Guests: Eric Lichtblau, Michael Isikoff, Nicolle Wallace, Ed Rogers, Terry McAuliffe, David Gergen
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Tonight, the president talks about illegal immigration, but the president‘s problems go far deeper. He‘s got deadly poll numbers and lethal problems. Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews. Welcome to HARDBALL.
Is the Bush administration heading into a perfect political storm? New documents filed by special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald in the CIA leak investigation literally had Vice President Cheney‘s handwriting all over it. The papers revealed that the vice president wrote questions on a copy of Joe Wilson‘s op-ed column in “The New York Times,” indicating the vice president was personally directing the focus on a war critic and his wife Valerie Wilson, who got outed subsequently as a CIA officer.
Plus, the president‘s polls continue to collapse, pushing First Lady Laura Bush out to defend her husband‘s policies on Mother‘s Day.
And General Michael Hayden, the president‘s nominee to head the embattled CIA, is under new heat on the NSA wiretapping just days before his Senate hearings.
And tonight in a prime time address to the country, the president is forced to promise National Guard troops to protect our borders.
More on all that later, but first HARDBALL‘S David Shuster has the latest developments in the CIA leak case.
DAVID SHUSTER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is now arguing in court documents that Vice President Cheney personally directed his office‘s focus on Valerie Wilson‘s role at the CIA, and to prove it at Scooter Libby‘s perjury trial, Fitzgerald says he will introduce as evidence this copy of a column by Wilson‘s husband, administration critic Joe Wilson that has Cheney‘s handwritten notes at the top.
In the column titled “What I Didn‘t Find in Africa,” Wilson wrote about being sent to the continent in 2002 to investigate allegations Iraq was seeking uranium from Niger. Wilson wrote Vice President Cheney had asked the CIA about the allegations, prompting the CIA in turn to send him. Wilson wrote he found no evidence to support the uranium claim, and told the CIA months before the claim ended up in the president‘s State of the Union speech.
The vice president read Wilson‘s take, and here‘s what he wrote in the margin, apparently referring to the CIA, “Have they done this sort of thing before? Send an ambassador to answer a question?” The next notation says, “Do we ordinarily send people out pro bono to work for us or did his wife send him on a junket?”
Fitzgerald says Cheney‘s notes in Wilson‘s column are important for what he calls some principal reasons. Fitzgerald writes, “The article, and the fact that it contained certain criticisms of the administration, including criticisms regarding issues dealt with by the office of the vice president serve both to explain the context of, and provide a motive for, many of the defendant‘s statements and actions at issue in this case.”
Prosecutors have alleged that over the five days that followed the column, Libby tried to undercut Wilson by telling a string of people Wilson‘s wife worked at the CIA and the Wilson findings therefore were tainted, July 7, Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, July 8, “New York Times” reporter Judy Miller.
On July 10 or July 11, Karl Rove and Libby discussed the Wilsons, and Rove said a column was coming from Robert Novak. On July 12, Libby discussed the Wilsons with “Time‘s” Matt Cooper and again with “The New York Times‘s” Judy Miller.
SCOTT FREDERICKSEN, FMR. INDEPENDENT COUNCIL: It provides the motive, it rebuts the defense. It shows that there seems to be much more of a comprehensive plan with the intention to focus on Plame, not just Wilson, and to go out and speak to reporters about it.
SHUSTER: The Fitzgerald documents do not suggest Vice President Cheney did anything wrong legally. But politically, there could be problems. Because the first time the vice president spoke publicly about any of this in September 2003 on “Meet the Press”...
DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don‘t know Joe Wilson. I‘ve never met Joe Wilson.
SHUSTER: The vice president left the impression he knew nothing about Wilson or his trip to Niger.
CHENEY: Joe Wilson, I don‘t know who sent Joe Wilson.
SHUSTER: But Cheney‘s own handwriting from months earlier shows the vice president had questions about Wilson. As for Scooter Libby, he has argued in his perjury case that he had no reason to lie about conversations with reporters because the disclosure about Valerie Wilson was innocent and caused no damage.
But the latest prosecution pleading says that on the day columnist Robert Novak‘s column first disclosed Valerie Wilson‘s identity a, quote, “CIA official discussed in the defendant‘s presence the dangers posed by disclosure of the CIA affiliation of one of its employees as had occurred in the Novak column. This evidence directly contradicts the defense position that the defendant had no motive to lie. Instead, the evidence about the conversation concerning the Novak column provides a strong motive for the defendant to provide false information and testimony about his disclosures to reporters.”
As for Presidential Adviser Karl Rove, he remains under investigation 19 days after his last grand jury testimony in the case. Rove‘s legal team says the focus is on Rove‘s claim of a bad memory regarding a conversation with “Time‘s” Matt Cooper. Legal experts say that while Vice President Cheney‘s notes about the Wilsons seemed to damage Libby, the evidence could damage Rove as well.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It shows Fitzgerald believes that this was a planned event from the highest sources, starting with the vice president. And if that‘s the case, I think he‘s unlikely to believe that this was a matter that slipped from the memory of Mr. Rove, just like he doesn‘t believe that was the case for Mr. Libby.
