Date: December 11, 2014
Guest: Ron Suskind, Rep. Donna Edwards, J. Hogan Gidley, Melinda
Henneberger, Melinda Henneberger, Hogan Gidley, Michael Steele
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Senator Warren takes on President Obama.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington. Tonight, the
Democratic army of the future is on the march. Led by Senator Elizabeth
Warren, members are attacking that trillion-dollar spending bill agreed to
by President Obama himself. The issue, a provision in the bill that would
pull back the reforms created after the 2008 financial crisis, perhaps
allowing more of the Wall Street shenanigans that brought the country into
its worst economic collapse since the Great Depression.
The word tonight is that the Democrats, led by Warren, are dead set
against letting the Republicans bring back the Wall Street games-playing.
They haven`t forgotten what the resulting bail-outs cost them and the
country, in dollars and in public confidence.
So tonight, Senator Elizabeth Warren is leading Democrats into an epic
battle against both the Republicans and the White House. Will this mean a
government shutdown? Well, let`s see. It`s all happening as I speak.
Something else is happening in this insurgency led by Senator Elizabeth
Warren. It may signal an historic turning point for the Democratic Party
The revolt began yesterday, when Senator Warren took to the floor to
rally her troops. She called for House Democrats to vote nay on this huge
deal to fund the government because of the fat benefit it offers to Wall
Street. Here she is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Who does Congress work for?
Does it work for the millionaires, the billionaires, the giant companies
with their armies of lobbyists and lawyers? Or does it work for all the
Now the House of Representatives is about to show us the worst of
government for the rich and powerful. The House is about to vote on a
budget deal, a deal negotiated behind closed doors that slips in a
provision that would let derivatives traders on Wall Street gamble with
taxpayer money and get bailed out by the government when their risky bets
threaten to blow up our financial system.
This is a democracy, and the American people didn`t elect us to stand
up for CitiGroup! They elected us to stand up for all the people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, that`s the bugle signaling "charge."
And today, the House negotiators and the White House scrambled to
contain the fallout. Just minutes before a scheduled vote on the deal, he
White House took the dangerous move of taking direct aim at the Warren wing
of the party by publicly declaring that the president supported the big
spending package, which contains added funds for financial regulatory
bodies. President Obama is working the phones right now, trying to get
enough Democrats on board. The White House has also dispatched chief of
staff Denis McDonough up to Capitol Hill.
Joining us right now from the Capitol is Democratic U.S. Congresswoman
Donna Edwards of Maryland. Also with us is NBC`s Luke Russert.
Luke, give us a sense of this. What`s at stake here tonight in this
big battle led by Elizabeth Warren of the Senate against the White House?
LUKE RUSSERT, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, this is fascinating
because since President Obama has -- took power back in 2009, January,
we`ve never really seen this full-on division between House Democrats and
the White House. And Nancy Pelosi, along with Elizabeth Warren, decide to
plant their flag in the ground about that Dodd-Frank provision that was
inserted into this spending bill that you spoke about.
What is so interesting, though, is I spoke to a lot of House Democrats
today, and they all said, You know what? We`re in a "no" mood because we
do not want to not only go forward and help out the banks, but we`re sick
of being cut out of the process.
This deal was negotiated primarily by Harry Reid, Barack Obama and the
House GOP leadership. House Dems felt they did not have a seat at the
table, and they want to stay here and fight.
And you talk about the future of the party -- it`s -- the language I
heard from these members today, Chris, I had not heard even back in 2009,
when we were in the midst of a recession. And what`s that language? They
were privately saying to me, You know what? Wall Street, they were the
villains in all this. They stole people`s money. They stole people`s
homes. We`re sick and tired of this. We`re not going to go along with it.
So earlier in the day, we thought that there was a clear path to 218
votes, that Democrats would supply anywhere in the neighborhood from 50 to
70. I just spoke with a GOP aide who knows the whip count quite well. If
this is going to pass tonight, they`re going to need to provide about 40 or
50 votes at least, and that`s not looking likely right now. Denis
McDonough is in a meeting as we speak, trying to elicit that support, and
it`s going to be difficult.
So I think this is significant. I think this is a turning point where
you could see Nancy Pelosi really dig in. She said she was disappointed in
the White House today. And we might see economic inequality be front and
center in this next Congress because, honestly, Democrats don`t have a lot
to lose. The White House wants this bill because it protects a few of
their priorities, Ebola funding, funding to go after ISIS, the Consumer
Financial Protection Bureau. There`s things in here that they like, and
they believe this is the best deal they can get before a more supermajority
GOP Congress comes in.
