April 23, 2013
Guests: Robert McFadden, Ilyse Hogue, Cynthia Tucker, Katie Zezima
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: He`s talking.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
We`re starting off tonight with the latest on the Boston bombing case. The
surviving subject (sic), Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, remains hospitalized from
bullet wounds, but authorities say his condition has improved to fair
Authorities also tell NBC News that he has cooperated with them so far.
He`s told investigators that he and his brother acted alone in last week`s
bombings at the Boston Marathon, that they had no contact with overseas
terrorist groups. That`s what he said.
He said the brothers built the bomb with guidance from an on-line
publication put out by the al Qaeda offshoot in Yemen. The magazine is
called "Inspire." It is written in English, with instructions on how to
build the kind of bombs used last week.
Tsarnaev, it`s reported, told authorities the motive for the attack has to
do with their religious fervor, he and his brothers, and anger over the
United States` wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Meanwhile today, we`re seeing new images from that dramatic shooting in
Watertown at 1:00 AM Friday morning. They come from an eyewitness whose
apartment overlooked the firefight. The brothers are seen there crouching
behind a car. At least one of them seems to be firing. The car on the
right is that Mercedes SUV that was carjacked earlier in the night.
In this last photo, by the way, the red circle is, it`s reported,
highlighting what the eyewitness believes was a pressure cooker bomb.
There it is.
Anyway, there are also two new photos today showing Dzhokhar earlier in the
night at an ATM machine, allegedly using a debit card from the man he and
his brother carjacked, to withdraw the cash.
For more on all of this, I`m joined by Michael Isikoff, national
investigative correspondent for NBC News. Michael, thank you for this.
We`re watching. We`re trying to learn. What do you make of this testimony
by the -- of the man in fair condition now, the younger brother? Is it to
MICHAEL ISIKOFF, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is worth pointing out that
it`s not actually in his interests to say this. The one option he`s got
now is to try to figure out a way to avoid the death penalty because the
evidence against him is so overwhelming, and the best way to do that would
be to tell authorities that there were others involved as part of a deal to
save his life.
At least, that`s what any lawyer would tell him. And that`s not what he`s
done. So in many -- in some respects, he`s actually hurt himself by saying
Now, that said, it is also worth noting that the preliminary review by FBI
agents of the cellphones and e-mails of the two brothers does not show --
does not appear to show any indication of accomplices or connections to
outside terror groups.
I should stress this is early in the investigation. There`s going to be a
lot more digging by the FBI.
But at least -- and plus, add to that that no al Qaeda groups or no al
Qaeda-affiliated groups or any international terrorist groups have claimed
credit for this bombing, which is a bit odd if they were, because
generally, the whole purpose is to claim the credit. And after most of the
major terrorist attacks by al Qaeda, there was a claim of responsibility.
So look, none of this is dispositive at this point, but at least so far --
and we`re early -- the indicators do seem to match up that this is looking
like a case of self-radicalization, that these brothers were on the
Internet, got inspired by reading "Inspire" and other al Qaeda and jihadi
There`s also this prophet -- not prophet, this preacher, Faez Mohammed
(ph), who`s kind of an Awlaki type guy, an inspirational jihadi preacher,
who Tamerlan Tsarnaev in his YouTube account posts videos from. So he may
have played a role in inspiring these, but -- inspiring them or
But as I said, Chris, we`re a long way from finishing this investigation.
MATTHEWS: So just to use your instincts as an investigative reporter --
and you`re a good one -- the fact that he said all this -- he denied any
connections to any networking. He basically said this was a self-
radicalization, in other words. He said that they learned how to build
these bombs on line.
If that turns out not to be true, then he has a bigger risk of the death
penalty, is that what you`re saying?
ISIKOFF: Sure. Because then he`s not cooperating with law enforcement,
but he`s also lost his leverage by saying this. It is in his interests to
be able to --
MATTHEWS: Oh, you think --
ISIKOFF: -- tell them something.
MATTHEWS: You think a lawyer -- a lawyer, Michael, would have told him to
hold out until he got a deal?
ISIKOFF: Absolutely. Absolutely.
MATTHEWS: Yes. I see.
ISIKOFF: The one thing a lawyer is going to do at this point is to save
his life. And the one way to do that is show cooperation by pointing the
finger at somebody else or helping them find somebody else.
Look, I don`t take these statements at face value, just -- you know, just
to be clear. You know, he could well be protecting somebody. Clearly,
there were others who they were talking to. It`s hard to imagine the two
of them just simply became radicalized by themselves without any
encouragement from anybody else.
MATTHEWS: That surprises me, too.
ISIKOFF: That doesn`t mean that there was an accomplice in the plot, but -
- and also, we have the statements from the uncle who says there was
somebody who radicalized the older brother.
MATTHEWS: OK. So let me thank you very much.
ISIKOFF: That`s what we know at this point. Right.
MATTHEWS: Thanks so much, as always. Thank you, Michael Isikoff.
Let`s go right now -- for more on the emerging picture of the two Boston
bombers, let`s go right now to Roger Cressey, he`s with me now, former
White House counterterrorism official and an NBC, of course, news analyst
on terrorism. Michael McFadden is the former deputy assistant director at
the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. He`s now a senior vice president
at the Sufon (ph) Group.