SHUSTER (on-camera): At a speech today, Karl Rove was asked about the CIA leak case and refused to comment. A spokesman for Rove says the presidential adviser expects to learn at any time whether he will face charges in the overall investigation, an investigation that keeps making references to Vice President Cheney.
I‘m David Shuster for HARDBALL in Washington.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, David Shuster.
“Newsweek‘s” Michael Isikoff has been covering the CIA leak case and has the story on the latest revelations in this week‘s “Newsweek” and Eric Lichtblau is with “The New York Times.” He covers the justice department.
Gentleman, there years ago on this program sitting here, we tried to put all this together, as you guys were trying to do at the time as journalists. Now they are trying to put the same case together legally.
But we put together on this program on the 8th, just two days after that
article ran by Joe Wilson that the president was seen there writing up on
writing notes on.
Here‘s the vice president of the United States concerned that what Wilson is saying in the newspaper is that he triggered that trip to Africa to check out this deal with Saddam Hussein, got a negative report but still allowed the president of the United States to go on national television and say we faced a nuclear threat from Saddam Hussein.
He was afraid—well, he should have been afraid because Wilson was charging him with lying to the president, not giving him the full story about the case he had on nuclear weapons in the hands of Saddam Hussein. He was allowing a much more frightening case to get to the American people through the president‘s mouth.
Now, what the prosecutor here is trying to prove is that he then began to act, that he began to leak the name of Valerie Wilson, saying it was a junket her husband was sent on, he wasn‘t sent because the vice president had triggered that question with the CIA, but Wilson—the ambassador who was sent on the trip was sent on a junket. The terms junket are there, the fact that his wife sent him on the trip, what does that tell you, Michael? What is the vice president saying in that handwriting there?
MICHAEL ISIKOFF, NEWSWEEK: Well, first of all, it doesn‘t show that the vice president had anything to do with the leak itself. We should be clear. But it does show how this sort of—the idea of the push back on Wilson got introduced into the bloodstream at the White House, where it was coming from, and it was coming from the vice president, who was raising the question as to whether or not it‘s a junket.
And that in fact was sort of—although they didn‘t use the word junket, that was the theme of the White House critique that week by Libby, by Rove, by Ari Fleischer.
MATTHEWS: OK. All right. Why was it important to the vice president to say that the trip wasn‘t triggered by his question, it was triggered by the—by Joe Wilson‘s wife giving her husband a junket? Why was that important to their case?
ERIC LICHTBLAU, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, I think obviously think there was an intense effort to discredit Wilson. He had gone public at a time when the WMD debate was just beginning to rage, and they wanted to show that he was sent there not because of his credentials or his expertise but because his wife had connections.
MATTHEWS: Did this notation we saw—and David Shuster mentioned it in his opening report—that shows the vice president saying, have they done this sort of thing before send an ambassador to answer a question, a question. The vice president has always denied that his question to the CIA briefer is what triggered this trip. Is he admitting it there?
ISIKOFF: Well, I suppose in an indirect way. I mean, it clearly was his question. It was the vice president, and of course, you know, there was, you know—the backdrop or context of this is the vice president was very much in the weeds of the intelligence on Iraqi WMD. He would make these visits to the CIA and ask questions of the analysts.
And one of the, you know, issues has always been, did Cheney‘s involvement and his pushing of the CIA on these issues warp or distort the intelligence that came back from it? And in this case, I mean, he was pushing them on this, you know, very unsubstantiated wispy report about, you know, uranium in Niger, and that led them to send Wilson to Africa.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s talk legal talk here, Eric. You‘re covering this from a legal point view. Cheney writes in a notation after reading “The New York Times” on July 6 -- he reads this op-ed that attacks him basically and says he was part of this cover up if you will, the fact there wasn‘t a case for WMD.
Does that undermine Libby‘s case, his defense, which says he heard about it from Tim Russert some time in July—in the mid part of July, when in fact here we see him being told by his boss apparently about Joe Wilson‘s wife here and not hearing it from Russert a week or two later?
LICHTBLAU: Well, I think it certainly could undercut it. I think clearly what Fitzgerald was trying to do here is to establish that Libby had a motive and had the history to mislead the FBI and grand jury, that he was well aware at that time that there was interest at the highest levels about how Wilson had been sent to Africa and what the role of his wife was. And it shows that the vice president himself was aware that Wilson‘s wife worked for the CIA at that time.
ISIKOFF: Yes and Libby‘s lawyers in court arguments before Judge Walton have repeatedly made the point that the wife was an insignificant, trivial part of what Libby was concerned about that week.
He was concerned about rebutting Wilson‘s criticisms on the merits, and the wife was only one small part of it. But—and therefore could explain why he would forget where he learned about it and with whom he talked about it.
So Fitzgerald‘s point by introducing this is saying, “You know, well, the guy‘s boss, the vice president, has directly raised the issue of the wife from the get-go in these notes, and therefore it would have been something that he would have remembered quite well.”
MATTHEWS: How could Scooter Libby have leaked, as the prosecutor argues he has, with regard to both Matt Cooper of “Time” and Judy Miller of “The New York Times” before he heard about what he was leaking from Russert? I never understood that, how does he make that case?
LICHTBLAU: You‘d probably have to ask his lawyers that. I think that will be one of the questions at trial, is the whole chronology and who heard what from whom and this kind of telephone game that was going on.