But for House Democrats, this is not good enough. They want to fight
here. They want to fight now. And that`s what Maxine Waters, who`s an
ardent supporter of President Obama, said. She doesn`t care if he`s
defending it. She`ll fight him, too...
MATTHEWS: I heard that.
RUSSERT: ... if this Dodd-Frank thing here is in the bill.
MATTHEWS: Hang in there, Luke. Let me go to Congresswoman Edwards.
Congresswoman, do you sense -- what do you think (INAUDIBLE) Luke shaped
(ph) it up. It looks like a revolutionary spirit on the Hill tonight among
REP. DONNA EDWARDS (D), MARYLAND: Well, I think that`s true, and I
think it`s because in 2008, we bailed out the banks. They stole our
retirements. They stole our homes. They stole our future. And we said we
would never do that again. And so there is no way that we`re going to open
up the door to big banks so that they can do that once again.
And I think that the spirit inside the Democratic caucus is strong and
it`s tight. And on this one, the White House may be between a rock and a
hard place, but we don`t have to go there with them.
MATTHEWS: How far will you fight this? I mean, this is a week -- a
couple weeks before Christmas. It`s exactly two weeks before Christmas
tonight. What do you do if it just keeps -- if you lose the big bill,
what`s next? How does this fight go on?
EDWARDS: Well, you know what? The fact is that if Republicans put a
bill on the floor that took out these provisions to bail out Wall Street
banks, that took out the provisions to give $300,000 contributions to
political parties, we would have a bill today that Democrats, even though
we might have to hold our noses and vote for it, that we could support to
continue to fund the government.
Republicans know what they need to do to get a bill passed out of this
Congress, and they need to put that on the floor and ask for Democratic
support for it, and we will be there. But if they think for one minute
that we are going to support a bill that bails out Wall Street and then
gives unlimited money and campaign contributions, opening up the floodgates
-- first you give the keys to the bank, and then you bail the banks out.
We are not having that! And we are going to stand tight. And I think
the vote today shows that, shows the unity of the Democratic caucus, and
Republicans are going to have to go someplace else if this is the garbage
they`re going to put on the floor!
MATTHEWS: Yes, this -- somebody says this has both the quid and the
quo when (ph) you (ph) talk about corruption. It`s got money coming in the
door to the Democrats and Republicans to pay for the new loopholes for more
shenanigans on Wall Street.
Anyway, Senator Elizabeth Warren, who`s fighting the charge (sic)
here, took the floor again today to rail against the budget deal`s carve-
out for the big banks. Here she is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN: A vote for this bill is a vote for future taxpayer bail-outs
of Wall Street. When the next bail-out comes, a lot of people will look
back to this vote to see who was responsible for putting the government
back on the hook to bail out Wall Street.
Why, in the last minute, as you head out the door and a spending bill
must be passed, are you making it a priority to do Wall Street`s bidding?
Who do you work for, Wall Street or the American people?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Back to Congresswoman Edwards. And I`ll get to Luke in a
minute. Congresswoman, I want to know what you see. You`re the politician
of the three of us. And tell me this. Is this the future of the
Democratic Party, a truly populist party again, not a go-along, get-along
party that makes deals with the worst elements in our society on Wall
Street? Your thoughts.
EDWARDS: Well, I think if one thing the last election told us, it
told us that the American people need to know that we`re prepared to get in
there and fight for them, fight for their paychecks, fight for their bank
accounts, and stop fighting for Wall Street and special interests. And I
think the more that we show the American people that, the better place
we`ll be in.
And frankly, you know, there is no question about it, this bill
absolutely stinks! The American people know it. And when I came into
Congress in 2008, I said I would never again vote to bail out big banks.
We protected the consumers and the American people in Dodd-Frank, and we
need to continue to protect them. And I -- you know, I just feel so good
about where we are as Democrats, showing the American people that we are
prepared to go to the mat for them.
MATTHEWS: You know, I guess one of the motives is among your caucus,
among the Democrats, because I was thinking about it today, is you have
paid the price politically, ever since 2009, for all the bail-outs. The
Republicans have rubbed it in your face. They caused the corruption on
Wall Street. They protected it by deregulating. And then the Democrats
bailed out Wall Street so they could bail out the country`s economy. And
then they shoved it back at you and said you were the bail-out party.
EDWARDS: Well, I think that`s right, and I think we`re sensitive to
that. And like I said, we held our noses. We because we knew we need to
save the American economy. We knew that they had taken retirements, they
had taken homes, they had taken our future.