Let me ask you both, gentlemen -- first Roger, and then Robert. What did
you make of that? Do you make -- do you make -- when you look at this, do
you see two guys, two brothers, amateurs, if you will, self-radicalized,
self-experts at bomb making, no plans to escape really, just doing this on
their own, and not talking about it with other people, no other cellmates
in terms of a sleeper cell jihadist?
ROGER CRESSEY, NBC TERRORISM ANALYST: Right. So Chris, based on what we
know right now, it`s probably unlikely there was a broader conspiracy.
It`s really difficult to believe there weren`t other people in the family
or in the community who were not aware of some of the intent that he had.
And if the case is they were not, then there`s two questions. One, my God,
these guys were really good, and we have to look at how a self-contained
unit could do so well. And then the second question is, if the community
did know and didn`t say anything, why? Out of fear, other reasons?
Important question to ask.
MATTHEWS: Well, is it believable to you that they built the bomb on their
CRESSEY: It`s plausible.
MATTHEWS: All these bombs.
CRESSEY: It`s plausible. It`s conceivable. If they built it from
scratch, they didn`t test it, and the first time they detonated one was
Monday morning, that`s an incredible amount of luck involved, as well as
MATTHEWS: We don`t know they didn`t test, do we?
CRESSEY: We don`t. No, we don`t yet.
MATTHEWS: And what about the idea of learning jihadism just over the
intercom -- not over the intercom, over the Internet?
CRESSEY: Well, the "Inspire" magazine, done by Al Qaeda --
MATTHEWS: Does it make you a radical?
CRESSEY: It can radicalize you. I mean, Anwar al Awlaki was a brilliant
preacher because he spoke to a Western audience. He spoke -- I mean, he
was an American.
CRESSEY: And so if you were susceptible, he could give you a message, and
it resonates with you, and then you`re off to the races towards
MATTHEWS: We talked beforehand -- I`ll let you talk now. Is it your hunch
that what we heard today from the suspect -- he`s still technically a
suspect, Dzhokhar -- do you believe he`s telling the truth in what he said?
It may not be the whole story, but in what he said.
CRESSEY: Yes, I do. He`s young. He is not the leader of this two-person
cell, based on what -- and I hate to use the word cell -- this two-person
MATTHEWS: Why do you hate you use the word cell?
CRESSEY: Because cell has other connotations, that there was a broader
group of individuals involved and that it could have been here for a long
time. These guys were self-radicalized. How they were self-radicalized,
toward what end, are the two central questions.
MATTHEWS: OK, let me go to Robert. Same sets of questions. Do you
believe they acted alone? And do you believe they`re capable of building
the bomb and becoming radicalized all by their lonesome?
ROBERT MCFADDEN, FMR. NCIS COUNTER INTELLIGENCE OPS: Yes, it`s -- I agree
it`s plausible, completely plausible. But a few things to consider,
though, and my friend Michael Isikoff made the point. As an investigative
element, very little is going to be taken at face value, so the process of
validation and vetting continues.
It`s great to hear the degree of cooperation and rapport the interviewers
have with the young man. But again, what he says is going to be bounced
off cell phone records, other records, intelligence databases to make sure
that it`s the truth. And then if some things aren`t the truth, from an
interrogator`s standpoint, that can be good, too, to open up that door and
find out what we have here.
Now, as far as the doing it on their own, some things to consider, as has
been spoken about. Over the Internet and other places, you have a very
potent message of charismatic, hellfire and brimstone message of violence
and death. But whether it`s a Faez Mohammed or Abdul Jamid Johanni (ph),
who`s a Chechen preacher of the same ilk. Even bin Laden himself has a
very, very potent message for young guys that are susceptible and
vulnerable to that, and essentially self-recruits.
So back to the main question, Chris. Is it plausible? I think so. We`ve
seen it before. If you take Major Nidal Hasan, for example, identified
with the group ideology, but he recruited himself --
MATTHEWS: OK, explain motive, then. Explain motive why you`d go hang out
with your buddies at the dorm at U. Mass. Dartmouth on Tuesday night, but
on Monday night, you`re killing people that look just like those people
that you killed on Monday (sic) and -- and -- and shot their legs off. I
mean, why would you shoot the legs off total strangers, then go hang out
with a bunch of buddies and act like a real American type? Was there an
act going on here, Robert? Is this part act, or is this -- I don`t
understand it otherwise.
How do you hate generally Americans and like generally Americans and kill a
bunch of them? I don`t get it.
MCFADDEN: Listen, I mean, this is an absolutely apt question that -- you
know, in light of this tragedy, in perverse ways, it`s absolutely
fascinating. You`ve seen some of the photographs that were released today,
for example, going to the ATM. And the comportment after the event --
there`s some ice in that blood.
But what`s going to be key, though, here, too, the brother and the timeline
over the last six months up until he took that constructive act to go from
thinking about it to actually doing it, and the relationship with his
younger brother, how much he pulled him along, what was really the younger
brother has to say about motivations because those are the kind of things
help us understand how this tragedy came about --
MATTHEWS: Yes, well, I don`t get it at all.
MCFADDEN: -- what kind of indicators for the future.
