Guests: Jack Rice, Tyler Drumheller, Roger Simon, David Corn, Jack
Kingston, Richard Trumka
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Happy independence—from your job.
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews down in Washington. Leading off tonight: Catch them with their pants down. Have the Democrats finally found an issue with which they can pummel the Republicans? Republicans are blocking financial reform, and believe it or not, the extension of unemployment benefits, two areas where the Americans really seem to want government to do something. Let‘s face it, the Democrats would be happy to debate these two issues every day from now until November.
President Obama took Republicans to task for stonewalling on another issue today, comprehensive immigration reform. Here‘s what I want to know. What‘s wrong with giving American employers, business people, a way to know who‘s in the country legally?
Well, the spies next door—it would be unnerving if it weren‘t so bizarre, disappearing ink, money hand-offs, secret bank transfers. But what in the world did these Russian agents intend to accomplish in suburbia? And best of all, red storm rising—who is, was, will be Anna Chapman?
And what‘s wrong with Bill Clinton backing a Senate candidate who backed him, even if President Obama supports the other guy?
“Let Me Finish” tonight with some thoughts on really stopping illegal immigration.
Let‘s start with the Republicans blocking financial reform and the extension of unemployment benefits. U.S. Congressman Jack Kingston is a Georgia Republican, a member of the Appropriations Committee. Mr. Kingston, thank you, sir. It‘s great to have you on the show. I wonder why...
REP. JACK KINGSTON (R-GA), APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE: It‘s good to be with you, Chris.
MATTHEWS: ... the Republicans have decided that unemployment benefit extension is a bill that has to be pay as you go, when all the other times in the last, oh, X many years, under Democrats and Republican administrations, you‘ve passed spending bills that you haven‘t paid for.
KINGSTON: Chris, you know what? I think you‘re right. Both parties can share the blame on the deficit spending. The deficit, as you know, is the highest in history. But right now, this eighth extension of unemployment benefits can hardly be deemed a surprise. We‘ve had a failed stimulus bill. We knew this was coming. And what we Republicans in the House say is it ought to be offset. And that‘s what the Senate Democrats are saying. And that‘s why the Senate left town without extending unemployment insurance. And we‘re somewhat in agreement with them that it ought to be offset before we do it.
MATTHEWS: So give me an array of programs you could cut.
KINGSTON: Well, I think the obvious choice is the pot of money in the stimulus program. Give you one example. In the broadband program, we put in the stimulus $7 billion worth of broadband extension programs, basically paying Verizon and broadband companies to do what they were going to do with their own money. We‘re now paying for it with taxpayer money. But of that $7 billion, just this year, there‘s $1.6 billion left. That would go a long way. Doesn‘t come up with all the $34 billion, but that‘s an example.
And there‘s all kinds of other programs in the stimulus pot of money. And that‘s where the Senate Democrats want to go to offset the $34 billion, and we in the House, we Republicans, agree with them.
MATTHEWS: So you think—just politically, sir, you‘re a veteran. You know politics. Do you think that the average Republican candidate running this fall can go to the voters in suburbia—and a lot of middle management people have lost their jobs—and tell them, You can‘t get unemployment benefits, you can‘t get the extended benefits because we‘re doing something over in broadband that we shouldn‘t have to do? Do you think that‘ll sell?
KINGSTON: You know, Chris...
MATTHEWS: Those two unrelated—to most people, they‘re unrelated, those issues, sir.
KINGSTON: Well, what I would say is there‘s a lot of stimulus money that has not decreased unemployment. And remember, stimulus was passed to keep unemployment going to 8 percent. We‘ve been hovering around 10 percent. Six million people are out of jobs. And what we‘re saying is we need to offset the cost of unemployment insurance extension.
And that is the position of a bipartisan group in the Senate. And that‘s—as you know, Senator Nelson was the one who pulled the plug on the Senate doing the extension just yesterday. And so for the House tonight in the 11th hour to say, OK, let‘s pass unemployment—it‘s a political vote!
KINGSTON: Nothing‘s going to happen to the bill.
MATTHEWS: OK, so basically, you‘re going to come on this program tonight live—tomorrow, we got an unemployment number coming out. And by the way, I agree with your sentiments if they are that we‘re in bad shape. I‘m looking at the market. I‘m looking at retail sales. I‘m looking at home sales. They‘re terrible. The numbers don‘t look good. If we face a 10 percent unemployment rate tomorrow, are you still going to be happy with holding off those unemployment checks for another couple weeks at least? Because that‘s what‘s going to happen.
KINGSTON: You know, I don‘t think we should be leaving town without addressing this. I think there‘s so many things that we need to do to get business and the economy turned around. You know, the financial services bill, maybe now that the dust—could be settled. Now, we don‘t know what the Senate‘s going to do. But once these rules are set...
KINGSTON: ... then businesses could start recovering. Same thing with dumping new regulations on them and new health care mandates. If we could get the government off the back of the private sector, small businesses could start creating jobs...
KINGSTON: ... and I think that would turn the economy around.
MATTHEWS: Well, this economic poo storm that started back under
President Bush‘s administration, Wall Street, the disaster up there,
happened back, as we all know, in the fall of ‘08. And it all came about -
and both parties have tried to deal with it, with Obama coming in there and joining the president, President George W., trying to deal with that—what looked to be a complete collapse of the American economy. And everybody supported TARP and then the stimulus, and everybody tried everything.
And now the Democrats have been trying to do a reform bill, financial reform. Fifty-three percent of the American people support it. Your party opposes it. Is this a secondary, after unemployment extension, where you guys are on the wrong side, perhaps if not history, that‘s too big a statement, but on the wrong side of the newspapers right now, the way people are getting this information?