Well, we`re not doing that again. And the American people need to
know that. They need to hear it really loudly and clearly. We are not
doing it again. And we`re not going to stand by while Republicans in this
Congress take the American people down the bank road again. We will not do
MATTHEWS: Well, Luke Russert -- Luke Russert -- and we`ve all
calculated it would take 50 or 60 votes in your party to give to the
Republicans to get this to pass. Who are your colleagues? You don`t have
to give their names away, but what are they saying to you when they say
they`re voting for the bill?
RUSSERT: Well, what they say is that this is a good bill...
MATTHEWS: I`m sorry, Luke...
MATTHEWS: Go ahead, Luke. I`m sorry.
RUSSERT: They say it`s a good bill because it leaves a Democratic
imprint on the funding through the rest of the next fiscal year on
everything with the exception of the Department of Homeland Security, and
then they can go have the immigration fight solely in early March, and the
rest of the government is funded and they`re not worried about shutdown
politics. So that`s really what their point is, is that this is the best
they can get before the new supermajority comes in next Congress.
However, what you do is you talk to other Democrats and they say, You
know what? Republicans have shown they have an awfully difficult time
getting to 218 to fund the government on any priority. We`re more than
happy to go at it with them and perhaps go to the ring a few more times
(INAUDIBLE) makes them look bad.
Lastly, Chris, I want to say one thing, though, that I think is
important when you talk about the future (INAUDIBLE) the Democratic Party
is. When this was negotiated by Harry Reid, Barbara Mikulski and the other
appropriators on the Senate side with the House GOP leadership, the reason
why there wasn`t a big freak-out over the Dodd-Frank language is because it
originally passed, this exact same thing passed in the House in October of
2013 with 70 Democrats supporting it, including Steny Hoyer. The
difference in campaign finances -- that was negotiated directly between
Reid, McConnell and Boehner.
What you`re seeing tonight is the liberal wing standing up to
something that was directly negotiated by Reid and the White House, and
was, in fact, supported by them before. They`re not taking it. It`s very,
very significant they`ve decide to make their stand on this.
MATTHEWS: Let me go back to the Congresswoman. Also, could there be
another factor here? You`ve lost both houses of Congress now. You`re the
opposition on the Hill. You`re not worried about carrying the water on
debt ceilings and all the rest and omnibus budget deals and continuing
resolutions. You lost the House a while ago. You`re losing the Senate.
Is this a revolutionary spirit that`s now fueled by the fact you don`t
have to run the show, you just have to drive your ideas?
EDWARDS: Well, and I think what`s really clear, Chris, is the fact is
that the American people are expecting us to fight for them. And they`re
depending on us to fight for them and we`re prepared to do it.
I mean, you know, if you look at that deal that was negotiated, I
don`t even know that the White House, frankly, was clearly in the room on
this. And clearly, some deals were cut with Mitch McConnell because he`s
always wanted to raise those political campaign contribution limits. He
wants to throw the individual limits out the window.
But we can`t let them. We can`t let, on one hand, Wall Street walk
away with the store, and on the other hand, give them the open keys to the
government by allowing all these political contributions. And like I said,
if the Republicans really want a bipartisan bill over here in the House,
they know that they can get Democratic votes, but they have to get it with
a clean funding bill.
MATTHEWS: OK, thank you so much, U.S. Congresswoman Donna Edwards of
Maryland and Luke Russert of MSNBC.
Coming up: Guess who`s defiant in the face of the CIA torture report?
Dick Cheney, big surprise, right? The man who once said we`d have to work
through the dark side is unapologetic about what the CIA did, and he says
he`d do it all over again in a minute. Big surprise. We got to get to
Cheney in a minute. By the way, that`s how you pronounce it.
And that`s ahead, and this is HARDBALL, place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Chris Christie, like many of the potential 2016
presidential candidates, isn`t talking about the CIA torture report one
bit. He refused to answer reporters` questions about it.
And now a new poll finds a majority of people in his home state of New
Jersey say they don`t think he`d make a good president. According to a new
Quinnipiac poll, 53 percent, a majority of New Jersey voters, say Governor
Christie would not do well in the White House, versus 40 percent who say he
would. Of course, it`s a blue state.
And even though Christie is the strongest Republican against Hillary
in the Garden State, New Jersey`s still, as I said, deep blue. Clinton
would beat Christie by 11 points up there, 50 to 39.
And we`ll be right back.
DICK CHENEY, FMR. VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think that
what needed to be done was done. I think we were perfectly justified in
doing it, and I`d do it again in a minute.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: "I`d do it again in a minute." That`s Dick Cheney.