MATTHEWS: Yes. You know, we`ve heard stories about the 9/11, the guys who
took over the planes flying into the World Trade Center, screeching with
joy over Allah.
MATTHEWS: They`re going to paradise, nirvana. And I have to tell you,
just in the (INAUDIBLE) case, in all the days we tried to figure out those
pictures before we found out who these guys were, I saw the younger guy
strutting down that street. He was a hot dog. He was enjoying that.
Whatever he was doing, it wasn`t sweating, it wasn`t feeling guilty. He
And I just think -- I don`t see anything that suggests any kind of
tempering conscience to this guy.
CRESSEY: It was totally cold-blooded.
CRESSEY: And the fact that they both reintegrated into their prior lives
after the attack is just -- it is jaw-dropping. So the psychological
profile on Dzhokhar is going to be fascinating.
But Chris, there`s two other pieces here. One is self-radicalization, we
can understand that. What happened in Russia is going to be critical for
Tamerlan. And then the second part is the internal family dynamic here,
the role of the mother, how other members of the family saw what was
happening and what they did --
MATTHEWS: Well, the mother denies everything.
CRESSEY: Well, she does. But she also, based on what we`ve seen from
interviews, was very, very devout, and went on an extremist approach
towards religion and towards the United States. Clearly, the relationship
with her and Tamerlan, the older brother, was important. And we`re going
to need to delve into that.
MATTHEWS: So you think she was the American hater?
CRESSEY: You know --
MATTHEWS: To use common sense here because if you`re going to kill a bunch
of people, you probably hate them.
CRESSEY: Right. I`m not saying she was involved in the conspiracy, Chris.
But based on what she has said in her public statements, she played a
fascinating role in influencing her -- at least her older son and possibly
her younger son. That -- we got to be careful here, but what I`ve seen
she`s said publicly is pretty disturbing.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you so much, gentlemen. This is tricky, and we are
operating in the dark here. But we do have a confession now. They have a
lot of confessions coming out of this young guy. Roger Cressey, thank you,
and Robert McFadden.
Coming up: We`re learning new details, as we said, about the wife of the
older brother, Tamerlan. And her name`s Katherine Russell. She converted
to Islam to marry him. Investigators want to know what she may have known
about what her husband was up to, a fairly legitimate question.
And later, how people concerned about abortion rights are reacting to the
horrific murder trial of a doctor up in Philadelphia that`s going on right
Plus, a new poll shows Mark Sanford in real trouble and Steve Colbert`s
sister looking pretty good. She`s the sister, of course, of the comedian.
And she`s opened up a 9-point lead as of today over Sanford, with just two
weeks to go before that special election down in Charleston. Is Sanford
nearing the end of his Appalachian Trail or comeback trail? We`ll see.
Finally, another Republican elected official uses an ethnic slur to make a
point. These guys live in isolation booths. Wait until you hear what that
guy said. If that`s not bad enough, wait until you hear what his apology
sounds like, which is even worse. Anyway, at least it`s stupid.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Boylston Street up in Boston has reopened to residents and
businesses. There they are. That`s the street where the Boston Marathon
ends. That was the finish line where the bombs went off eight days ago.
And here in Washington, Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House has
reopened to pedestrian traffic. It was closed to pedestrians after
Monday`s attacks. It`s been closed to cars, by the way, since the Oklahoma
City bombing. Again, the price of terrorism.
We`ll be right back after this.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Alleged Marathon bomber Dzhokhar
Tsarnaev is upgraded in fair condition now -- he`s in fair condition, he
was in serious -- today at a Boston hospital while the investigation
continues into what motivated his attack last week. In a moment, we`re
going to find out what investigators are learning about the wife of
Tamerlan. That`s his older brother.
Right now, let`s go to the information from WNBC`s chief investigative
reporter, Jonathan Dienst. Thank you, Jonathan. What have we got? You`ve
listened to the first part of the show. We`re talking about what the
suspect has had to say, the surviving suspect, about being out there all
alone, two brothers operating alone technically, and also apparently
ideologically. They were picking up their radicalization over the
Internet, not through any coaching or role of anybody as a sort of a
JONATHAN DIENST, WNBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, that is the claim that
investigators say is being made by the wounded younger brother, who
continues to recover in the hospital. Investigators are now running
around, as you heard. They`re trying to verify that. They are checking
with all of the relatives. You`ve got the wife, you`ve got two sisters in
New Jersey, you got the parents overseas. You`ve got Russian intelligence.
You`ve got -- they`re tracking their cell phones.
As of now, nothing to indicate, but again, it is still very early on for
them to have done a deep dive to find out exactly if there were any
connection to any others. Whether there`s a bomb maker or a trainer or
some sort of jihadist who may have influenced them, unclear.
But as of now, one senior official continues to tell us lone wolf killers.
That`s how he is describing them until proven otherwise. That`s the best
information they have at this time.
MATTHEWS: Well, they`re coming off as Loeb and Leopold here, as two
brothers who were just completely isolated morally and emotionally from all
those around them.
And I go back to my question. Maybe it`s too naive, but how do you kill a
whole bunch of people, blow their legs off with a band (ph) and with a
certain -- sort of zip in your step, as we see in these tapes, and then go
back to the university dorm where you hung out, the University of Mass. at
Dartmouth, and hang out with your buds, who are of the same crowd of the
people you just destroyed? Where`s the hatred in all that that`s
DIENST: Right, well, the hatred appears to be coming from the al Qaeda-
inspired videos that they were apparently watching, the "Inspire" magazine,
the brother`s apparently growing radicalization and his anger over U.S.