KINGSTON: Well, Chris, as you know, the chairman of Goldman Sachs, the chairman of CitiCorp have both endorsed this financial services reform bill, so I don‘t think Main Street America and the community bankers believe that this is really anything but big government and big Wall Street masquerading reform, saying that it‘s going to turn the economy around.
Now, I hope I‘m wrong on that, Chris. I really do. I hope that this reform bill turns Wall Street around and that credit starts flowing in Main Street America. I just got to say I have my doubts. And you and I both know that at the end of the day, on so many of these things, it gets bogged down. And before you know it, big government and big business have cut themselves a deal that they can live with and the prosperity doesn‘t trickle down to Main Street.
MATTHEWS: Well, you know...
KINGSTON: And that‘s what we want to do!
MATTHEWS: I would normally agree with you. I don‘t like deals where business is happy, and Wall Street. But I got to tell you, I wonder if Wall Street isn‘t in the same situation that BP is in. BP agreed to a $20 billion set-aside, $20 billion escrow, because they were on the run. Isn‘t it fair to assume that Wall Street‘s been on the run politically and that they‘ll settle for the best deal they can get? This is like copping a plea, isn‘t it? I‘m not so sure it‘s the way they would have won. Wouldn‘t they have preferred laissez-faire, the way they had it?
KINGSTON: I think they would. But now, you‘re talking to somebody who voted against TARP. If we could rewind the tape and let some of those folks go bankrupt, I think it would have taught them a lesson that would have had a far stronger reform...
KINGSTON: ... impact than the bail-outs.
MATTHEWS: Well, President Bush was scared to death. So was a lot of people on Wall Street. I do like your sentiment, Screw the bastards. But the problem is, the bastards are running the American economic system. They were running the American economic system up in New York. And they tell you, We‘re going to hell in a handbasket, and the president of the United States, whether he‘s a Republican in that case, or a Democrat, it‘s very hard to say, I don‘t care what you experts, you masters of the universe, are telling me. I‘m willing to risk the end of the American economy. Would you have said, Yes, I‘m willing to risk it, if you were president?
KINGSTON: You know, I think you‘re darned if you do...
MATTHEWS: It‘s easy to be a congressman...
KINGSTON: ... and darned if you don‘t.
MATTHEWS: ... and vote no—hey, look, it‘s easy to be a congressman and vote no when you know something‘s going to pass. The safest vote in Congress is a no vote when something passes.
MATTHEWS: You know that. Like your vote on the extension of unemployment benefits. It‘s a safe vote. You know it‘s going to pass.
KINGSTON: Actually, Chris, if you‘ll remember, the first vote was a no vote, and the stock market dropped something like 500 points that day. So it was a scary time for all of us. Hank Paulson was running around all over the globe saying the sky is falling. So we really did not know. But I will say that there were a lot of experts who were saying, Do not go this route, or, Do something, but not this big and not this far. But...
MATTHEWS: OK. OK. Good.
KINGSTON: ... here‘s where we‘re—I think we need to help Main Street, the small bankers, the community bankers and the small businesses, and that‘s how we need to rebuild the economy.
MATTHEWS: OK, the bottom line, though, Congressman—end of conversation. The bottom line, though, is the Republicans are against financial reform. We‘ll see how it plays in November. But thank you so much for coming on, U.S. Congressman Jack Kingston, a veteran down there in Georgia.
Let‘s bring in “Washington Post” columnist and MSNBC political analyst Eugene Robertson. Well, he made a good defense, but you know, the fog (ph)
or argument don‘t matter much when you‘re unemployed.
EUGENE ROBINSON, “WASHINGTON POST,” MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: That‘s true.
MATTHEWS: The guy out there, the middle-aged guy who finds himself after working 30 years, going through sometimes the difficult emotional experience of going out and picking up that check is now told, Oh, by the way, here comes the injury to the insult. There isn‘t going to be a check.
ROBINSON: Yes, and I...
MATTHEWS: And by the way, happy 4th of July. OK, that could be a problem.
ROBINSON: You could make the callous kind of heartless calculation that, well, you got more employed people than unemployed people. And so, you know, maybe you can get more unemployed—more employed people who would resent this sort of payment than the unemployed.
ROBINSON: Maybe they‘re not—they‘re not going to vote. But I thing...
MATTHEWS: Well, why do you...
MATTHEWS: Put on your analyst hat.
ROBINSON: Oh, I—I think...
MATTHEWS: Why would the Republicans take this risk? Why are they risking being against what seems to be, You‘ve got to do this for the unemployed guy?
ROBINSON: I don‘t get it because it—it—because you‘re dealing not only with the unemployed, you‘re dealing with the guy down the block. You‘re dealing with the...
ROBINSON: ... you know, the people around the corner whose declining
you know, who are about to get foreclosed on. That‘s going to bring my property values down even if I still...
MATTHEWS: OK, you know what?
ROBINSON: ... have my job. So I don‘t—I don‘t get it.
MATTHEWS: Think about this. You‘re Bobby Brady. You‘re the boss of the Philadelphia machine, or you‘re any Democratic congressman. You can go stand in front of the ward leaders and say, You know why you‘re Democrats? Let me remind you. You‘re for unemployment compensation when a guy‘s thrown out of work. Oh, by the way, we‘re against Wall Street when they‘re screwing up our system. Republicans are for Wall Street. This reminds everybody of all the old brand identity...
ROBINSON: Well, it does...
MATTHEWS: ... working guy against rich guy.
ROBINSON: I mean, you can‘t—look, I‘m not going to accuse the Democrats of politically shooting out the lights in the last few months, right? But I think the Republicans are keeping them in the game, frankly, for November by...
MATTHEWS: OK. Let‘s take a look at John Boehner...
ROBINSON: ... by exactly this.
