- he`s be a great African
dictator, this guy.
MATTHEWS: He just does what he wants to do, he says...
MATTHEWS: ... snarls when he...
MADISON: ... before that, though.
MATTHEWS: He snarls before he does it, and he just -- well, as we
know, he`s got that avuncular -- well, as we know.
MADISON: Well, but, you know, the reason people stopped and listened
to McCain is because the one word that we should use -- he`s authentic.
He`s the real thing. This man is not the real thing.
MATTHEWS: I know.
MADISON: This is a man who got deferments instead of going to
Vietnam. He`s got some nerve sitting up there, questioning a man who was
tortured. And then of course, here`s the argument. It`s just common
sense. If I torture you to the point of pain, you`re going to tell me
anything, and I still have to check what you tell me because you may have
MATTHEWS: I know.
MADISON: ... just to stop the pain.
MATTHEWS: And then when you check...
MADISON: This is the absurdity!
MATTHEWS: Well, let me give you the tougher argument. I`m sure it`s
the Cheney argument. But I`ve checked and found that you were lying, I
keep torturing you.
MADISON: Thank you!
HENDERSON: Yes, I...
MATTHEWS: Nia, do you have any thoughts about this?
HENDERSON: Yes. I mean, it`ll be interesting how this will look 10
years from now. I mean, there`s a great bit of partisan division, with
McCain being the exception, and...
MATTHEWS: Is that why the president`s hesitant? I know he`s issued a
statement of principle.
HENDERSON: Yes. Yes.
MATTHEWS: But he seems to avoid getting into the punching -- the
punching back and forth.
HENDERSON: Yes, and you know, there have been people to call -- you
know, calling for prosecutions and to sort of relitigate that. He didn`t
want to go there, but...
MADISON: That`s not going to happen.
HENDERSON: ... but he wanted this report out there. Most Democrats
did, as well. But who knows. You know, 10 years from now, is this still
going to be informing our politics? Is it still going to be as divisive?
What will 2016 candidates...
MATTHEWS: What do you think are motivating the president on this,
MATTINGLY: I think there`s a recognition that he doesn`t just
represent people who are upset about what the CIA did. He represents the
CIA as well.
MATTHEWS: It`s his CIA now.
MATTINGLY: The CIA director is a close aide of his, who is a career
CIA guy, who he knew would come out and defend the agency.
The reason he`s walked such a careful like on this throughout the
entire week is, he knows that he`s not just representing those people who
are very angry about this. This isn`t a campaign. This isn`t when he was
in the U.S. Senate. He oversees the intelligence community, relies on them
tremendously, and sees what they do every single day.
MATTHEWS: Is he afraid that they will back down, that -- not that
they won`t do the Sipowicz interrogation room kind of thing and get tough
with the questions, but that they will be so afraid of doing anything, like
making a guy stay up two or three nights in a row, that they will pull back
completely from any aggressive interrogations?
MATTHEWS: They`re not afraid of that?
MADISON: You know what concerns me, is not 10 years from now, what
will be the politics. Ten years from now, five years from now, if we are
attacked again, will we go back to being inhumane?
MATTHEWS: That`s my question.
HENDERSON: Yes, that`s a good question.
MADISON: Well, that`s -- yes, because -- because when fear sets in
with Americans, we do crazy things. We did it in World War II. Look what
we did to the Japanese.
MATTHEWS: Yes. But...
MADISON: When fear sets in, we just throw the law out the books.
MATTHEWS: On the torture issue, I would side with us against them,
the Japanese, what they did to us, torturing those...
MADISON: But I`m talking about what we did to American citizens.
MATTHEWS: I know. But I`m talking about -- I`m talking about the
torture that was done on the other side.
MADISON: Oh, but I`m talking about American citizens.
MATTHEWS: On torture, I think I would have to have been -- if I had
to be a POW, I would like to be an Italian guy in the South during World
War II, when you had three years to relax or a German prisoners, where they
have to all the perquisites of the white people in the South, you know?