And you`ve heard some reporting by Mike Isikoff about the outbursts in the
community mosque up there and that there were some signals, but clearly
nothing that, you know, rose to the level of law enforcement or to his
relatives. At least, that`s so far what we`re hearing -- not the wife, not
the sisters, apparently not the parents, who continue -- at least the mom
continues to even deny that her sons are even linked to this.
MATTHEWS: Is there a lot of that borderline jihadism where people may
voice the words? I know that`s true in other parts of our life, where
people talk a good talk but they don`t do anything. Or they may have the
anger of a jihadist. They may be mad at the West for our position in the
Middle East, for example, which is, to some extent, fairly familiar, that
we`re too pro-Israeli, we`re too pro-West, and we exploit their oil, all
the arguments you can make.
I mean, people can talk about those things, discuss them. Their anger
level, is there a lot of it in the Islamic communities in this country that
you would just pass over for -- what I`m getting back to, what was said
earlier tonight by Roger. If you -- if you hear a person has been thrown
out of a couple mosques because he was just over the top in his hatred to
the United States and called for action, are there so many of those people
that you don`t report them?
DIENST: Well, look, first of all, about how widespread, look, I think the
vast, vast overall majority of Muslim-Americans in this country love this
MATTHEWS: Yes, sure. But what about the ones screaming and the ones who -
- the cases --
DIENST: Look, we have had examples in this city, the Muslim Thinkers
Society, where their radical beliefs, and they`re out protesting and
voicing support for the Islamic movement, wanting an Islamic flag over the
White House. So we have seen some of those types of vocal demonstrations,
but there`s freedom of speech in this country.
MATTHEWS: Yes. I know.
DIENST: And as we have heard, the FBI, you know, was tipped off by Russian
intelligence back in 2011, but they had not much to go on other than a
claim that, hey, this guy has some radical thoughts out there and you need
to follow up on him.
They did. They checked his computers. They checked his phones. They
interviewed him and they didn`t come up with anything at that time. We`re
told they found nothing that indicated that he`s linked to terror. You
know, having some bad thoughts is not, you know, a crime.
MATTHEWS: Oh, I know that. Look, I`m a civil libertarian. I`m just
trying to find out some basis of understanding the pull from which the --
because I have been hearing for the last week or so there`s so many of
these cases, you can`t follow up on them all. That`s sort of offered as a
defense of the FBI.
You can`t just go -- what they had from the Russians notifying them. That
wasn`t enough to really keep this guy on an active watch list, the older
DIENST: I think there is a resource question and in terms of how broad you
want to go. Look what`s gone on in Britain and in London and how overtaxed
the intelligence services are there after the 07/07 attacks and the number
of radical individuals that they need to try to keep tabs on.
DIENST: It is problematic. It is a concern. Again, it is a very small
minority amid these populations, certainly in Britain and in the U.S., but
it is certainly something that continues to be a concern.
MATTHEWS: OK. It`s great having you on, Jonathan Dienst, for joining us.
We`re learning new details tonight about the wife of the older Tsarnaev
brother, Tamerlan. That`s -- her name is Katherine Russell. She converted
to Islam and married Tamerlan living in the family home with her daughter,
their daughter, while working eight 80-hour weeks as a home health aid.
She had a tough job.
And Katie Zezima is a reporter for the Associated Press covering this story
of Katherine Tsarnaev.
This is a fascinating story of a woman who`s a real worker. I mean, what a
tough job taking care of people at home, bathing them, perhaps an older
person they`re taking care of, brutal in terms of the commitment of effort
and emotions. Is it feasible, in your reporting, that she just didn`t know
what her husband was up to?
KATIE ZEZIMA, ASSOCIATED PRESS: Well, it`s unclear.
She`s been asked -- the federal authorities have asked to interview her.
And Katherine`s lawyer said today she`s doing everything she can to assist
the federal authorities, but he will not confirm or deny whether or not
she`s actually spoken with them.
MATTHEWS: Yes. But what do we know about her? We know she`s -- there she
is. She`s a convert to Islam. Fair enough. Legal enough. Fine enough.
The question is, was she that submissive? I mean, people keep telling me,
a Muslim woman lives in a world in which the husband does what he feels
like and doesn`t have to answer to her for his movements.
But she`s bringing home the bread, as we say in America, working hard,
working her butt off, if you will, 80 hours a week, over 70 hours a week.
He`s not doing anything to make any money and she doesn`t have the right in
her home to ask the guy, what are you up to, why aren`t you working?
ZEZIMA: Well, it`s unclear at this point.
What we do know about her is that she`s from North Kingstown, Rhode Island.
ZEZIMA: That she went to Suffolk University in 2007. She dropped out in
fall of 2000 -- in -- excuse me -- spring of 2010, and they got married in
June of 2010. They met at a nightclub and, you know, they both -- she at a
certain point converted to Islam.
MATTHEWS: Yes. There`s a nice place to pick up an Islamic religion,
right? In a nightclub. That is so strange. All this is strange.