MATTHEWS: ... who‘s one of the top Republicans on the Hill. Here he is in an interview with that wonderful newspaper, “The Pittsburgh Tribune Review.”
MATTHEWS: Let‘s listen. This is a meeting of the minds!
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), MINORITY LEADER: They‘re snuffing out the America that I grew up in. And I think I went (ph) there because my job and our job as a generation is to make sure that those opportunities that were available to us are available for our kids and grandkids. And it‘s not going to happen if you‘re imprisoned under a mountain of debt, regulations and bigger government.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does that extend to Wall Street reform, regulatory reform?
BOEHNER: This is—this is—this is killing an ant with a nuclear weapon!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Oh, my God. Is this guy going to be the next CNN anchor?
He‘s so boring!
MATTHEWS: Anyway, here‘s President Obama responding yesterday to that
his speech, by the way, in Racine, Wisconsin. Here‘s the president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The leader of the Republicans of the House said that financial reform was like—now, I‘m quoting here—using a nuclear weapon to target an ant. That‘s what he said. He compared the financial crisis to an ant.
He can‘t be that out of touch. Do you think that the financial crisis was an ant and we just need a little ant swatter to fix this thing? Or do you think that we need to restructure how we regulate the financial system, so you aren‘t on the hook again and we don‘t have this kind of crisis again?
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, there‘s still some applause lines out there, even in a touch season. That was the president getting them, earning them.
Here‘s Mr. Boehner today talking about the effort to reform Wall Street, again back at the fight with the president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOEHNER: But if you look at the bill that they‘ve created, it‘s going to kill jobs in America and make the situation worse. They‘re going to punish every banker in the country to solve and pay for the sins of a handful on Wall Street.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Dan Aykroyd.
MATTHEWS: I don‘t get this...
MATTHEWS: Dean Martin!
ROBINSON: You know, there was...
MATTHEWS: In a sharkskin suit!
ROBINSON: We‘re going to hear more about ants in the...
ROBINSON: Did you know that in 1954, there was a movie called “Them,” which...
MATTHEWS: I love that movie!
ROBINSON: And it‘s about how nuclear testing...
MATTHEWS: With Kenneth Toby (ph)! Kenneth Toby! He was in all those monster movies.
ROBINSON: James Arness is...
MATTHEWS: Yes, James Arness was the monster!
ROBINSON: Exactly. Yes. And so nuclear testing creates giant mutant ants that then...
MATTHEWS: Now you‘ve taken me back to the Lincoln drive-in with my dad and my brothers!
ROBINSON: That‘s not the movie I would rent...
MATTHEWS: ... the giant ants. OK.
ROBINSON: ... over the weekend if I was John Boehner.
MATTHEWS: OK, let‘s get (INAUDIBLE) The movie is “Them.”
MATTHEWS: You just heard the review from Davey Marlin (ph), Eugene Robinson.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you, Gene Robinson.
Coming up: President Obama takes on Republicans for a second straight day, this time on immigration reform, and I think he‘s got the right ticket on this one. The president‘s being honest on this issue. But do Democrats themselves have the appetite for sweeping immigration reform? The president wants it, including a tamper-proof worker ID card for punish—use—you can use it to punish businesses who hire illegal people. We‘ll talk about the president with the AFL-CIO‘s leader, Richard Trumka.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Well, Republicans have a big enthusiasm gap over the Democrats when it comes to the mid-terms coming up. Catch this. A new Pew poll finds 56 percent of Republicans, a majority, saying they‘re more enthusiastic about voting this year than in previous elections. Well, that‘s obvious. That‘s the highest number for a mid-term since ‘94. Only 42 percent, a minority of Democrats, say they‘re more enthusiastic than they were in the past. That‘s a 14-point gap. It‘s about as big as the Democrats held in June of 2006 and Republicans had back in ‘94, the last time the House switched from one party to the other. That‘s a big reason to worry if you‘re a Democrat, what you‘re watching here, enthusiasm with Republicans, no enthusiasm with Democrats.
We‘ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: While this work isn‘t easy and the changes we seek won‘t always happen overnight, what we‘ve made clear is that this administration will not just kick the can down the road. But I believe we can put politics aside and finally have an immigration system that‘s accountable. I believe we can appeal not to people‘s fears but to their hopes, to their highest ideals, because that‘s who we are as Americans.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. That‘s President Obama, obviously, today making his appeal for immigration reform at the American University. By the way, it‘s right across the street, American University, a great school.
Joining us right now, more on the politics of reform, the president of the AFL-CIO, the top labor guy in the country. Thank you, Richard.
RICHARD TRUMKA, AFL-CIO PRES.: Thank you very much, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Also a friend of mine. It‘s great to have you on. You‘re a real labor guy. And here‘s a question I have about illegal immigration. Nobody really likes it. It‘s sloppy. It‘s not—nobody coming in, in any kind of organized way. Guest workers not even coming in formally. There‘s no law being enforced.
Why isn‘t labor saying, You know, we‘d like to raise the price of labor in this country. We don‘t want this sloppy system where you can hire somebody in the gray market or the black market. It‘s basically black market hiring. We‘re going to stop it. Why aren‘t you guys against—tougher on illegal immigration?
ROBINSON: Well, we are. We‘re for a comprehensive fix because we look at it as two things, Chris. One, it‘s an economic issue and it‘s a worker and it‘s a human rights issue. And we really reject the notion that this is a national security issue because it pits workers—it makes immigrants look like they‘re...
MATTHEWS: ... these Mexican guys and Latin American guys aren‘t coming in the country to blow up anybody.
ROBINSON: That‘s right.
MATTHEWS: They‘re coming in to get a job!
ROBINSON: But what‘s happened is...
MATTHEWS: We know that, but we...