Welcome back to HARDBALL. Former vice president Dick Cheney`s
unbowed. Following the release of the torture report, the Bush
administration`s point man on torture minced no words in his interview with
Fox News`s Bret Baier, describing his preferred approach to terror
mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, also known as KSM.
Here he is, Cheney.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHENEY: He is in our possession. We know he`s the architect. And
what are we supposed to do, kiss him on both cheeks and say, Please,
please, tell us what you know? Of course not. We did what needed to be
done in order to catch those who were guilty on 9/11 and to prevent a
further attack. And we were successful on both parts, and I think...
BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS: This report says it was not successful.
CHENEY: The report`s full of crap. Excuse me. I said "hooey"
yesterday and let (ph) me (ph) use (ph) the real (ph) word (ph).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, joining me right now is Ron Suskind, who`s director
of Harvard`s Project on Public Narrative and author of "The One Percent
Doctrine: Deep Inside America`s Pursuit of its Enemies Since 9/11," and
also former RNC chair Michael Steele.
Ron Suskind, what do you think is in the makeup of Dick Cheney --
you`ve studied him well. What is in the makeup of a guy who simply
dismisses all different opinions as "crap"?
RON SUSKIND, AUTHOR, "THE ONE PERCENT DOCTRINE": Cheney will go to
his grave denying everything that is demonstrably clear at this point. You
know, this is the moment they feared, that there would be an official
inquest that would prove right everything people were saying. Now it`s
happened, and Cheney`s digging into his final position.
He`s in a shrinking country, Cheney-land, that gets smaller and
smaller. And even now, you can hear him shooting at President Bush as to
who knew what. This is Cheney`s last stand.
MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you about policy. I`m a big believer, as
Mike Dukakis said years ago, that the fish rots from the head. I guess
it`s an old Greek expression. He said it was.
Whatever it is, I believe the boss sets the tone. I worked in
politics for 15 years. Whenever staffers did something, I knew the boss
wanted it done or they wouldn`t be there. Scooter Libby is Dick Cheney
with his hands out doing stuff. But that is the operative. That`s why we
call themselves -- and I was one, an operative. You are the boss`s guy.
So when somebody says somebody at CIA did something, my view is they
were told to do it. What`s your view?
SUSKIND: Let`s be crystal clear here...
MATTHEWS: Where did the -- where did the waterboarding come from and
all that stuff? How did it work its way down into the bowels or the dark
SUSKIND: This came directly, Chris, from Bush and Cheney, both of
them at the start. It was ordered by the president and the vice president.
The CIA didn`t just wake up one day and say, Hey, we`re going to do a lot
of extralegal and extraordinary things. It came from the White House.
They were ordered to take off the gloves, as the White House said, right at
the beginning. Don`t worry about what people say when they find out. Go
on the dark side. They were following orders.
Now, ultimately, the president and the vice president were briefed
intensively about exactly what CIA was doing from the beginning and
throughout. Bush was quite engaged in this, as was Cheney. They got
regular reports -- what is the yield of the interrogation, is it
successful, is it not, what are we finding? Both men...
MATTHEWS: How personal was it...
SUSKIND: ... are directly driving this.
MATTHEWS: Are they -- to the extent there is cruelty involved -- I`m
going to get you, Michael, do the whole review of this.
MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.
MATTHEWS: But to the extent there is cruelty involved, essentially in
torture, whatever you want to call it, water-boarding, whatever it is,
there`s torture involved. There is cruelty involved in it.
You`re hurting people. You`re causing them pain and fear and all the
mix of horrors you get in your mind when you`re being tortured. Where is
this going to end? Is it going to end with me ending? All of that, did
they do that with an attitude of, we like this, we want to do this, we
don`t like these people, they are bad people?
Was it personal? Ron? That`s to you, Ron.
SUSKIND: Oh, sorry, Chris. You bleeped out.
The fact is, is that the president engaged, President Bush, only when
things were made personal. He`s not a policy guy. He made it personal.
Cheney and Bush both -- both viewed this as an affront to them personally,
which is part of the way Bush was managed in a kind of tapping of
This is -- this was about managing Bush by Cheney, by others, but also
doing what they felt need be done. Don`t worry about the consequences. Of
course, Cheney creates the 1 percent doctrine, that idea that we should do
everything, everything essentially we can think of. Don`t worry about
these issues of ends and means.
Now what we find is, of course, the worst nightmare, that not only was
this morally reprehensible, cashiering America`s moral authority, but it
was of no value at all, which they were warned about at the beginning.
MATTHEWS: You`re sure of that, Ron?
SUSKIND: This isn`t the first time people have asked about torture.