Do we know what her relationship was with the other brother? Did they know
each other, the sister-in-law and the brother-in-law?
ZEZIMA: Well, the brother-in-law was -- apparently spent most of his time
at college, so it is unclear at this point what their relationship was.
MATTHEWS: Now, what`s the FBI -- is there any way of knowing what the FBI
has as sort of a sense of smell about her? When so many of these cases I
have watched through history where somebody does something that is of a
subversive nature, and the spouse does get targeted for the investigation
and sometimes incriminated, is there any sense in the behavior of the
authorities, what their view is of her role of innocence or guilt here?
ZEZIMA: Well, you know, like I said earlier, you know, they`re asking to
interview her. They obviously want to talk with her. She was married to
And her lawyer said that she is cooperating. But as to whether or not they
have actually spoken or not, it`s unclear. But they do obviously want to
talk with her.
MATTHEWS: I`m waiting to see a report when we find out. That`s big news
when they interrogate her.
MATTHEWS: Thank you so much, Katie Zezima, for joining us from the
ZEZIMA: Hey, thank you. Thanks.
MATTHEWS: Coming up, another day, another Republican with an offensive
ethnic slur. These guys live in isolation booths. That is bad enough.
Wait until you hear the guy`s apology. It`s just lamebrain. I don`t know
if it`s evil or not. It`s lamebrain.
This is the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. Now to the "Sideshow."
First up, what does former President Bill Clinton have in common with TV
shows like "The New Normal," "Days of Our Lives," and "American Horror
Story: Asylum"? Turns out those shows and President Clinton were all
honored at this year`s GLAAD Media Awards, which pay tribute to supporters,
of course, of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities.
Well, actress Jennifer Lawrence presented the Advocate for change Award to
former President Clinton and had a suffering of a slight stumble there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JENNIFER LAWRENCE, ACTRESS: We are happy to present GLAAD`s Advocate for
Change Award to President Gli -- Bill Clinton.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
LAWRENCE: Of all the things to mess up, his name.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, I don`t think she lost any fans there, do you? Probably
picked some up.
Next, the moment that defined Rick Perry`s 2012 Republican primary
experience comes back to bite yet again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: The third agency of government, I would -- I
would do away with the Education, the --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Commerce.
PERRY: Commerce. And let`s see. I can`t. The third one, I can`t.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, the Texas governor held some events in Chicago this week
to try and convince business leaders up there to relocate to Texas.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel`s welcome message was a reminder of that debate
"I hope, when he comes here, he remembers all three of his reasons, because
it will be a real test for that guy."
Anyway, next, it`s been about a month since Alaska Congressman Don King
(sic) referred to Latinos as wetbacks. Well, here`s Republican Dennis
Johnson, Oklahoma Statehouse Republican leader, talking about running a
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DENNIS JOHNSON (R), OKLAHOMA STATE REPRESENTATIVE: There`s such a thing
called niche marketing. What you do, you find out what you do better than
somebody else and that`s what you market. Then you get the reward of
success. People come back to you. They like what you do. They like the
service they get. And they don`t ask me. They might try to Jew me down on
a price. That`s fine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: That was right in the chamber there of the assembly, the state
governing body. Right in the chamber, he said that. If you were put off
by that, however, catch this guy`s apology.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (OFF-MIKE)
JOHNSON: Did I? All right. I apologize to the Jews.
JOHNSON: They`re good small businessmen as well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Wow. I don`t know what I have to say about that. I think some
people live in political isolation booths. I will just put it at that.
Enough of that.
Up next, both sides in the debate over abortion rights are reacting to the
grisly details coming out of that trial of that Philadelphia doctor.
That`s going on right now. We`re going to cover it.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
AMANDA DRURY, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Amanda Drury with your CNBC "Market
Well, stocks recovered after a false tweet about terrorism which sent the
Dow down by triple digits. It did bounce back though to finish up by 152
points, the S&P, as you can see, gaining 16 points, the Nasdaq adding 35.
Apple shares are higher after hours, as revenue and profits came in better
than expected. However, the guidance was disappointing.
Also, bullish news on housing did help stocks today. New home sales rose
1.5 percent in March, reversing a steep decline in February.
Well, that is it from CNBC, first in business worldwide -- back to
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
In Philadelphia right now, the trial of an abortion doctor charged with the
murder of babies the prosecutors say were born alive is generating national
headlines. Of course, it was page one of today`s "USA Today" with the
headline "Gruesome Testimony Renews Debate Over Abortion."
Well, I`m not sure about that, but it is gruesome testimony. A grand jury
report released in 2011 called the clinic a house of horrors. But the
bottom line remains this is a murder case. Let`s keep our heads around
Originally, Dr. Kermit Goswell -- or Gosnell was charged with seven counts
of first-degree murder for killing babies that were allegedly alive, born
alive and viable. Well, today, a judge threw out three of the seven murder
charges. The judge did not explain his reasoning. But reports have
indicated he did not hear sufficient evidence that the three babies he took
out were actually born viable and then killed.
Well, Gosnell is also charged with third-degree murder in the 2009 death of
an abortion patient. He`s accused of overdosing during the procedure.