TRUMKA: ... the system‘s broken...
ROBINSON: ... and it‘s creating a permanent underclass in this country that drives down wages.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you...
ROBINSON: So we‘re...
MATTHEWS: You know how they stopped illegal drinking in this country. And you and I grew up with it. I don‘t know if you ever drank underage, but maybe you did. I did. You go into a bar and the bartender says to you, Let me see your card. And if you don‘t have an ABC card, which the government will provide, or a driver‘s license which is a real driver‘s license—and if you have it, the bartender‘s covered. He‘s not breaking the law. And the person getting served, they‘re covered.
Employers today don‘t have a system like that. They can say, I want somebody to cut my lawn. I want somebody to work in my kitchen, somebody that can make beds. I want somebody to work in the hotel. They can say—the guy says his name‘s Gonzalez or McGinsy (ph) or whatever. It doesn‘t matter what his name is because I can‘t tell what his name is and I don‘t know if he‘s here legally.
TRUMKA: There‘s four or five...
MATTHEWS: Why aren‘t we going to fix it? The president said today he‘s going to fix it. He‘s going to have a tamper-proof I.D. card, no more B.S. Are you guys for it?
TRUMKA: Yes. Well, a tamper-proof I.D. system, yes, we think that‘s....
MATTHEWS: Well, why don‘t we have one? Who is stopping it? Is it the Latino groups? Is it civil liberties? Who is stopping it?
TRUMKA: I think it‘s a multitude of people that are stopping it. I think the Republicans are stopping everything right now. They won‘t let anyone go through.
We couldn‘t get a single person to try to—a Republican—to try to help us fix the mess that this immigration system is in. There‘s four or five elements we think to it.
One, there ought to be a pathway to legal citizenship for the people that are already here. Two, we think instead of having free flow in the future and having employers be able to say, look, we have a shortage here, we ought to have an independent commission that decides whether there‘s a shortage or not.
If there‘s a shortage, then you let people in.
TRUMKA: Three, there ought to be greater penalties for the employers.
Four, we‘re for the DREAM Act as well. And we‘re for tamper-proof I.D.
MATTHEWS: What‘s the DREAM Act?
TRUMKA: That‘s, we will let students that have gone through school here actually have a pathway to citizenship. And so, we can use people that graduated from universities. We can use their talents.
MATTHEWS: What is the Republican—I mean, you‘re not a partisan, actually. You tend to be progressive in the union movement, but what is the Republican case, besides just pandering to angry white people?
MATTHEWS: What is their plan here?
TRUMKA: Well, their plan is to try to divide people up, because they like the current system.
MATTHEWS: Because it‘s cheap labor.
TRUMKA: Well, the current system gives them plentiful undocumented workers that are afraid to do anything. It creates a two-tier system, a permanent underclass that they use to drive wages down.
So, while they pander to people, saying, we want to fix it, they won‘t step up and do anything to fix it. That‘s what we‘re trying to do. We‘re in favor of that. Every single member of the union movement, the—every single union is in favor of the plan that I just gave you. We think that the system is broken and must be fixed.
MATTHEWS: That‘s pretty forthright.
Let‘s take a look at the president. Here he was. He took on Republicans today, saying that immigration reform must be a bipartisan effort. And I completely agree, because you can always pander to this issue, the other side. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I‘m ready to move forward. The majority of Democrats are ready to move forward. And I believe the majority of Americans are ready to move forward.
But the fact is, without bipartisan support, as we had just a few years ago, we cannot solve this problem.
Reform that brings accountability to our immigration system cannot pass without Republican votes. That is the political and mathematical reality.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: How do you get to the table? It is like Social Security, one of those tough issues, where both sides have to sort of like suspend for about two hours, let the other side make its move. They make their move. It‘s almost like one of those kidnappings where you have got to deliver the kid and then the money. You know what I mean? Both sides have to give. Is it going to happen after the election?
TRUMKA: Well, I would hope to see it happen before the election, because, as I said, the system is broken. There‘s a lot of people out there, immigrants, that are good, hardworking people that are suffering right now.
MATTHEWS: OK. Simple question
TRUMKA: American workers are getting hurt because they‘re using them to drive down wages...
MATTHEWS: Richard, if we have no more illegal immigration, if that border were ever to stop—it‘s not going to close, but if it ever closed, we would still 10 years from now or 20 years from now have a lot more Spanish background or Mexican background, Latin American background Americans who would be voting.
How can the Republican Party kiss them off? How can they just say we don‘t want Latino—Latino voters to vote for us? And that seems to be the position they‘re in and locking themselves in. They can get away with it for a few years -- 10 years, 20 years from now, they‘re going to be a minority party.
TRUMKA: Absolutely. And they‘re going to be locked into a minority status. But they‘re doing that to a lot of different groups.
They‘re doing it to the laid-off, telling people that you don‘t have a job because you don‘t want a job, not because you can‘t find it or because we have 15 million people unemployed and six people applying for every job. They‘re blowing them off. They‘re blowing the elderly off. It‘s everybody. This has been the party of no. It‘s veto—or filibuster everything and agree to nothing.
MATTHEWS: Mr. Trumka, you speak clearly. Thank you. It‘s great to have you on. Happy Fourth of July, sir.
TRUMKA: Appreciate it. Same to you.
MATTHEWS: Up next: Which top Republican is throwing cold water on the Tea Party movement? I just love Lindsey Graham. I‘m sorry. I hope it doesn‘t hurt, Lindsey. You‘re unbelievable. You‘re nervy.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. Now to the “Sideshow.”
In case you missed it, my colleague and friend Joe Scarborough has been taking the hammer to Republican House Leader John Boehner. He started at it yesterday morning and kept at it today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC: I hear it on the Hill. I‘m sure you hear it on the Hill all the time. It‘s not reported, but so many Republicans tell me this is a guy that is not the hardest worker in the world.