ISIKOFF: Well actually the Russert conversation was the day before he spoke to Cooper, so that could explain—he could argue that, although Judy Miller, he did meet with on July 8th, which was a Tuesday, so he might have a harder time with that one.
MATTHEWS: Well let‘s play around with this, this tooth nerve we‘re playing around here, the vice president‘s role. By putting this out, this filing, over the weekend, that the vice president had made those notations about this being a junket, basically debunking both Wilsons, showing a state of mind at the White House, showing the boss‘s state of mind—is he leading toward an incrimination of the vice president?
ISIKOFF: Not necessarily, no. There‘s no reason to think that.
MATTHEWS: But is it possible?
ISIKOFF: Well look, if he had charged Libby with the actual leaking of Valerie Plame‘s name and said that was a criminal offense in and of itself, then conceivably he could have roped the vice president in under a conspiracy charge.
But Libby isn‘t charged with leaking the name of Valerie Plame. He‘s charged with lying and obstructing justice about his testimony about when and where he learned it. So therefore, since there‘s no underlying crime that Fitzgerald has charged here, this doesn‘t necessarily implicate the vice president, but it does make him a much more central witness in the case.
MATTHEWS: Eric, your turn—the vice president, will he be called in this criminal case against Scooter Libby next year?
LICHTBLAU: I‘d be surprised if we see that. I would imagine there will be some sort of a deal struck first.
MATTHEWS: But how does the state make the case that the vice president told his staffer about the identity of Valerie Wilson?
LICHTBLAU: I think there‘s a paper trail that now exists, including the note that you point to and I think that both sides will probably go out of their way to avoid the spectacle of the vice president having to take the stand.
MATTHEWS: What do you make Cheney out there pushing for tougher surveillance of domestic phone calls?
ISIKOFF: Well it‘s perfectly consistent with his expansive view of executive power that‘s been a principal theme of him and his chief counsel and now chief of staff, David Addington from the get-go, that the president has broad wartime powers to take whatever steps are necessary to protect the country, including eavesdropping on people‘s conversations.
MATTHEWS: Last question Eric, does this make it easier for Hayden because now he looks like the good cop? He was the one that discouraged the vice president from going so far as to intercept domestic phone calls?
LICHTBLAU: It could cut that way. Yes, Hayden‘s had a rough week with the latest disclosures about the NSA‘s telephone logs. And the story that we did yesterday suggested that Hayden may have been a bit of a buffer against Cheney.
MATTHEWS: It‘s amazing how everybody ends up to the left of Dick Cheney. Anyway, thank you again for coming here. Any new word on any indictments or anything this week? We don‘t know yet?
MATTHEWS: We‘ll keep an eye out for that one. Anyway, thank you Michael Isikoff of “Newsweek” and Eric Lichtblau of “The New York Times.” Coming up, the president speaks to the nation. White House communications director Nicolle Wallace is going to come here. You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. In just a couple of hours, President Bush will speak to the country from the Oval Office about his plan to protect the Mexican border using National Guard troops. What will they do? How long will they be there? We‘re joined right now by the president‘s communications director Nicolle Wallace. I guess those are the two hot questions, how long will they be deployed on the border and what will they actually do, the National Guard people?
NICOLLE WALLACE, WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: I know that‘s where all the attention is but if you could indulge me for just half a second. The point of tonight‘s address is to yes, of course talk about the specific measures we‘re talking to beef up security at the border.
But I think as important is the goal that he sets for the debate, and that is one where the tone remains civil and respectful that we keep in mind that these are human beings we‘re talking about, and that we keep in mind these two great goals, to be a nation of laws that enforces its laws and honors and respects its laws, and that we remain a welcoming society.
So—and of course the piece that‘s drawn the most attention so far are the specific measures we‘re going to take to beef up security at the border and that will include relying in a transitional way on the National Guard.
MATTHEWS: The president I think shares the goals of American business. He shares the goals of the Latino groups, they want to find a way to liberalize people coming across the border with some kind of documentation, whether it‘s guest worker passes or a road to citizenship and legal immigration.
On the other side of the argument, there are people who believe there‘s just been too many immigrants coming in to this country across that border illegally. We‘ve got 11 million here, we should reverse that flow. We should get those people who are in this country illegally out of this country and certainly not let anymore come in. How do you combine those two goals when they seem so much against each other?
WALLACE: Well the president believes that there are too many people coming into this country illegally, so the first thing he‘ll talk about and the item that he will spend the most time and really drill down with the most specific detail tonight on is keeping illegal immigrants out of the country.
So I think when you look at what he outlines tonight in terms of—despite the fact that border security, spending is up 66 percent, there‘s a lot that we aren‘t able to do with the current measures that we‘re taking. So he‘ll talk about a high-tech border, a virtual fence where the vast majority of that border is monitored by some kind of either virtual fence or a physical barrier or man power.
And I think that what people can come away with tonight is a leader who is very serious about getting something done on comprehensive immigration reform, deadly serious about securing that border once and for all and quite cognizant of the realities of this issue, that there are, I think some estimates say 12 million people here that have come to this country over the years, who are here illegally and it‘s not realistic to round them up and send them back to the countries from which they came.