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Gosnell in the death of the
Joining me right now is radio talk show host and MSNBC contributor Michael
Smerconish, and Ilyse Hogue, who is president of NARAL Pro-Choice America.
I just want to put a couple things in perspective, Michael. And you were a
lawyer from Pennsylvania. You know your stuff and you know this case.
Ever since 1976 in Pennsylvania, we have only had three executions for
murder one. So, this is a unique case, the fact we`re even talking about
it. Michael, put it in that perspective, the fact that we`re already
talking about capital punishment in this case.
MICHAEL SMERCONISH, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, the important thing to
keep in mind is that in Pennsylvania, we have the death penalty on the
books, but we don`t really mean it.
In those three instances, the only three cases where a death sentence has
been carried out, each of those defendants, they asked for it. They waved
the white flag and they said bring on that punishment.
SMERCONISH: So it exists, but really it`s a fiction.
Still, Chris, I don`t need to tell you how significant it is that a medical
practitioner would be facing at least at the outset of the trial seven
counts of first-degree murder, first-degree murder meaning that the
prosecution is saying with malice of forethought, he intended to kill
viable babies, and, as you point out, three of those were now tossed by the
judge, who didn`t explain his rationale, but presumably because he believed
that the prosecution had not met its burden.
And so just as the defense is getting under way, he removed those elements
from the jury`s consideration.
MATTHEWS: Now, these were abortions which were -- which resulted in a baby
being born alive and then killed. It wasn`t like they died on the gurney.
They were killed by what procedure? It was with a knife, right, the
SMERCONISH: Well, that`s according to the prosecution now. The
prosecution says that the spines were actually snipped. Now, at least --
and that`s -- you know, it`s the most heinous, grisly of testimony that you
could imagine. But that`s what the prosecution maintains. Why else would
the spines have been snipped, except to kill those babies upon delivery?
The defense says that`s not true, there were not sufficient signs of life,
these babies were not born alive. And at least with regard to three of the
seven counts, they convinced the judge to pull that from the case.
MATTHEWS: What do you make of this, without getting into the legal --
well, it is the legal aspects -- the question of this very late-term
I understand Roe v. Wade. The third trimester requires a real condition of
health -- concern about the health of the mother. And let`s be real,
obviously. This guy, I wouldn`t -- based upon what I have seen, would not
be the one you would rely on for a judgment of any quality. This guy is
involved in late-term abortions and in -- according to these allegations,
he was running a lousy place, unhealthy and horrible.
Your view on it as a pro-choice person?
ILYSE HOGUE, NARAL PRO-CHOICE AMERICA: There`s no one more outraged by
this than me personally.
And, certainly, our organization works every single day to make certain
that women are not victimized by people like Dr. Kermit Gosnell, if you can
even call him a doctor, as these allegations come to life.
HOGUE: What we need is safe and legal access to medical care for women
This is not what was happening. As you say, if the allegations prove true,
this guy was operating illegally by every state books, by the federal law.
He was not operating legally. The thing that has allowed the people like
Dr. Gosnell to continue is unnecessary restrictions on women going to the
safe clinics with reputable medical care.
HOGUE: And that`s what we stand for.
MATTHEWS: But there`s also Supreme Court ordered third trimester
restrictions, which are legitimate restrictions.
HOGUE: Oh ,absolutely. It`s important for your viewers to know, Chris,
these later term abortions as we call them, are less than 1 percent.
MATTHEWS: No, 18,000 a year. I did the math.
MATTHEWS: You can do the percentages, 18,000 is not an insignificant
HOGUE: It`s not an insignificant number. When you look at the women
seeking this kind of care, it is an extremely small portion of them. It is
among the most difficult decisions that women face.
MATTHEWS: Well, apparently not for him.
HOGUE: Not for him but for the women.
HOGUE: These are women who -- nobody is six months pregnant and all of a
sudden changes their mind, right? In the vast majority of these cases.
MATTHEWS: One of these babies who was born, I`ve got to be careful here,
was 19 inches long.
HOGUE: Yes. These -- in many of these cases, these are women who intended
to have these pregnancies, wanted to carry the babies to term, when we`re
talking about later term abortion. And there is a significant medical
reason that they were terminating this pregnancy.
MATTHEWS: Let`s go to Michael.
You`ve got a great new show on Sirius XM. I was over there. What an
operation, by the way.
Give me a sense of how people are reacting on both sides of the fight. I
know you have a tremendous audience among the suburbs which tends to be
pro-choice, generally. What`s been the reaction to this? Because this is
something that gets to you.
Everybody in our office, all producers, mostly women, are appalled at this.
They can`t even read these articles. It`s so tough. I had a hard time
reading them. It`s beyond belief that there was something going on like
this, without getting into the testimony questions.
If it`s even like this at all, it`s horrible.
MICHAEL SMERCONISH, SIRIUS XM RADIO: Well, I think --
MATTHEWS: What are people saying out there?
SMERCONISH: I think you just put your finger on something -- well,
everybody is approaching this, frankly, to suit their own objectives.
You know, the arguments from both ends of the political spectrum, they see
which element of this they think suits their particular goal, and they`re
all alleging bias in terms of the way in which it`s being covered -- to
which I respond, the only bias that would be proper in this case is somehow
a bias toward governmental ineptitude. Because at its core when you get
beyond the grisly facts, if you can, there were any number of state
agencies, Chris, that should have shut this guy down more than a decade ago
and they didn`t. And that`s deserving of some real circumspection.