Every Republican I talk to says that John Boehner, by 5:00 or 6:00 at night, you can see him at the bars. He is not a hard worker.
It‘s like a very small campus. Right? So everybody knows everybody‘s work habits. They know their business. And so, that‘s why getting all of this pushback on something that everybody on Capitol Hill knows about, John Boehner. He‘s not exactly the hardest worker in the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I love the way he lowered his voice: “He‘s not exactly the hardest worker in the world.” Good old Joe.
Well, here‘s Boehner holding up the pillow. He doesn‘t want to fight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: What do you think about Joe Scarborough calling you lazy?
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: I have always believed you only tease the ones you love.
QUESTION: Is there any truth to the matter that you‘re at bars at 5:00 or 6:00 during the day?
BOEHNER: You can go back over the last 16 years and—and look at my schedule, and you‘ll—you‘d be hard-pressed to find a night when I wasn‘t doing events for my colleagues and my candidates.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, there‘s one cowboy who doesn‘t want to get himself in a roping contest.
Next: Move over, John McCain. There‘s a new maverick in town. While most Republicans are holding up their pinkie fingers ever so daintily to the Tea Partiers, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina is holding to his independence.
Here he is in a profile piece coming out this Sunday in “The New York Times”—quote—“The problem with the Tea Party, I think, it is just unsustainable, because they can never come up with a coherent vision for governing the country. It will die out.”
Well, let‘s see how this plays out. Graham, I think, is a classic conservative senator. He fits with South Carolina tradition, right out of the old Southern senator tradition.
Now from the department of the obvious, remember the summer rhubarb when Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates was arrested by police Sergeant James Crowley? Well, the conflict became a political headache for President Obama and of course led to that much ballyhooed White House beer summit.
Well, yesterday, the Cambridge Review Committee, a team of experts on race and law enforcement, came out with the results of its investigation. Their verdict? As they say in the NFL, offsetting penalties. The report says the incident was sparked by misunderstanding and failed communications between both men.
Well, it took them a year for that verdict? I guess better later than never.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, time now for tonight‘s “Big Number.”
In case you missed it, New York Congressman Anthony Weiner made an impressive over-the-shoulder catch during Tuesday night‘s charity congressional baseball game, a save that helped the Democrats beat Republicans 13-5. The play was so impressive, it landed Congressman Weiner a mention on ESPN‘s “SportsCenter.”
In fact, he had the number-nine top play yesterday. Anthony Weiner goes where no member of Congress has gone before. He lands the number-nine spots on “SportsCenter,” a circus catch by the man from Brooklyn—tonight‘s “Big Number”s.
Up next: What doe the arrest of 10 Russian spies say about Russia‘s capability to spy on us? These suspects were largely living the good life in American suburbs, not operating in government agencies where they would have had access to our state secrets. We will try to figure out what Russia was hoping to get and what these spies were all about next.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
AMANDA DRURY, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I‘m Amanda Drury with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”
A weak start to the new quarter on a trio of disappointing economic reports, the Dow Jones industrial falling 41 points, the S&P 500 slipping three, and the Nasdaq giving up nearly eight points.
Fresh fears of a double-dip recession emerging today on weaker-than-expected readings on housing, manufacturing and jobs. Pending home sales plunging 30 percent in May, more than twice as much as expected. Mortgage rates now at their lowest level in half-a-century.
And manufacturer activity also on the decline, but experts say the drop is hardly a disaster. It says the index has been riding exceptionally high over the past few months.
And first-time jobless claims rising by 13,000 last week. Analysts had been expecting a drop in those new claims.
Finally, some late-breaking news from Google for you. The cash-rich company is spending $700 million to buy air travel services provider ITA Software.
That‘s it from CNBC for now. We‘re first in business worldwide. It is back to Chris and HARDBALL.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN”)
DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, “THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN”: But the spies—we had a ring of Russian spies right here in Manhattan. And they were gathering secret information and reporting back to Khrushchev. It was crazy.
LETTERMAN: We have no secrets here.
LETTERMAN: But the Russian spies tried to blend in. They were acting like Americans. As a matter of fact, for two weeks they were pretending they loved soccer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Oh, that‘s tough.
Welcome back to HARDBALL. The news that Russian spies were here in the United States blending into suburbia sounds like a throwback to the Cold War. But it‘s for real.
And we have two guests who served in the CIA. Tyler Drumheller has been here so many times. He was former chief of operations for the CIA in Europe. And Jack Rice is a former CIA officer.
Gentlemen, let‘s not get crazy and take this too seriously. I don‘t know whether anybody should. But we have got to watch Anna Chapman, this new Mata Hari character, and see her in action. Here she is, 28-year-old Anna Chapman. That‘s her stage name or spy name in a promotional video for a business conference. Let‘s watch her in action.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNA CHAPMAN, ALLEGED RUSSIAN SPY: But I think the most challenging part of my life really started when I quit all my jobs, really cut all my salaries, and really did something I wanted to do. And even though my company was much smaller than any investment banker can imagine, it was far more challenging.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Girl next door, eh?
TYLER DRUMHELLER, FORMER CIA CHIEF OF EUROPEAN OPERATIONS: Well, they didn‘t pick an ugly girl, did they?
MATTHEWS: No, but I would say fetching, friendly, unthreatening, all the good things. But what was her here job as a spy?
DRUMHELLER: For her—I mean, it‘s hard to tell, but, for her, it‘s look like she was meant to target and pick up people that they eventually would try to recruit or lead to recruitment. They take a very long-term view of this.