MATTHEWS: But here‘s the problem. You could have a lot of people at the border and everybody has debated this for years and as long as there‘s a job you can get to in Los Angeles or Chicago, where you can get paid $15 an hour, you‘re going to do everything you can to get around those fences, those electronic barriers or whatever. Isn‘t that a contradiction?
WALLACE: Well, it would be if the president was not addressing it with the temporary worker program. So the president believes that there are foreign workers who can and should be able to come in to this country on a temporary basis, hence the name temporary worker program, do these jobs and then return home.
All the pieces really build on the other. Part and parcel to relieving the pressure on the borders is having a temporary worker program and giving employers some tools, you know, they know that it‘s illegal to hire illegal workers, but without some kind of tamper proof I.D. card for these temporary workers, they have no way of knowing if documents are forged, so the pieces will build on each other.
MATTHEWS: When are we going to the tamper proof I.D. card?
WALLACE: Well, there is a process of bringing that on line and I don‘t know exactly how long that will take but I know that interior enforcement, which is enforcing our immigration laws from coast to coast is something the president has been talking about and working on with the Congress for sometime now and he‘ll talk tonight about how securing that border, having a temporary worker program, having these tamper proof cards, all these measures build on each other, and then he also talks about, and I know you‘ve talked about this before, the character of our country as land of immigrants.
But he will make clear that he is not for amnesty and that anything that allows people to be in this country and become citizens automatically is not acceptable to him. He will not stand for that. He will call for something that I think hopefully will seize that magical middle ground in the Congress.
MATTHEWS: What would stop a person who came in under a guest worker program, signed all the papers, promised to go back, did everything right, come in here and made a good salary, $10 or $15 an hour, whatever the wage is now in agriculture work, why would that person ever want to go back to making two bucks a week in Chihuahua or somewhere? Why would you want to go back? Once you‘ve seen the green, literally, in this country, you‘d say I‘m staying, wouldn‘t you?
WALLACE: You would, but we need to get to a place where your employer will demand that before you get a paycheck and before you are on their payroll, you have produced a temporary worker I.D. card, and that worker I.D. card will expire. The idea is to really deal with this comprehensively, so even if you want to stay here, the jobs dry up for those that are here illegally, because employers have the incentive to hire those who are here legally.
MATTHEWS: Do you know what my critique is, one observation. When the average American is convinced that someone can‘t be hired here illegally, they‘ll believe we‘re protecting the border. All the gendarmes at the border, all the national defense people, all the border patrol in the world are not going to stop a person from getting here if they note in Los Angeles, there‘s a job that pays well.
You raised issue of the I.D. card. When that I.D. card goes on line and you really can‘t hire illegally, I think the average American will be rest assured, but that‘s just my thought and I‘m following every word you‘re saying here.
WALLACE: It‘s centrally important.
MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Nicolle Wallace, President Bush‘s communications director. Up next, can the president corral his own party on controlling the borders? That is the number one target tonight. You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. President Bush is speaking to the country tonight, but it‘s the Republican base that he really needs to talk to. How will Republicans, as well as Democrats, react to his big address tonight? I‘m with Ed Rogers, former adviser to the first President Bush and Terry McAuliffe, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Ed, when you‘re President Bush tonight talking to the cameras, Who‘s he trying to get to?
ED ROGERS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: He‘s trying to get to a big piece the American public that care a lot about immigration, that want to hear sort of some commonsensical things out of this president. Number one, that this president is going to commit American energy and resources to securing the border.
As far as I‘m concerned politically, everything else can be deferred.
That‘s what he needs to talk about tonight.
MATTHEWS: Why do you think that‘s important?
ROGERS: Because it‘s hard to argue anything other than that. Again, it‘s commonsensical. Secure the borders. If you poll that question, I‘m sure it polls 90-10. Should America‘s borders be secure? Yes, by an overwhelming majority and right now a big piece of Americans doesn‘t think our borders are secure because of what they anecdotally observe about immigration.
MATTHEWS: What‘s the Democrats‘ position on border patrol?
TERRY MCAULIFFE, FMR DNC CHAIRMAN: We‘re all for border patrol. In fact, the Congress as you know in 2004 asked for 2000 INS agents. What did George Bush do? He cut it down to 210. He cut 90 percent. If he had done his job right and really cared about protecting the borders, he would have given the INS those extra border patrol folks they wanted. This is all politics. He‘s going to his base tonight. This is all politics.
MATTHEWS: This is all politics because it seems any one of the three of us were down in Mexico or further down in Latin America and we heard there was a good paying job in Los Angeles or Chicago, we would tunnel underground, get in a boat, in an airplane, whatever it took to get here, we had pay the $2,000 to the coyote to get here.
All this stuff about border enforcement, as long as there‘s an illegal job on the other side of the border, we‘d jump for it wouldn‘t we? So is he doing it all?
ROGERS: America‘s prosperity is a beacon toward people south of the border.
MATTHEWS: Not if you stopped illegal hiring.
ROGERS: Sure it is.
MATTHEWS: Why don‘t we outlaw illegal hiring?
ROGERS: We should.
MATTHEWS: Why doesn‘t Bush do that?
ROGERS: He might. He might.
I don‘t know yet, let‘s wait and see what he does.