MADISON: Now, remember, a million Germans died in prison camp.
MATTHEWS: Not here.
MADISON: In Europe.
MATTHEWS: Yes, but not -- in Russia, not here, not here. I never
want -- you would never want to go to the Russian...
MADISON: But what I`m referring to is what we did to American
Japanese -- Japanese-American citizens.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Yes.
MADISON: We threw the Constitution out the window.
MATTHEWS: The pivotal question in all of this is, did these enhanced
interrogation techniques, which most people call torture, work? Did they
produce useful intelligence?
The answer to that is still strongly debated. Let`s watch it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA), SENATE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE CHAIR:
The committee found that the CIA`s coercive interrogation techniques were
not an effective means of acquiring accurate intelligence. Actionable
intelligence that was -- quote -- "otherwise unavailable" -- otherwise
unavailable" -- was not obtained using these coercive interrogation
GEN. MICHAEL HAYDEN (RET.), FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: We got an awful lot
of information. Now, look, we want to quibble over did we get this one
here or that one there, but, fundamentally, Bill, these interrogations of
all the detainees gave us kind of a Home Depot-like storage of information
on al Qaeda on which we relied -- well, we`re still relying on it today.
JOHN BRENNAN, CIA DIRECTOR: There was useful intelligence, very
useful, valuable intelligence that was obtained from individuals who had
been at some point subjected to the EITs.
Whether that could have been obtained without the use of those EITs is
something again that is unknowable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, some breaking news right now.
We`re watching that debate on the Senate floor. And Senator Elizabeth
Warren has taken the floor.
Let`s listen to the senator.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Mr. President.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The senator from Massachusetts.
WARREN: Thank you, Mr. President, and thank you for yielding, the
senior senator from Maryland and the senior senator from Vermont. You both
show extraordinary leadership and we learn from you every day.
Mr. President, I`m back on the floor to talk about a dangerous
provision that was slipped into a must-pass spending bill at the last
minute solely to benefit Wall Street. This provision would repeal a rule
called -- and I`m going to quote the title of the rule -- Prohibition
Against Federal Government Bailouts of Swaps Entities.
On Wednesday, I came to the floor to talk to Democrats asking them to
strip this provision out of the omnibus bill and protect taxpayers. On
Thursday, I came to the floor to talk to Republicans. Republicans say they
don`t like bailouts either. So I asked them to vote the way they talk. If
they don`t like bailouts, then they could take out this provision that puts
taxpayers right back on the hook for bailing out big banks.
Today, I`m coming to the floor not to talk about the Democrats or
Republicans, but to talk about a third group that also wields tremendous
power in Washington, Citigroup.
Mr. President, in recent years, many Wall Street institutions have
exerted extraordinary influence in Washington`s corridors of power. But
Citigroup has risen above the others. Its grip over economic policy-making
in the executive branch is unprecedented.
Consider just a few examples. Three of the last four Treasury
secretaries under Democratic presidents have had close Citigroup ties. The
fourth was offered the CEO position at Citigroup, but turned it down. The
vice chair of the Federal Reserve system is a Citigroup alum. The
undersecretary for international affairs at Treasury is a Citigroup alum.
The U.S. trade representative and the person nominated to be his
deputy, who is currently an assistant secretary at Treasury, are Citigroup
A recent chairman of the National Economic Council at the White House
was a Citigroup alum. Another recent chairman of the Office of Management
and Budget went to Citigroup immediately after leaving the White House.
And another recent chairman of the Office of Management and Budget is also
a Citi alum. But I`m double counting here because he`s now the secretary
of the Treasury.
Now, that`s a lot of powerful people, all from one bank. But they
aren`t the only way that Citigroup exercises power. Over the years, the
company has spent millions of dollars on lobbying Congress and funding the
political campaigns of its friends in the House and Senate.