MATTHEWS: Was she like a Pygmalion? Did they get her early, get her to learn idiomatic English as much as possible? She still has an accent, but pretty much pick up on a very soft, perhaps Russian accent, but very American in her manner. And how long does it take to groom somebody like this?
DRUMHELLER: Oh, it takes a number of years. They have an institute where they train people in language. I have seen Russian intelligence officers that have English that is much, much less accented than hers. And they can be absolutely American in every possible way.
MATTHEWS: You mean actually be able to pass?
DRUMHELLER: Absolutely pass as an American.
MATTHEWS: Just like in “Stalag 17,” that kind of stuff?
DRUMHELLER: Just like that, yes.
MATTHEWS: Well, I‘m serious.
I love this stuff, Jack. We all grew up with James Bond, one of my favorite authors, and Jack Kennedy‘s favorite author, too, I think for a while there.
What do you make of this, Jack? Is this—I mean, I know we have spies in even friendly countries like Israel here. We have got—every government—we have spies everywhere. We have got intelligence officers stationed probably in every one of our embassies around the world, right? So isn‘t this fair game, to be blunt about it?
JACK RICE, FORMER CIA OFFICER: Yes. I mean, come on, let‘s face it, the U.S. does this. The Russians do this. The Israelis do this, the Brits. Everybody does this.
This shouldn‘t be shocking to anybody. Even after the fall of the Berlin Wall, a lot of people assumed this stuff would go away. In fact, in some ways, it‘s ramped up. It‘s become in some cases more economic than it is about political survival, but it‘s still there.
MATTHEWS: OK. Tyler, I do think this. Good journalists in this town find out stuff that most people don‘t.
MATTHEWS: They have friends in the White House, people second and third level that talk too much or are friends with them and they say here it is on background, blah, blah, blah.
A good spy does the same thing, right? They give them something a little better than you can get online, right, something a little richer?
DRUMHELLER: Yes, there‘s levels of it.
There‘s that level, which is the elicitation (INAUDIBLE) partners, as the Germans call them, that you build up contacts over long periods of time. The Russians are very, very good at this. And then you work through those for a long period of time.
And then maybe one of those persons moves into a different position. Then you maybe you want to make it more formal, where you‘re actually controlling him. And during that time that you‘re talking to him, you‘re also looking for vulnerabilities that they have that you can play on to recruit them.
And so it‘s a general process and they take a very long-term view of it.
MATTHEWS: And these guys, Jack...
MATTHEWS: ... especially this very attractive woman—go ahead.
MATTHEWS: These people are acting like they‘re not spies. They‘re acting like they‘re not government officials.
MATTHEWS: They‘re not even pretending to be agents of a foreign power. They‘re acting like they have some other purpose in life, right, Jack?
RICE: Absolutely. But, you know, Tyler‘s point is great one because the one point here is that this is also about incredible patience. You don‘t necessarily need something this quarter or this month or even this year. It can be something further down the road.
But the term we‘re hearing, at least we‘re seeing in the news a lot, is illegals, right? These are people who are not diplomats. Not tied to any embassy. Not working with—
MATTHEWS: In deep cover, yes. But what‘s wrong with deep cover?
RICE: And you know what—no, actually, this makes complete sense. And just like we started this conversation, it‘s not just the Russians who do this. Everybody does this because sometimes, the best way to get the information you need isn‘t to be, you know, John Smith from the American embassy or the Russian embassy.
MATTHEWS: OK. Let me raise my hand and say, I got one problem. If this is harmless and it‘s the way the game is played, why are people like Putin denying all this? Why are they all saying, the press over there, the friendly government press over there, saying, oh, these are really Mata Haris, it‘s all—these are just innocent Russian people, business people? They‘re saying she‘s just a good Russian businesswoman.
DRUMHELLER: Well, first, they have to play the whole string. They have a plan. There‘s always a plan if they get caught, this is what we‘re going to do. This is how we‘re going to cover.
MATTHEWS: You know, Putin has to do this straight face.
DRUMHELLER: Plus, Putin was a KGB officer.
MATTHEWS: But you can look to his soul, right?
MATTHEWS: I mean, the next time he meets with President Obama, who is sharp as most presidents are, he will look at the guy and nice work. We caught you. What—have you got anymore over here?
Or is he going to say, is Putin actually going to say—Jack, is Putin actually look at President Obama in the eye and say, these are—that‘s a good businesswoman trying to make it in this world, what‘s your problem? He‘s not going to pull that.
RICE: Exactly. That‘s—you got to remember, I‘m a criminal defense attorney. My response is: deny, deny, deny. I have no idea who these people are. This is outrageous. They‘re just good businesspeople.
MATTHEWS: Hang on. What are we going to do to these people? We‘ll trade them, right?
DRUMHELLER: We‘ll send them back. They haven‘t gotten to the point where they were really doing anything illegal, which makes me wonder why --
MATTHEWS: OK. Tell me what you—what surprise, gentlemen, in their craft? Was there anything their spy craft that you thought was neat or state of the art, any tricks they were pulling? Passing briefcase isn‘t (INAUDIBLE) all that stuff.
DRUMHELLER: I mean, a lot of people say, oh, they‘re using these old techniques. In fact, those old techniques are the best way to do it.
MATTHEWS: Give me some examples of what they are.
DRUMHELLER: A dead drop, brush pass.
MATTHEWS: What‘s a dead drop?
DRUMHELLER: A dead drop is where you put something down on the ground, like what the (INAUDIBLE) did with the Russians, you bury something or hide something. They come along and get it. They put a mark down and they put money some place else for you. That‘s a dead drop.
If you‘re discipline and follow your trade craft, like Hanssen did for years and years, it‘s almost impossible to catch them without a source of information for someone else. What happens is, after they‘ve been here a long time and doing this, you know, they have kids and they get—they get tired.