So, that`s what I think this case is about. And it will be interesting to
see how it all pans out. He`s got a very street smart, Philly guy lawyer,
Jack McMahon (ph), is his name. He`s a former prosecutor.
And Gosnell who I once sued successfully, it will be interesting if he
takes the stand because on a personal level, and believe me, I`m not
defending him nor his conduct, but he will not come across as the
Frankenstein that all of this evidence suggests.
MATTHEWS: Well, that doesn`t mean he isn`t.
But let me ask you this about -- we`ve argued this. We`re pro-choice in
many ways. In fact, we talk a lot about it in that vain. You have states
where they really shut down on opportunity for a woman to have a real
choice. She has to drive to another state. A young girl has to drive to
Let me go back to Elyse. And here we have a case where states like the
Dakotas or places where it`s really hard to get a clinic. And here you
have a clinic operating like whatever. Without getting into, you know,
incriminating it, but it seems terrible.
So we have states that are too sloppy that don`t regulate at all then we
have states that regulate to death.
HOGUE: Yes, I think --
MATTHEWS: Isn`t that true? It looks like it.
HOGUE: I agree with Michael, this is not a problem of regulation. It was
a problem of enforcement in Pennsylvania. But it`s important to
understand, they were all pro-choice. America gave Pennsylvania an "F"
because they put up road block after road block year after year. They`re
MATTHEWS: So, explain that there was regulation being too strong and
enforcement being too weak.
HOGUE: We believe that women`s needs are best served when abortion is
regulated, the same as any other medical procedure. They need to be safe.
They need to be performed by reputable clinicians.
HOGUE: And they need to be clean, right? None of these things were
MATTHEWS: Well, I`m with Hillary Clinton, safe, legal and rare.
Thank you very much.
HOGUE: Thank you, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Michael Smerconish, as always, good luck with the program you`re
on right now, Sirius XM is where it`s at.
SMERCONISH: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, Ilyse Hogue, thank you for joining us, from NARAL Pro-
HOGUE: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Up next, Mark Sanford`s political comeback. Now, this is a
little bit of a hoot, because God knows what this guy is up to. Just two
weeks before the special election, which is coming up quickly in South
Carolina, Sanford trails, can you believe this, in South Carolina, the
Democrat Elizabeth Colbert-Busch. That`s Stephen Colbert`s sister.
He`s nine weeks down. He`s only got two weeks to change it. I don`t think
he`s going to get too close to this victory.
Anyway, you`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Senator Max Baucus of Montana is the latest Democrat to announce
he`s not running for reelection. Baucus made the announcements this
morning. And now, the Democrats will have an uphill battle certainly to
keep the red state seat.
Anyway, Baucus is the eighth senator and sixth Democrat to call it quits
this cycle. Following Iowa`s Tom Harkin, Tim Johnson of South Dakota, Jay
Rockefeller of West Virginia, Michigan`s Carl Levin, New Jersey`s Frank
Lautenberg, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, and Mike Johanns of Nebraska.
They`re all quitting.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford`s political comeback, if you
will, well, the trail looks like it`s coming to an end. With the special
election for the first congressional district, that`s down in Charleston,
just two weeks away, a new PPP poll shows Sanford trailing his opponent,
Democrat Elizabeth Colbert-Busch by -- catch this -- nine points. It`s 51
for her, 41 percent for him.
We`ll see how that will work out. Well, actually 10 points. The polls
coming after national Republicans announced they would no longer find, or
no longer fund Sanford`s campaign because he violated his divorce
agreement, entering his ex-wife`s home without her permission.
Well, Sanford took an unusual approach to that, pleading with voters in
this full-page ad in a Charleston newspaper. He writes, "It`s been a rough
week. Though we may be public figures, we are still human beings. Human
figures who struggle just as so many other families and divorced couples do
in getting childbearing right as best we can."
Well, that was heartwarming and wholesome.
Michael Steele is former chair of the RNC and an MSNBC political analyst,
and Cynthia Tucker is a visiting professor of the University of Georgia,
Cynthia, were you taken with that heartwarming message from the governor
about -- now, what I love -- I love to see -- I know his wife can be quite
a disciplinarian from what I can tell. Fair enough. But his idea, him
sneaking out the back door of the house that she lives and he`s not
supposed to visit under the divorce settlement, with a cell phone
flashlight. And she -- it would seem typical of her, she just happens to
walk in just as he`s going out and catches him in the act of trespassing.
So, it just seems to me just according to form here with this relationship.
Your thoughts? You may be taking a side. I`m trying to enjoy the humor of
the thing. It`s so outrageous.
CYNTHIA TUCKER, UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA: Taking a side? Hardly.
MATTHEWS: I`m enjoying it. Let`s put it that way.
TUCKER: What an idiot. His excuse was, he didn`t want his 14-year-old son
to have to watch the last half of the Super Bowl by himself. He didn`t
say, I was worried my son was home alone and I decided to take him to my
place. No. Apparently, Jenny Sanford has a bigger big screen TV than he
MATTHEWS: He couldn`t lure him over to his house.