MATTHEWS: You`re sure of that? You`re sure of that?
MATTHEWS: We got nothing out of it?
SUSKIND: Absolutely nothing of -- nothing of value that couldn`t be
got in a hundred other ways.
MATTHEWS: But they didn`t get it in a hundred other ways.
STEELE: But they -- right. They didn`t...
MATTHEWS: Let me ask -- let me have Michael on here.
MATTHEWS: One thing I will say, I want to set this up politically.
Cheney isn`t hiding.
STEELE: No, he`s not hiding. And Cheney has never hidden.
And I think that`s what frustrates a lot of people, is that he`s out
and he puts it out there, and you have to deal with it. You -- he makes it
very easy for you to unpack it, as he`s done again. And I think there`s a
lot that Ron said there. I wasn`t in the room. I don`t know what`s inside
these men`s hearts or inside their heads.
I do know how that the process -- I do not think that the president
and the vice president were sitting around over a cup of latte deciding,
oh, yes, now we`re just going to start water-boarding, that that just came
out of thin air.
There`s a process within the institution of the CIA. We know what the
CIA`s business has always been about. This is nothing new. This is
nothing transcendent in terms of what the CIA has done in terms of its
black ops. So, all of a sudden now, we have gotten...
MATTHEWS: Did we show this already? What about going into the dark
areas in intelligence, where we got to go back in there in the quiet, where
there`s no discussion or any sources or methods?
MATTHEWS: ... Cheney saying to do that?
STEELE: Why are you laying it all out on the table? We do we have to
MATTHEWS: Let`s watch Cheney.
MATTHEWS: I want to make the point it came from the top.
MATTHEWS: Here`s Cheney exhibiting no moral qualms about the actions
revealed in the torture report. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Did the ends justify the means?
DICK CHENEY, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Absolutely.
QUESTION: No doubt in your mind?
CHENEY: No doubt in my mind. I`m totally comfortable with it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: That`s doing his job there.
Anyway, Cheney previewed at any cost mentality, his at any cost
mentality just days after 9/11. Here he is. Let`s listen, in the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHENEY: We also have to work though sort of the dark side, if you
will. We have got to spend time in the shadows, in the intelligence world.
A lot of what needs to be done here will have to be done quietly, without
any discussion, using sources and methods that are available to our
intelligence agencies, if we`re going to be successful.
That`s the world these folks operate in. And so it`s going to be
vital for us to use any means at our disposal -- disposal basically to
achieve our objective.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: How do you read that, Michael?
STEELE: I read that that`s the way this works.
MATTHEWS: Don`t blame it on the CIA. This guy looks like he was
ready to do it from the top.
STEELE: Yes, exactly, because that`s where the buck ultimately stops,
STEELE: You laid it out very well at the opening of the segment,
that, at the end of the day, it`s going -- if the fish is going to rot,
it`s to start at the head.
If there are good things that come from it, it`s going to -- you`re
going to go to the head. And that`s how Cheney saw this. This is all in
the context of what happened post-9/11. This is that world that was
But, again, we have a history, whether we`re trying to go after Castro
in the Kennedy administration...
MATTHEWS: Well, they didn`t do the job, did they?
STEELE: But -- no, they didn`t apparently.
MATTHEWS: The blew up the cigar a few times.
STEELE: Or whether you`re going after Osama bin Laden. It`s the same
MATTHEWS: OK. Who is still the head of Cuba right now?
MATTHEWS: Anyway, let me go back to Ron Suskind.
What is it in Cheney`s being, what`s in his head that makes him curl
the lip and talk about torture and stuff like that with such delight and
relish? What`s that all about?
SUSKIND: Cheney has always believed that tactics matter.
He`s arguably one of the finest tacticians at the top of government
for many years. If Cheney believes that his position cannot be challenged,
as long as he digs in and doesn`t flinch, well, he will do that. And
that`s where Cheney is sitting at this point.
Look, there are many, many people who are turning on him at this -- at
this juncture. Look, that wasn`t softballs waist high on FOX News,
frankly. John McCain and others are saying, Cheney`s wrong.
But Cheney at this point will be the last man standing with this
position, if that`s what it takes. That`s what he`s thinking about,
history`s record, I didn`t flinch.
STEELE: And I think Ron is absolutely right about that. That`s the
one thing about the man. He`s consistent from the very beginning to this
moment, and now one has to pack -- unpack that.
MATTHEWS: I think -- I don`t know about love, but in his view, all`s
fair in war.
STEELE: All`s fair in war.
MATTHEWS: I think that`s fair.
Ron Suskind, thank you for being the expert. Michael Steele, thank
you very much.