Citigroup has also spent millions trying to influence the political --
the political process in ways that are far more subtle and hidden from
public view. Last year, I wrote Citigroup and other big banks, asking them
to disclose the amount of shareholder money that they have been diverting
to think tanks to influence public policy.
Citigroup`s response to my letter? Stonewalling. A year has gone by,
and Citigroup didn`t even acknowledge receiving my letter. Citigroup has a
lot of money. It spends a lot of money. And it uses that money to grow
and consolidate power.
And it pays off. Consider a couple of facts. Fact one, during the
financial crisis, when all the support, through TARP and from the FDIC and
the Fed is added up, Citi received nearly half-a-trillion dollars in
bailouts. That`s half-a-trillion with a T.
That`s almost $140 billion more than the next biggest bank got. Fact
two, during Dodd-Frank, there was an amendment introduced by my colleagues
Senator Brown and Senator Kaufman that would have broken up Citigroup and
the other largest banks.
Now, that amendment had bipartisan support. And it might have passed,
but it ran into powerful opposition from an alliance between Wall Streeters
on Wall Street and Wall Streeters who held powerful government jobs. They
teamed up and they blocked the move to break up the banks. And now Citi is
larger than ever.
The role that senior officials played -- from the Treasury Department
played in killing the amendment wasn`t subtle. A senior Treasury official
acknowledged it at the time in a background interview with "New York"
magazine. The official from Treasury said -- and I`m going to quote here -
- "If we had been for it, it probably would have happened. But we weren`t,
so it didn`t."
Mr. President, Democrats don`t like Wall Street bailouts. Republicans
don`t like Wall Street bailouts. The American people are disgusted by Wall
Street bailouts. And yet here we are, five years after Dodd-Frank, with
Congress on the verge of ramming through a provision that would do nothing
for the middle class, do nothing for community banks, do nothing but raise
the risk that taxpayers will have to bail out the biggest banks once again.
You know, there`s a lot of talk lately about how Dodd-Frank isn`t
perfect. There`s a lot of talk coming from Citigroup about how Dodd-Frank
isn`t perfect. So let me say this to anyone who is listening at Citi. I
agree with you. Dodd-Frank isn`t perfect. It should have broken you into
If this Congress is going to open up Dodd-Frank in the months ahead,
then let`s open it up to get tougher, not to create more bailout
opportunities. If we`re going to open up Dodd-Frank, let`s open it up so
that, once and for all, we end too big to fail, and I mean really end it,
not just say that we did.
Instead of passing laws that create new bail-out opportunities for
too-big-to-fail banks, let`s pass Brown-Kaufman. Let`s pass the bipartisan
21st Century Glass-Steagall Act, a bill I have proposed with John McCain,
with Angus King, and Maria Cantwell.
Let`s pass something, anything that would help break up these giant
banks. A century ago, Teddy Roosevelt was America`s trust-buster. He went
after the giant trusts and monopolies in this country and a lot of people
talk about how those trusts deserved to be broken up because they had too
much economic power.
But Teddy Roosevelt said, we should break them up because they had too
much political power. Teddy Roosevelt said, break them up because all that
concentrated power threatens the very foundations of our democratic system.
And now we`re watching as Congress passes yet another provision that
was written by lobbyists for the biggest recipient for bailout money in the
history of this country. And it`s attached to a bill that needs to pass or
else the entire federal government will grind to a halt.
Think about that kind of power. If a financial institution has become
so big and so powerful that it can hold the entire country hostage, that
alone is reason enough to break them up. Enough is enough. Enough is
enough with Wall Street insiders getting key position after key position,
and the kind of cronyism that we have seen in the executive branch.
Enough is enough, with Citigroup passing 11th-hour deregulatory
provisions that nobody takes ownership over, but everybody will come to
regret. Enough is enough. Washington already works really well for the
billionaires and the big corporations and the lawyers and the lobbyists.