DRUMHELLER: All that wears away at the discipline.
MATTHEWS: You know, I was finding out the other day, my father is in the Navy, in intelligence in Philly. And I didn‘t think he had a very exciting job, Jack. But I found the other day, something—I dug to something. He was actually sitting there with a newspaper spying on somebody, an intelligence. He‘d like looking through the hole in the newspaper, you know, this stuff.
Anyway, your thoughts, Jack. Did you—did you discover anything that was new here in the state craft—the trade craft of spies, besides having a beautiful woman as your lore?
RICE: Well, you know what, that has always worked very, very well. And it continues to work. But you‘re right. I mean, this is all very reminiscent of something we‘ve seen 10, 20, 30, 40 years ago. But again, if it ain‘t broke, don‘t fix it.
Sometimes we get so enamored with technology and high-tech stuff that it breaks. It breaks down and we have problems. If we have something like a brush pass, something like a dead drop, something like a surveillance detection route—all of these things have always worked. And you know what, we missed those because it‘s sort of out of the radar.
And that‘s exactly what the Russians like.
MATTHEWS: I love it—I love it in the movies or the real life when there‘s a guy—some dorky guy working the American embassy, usually a military guy working there—I‘m sorry, it could be anybody. And he‘s walking on a subway in Russia. And all of a sudden, some beautiful woman walks up, she just say hi, what are you up to? All of the sudden, he‘s got a relationship with some dream girl.
Or like Marthe Keller—remember “Marathon Man.”
MATTHEWS: Dustin Hoffman studying in the library of New York, all of a sudden, Marthe Keller giving him the eye across the room? This is what happened here apparently.
RICE: Wait a second. Wait a second, it doesn‘t happen that way?
It doesn‘t work that way/
MATTHEWS: No, it‘s never on that level (ph). I hate to break it to you, this is spy doing that to you.
RICE: Oh, man.
MATTHEWS: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: You married her after all these years, just kidding.
Tyler Drumheller, Jack Rice—thank you, gentlemen. I hope we can keep laughing at the stuff.
Up next: Former President Bill Clinton bucks President Obama and the party establishment to some extent. He‘s endorsed a primary challenger out in Colorado against President Obama‘s favored candidate. This is a big fight coming up between in the state of Colorado between the Bill forces and the Obama forces. Or is this just personal? We‘ll get to that next.
This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Here it is. The Democratic Party announced four cities as finalists to host the 2012 Democratic National Convention. They are:
Charlotte, North Carolina; Cleveland, Ohio; Minneapolis; and St. Louis, Missouri. With Charlotte considered the front-runner. North Carolina is a key battleground state that went for Obama in 2008 and is trending Democratic. At least, it may be. In fact, in presidential elections, the Democrats haven‘t lost the state where they‘ve held a convention since 1988 when it was Atlanta.
And Republicans haven‘t won a state that they‘ve hosted a convention since 1992. These aren‘t exactly long records. Anyway, Republicans will hold their 2012 convention in Tampa, Florida. And, by the way, that is going to be a swing state.
HARDBALL will be right back.
MATTHEWS: We‘re back.
Bill Clinton‘s endorsement of Andrew Romanoff, the Democratic challenger in Colorado‘s Senate primary over senator—appointed Senator Michael Bennet took the White House by surprise. So, is former President Clinton trying to reassert his own political power?
Roger Simon is chief political columnist for “Politico” and David Corn is Washington bureau chief of “Mother Jones” magazine.
By the way, happy Fourth of July to both of you guys. We‘re all looking forward to this long weekend, enjoying the weather here.
Let me ask you this: Is this a fight or is this is a kerfuffle, or is this a rhubarb? Bill Clinton backs Romanoff. President Obama backs Michael Bennet.
ROGER SIMON, POLITICO: It‘s not even a kerfuffle. I mean, it just
I don‘t think you can expand this and say that Democrats want Bill Clinton to show up and campaign for them rather than the president of the United States. It‘s just not going to happen. I mean, if you‘re—
MATTHEWS: I‘m ready to argue with you, Roger.
SIMON: Go ahead.
MATTHEWS: You‘re back, and I‘m ready to argue.
I want to argue to him first.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
MATTHEWS: I think, you‘re view on this—is this the beginning of an opening wedge by Bill Clinton to show that he‘s got the high-handed terms of electoral strength this year?
DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES MAGAZINE: Ali-Frazier, Kanye West-Taylor Swift, it‘s not. The Romanoff—
MATTHEWS: OK. Why is he backing Romanoff?
CORN: Well, the conventional view is probably correct view—that Romanoff came out early and endorsed Hillary for president. And Romanoff actually was more a centrist Democrat. He‘s now running as—
MATTHEWS: Half the Democratic Party supported Hillary for president.
CORN: That‘s true. But he was sort of a Bill Clinton Democrat for many years in Colorado. Bill Clinton is not fundraising for him. He‘s not going to campaign for him. You know, I don‘t see it as a big deal. I do think Bill Clinton, though, is a big deal and he‘s going to be a very powerful—
MATTHEWS: Is he the big dog?
CORN: He still is the big dog.
MATTHEWS: Is he still a big dog?
MATTHEWS: See you fight—you guys fight.
CORN: He is a big dog.
MATTHEWS: OK. Don‘t pull in your sail here. OK.
CORN: It‘s different here.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s go home cooking here. You‘re right—tough races coming up, right? Harry Reid is running against Sharron Angle. She‘s a former writer, but that closes, that election is going to be down to the nail, right?
MATTHEWS: Who do you want coming in there for you, if you‘re Harry Reid—the president or the former president?
SIMON: The president.
MATTHEWS: Who do you want?