MATTHEWS: Why should people risk their lives to keep people from coming into this country illegally, while Republican businessmen out there are quick and ready to hire them for cleaning up the lawns, the hotel rooms.
ROGERS: If you want to be intellectually honest, we‘ve created a perverse economic incentive here where there‘s no downside to breaking the law. We need to stop that and we need to secure the borders.
MATTHEWS: I don‘t know why I‘m getting overheated except for the total contradiction here. You‘re asking regular Americans who sign up for the National Guard to protect the country, to risk their lives maybe to keep people from coming in this country, who are going right to the jobs, they know where they‘re going to, and hired by people who vote Republican or Democrat, who can hire them illegally.
ROGERS: Like I said, we‘ve created a weird economic incentive here to break the law. We need to solve this.
ROGERS: The problem he needs to solve tonight is to make sure people know about his commitment to secure the border, defer everything else.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s see if he stop the illegal hiring.
ROGERS: Do that.
MATTHEWS: We‘ll be back with Terry McAuliffe, who is getting off easy here tonight, and Ed Rogers. One of the advantages of not being in power. You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
In just a few hours, President Bush addresses the nation. MSNBC will carry the speech live tonight with analysis leading up to it and after it. So what does he have to say to get his party in line, the Republican conservatives, and his presidency of course back on track?
We‘re back ourselves with Ed Rogers, former adviser to the first President Bush, and Terry McAuliffe, the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
Let me ask you, Ed.
MATTHEWS: Right now we live in a country with 11 million people here illegally from across the border, the south border, mainly from Mexico but others countries as well. They came here to get jobs, both of them, in fact almost all of them. They‘re here. They‘re going to stay here. We agree on that.
There are very few people really willing to push them out by lock and chain and drag them out of the country. That‘s not our way. At the same time, we could take pictures by—NBC could go down there with our cameras right down there tonight in Tijuana and other places at the border and see people crossing the border illegally. You can predict this every night, right?
What‘s going to change after all this, bill is signed and all of the signatures are written and everybody agrees on a big happy compromise? How is it going to be different? The 11 million people are still going to be here. They will be given documents, but they are still going to be here. And A lot of people don‘t want them here.
Secondly, the people who continue to come across the border illegally, the ones who don‘t get in through guest workers will come across another way. The ones who come through guest workers may well stay here. I wonder whether we are just not papering over a real problem that nobody wants to face, illegal immigration.
ROGERS: That‘s going to be an important test for tonight‘s speech, whether or not it‘s going to be more of the same or the president is really going to make a commitment to securing our border. And then yes he is going to be intellectually honest about the status of the 11 million people that are here.
MATTHEWS: What about more people coming in? And what would stop them from coming in illegally? If you don‘t have a job in Mexico, you are going to come here to get one.
ROGERS: A more effective border will stop it. We can‘t. We have the means to stop it.
MATTHEWS: What would be the democratic way to stop these two problems? A huge population of illegal people here and a continuing flow of people across the border illegally, what would the Democrats do to stop those two problems?
ROGERS: They don‘t want to stop it.
MCAULIFFE: Well, first and foremost, we‘ve asked for more border agents. We‘ve consistently asked for more border agents.
MATTHEWS: Mike, you don‘t think border agents would stop people from getting in here, do you? Do you honestly believe that?
MCAULIFFE: I do. Compared to putting the National Guard, who are not trained to do this. First of all, the National Guard, who is stretched so thin today because they have been over in Iraq.
MATTHEWS: Swear to me that you don‘t believe that a border patrol or anything else would stop people from coming into this country illegally?
MCAULIFFE: I—absolutely, if we had more border agents that could help the cause.
MATTHEWS: You could get in. You would get in. You could come in by boat, by plane, by tunnel. You wouldn‘t let some fence stop you, would you?
MCAULIFFE: More border agents would help the situation, Chris. There is no question about it. I mean, here‘s Bush saying we‘re going to send the National Guard. They are already stretched too thin as it is. Why didn‘t we have the people who were trained to keep people out, why didn‘t he ask for more border agents?
ROGERS: This is all politics. The Democrats are saying nothing.
Terry is saying nothing.
MATTHEWS: And then he says it‘s temporary until Wednesday, November 5.
MATTHEWS: The idea that we‘re going to keep people from crossing in by more people, we would have half the country working down there.
MCAULIFFE: So do we try nothing? We just say everybody come in?
What do you when you have got to do something?
MATTHEWS: No, you outlaw illegal hiring.
MCAULIFFE: Of course you have got to do both.
MATTHEWS: Would you do that, the Democrats?
MCAULIFFE: Sure, you have got to send a message to the business community.
MATTHEWS: Would you have an I.D. card?
MCAULIFFE: I wouldn‘t have an I.D. card.
MATTHEWS: Why not?
MCAULIFFE: But I would make it legitimate...
MATTHEWS: How do you stop a person from being hired illegally unless you can prove they‘re not here illegally?
MCAULIFFE: Well, first of all, you ask for copies of their tax I.D., you ask for social security number or some form of payment with taxing.
ROGERS: You can do that now.
MCAULIFFE: But they don‘t do it. But of course there has to be some program here.
MATTHEWS: So you‘re for employer sanctions?