But what about the families who lost their homes or their jobs or
their retirement savings the last time Citi bet big on derivatives and
lost? What about the families who are living paycheck to paycheck and saw
their tax dollars go to bail out Citi just six years ago?
We were sent here to fight for those families. And it is time, it is
past time for Washington to start working for them.
Thank you, Mr. President. I yield.
MATTHEWS: That was Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts speaking
out on the Senate floor against that $1.1 trillion spending bill.
Let`s go to Kelly O`Donnell on the Hill. And she`s there for -- I
have never heard anything so well done on the floor of the Senate as I just
KELLY O`DONNELL, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, she made quite...
MATTHEWS: Kelly, that was something.
O`DONNELL: ... quite a legal argument, of course, the former Harvard
law professor, in a withering dissection of her sort of assessment of how
there`s that cronyism in the words that she used.
The real question, Chris, is, will it carry the day? She`s made a lot
of impact over the last 48 hours or so, she and Nancy Pelosi and Maxine
Waters sort of leading the liberal charge to say that this particular
provision should be taken out.
But the sense we`re getting right now is that Elizabeth Warren has not
told us if she would use her power as a singular senator to hold this up.
Any senator has that authority to slow things down. She spoke, and very
forcefully, about wanting to have that provision taken out of the measure
to keep the government running, but we don`t get a sense that she`s going
to do any steps that would personally sort of bring about an obstruction
that she would take on herself.
So what is the holdup that we`re seeing? There is additional time on
the clock because there was an extension granted by the House and approved
by the Senate, but why aren`t they voting yet? Well, from what we can
understand from talking to aides, the two leaders, Harry Reid and Mitch
McConnell, are trying to sort out the rest of the to-do list before the
holiday break that goes beyond just keeping the government funded.
It deals with nominations and things like that. And they have not yet
been able to get that sorted out. So, debate continues tonight, and we
simply wait to find out, when will they vote? And they are, of course,
very mindful of the deadline. And chances are, there will be one of two
things that play out.
They could give it a little extra time, which would carry them through
to Wednesday, or they could tell us a time that they will actually vote.
The expectation is, there would be enough votes to get this through, but
anything can happen in the Senate, and we just don`t have a conclusive
answer yet -- Chris.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Kelly O`Donnell, up on the Senate side of the
We`re back with our panel, with the edition of Ryan Grim.
Ryan, you have joined the panel now.
I think Warren had a great moment there, a great matter. And it
doesn`t matter how this bill -- this vote will pass or not.
RYAN GRIM, THE HUFFINGTON POST: Right.
MATTHEWS: She doesn`t want to be known as the person who stopped the
government. She wants to be the person who took the fight to Wall Street
for the American people.
This particular issue, this provision, it`s over. It`s a privileged
motion. It`s going to get a vote. Whether it`s tonight, whether it`s
Sunday, whether it`s Monday, it`s done. But she`s done something
And it`s not -- anything could happen from this, because this hasn`t
really been done on the Senate floor in a very long time. And who knows
what the public reaction is going to be?
But one thing that will happen is that Wall Street has been put on
notice here that if they`re going to try to continue to chip away at Dodd-
Frank, this is the kind of pain that they`re going to have to suffer each
time. So they`re going to have to weigh the costs and benefits here.
MATTHEWS: The pain meaning to look like you`re in cahoots with a big
GRIM: Right. Check out Twitter on Citigroup right now.
MATTHEWS: I think it`s great to go after a brand name, Joe, and go
after somebody bigger than you, especially the brand name of Citigroup,
which everybody knows about.
MADISON: She put the administration on notice.
MADISON: She put them on notice.
Let me tell you, if I were advising her, I would tell her, keep doing
it, hold it up, because the phones ought to be ringing off the hook in the
Let me tell you something. You know, I have this old saying. My
grandfather used to say, put it where the goats can get it. It`s an old
country saying, because goats eat down to the root. Every American
listening to that...