Up next, a HARDBALL farewell to Michele Bachmann. We`re going to the
ridiculous here from the serious.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics, and also where you can
hear the debate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: Thank you that I could have
that privilege of also being a stepping-stone to look to the future, so
that the next generation would live better than we do today. Thank you for
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Time now for the "Sideshow."
That was, of course, the departing Congresswoman Michele Bachmann
giving her farewell address on the House floor Tuesday this week.
Well, tonight, we`re recognizing her for the many outrageous, absurd
and at times downright scary things she`s said.
It didn`t take long for U.S. Congresswoman Bachmann to make a name for
herself as the de facto queen of the hard right clown car. In fact, it
began right here on this show, HARDBALL, when she questioned then candidate
Barack Obama`s patriotism and called for a new era of McCarthyism to root
out anti-American lawmakers in the Democratic Caucus.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: How many people in the Congress of the United States do you
think are anti-American? You`ve already suspected Barack Obama. Is he
alone, or are there others? How many do you suspect of your colleagues as
BACHMANN: What I would say -- what I would say is that the news media
should do a penetrating expose and take a look.
I wish they would. I wish the American media would take a great look
at the views of the people in Congress and find out, are they pro-America
or anti-America? I think people would be -- would love to see an expose
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I`m sure they would.
Bachmann, of course, was a vocal opponent President -- of the
president on health care, attacking the Affordable Care Act with a fervor
that outmatched many of her colleagues on the right.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BACHMANN: This egregious system that will be ultimately known as
death care must be defeated. It will be very unpleasant if the death
panels go into effect.
Let`s repeal this failure before it literally kills women, kills
children, kills senior citizens.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, of course there were no death panels, but
Congresswoman Bachmann rarely let the facts get in the way of good fiction.
She famously campaigned against vaccinations, making the unfounded
claim that the HPV vaccine was unsafe for young women.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BACHMANN: I will tell you that I had a mother last night come up to
me here in Tampa, Florida, after the debate. She told me that her little
daughter took that -- took that vaccine, that injection, and she suffered
from mental retardation thereafter.
It can have very dangerous side effects.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: So, believe every word.
PolitiFact rated that whopper false after it was flat-out denied by
the medical community at large.
As a staunch Tea Party conservative, Congresswoman Bachmann liked to
cite the founding fathers, but basic American history seemed to allude her
at times, like when she made the dubious claim that our founders were the
ones who ended slavery.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BACHMANN: The very founders that wrote those documents worked
tirelessly until slavery was no more in the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Remember how Ben Franklin won the Civil War?
Anyway, at a campaign event, she mistakenly credited New Hampshire as
the site of the first battle of the American Revolution.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BACHMANN: The love of New Hampshire and what we have in common is our
extreme love for liberty. You`re the state where the shot was heard around
the world at Lexington and Concord.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Of course, the Battle of Lexington and Concord was,as
everyone watching knows, in Massachusetts.
And, with that, we say farewell to the queen of the right-wing clown
car. It`s been a wild ride, and we will miss you.
Up next: The director of the CIA defends the agency in the wake of
the torture report, but he didn`t answer the big questions of our time.
Does torture work and does it lead to useful intelligence?
Anyway, the roundtable joins us in a minute, the big roundtable
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger.
Here`s what`s happening.
The Taliban is claiming responsibility for a deadly bombing in Kabul
that killed four people. It has vowed revenge following release of the CIA
A health care worker exposed to Ebola in West Africa has been
evacuated to the National Institutes of Health and is in isolation now.
The patient is a nurse who was volunteering in Sierra Leone.
And thousands are without power in California after a powerful storm
downed trees and caused severe flooding there -- back to HARDBALL.
Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Actually, two days after the release of that damning report by
Democratic senators on the Senate Intelligence Committee, the director of
the CIA, John Brennan, spoke to reporters today. He was asked the central
of whether the interrogation program put in place by the Bush
administration worked. Did it work? Did that program, which included
techniques many call torture, actually produce useful intelligence?
Here`s what Brennan said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BRENNAN, CIA DIRECTOR: There`s no way if some -- to know whether
or not some information that was obtained from an individual who had been
subjected at some point during his confinement could have been obtained
through other means.
It`s just -- it`s an unknowable fact. So I think what the agency`s
point has been consistently and what certainly my view is, after having
reviewed the documents, is that there was useful intelligence, very useful,
valuable intelligence that was obtained from individuals who had been at
some point subjected to EITs. Whether that could have been obtained
without the use of those EITs is something, again, that is unknowable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Anyway, at the roundtable tonight, former chair of the
Republican National Committee Michael Steele, "Washington Post" political
writer Melinda Henneberger, and Republican strategist Hogan Gidley.