MCAULIFFE: This is an incentive for the business to hire these people.
MATTHEWS: You are for punishing people by heavy fines for hiring people illegally.
MCAULIFFE: I didn‘t say heavy fines.
MATTHEWS: What would you do?
MCAULIFFE: I think we need to be a disincentive for the people who come in.
MATTHEWS: What would that be?
MCAULIFFE: Could be...
ROGERS: Criminal sanctions.
MCAULIFFE: I wouldn‘t do criminal sanctions.
MCAULIFFE: I‘d do something monetary. I don‘t think we should do criminally. I mean, the Sensenbrenner bill wants to criminalize the clergy, wants to make it against clergy, family members. That‘s crazy.
MATTHEWS: Listen, I am talking about a guy who has got a sweatshop going or he‘s got a golf course going. He‘s paying everybody $2 an hour.
MCAULIFFE: Financially shut him down. Monetarily, if we make a disincentive for him to hire those people. Absolutely, we should do that.
MATTHEWS: So you agree on that? Why don‘t we do it?
ROGERS: Sure, I mean, they have to comply on it.
MATTHEWS: Democrat and Republican agree here, but we are not doing it.
ROGERS: Well, we‘re going to. It‘s coming to a head.
MCAULIFFE: The McCain Kennedy bill is a good bill that the Republicans derailed. We had a good bill that couldn‘t get through.
ROGERS: Look, we make employers now comply with environmental, with health care, with all kind of rules and regulations. They need to comply with this.
MATTHEWS: OK. Let‘s talk politics. The president of the United States is taking an unusual step tonight. He is going on national television. There‘s a big risk factor there. Ed, what‘s the risk factor?
ROGERS: Well, the risk factor is it fizzles and nothing happens.
MATTHEWS: No movement in the poll?
ROGERS: Well, I don‘t care about the polls so much. Believe it or not.
MATTHEWS: What do you care about? What‘s a good way to measure it?
ROGERS: What I care about, is there a coherent plan that is engaged in the legitimate process here in Washington, where what he says tonight becomes a law this fall and things are different. And people anecdotally feel and see things are different. That‘s what matters. The polls don‘t matter so much. They are no irrelevant but they don‘t matter.
MCAULIFFE: He has got to show some movement in the polls. This is a hail Mary pass. He can‘t do anything about gas prices. He can‘t do anything about Iraq. Immigration is not a very good issue for George Bush or the Republicans. It‘s hurting them. He figured he has nothing else to do.
The risk for him is if the conservatives don‘t like what he says tonight and it looks like he‘s putting forth an amnesty program, he‘s going to come off in worse shape than he was before going in tonight. This is a huge risk for George Bush with not a lot of up sight.
MATTHEWS: Last question, is your party...
MCAULIFFE: And if he doesn‘t move the polls, Republicans are giving up on George Bush. The folks on the Hill are going to cut it.
MATTHEWS: Could Democrats win if the president can‘t get a bill through before the election?
ROGERS: Their obstruction, and having nothing happen and anarchy in Washington is the Democrats‘s friends. They have no incentive to be responsible and they won‘t be.
MATTHEWS: You have just announced that their strategy should be to stop the bill then?
ROGERS: Their political strategy, to the degree to which they have any sort of intellectual or emotional legitimacy or interest in anything, they should be cooperative from time to time.
MCAULIFFE: We don‘t control the House, the Senate or the White House.
MATTHEWS: You do control the Senate by playing with the rules.
MCAULIFFE: OK, let me see something that comes out of the House that passes the House first, Chris. They can‘t do that.
MATTHEWS: It‘s done, it‘s already passed.
MCAULIFFE: But they can‘t get a compromise on this thing, they‘re not going to get a conference in it. Are you nuts? That‘s not a bill that anyone wants.
MATTHEWS: We‘ve got a Republican version coming out of the House by the House.
MCAULIFFE: But we are not obstructionists.
MATTHEWS: Are you saying no amendments?
MCAULIFFE: They can‘t get the majority out. We said no amendments on the McCain-Kennedy and they‘re the ones that put the amendments in. We were doing the right thing.
ROGERS: Whatever that means. Therefore nothing happened.
MATTHEWS: The Democratic leadership would rather have no bill. Thank you Ed Rogers, thank you Terry McAuliffe. Up next, the president prepares for his strongest push yet on immigration, also to get his numbers up generally. This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. President Bush is using the most presidential of presidential tools tonight for the immigration debate, an Oval Office address to the nation. Will it work?
Pat Buchanan is an MSNBC analyst and former White House aide to presidents Clinton—I‘m sorry, Presidents Nixon and Reagan. David Gergen has been adviser to all presidents. He‘s editor-at-large for “U.S. News & World Report” and was a White House adviser to Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Clinton.
Let me start with you David Gergen. Is it possible for the president to square the circle tonight? He wants more immigration but make it legal, he wants more guys coming from across the border to get jobs here in the state. He wants to keep business happy,, the Mexican-American community happy. He want to make himself more Latino Republicans out there.
The Republicans however as a party are not happy with all this flood of immigrants coming across the border, they want it stopped and reversed. How can they find common ground?