MATTHEWS: Got it.
MADISON: ... got it.
MATTHEWS: That`s so well -- so well said.
MATTINGLY: Look, I -- there`s this perception that, because the
Republicans will control Congress, Wall Street is going to start being able
to make deals.
I hope they enjoyed getting this out of this omnibus bill, because
what they did, in inciting Elizabeth Warren, drawing so many attention to
this, drawing House Democrats, drawing Nancy Pelosi into this, they made
this an issue people are now paying attention to.
This was a victory for Wall Street to get this. This was a painful
victory for them. And this is going to carry over. Democrats have seized
on this. They now see what`s working here. Look, that speech, that
MATTHEWS: That list of people that have histories working for
Citicorp, that look like they still are...
MATTHEWS: And then she didn`t get into the writing of the provision,
which she could have gotten into, this is powerful stuff.
I have watched this a long time. This woman was Annie Oakley tonight.
MATTHEWS: She was shooting directly at the heart of Wall Street,
their biggest customer.
And the old rule of politics is always shoot up. Shoot for the bigger
guy, and then you look like the hero.
MADISON: And what does Hillary Clinton say?
MATTHEWS: Well, she`s off tonight.
MATTHEWS: Our roundtable is coming back up next.
A stunning shift on guns in this country, by the way. A majority of
African-Americans now say gun ownership offers more personal protection.
That number has nearly doubled in just two years. And how much of that is
because of what happened to Trayvon Martin, to Michael Brown, to Eric
Garner? You can put it together yourself.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
In the two years since the Newtown massacre, support for gun ownership
in this country has actually increased across the board, as more Americans
say guns do more to protect than put people at risk, according to results
of a new Pew Center poll.
Also, Capitol Hill staffers protested the grand jury decisions in
Ferguson and in the Eric Garner cases by rallying yesterday on the steps of
the Capitol. That was really something.
And also professional athletes around the country, as everybody knows,
are also joining the fight for racial justice by wearing T-shirts
remembering Eric Garner during warm-ups with "I can`t breathe."
It`s hard to say this issue won`t be going -- will be going away any
And back now with the roundtable, Joe, Nia-Malika, and Phil.
Let`s talk about these Pew numbers.
What do you make of this, this jump in the number of African-Americans
who support the need for a gun as your self-protection?
MADISON: I`m trying -- I`m going to have to put this on my show on
Monday to get a sense of this, to get a sense of it.
MATTHEWS: Well, I was -- you know what I found out? I was doing my
crazy morning read of everything.
MATTHEWS: And there it was at the bottom of a page in "The New York
Times," well into the paper, this very established poll. It`s a real poll.
HENDERSON: It`s Pew, yes.
MATTHEWS: It`s a good poll.
MADISON: Like we were talking, for example in the South, my parents,
grandparents are from the South, they`ve always had guns. Now, in some
cases, it was for hunting.
MATTHEWS: That`s rural versus city.
MADISON: That`s absolutely right.
And when I was growing up in Dayton, Ohio, my grandfather owned a
NIA MALIKA HENDERSON, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes.
MADISON: -- and a shot gun.
Now why? I think because he was old school. He realized --
MATTHEWS: When he heard a noise in the middle of the night, did he go
get the gun?
MADISON: My grandfather was 6`8", and he just showed up.
MATTHEWS: You raise that issue, not to get -- everybody who thinks
about getting a gun, they think it will make them safer and make their own
decisions. You have to be willing to use it. That`s the scary part.
MATTHEWS: A cowboy movie, you don`t pull the gun and say, put your
hands up. That`s not going to work.
MADISON: I`m going to make a confession here. There was danger,
because I was a child.
MATTHEWS: And you knew where the guns were.
MADISOIN: I picked it up, I cocked it.