CORN: I want both.
CORN: But I‘ll take Obama, too.
MATTHEWS: OK. Sestak in Pennsylvania—who do you want in there for you?
CORN: Maybe Bill Clinton.
MATTHEWS: See, let me try you. I‘m going to catch you one of these days. No?
CORN: Go ahead.
SIMON: Let‘s say you‘re any candidate. You‘re a Democrat who‘s up for re-election. You don‘t have to deal with the famous—
MATTHEWS: How about Chicago?
MATTHEWS: How about if you‘re Giannoulias?
SIMON: And you don‘t want—you don‘t want the president because you think your constituents don‘t want big government. They‘re not happy with the health care bill, they‘re not happy with the environmental stuff. They‘re not happy with the financial bailout.
Well, you wouldn‘t invite Bill Clinton, he‘s not going to doesn‘t those views for you. He believes exactly what Barack Obama believes.
MATTHEWS: Former presidents are more popular than current presidents generally?
CORN: Let me disagree with Roger for a second.
CORN: Because I think Bill Clinton comes without the strings attached. He‘s more—you know, he‘s more of a political celebrity now. People like him not because of his views then or now. While, I think, you know, the president disappoints.
MATTHEWS: That‘s a good point.
The White House said today about the Clintons. Here‘s what they said, the White House, official position, “She,” meaning Hillary, “is on the team. He,” meaning Bill, “is still an independent agent.”
Therefore they‘re separating the two. He‘s separate. She works for them, works with them. Bill does his thing.
SIMON: Well, Bill does his thing for a million clients. No springs attached.
CORN: No, I mean as a politician. I mean, presidents disappoint. You know, people, you know, they disappoint the base because they don‘t do what the base wants. They disappoint the people who don‘t want them to be president.
Bill Clinton comes in and he makes everybody happy. I mean, it‘s an easier shot. You don‘t have to calculate with Bill Clinton. That‘s all I‘m saying.
SIMON: Well, you do have to calculate with Bill Clinton. We have been seeing for some months now good Bill. You know, the guy who comes out, gives the great speech, gets crowd worked up. Come up—
MATTHEWS: Here he is, here‘s good Bill. To make your point. Here‘s Bill Clinton defending and praising President Obama this past Sunday. Let‘s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM J. CLINTON, FMR. U.S. PRESIDENT: You know, I did everything I could to defeat President Obama. And I wanted Hillary to win, but I think he‘s done a better job than he‘s getting credit for.
Part of this is, by the way, not avoidable. I went through this. Until people feel better about their own lives, they‘re not going to feel good about their president.
There‘s nothing you can do about that, because the American people hire you to win for them. And if they don‘t feel like winners, and then they‘re not going to give you very much credit even if you‘ve done very good things. So, some of this credit will come.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: There‘s one talking head he likes, the president.
SIMON: But there‘s bad Bill, who gets angry and flies off the handle and says things that are insulting the black people.
MATTHEWS: Where is he at? Where is he at?
SIMON: That was the Bill of 2008. It wasn‘t that long ago.
MATTHEWS: Is he around now? Is he extant?
SIMON: It‘s just below the surface.
SIMON: It can come back at anytime.
MATTHEWS: So, it‘s bad Bill‘s in his Walt Disney stage right now.
MATTHEWS: Frozen. You don‘t think cryogenic. You‘re worse than I am. You are worse than I am. You think—
CORN: I think he‘s hit a stride. Unless, you know, he‘s gotten used to the fact that his wife didn‘t win.
MATTHEWS: This guy‘s got a darker mind than I do. That‘s amazing.
CORN: He‘s used to Barack Obama being president and I think he likes the fact that he can go out there.
MATTHEWS: You got the good Bill representative of the bad Bill, remember. Remember this.
Thank you. Have a happy Fourth. I do like this argument because it‘s seething with potential.
Roger Simon, David Corn.
When we return, let me finish with what would really work to stop illegal immigration and it‘s so uncomplicated.
You‘re watching HARDBALL only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with a dangerous, disgusting, dispiriting is thought that we, the self-governing republic, are simply not up to the job.
Let‘s take immigration, the topic the president addressed today. Let me now talk to people who believe we, as Americans, have a right to say on what terms people get to enter this country. We all know the basis of any immigration fix. We need to find some way to stop the flow of illegal immigration. We need to find a way of dealing with the people who have made their lives here and become and have become a living part of our country.
I believe the key to finding a comprehensive solution begins and ends with stopping the illegal hiring of people, because the search for work is honestly the primary reason people come from their countries and come here.
The president supports creation and issuance of a tamper-proof I.D. card and I support him. If you don‘t, I ask you to examine your conscience. You need an I.D. card to get money from the bank, to cash a check, to check into a hotel, to board an airplane, to get married. You need a passport to leave and return to our country.
Why should someone not here legally not face the same requirements Americans face every time they do anything?
I salute the president for getting to the root of the problem. I recommend that every citizen who cares about illegal immigration ask any politician running for any office whether he or she actively supports the end to illegal hiring and is not just willing but eager to give employer away to stop it.
If not, I believe it‘s fair to say that that politician who goes quiet on this matter or gives you a lot of blah, blah, blah, is just another player gaming the system. They can all call themselves civil libertarians or immigrant rights advocates or churchmen or concerned businessmen, but you will know them by their refusal to stop illegal hiring. They are gaming the system for cheap, illegal labor, for votes, or they simply have no problem with the flow of illegal immigration. They oppose giving honest businesspeople the one tool they need to stop it, a trustworthy I.D. card because the last thing they want is to stop it.
The president is right on this I.D. card business. The game players left, right and center are wrong. Got it?
That‘s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
Right now, it‘s time for “THE ED SHOW” with Ed Schultz.
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