DAVID GERGEN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: Well nobody‘s been able to square the circle so far, but let‘s give him some credit for trying. I think the big issue tonight, Chris, is whether—we know he‘s going to put National Guard there to help the border patrol, we know that‘s coming.
What we don‘t know is whether this speech is going to be a complete pander to the conservatives in order to bring them closer to him or whether it‘s going to be a speech which makes also a strong pitch for some sort of guest worker program. We‘ll have to wait and see which way he goes.
MATTHEWS: Pat, he already talks about—we‘ve got some excerpts, I guess we can mention it. But the phrase like we‘re a nation of immigrants is nothing unusual. But if the president talks fondly about immigration in this context across border immigration, illegal immigration to a large extent, doesn‘t that signal to the conservatives out there, he‘s on the side of the people coming here illegal?
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: He‘ll say we‘re a nation of immigrants and we‘re a nation of laws, that‘s his formula. But Bush has a chance of winning this thing in the Senate, Chris, because you‘ve got to realize Bush‘s position is basically that of Teddy Kennedy, McCain and Reid. And now they‘ve got Frist aboard.
I think they can put together a majority in the Senate for a bill he wants to get out if front of it. The key question is can they roll the conservatives. The purpose of all this National Guard stuff and the rest of it is to put sort of a minuteman wave over what is basically a guest worker amnesty program.
I think he can get it through the Senate. The question is can the Republican conservatives in the House stop it. People who know about this issue know what‘s coming, but I think the president is getting out in front of bill which he thinks can pass the Senate and he may be right.
MATTHEWS: What good is passing a—David, what good is getting a bill through the Senate if it dies there in conference?
GERGEN: That‘s the point. He was going to get this bill through the Senate regardless of whether he gave the speech. The question is whether in providing the Guard and whether he‘s making this effort to seal the borders, whether he‘s also going to be able to bring along the House conservatives to sign on to the rest of the program that McCain, Kennedy and company have built up.
That‘s the big issue now and the leadership comes and whether he can -
having given the conservatives something which they really want which is a much stronger border effort, can he bring them along to sign on to the bill? I don‘t know—Pat, do you think the House conservatives will come along with him on the guest worker program?
BUCHANAN: I think the conservatives won‘t. I think he‘s going to go after Hastert and Boehner and people like that. But I will say this, David. What he‘s doing now is baby steps on the border. You‘re sending a few National Guard down there to do the administrative jobs and release the border patrol guys for the border.
Chris, as you talked earlier, the president is going so say tonight over six million people have been caught. It‘s not immigration. There is an invasion of the United States of America. And until you put a security fence now along 2,000 miles of border, you are not going to stop this invasion and it‘s coming not only from Mexico, it‘s coming from the whole world.
The president himself conceded that 150,000 illegals who are other than Mexicans, three times as many as there were two years ago, were caught at the border. The whole world is coming. And a couple of National Guard guys sitting there doing administrative work ain‘t going to stop it.
MATTHEWS: What would?
BUCHANAN: A security fence along the border, No. 1. Secondly, you ought to hear the president talk tonight about deportation. You deport beginning with everybody caught on the felony or convicted, all these gang bangers and these gangs in California, people caught drunk driving.
MATTHEWS: Why won‘t he do that?
BUCHANAN: Because he agrees with Teddy Kennedy, because he‘s got the corporate guys, he won‘t crack down on them because the corporate guys pay the room, board, tuition and everything else for the Republican Party. You crack down on them, Chris, what‘s going to happen? All those Chamber of Commerce guys saying you‘re putting our guys in jail and we‘re supposed to finance your party?
MATTHEWS: So he really won‘t stop—let‘s go to that, David. It seems to me there‘s a conflict. You can bring a lot of National Guards people down there, because they‘re sworn to this office to get out or whatever they‘re told to do, they‘ll go down there. But isn‘t it kind of a horrible contradiction that somebody, man or woman, is down there helping to man the border or woman the border or whatever. At the meantime, they know that anybody gets past them will find an illegal job in Los Angeles or somewhere else. You know, probably an employer who probably votes for Bush and isn‘t that a contradiction?
GERGEN: It is a contradiction. On the other hand, I think the administration on trying to seal the borders has—turning to the Guard is one of your last resorts. The last resort is defense. I mean, we should not be in a situation where—he‘s got to make five years in office, he‘s got to mobilize the Guard to go in there. If more people were needed, they should have gone in there a long time ago and been trained as a border patrol.
If the border patrol itself will not work, then you have to consider a fence. You have to consider something. But you have to figure out, can you do this with paramilitary type efforts through the border patrol. I think sending the guard down there reeks of politics as opposed to something that should have been planned.
MATTHEWS: What‘s wrong with enforcing the law? The Republican party says law and order, they believe in The Constitution, they believe in literal interpretation of The Constitution. Why don‘t you simply put people in jail who hire people illegally here.
BUCHANAN: Not only this, what you mention is exactly right. If you get by the border, you‘re going to get amnesty and you‘re not only to get amnesty, the guy that hires you, this guest worker amnesty is a blanket pardon also, de facto pardon, for every employer who has hire illegals.
GERGEN: Pat, would you send everybody back? Would you deport everybody?
BUCHANAN: I would first you are here illegally. I would not let anyone here illegally be pat on a path to citizenship, which I think is a highly valued thing, simply because they‘re able to break the law, break into our country and get a job.