MATTHEWS: So, he couldn`t lure him over to his place.
MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: No, no.
MATTHEWS: What did you make of this, Michael? Do you want to take for the
defense of the husband here?
STEELE: There is no side here to take, actually. This is just one of
those silly things that`s being played out politically that the people of
South Carolina right now are just apoplectic about.
The party there, the NRCC, everyone is looking at this race and say how
could we give the Democrats a seat after nearly 20-some years?
MATTHEWS: Why did the National Republican Campaign Committee yank him
STEELE: They saw the wheels coming off. And, you know, with his wife
coming out and saying, look, you`re in violation of our agreement -- our
divorce agreement here. He`s clearly scared to death of his wife how he`s
sneaking around the house.
MATTHEWS: You know, it`s amazing we make judgments, you know, Michael. I
mean, Cynthia, you may not enjoy this. But when I watch people on
television I do sort of make a judgment about them.
This guy`s not to be relied upon. She`s no fun because she`s really
catching him in the act all the time.
STEELE: All the time.
MATTHEWS: She catches him and it`s just one thing --
STEELE: You just can`t help but get caught, Mr. Sanford. That`s the
MATTHEWS: He was on the Appalachian Trail when he wasn`t supposed to be.
Now, he`s in the house when he`s not supposed to be.
MATTHEWS: And here`s the thing -- isn`t he in love with somebody else?
Isn`t he supposed to be with her?
STEELE: Well, yes, he has his fiancee. They`re out there, you know, as a
couple publicly. But, again, you`re talking about a campaign for the
United States Congress. And so, there`s a political decision that`s being
made, I think it`s reflected in these polls. Republicans in this
Republican district are pretty much content to say, we`ll give Colbert-
Busch the seat.
MATTHEWS: OK, let`s go to that. I got a closing comment about this
tonight which I work on because I really believe in. I knew a lot of
people in Congress, Cynthia and Michael, you know them, too, who had the
nerve to run in a race they couldn`t possibly win. Something like
And then they win and they`re in for life. They`re in for life. Tom
Foley, Jim Howard of New Jersey. These guys and women have the guts to run
an impossible -- that`s what`s so inspiring about it.
She could be a congresswoman for life in the wrong district. In other
words, politically she`s probably too moderate. But your thoughts?
TUCKER: Well, here`s the thing. You know, one of the reasons the
Republican Campaign Committee must be just tearing its hair out is that
this was another race that Republicans have essentially given away because
they have a bad candidate. It`s like Todd Akin in Missouri. These are
races Republicans should have won. But they have bad candidates.
And, you know, at first, the campaign committee was going to go ahead with
it, give Mark Sanford money. He`s at least well-known. He maybe -- he
served as governor twice. He`s got the politics that seem to fit that
district. But he`s also an idiot.
And let me say this in his wife`s defense. Remember that Mark Sanford came
to her to ask her to run his campaign this time around after publicly
humiliating her with another woman. So, for all of his alleged political
genius, she may have been the real brains behind his campaign successes in
STEELE: Cynthia, you hit on, I think, the key point there about the genius
of this operation. I think that`s something a lot of Republicans have
recognized right out of the box.
Look, at the end of the day, Republican voters in the primary voted for him
twice. Not once, but twice.
MATTHEWS: In the runoff.
STEELE: In the runoff. Got to the runoff -- first primary then the
MATTHEWS: Will they do it again despite all this nonsense?
STEELE: From what I`m hearing on the ground in South Carolina, I mean --
MATTHEWS: Will they vote for the woman candidate, the Democrat?
STEELE: I think -- well, they either won`t vote which will be like voting
for Ms. Colbert-Busch, or they will cross that aisle and vote for her. I
think this poll again is very troublesome --
MATTHEWS: What about the gender? I think people tell me women are
unlikely to vote for this character. Anyway, just a thought there. I
think Cynthia probably agrees with that.
MATTHEWS: Unlikely to vote or pull the ballot for Mark Sanford.
Anyway, Michael Steele, Cynthia Tucker, next time we`ll bring you in for
We`ll be right back after this.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this:
I love this race in South Carolina.
Here was a woman, Elizabeth Colbert Busch, who took a chance entering a
race for the Congress where Democrats like her don`t stand a chance -- not
a chance in the world.
She did so knowing she could well face a former governor, Mark Sanford, in
the race, someone who had once represented this same district in Congress.
Well, as the Irish say, "It`s the long road that has no turning."
Suddenly, we`ve got a new poll showing Colbert Busch up nine points on
Sanford. The race that no Democrat could win is now a race where the
Democrat could be hard to catch.
It makes a point I learned working for Speaker Tip O`Neill all those years.
I met a number of Members who won seats deemed impossible. People like Tom
Foley of Spokane won in years like 1974 when a door opened on change, when
suddenly the old rules didn`t apply and anything was possible.
Joe Biden is another example. He won in 1972, the year Democratic
presidential candidate George McGovern was slaughtered by Nixon, but Joe
Biden won and served in the Senate for 36 straight years.
So let`s hear it for the long-shots, for the person who has the guts to run
when everyone says it`s hopeless -- because, as we can see in that race
down in Charleston, it isn`t.
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"POLITICS NATION" with Al Sharpton starts right now.
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