Hogan, I want to start with you. One question, is torture, any kind of
torture, right or wrong? Should we do it?
J. HOGAN GIDLEY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: In my opinion?
MATTHEWS: Yes. That`s what I`m asking for. Should we do it?
GIDLEY: Well, it depends on what -- is torture really the act, or is
it the motivation? Because if you`re trying to...
MATTHEWS: OK. We`re trying to save the country from disaster and one
guy who made -- that we know knows the answer to what`s coming next, do we
GIDLEY: If it gets you the information you want.
MATTHEWS: Well, you`re giving me an if. Do you think we should do it
GIDLEY: I think you absolutely should do it.
MELINDA HENNEBERGER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, I`m with my
Catholic Church on this.
They say it`s an intrinsically evil act. So I say, no, the means
never -- the ends never justify the means. It`s always wrong. And I don`t
care if it gets you absolutely everything you want, the keys to the
kingdom, which it does not.
MATTHEWS: OK. That`s a personal moral judgment. How about a
government judgment? Governments are not people.
HENNEBERGER: Our -- our president says the same thing.
HENNEBERGER: This is not who we are as a country. And I agree with
MATTHEWS: OK. So you`re -- you wouldn`t do it?
MATTHEWS: So, 24 hours...
HENNEBERGER: It doesn`t matter.
MATTHEWS: ... the explosion is coming, you`re not going to squeeze
HENNEBERGER: It hurts us more even if we got the information.
Your thoughts? Are you with her or him?
STEELE: I am -- I am -- I have got my intrinsically Catholic view as
well, and -- but I also -- I side with Hogan.
I think the policy and personal implications beyond that one
individual are too great. I think, if you`re in executive leadership in
particular, you have to weigh it in the totality.
STEELE: And, yes, sometimes that requires you to do it. And this is
the justification in the church for things like just war.
So you cannot say that, oh, if I torture you, that morally --
intrinsically morally wrong, but, if, you know, I bomb an entire village of
innocent individuals that somehow that justifies the means that you`re
trying to achieve with the war.
So what that requires is the moral leadership lays out the parameters
and then the political leadership has to wade itself through that, keeping
a sight on those things that cross the lines. And you saw with the CIA
director, he was not he was not doing -- he was not getting into the
That`s not his job. His job is to do the execution and the
implementation of that policy and those decisions that those leaders that
we elect and otherwise entrust with the...
HENNEBERGER: Well, he was talking out of both sides of his mouth.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you this. Do all -- do these moral concerns...
HENNEBERGER: He was...
MATTHEWS: ... have anything to do with what is done when the time
comes? Because when the time comes, what you put in a code book, and what
it says about the manual of arms and whatever else it is, a president, a
Dick Cheney, a Barack Obama, a George Bush, whoever they are, has to make a
decision how to save the country. They have to make a decision on the
We got this guy in custody. We know he knows. What do we do? Mr.
President, he`s our only source of information right now. What do we do?
And you have to decide then whether to throw the rule book out or what,
HENNEBERGER: But how could it ever be a way to save our country to
send the message to the world that we`re no better than the terrorists we
are fighting? And we are not is. We don`t do that. That`s not who we
HENNEBERGER: I don`t think it`s practical.
HENNEBERGER: I`m sorry?
MATTHEWS: Are you against capital punishment?
HENNEBERGER: I am.
MATTHEWS: See, these are values. I can appreciate that.
HENNEBERGER: I also think capital punishment didn`t work to deter
crime in the same way torture doesn`t work to --
STEELE: I think there`s a false argument here.
MATTHEWS: I think it`s too neat. I mean, it`s convenient to believe
HENNEBERGER: It`s actually not neat. It`s so satisfying on an
emotional level to say, let`s do what it takes. But where`s the proof that
we got anything out of it?
STEELE: But see, you`re trying to prove something that is not going
to be fully disclosed in the course of any period of time. You`re not able
to say, well, you know, we were able to do X, Y, and Z because we tortured
this individual. It`s just a false argument.
MATTHEWS: Leon Panetta at the top, the head of CIA, he said it
worked. It was helpful. So, but he also leaves that caveat, you know, we
could have got it from somewhere else.
J. HOGAN GIDLEY, FORMER HUCKABEE MEDIA DIR.: But that was the view
today. Republicans wanted to hear Brennan say, we got the information that
got bin Laden. They did, right? The Democrats wanted to hear, we weren`t
sure if that really came from here, we just got the information. They
heard that, too. He said both things.