MADISON: Loaded. Scared me to death. And I had sense enough to know
how to cock it back. Never touched it again. And therein lies --
MATTHEWS: How old were you, Joe?
MADISON: Eight years old.
HENDERSON: I grew up in the South, too. There were guns in my home.
There were guns in my neighbor`s home. You`d shoot a gun off to celebrate
New Year`s or, you know, use them in whatever way, hunting --
MADISON: You want to hear guns, go to southeast Washington, D.C. on
MATTHEWS: I always wonder about these Middle Eastern guys who shot
their guns right in the air, don`t the bullets come down?
MADISON: All the time.
HENDERSON: Down South, that`s what you do.
MADISON: Here in Washington, D.C.
MATTHEWS: How does this fit with the zeitgeist today, the racial
zeitgeist? Does it fit?
HENDERSON: This does come against the backdrop of several high
profile killings of African Americans. Whether or not it`s Trayvon Martin,
Renisha McBride as well. So, I think it`s partly that as well.
MATTHEWS: Give you some pushback in the black community. People are
also very much against the stand your ground laws which really put the
power in the hands of the one with the gun. Isn`t it interesting?
MADISON: Unless you`re a black guy that shoots a white guy. Then all
of a sudden --
MATTHEWS: OK, but the law, the way it`s written, it says the one with
the gun has the right too shoot out of fear. Phil?
PHIL MATTINGLY, BLOOMBERG: Yes. I think -- first up, I`m flummoxed
by the pole. I`m going to be completely honest. How you can have that
large of a jump over the past --
MATTHEWS: In two years.
MATTINGLY: Gun ownership nationwide has gone up. It`s been going up
for the past --
MATTHEWS: And support for it.
MATTINGLY: Support for it as well. But that something could jump
that high, I think there are so many possible reasons why, and I`m sure
it`s not just one --
MATTHEWS: Don`t trust the police?
MATTINGLY: I think there are so many elements here. To drill down
and figure out what those are, that in is of itself --
MATTHEWS: OK. Let me --
MADISON: It might be a technical one. Maybe we`re being asked for
the first time.
MATTHEWS: No, it will jump from 27 to 54. So, the question was asked
before. Let me ask you, displays of racial brotherhood or pride or just
HENDERSON: All the protests going on.
MATTHEWS: The NBA players showing up with the "I can`t breathe" t-
shirts, even the king, LeBron and, you know, people --
MADISON: Giancarlo is a good friend of mine, Tommy Smith, Muhammad
Ali. I come out of that generation. Arthur Ash --
HENDERSON: Bill Russell.
MADISON: Bill Russell, Jim Brown. And you know what, I`m proud of
LeBron James than I am of Michael Jordan.
HENDERSON: Michael Jordan didn`t want to do this. I mean, he didn`t
want to risk his career --
MADISON: And his money with his Nike shoes.
These guys know when they take off those jerseys, they take off those
numbers, they could be Michael Brown. They could be Eric. And they know
HENDERSON: And that`s what, I mean, if you talk to the folks who
organized that on the Hill, they talked about that, they`re in privileged
positions. They wear suits to work everyday, but there`s a realization that
they have a solidarity in terms of experience and perception, how they`re
MATTHEWS: What was the crowd reaction? Anybody know?
MADISON: I know that Geraldo made a fool of himself by suggesting
that the problems in the black community are too complicated for us to even
figure out how to solve them. I mean, we --
MATTHEWS: Who is we?
MADISON: The black community. It`s too complicated. And he would
have rather he wore a t-shirt that said, "take care of my child". One
doesn`t have anything to do with the other.
MATTHEWS: These stars today, mostly African American, these athletic
stars are really big stars. I don`t think they were around 50 years ago.
The guys like LeBron and Michael Jordan, just like they`re almost
MADISON: But they`re cultural heroes.
MATTHEWS: Kids have them on their walls at home.