GERGEN: Would you make it a felony and deport everybody?
BUCHANAN: No, but I wouldn‘t make it a felony, but I would make it a misdemeanor which is what it is now and I would start deporting them beginning with the criminals and the felons and the drunks and the gang bangers and there‘s—
GERGEN: Where would you stop? Where‘s the line?
BUCHANAN: The line is you just do not make them citizens. There‘s no national clamor to make those guys marching out there in Los Angeles citizens of the United States. Why would you do that? Most of them love Mexico. That‘s why they‘re marching under Mexican flags.
MATTHEWS: Well, let‘s come right back. What‘s going on in the CIA leak probe if we can get to that? Fitzgerald keeps filing but where is he going with that? Is the vice president part of this story? This is HARDBALL only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: We‘re back with political analyst Pat Buchanan and former White House adviser David Gergen. I want to get back to our base here which is focusing on national security and the war in Iraq and this whole fight over what was done to try to kill the whistle blower, Joe Wilson.
Whatever you think of Joe Wilson, he apparently shook up the vice president‘s office because when he wrote that op-ed piece in The New York Times on July 6, 2003, we see the vice president marked it up with various details and comments on it. David Gergen, what do you make of the fact the vice president wrote these interesting commentaries on this op-ed piece in The New York Times? Quote, have they done this sort of thing before? Send an ambassador to answer a question? Do we ordinarily send people out pro bono to work for us or did his wife send him on a junket?
What do you make of that notation by the vice president?
GERGEN: It reminds me of the days of Pat Buchanan. When he was a youngster. He used to produce a news summary and Richard Nixon used to scribble all over. And that was the way to govern. That‘s the way to send out instructions from the Oval Office.
MATTHEWS: I remember some of the great ones myself but I won‘t quote it quite, they are quite colorful. What do you make of this notation? He obviously shared this with his staff. What do you make of it?
GERGEN: I do think it shows the vice president was very deeply engaged. And it also, the fact that he mentioned the wife was quite interesting. It was the subject of conversation in his office. I don‘t think it says that a pattern of illegality goes to the vice president‘s door. That would take it too far.
MATTHEWS: King John once said will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest? All of the sudden Beckett is killed in the cathedral. I‘m not kidding here. Is this the way people send messages to their staff people, including Scooter Libby, would you shut this guy up. He obviously was sent this trip by his wife not by my question and yet I‘m getting blamed for it.
GERGEN: I don‘t think there‘s any doubt it does suggest that he wanted action taken. It does not say to go out there and out the wife. Somehow, to go across the line illegally. It does say I want something done.
BUCHANAN: The interesting thing about this is that it does show Cheney‘s awareness of the wife, who obviously is the CIA otherwise, she couldn‘t be directing it. There‘s a fundamental crime. It is the deliberate outing of Valerie Plame as a CIA agent. Fitzgerald has not got that on the table. There‘s no crime.
In order to have a crime, it seems you have to have perjury or obstruction of justice. I do not see anywhere where Dick Cheney has told a lie or obstructed justice. I do think, and I‘ve always felt, he was going there. I can see Nixon would send something to me. Knock this down. I‘m sure that‘s the kind of instructions Libby got.
Libby‘s problem is one thing. He went over there and allegedly perjured himself left, right and center while Fitzgerald is looking at his notes, which say the opposite of what he is saying. I don‘t see anything new here that‘s criminal.
GERGEN: I agree with that. The big question is still weather he‘s going to go after Karl Rove.
BUCHANAN: I agree. There‘s a lot of stuff out. You had the guns all ready to fire last Friday in case something came down. It frankly doesn‘t look good right now.
MATTHEWS: Is it normal that people get incriminated for problems related to the charge itself? The Watergate cover-up rather than the Watergate break-in. Nixon was never nailed for the break-in, but nailed for everything else.
BUCHANAN: What did they get Mitchell and all those guys? Perjury and obstruction of justice.
MATTHEWS: Is that because the boss says, don‘t rat me out?
BUCHANAN: No. It‘s because they say, initially it looks like you can make it go away. And then it gets bigger and bigger and you‘re out there and you‘ve said things to FBI agents and all of a sudden, you‘re way down the road. And they come in with your notes saying, you said this.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s be honest about this. The guys that look good years after a corruption charge are people like Gordon Liddy who the kids on campus love him. He‘s got a radio show and John Dean is out there. The guy who told the truth, looks like the rat. In our political culture, don‘t you still get praised for covering up?
GERGEN: Wait a minute. Let‘s not heap too much praise on John Dean about being the honest guy in the pack. What the Cheney notes do raise is weather Scooter Libby did have a strong motive that he was trying protect the vice president in some way when he went and talked to the authorities.
MATTHEWS: I agree with that.
BUCHANAN: Liddy‘s a folk hero because he took it like a man.
MATTHEWS: More on this later. Thank you Pat Buchanan and David Gergen. HARDBALL returns in just one hour for a preview of President Bush‘s speech tonight. That‘s at 7:00 p.m. eastern, a new live show. And at 8:00 eastern, our live coverage of the president‘s actual address from the Oval Office.
Right now it‘s time for “THE ABRAMS REPORT” with Dan.
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