HENDERSON: And Jay-Z is obviously in there, and he was part of
organizing this as well, giving the t-shirts to some of these folks. This
is the hip-hop generation. And hip-hop had been a soundtrack in talking
about police brutality --
MADISON: But isn`t the same thing that John Lewis, Martin Luther
King, and that -- Julian Bond, that that generation did when they said --
HENDERSON: And they were young.
MADISON: And they were young.
MATTHEWS: Thanks, guys. When we come back, we`re going to talk some
new reporting today on Hillary Clinton, what she`s up to. It`s no longer a
question if she`s going to run. It`s how and when. The "when" question is
By the way, we`re almost to New Year`s now, a few weeks off and we`re
getting to the clock. I think we all know she`s running, but when and how,
and what`s the timing between her and Elizabeth Warren.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: We just watched that strong speech on the Senate floor by
Senator Elizabeth Warren. Here was the response to that from Senator
Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Let me respond to my good
friend from Massachusetts.
You`re tired. You`re frustrated. You`re upset about a provision in
the bill you don`t like. You think it takes the country down the wrong
You have every right to be upset. You have every right to vote no and
to argue to bring the bill down.
You know what a lot of people on our side are tired of? The president
changing the law whenever he would like.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: HARDBALL, back after this.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Another nugget in the news in the guessing of when Hillary Clinton
will get into the presidential race -- "The Washington Post" reports,
quote, "A spring announcement likely." Well, that`s a bit later than
previous reports, which indicated that Hillary would announce closer to the
first of the year. In fact, in about a month, calculating the pluses and
minuses of a spring announcement are crucial for Hillary Clinton and the
party I think.
We`re back now with the round table, Ryan and Phil.
Ryan, first of all, thanks for joining us tonight. It seems to me, if
you`re Hillary Clinton, you`re thinking all of the time. She`s a thinker,
not necessarily or worrier or a gut voter. And she`s thinking, I want to
put it off as long as possible because that makes me a target a lot shorter
time. That`s the old rule.
But then again, you`ve got this woman tonight, this potential, if not
candidate alternative in people`s eyes.
RYAN GRIM, THE HUFFINGTON POST: Right. So, what are the advantages?
MATTHEWS: Elizabeth Warren.
GRIM: Because in the meantime, you`ve got Elizabeth Warren on the
floor here, you know, building a movement here.
MATTHEWS: On the national stage.
GRIM: She`s gathering energy. She`s gathering people behind her for
a cause and she`s identifying a particular cause. Citigroup who wrote this
piece of legislation and crammed it through in the middle of the night, in
a lame duck. It`s going to get people rallied up. I think you`re going to
have v more than a million people that will watch this speech that we just
saw on YouTube over the next couple days. The next time Hillary Clinton is
in public, she`ll be ask about it. Whether or not she has announced
whether she`s running, she`ll probably defer, as she often done.
Warren has said, you know, when she was pushing for the CFPB, she
said, I`d rather have a good CFPB or I want blood and teeth on the Senate
floor. And she got a good CFPB. Now, she just put blood and teeth --
MATTHEWS: Consumer finance.
GRIM: Right. She just put blood and teeth on the Senate floor.
MATTHEWS: And also, it reminds me of the old days when you had Gene
McCarthy went out and took on the fight for the Democrats against the
Vietnam War, they got out there. He got out there, Bobby didn`t.
MATTINGLY: Elizabeth Warren is in front right now. Hillary Clinton
is not. The spring start date might be a bubble that lasted all of 24 to
36 hours. The Clintons have always been keeping a close eye on her. I
think when Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton appeared with Elizabeth Warren,
they lavished her with praise and the type of candidate she could be and --
MATTHEWS: Can Hillary Clinton do what we just saw, that wonderful
performance? Not performance -- that wonderful presentation by Senator
Warren. I`m telling you, I`ve been watching speeches for a long time and
That`s a clear cut argument against a recognized brand name, a bit
shot, Citi Corp, Citigroup. And she took them on, personally, named all
the people that came from that company and all the jobs they hold at the
administration and have held, and everybody out there, watch this. I get
it. They`ve got too much power.
MATTINGLY: Hillary Clinton can`t -- here`s the one thing Hillary
Clinton can`t do --
MATTHEWS: She won`t do that.
MATTINGLY: -- is take on a business community like Elizabeth Warren
just did. And if that`s the direction where the Democratic Party is going,
we know that the grassroots, which love Elizabeth Warren, is in that place
right now. If the broader, more establishment Democratic Party is heading
in that direction, Hillary Clinton will have difficulty making that speech,
without people looking at her past?
MATTHEWS: What about her attempt a few weeks ago when she said
business and corporations don`t create jobs?
MATTINGLY: I think the news cycle was the next six days, looking at
their record with business and corporations and question how that could be
the statement that she`s going to make. That`s not the candidate that
she`s set out to be.
MATTHEWS: What`s fascinating here is the backdrop. You know, both
parties, each party, has its own nemesis. To Republicans and
conservatives, it`s the government, big government. It used to be big
labor. It`s not big anymore.
Big government, we hate government. We hate bureaucracy. We hate
taxes and all that.
The Democratic Party, to a slightly lesser extent has a very clear
enemy, big business, corporations.
GRIM: Right. And she can take on this enemy in a way that Hillary
Clinton can`t. And she can often get two wins out of it.
MATTHEWS: She was a senator, too.
GRIM: Lindsey Graham came out on the floor after her and called her
too emotional. So, that`s the kind of --
MATTHEWS: What do you think of that? Was that condescending?
GRIM: It was condescending and that`s the kind of double, kind of
advantage that she can get out of this, because now -- she wasn`t too
emotional, like you said. It was very precise speech.
MATTHEWS: It was nothing. It was nothing at all affected by
emotional. It was a very articulate statement of what`s wrong with a
system that allows a bank to stop and basically blackmail the United States
government, saying you will not continue functions unless we get what we
want. That`s power.
MATTHEWS: Six years and very few politicians have been able to tap in
to a very, very real rage about what happened in 2007 and 2008 with the
The Obama administration didn`t. Their main rationale being they had
to maintain the system, the financial system, the banks, as it was, or else
they would collapse. Elizabeth Warren doesn`t have to worry about that
right now. That strain (ph) still exists, she can --
MATTHEWS: Opposition leader. She doesn`t have to govern the country
Anyway, thank you, Ryan Grim for joining us. Thank you, Phil
Mattingly, for the whole show.
When we return, let me finish with torture, a subject with which I`ve
had no experience but know someone who has.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with torture, a subject with which
I`ve had no experience but know someone who has, John McCain.
Whatever you think of his politics or sometimes what he says, he`s
been capable of greatness. Yes, he has -- like when in the midst of his
campaign for president in 2008, he refused to accept a woman`s assaults on
the president`s ethnicity.
He just had this moment to decide whether to let her slur pass and he
wouldn`t let it pass. He corrected her respectfully, but powerfully.
Barack Obama, he said, was a good American.
You don`t get much of that in American politics these days. You just
don`t. And I wish so much that we did. I am, as everyone can surely tell,
a romantic about this business of leadership. I want it to be real. And
at that moment of greatness, John McCain came through.
Back to torture, McCain was tortured. He still bears the marks. I
can only assume that much of the damage that affects him even now he keeps
That is what fighting men do. What warriors do, the greatest
generation that don`t (ph) monopoly on either patriotism or gallant service
or sacrifice, or the wisdom that those who fought bring home with them.
So, let me be plain, when John McCain who spent all of those years
being tortured by the enemy in Vietnam says, he opposes torture for the
good of all other servicemen, especially our own, I know who to trust,
whose word to honor, whose wisdom deserves our greatest respect.
That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
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