So, both sides are able to glom on to the points they want to use and
use that politically, however they choose.
HENNEBERGER: Let`s just say that it`s not knowable to know if we
could have gotten the same information, means it wasn`t even a last resort.
I mean, that to me, suggests that they didn`t even try very hard otherwise
to get that information.
MATTHEWS: OK, bases loaded, bottom of the ninth, the guy comes up and
hits a home run, right? OK, you could say, somebody else could have done
It`s true. The pitcher could have hit a home run. The shortstop, the
least likely. But you don`t know.
Anyway, yesterday, Colorado Senator Mark Udall gave a fiery speech on
the floor of the Senate, calling for President Obama to purge from his
administration people who were part of the CIA`s interrogation program,
people like the director himself, John Brennan.
Let`s watch. This is tough stuff for a guy actually on his way out.
But here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARK UDALL (D), COLORADO: Torture just didn`t happen after all,
contrary to the president`s recent statement, we didn`t torture some folks.
Real actual people engaged in torture. Some of these people are still
employed by the CIA and the U.S. government. They are right now people
serving in high level positions at the agency who approved directed or
committed acts related to the CIA`s detention and interrogation program.
It`s bad enough not to prosecute these officials. But to reward or promote
them, and risk the integrity of the U.S. government, to protect them, is
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about the best thing about our country, which we
talk about this in the open, you know? I always talk about, when we were
growing up, we had the space program. You know, we said there`s a guy on
the board. Before the ship took off, the Russians, you never knew if the
ship came down, blew up in the air, poor monkey, or not even that. We were
honest and we do think of ourselves as the good guys.
HENNEBERGER: We think of ourselves, but it`s ten years later we`re
talking about this --
MATTHEWS: We`re talking about it and a lot of other countries never
do. So, my question is, what good will come of this hand-wringing, which I
think is morally important? Will it shorten the leash on future CIAs or
GIDLEY: Well, I do know, when you`re talking about this program, that
the Senate Democrats, Senate Republicans knew about this. This wasn`t new
to them. They understood this. They saw these reports already. So, for
them now to feign outrage is a little bit disingenuous.
But what we move going forward is what`s interesting to me, because
when you`re talking about the politics around this, now that we know about
it, the program`s over. It`s already been ended. What are the 2016
candidates going to say about it? Because now it`s in the forefront again.
MATTHEWS: You know, in the future, what torture is going to do is
stop people from coming on the show and looking at the camera instead of
looking at me. Did you learn that at the Virginia leadership school?
GIDLEY: I was in news before.
MATTHEWS: OK, go ahead.
HENNEBERGER: Well, the Republicans are mostly, as I understand it,
expressing outrage that it`s out in the open now, even though the
terrorists have been recruiting on this stuff for years. So, I don`t think
MATTHEWS: Cheney`s making the case for it. How is this going to find
its way into party platforms? Are parties like the Democrats stick with
the president and say, we`re against torture in principle, will Republicans
under Cheney`s intellectual leadership say, we`re for torture?
STEELE: I don`t think they`re going to get to that level.
HENNEBERGER: They`re not going to say they`re pro-torture.
MATTHEWS: That`s a rhetorical question there.
OK, go ahead, do you think Cheney will actually say I want it in the
platform next time?
GIDLEY: No, no.
MATTHEWS: OK, he is something. Isn`t he something? I think if
anybody thumps their nose at this guy, I`ve been through this, you take on
Cheney, and he wants to dismember you. Anyway, the roundtable is staying
And when we come back, the Warren insurgency (ph). This is hot for
the Democrats. We`re all watching Elizabeth Warren leading the battle now,
the charge for the heart and soul, the future of the Democratic Party. She
wants them to be a populist party that keeps a tough rein on Wall Street.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Well, Rick Perry, the governor of Texas is talking about
another presidential run. He`s looking to put the mistakes of the past
campaign behind him. Here`s what he told MSNBC Kasie Hunt about what
matters in a presidential candidate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: Running for the presidency is not an IQ
test. It is a test of an individual`s resolve. It`s a test of an
individual`s philosophy. It`s a test of an individual`s life experiences.
And I think Americans are really ready for a leader that will give them a
great hope about the future.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Perry said he probably has less margin for error after his
infamous oops moment during the debate in 2011. That`s when he couldn`t
remember one of the three federal agencies he wanted to close down, if he
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: We`re back.
Well, the Democrats in Congress are in to anti-Wall Street mood right
now and they`re lead in the fight, of course, for the soul of their party
in this battle between the White House and Senator Elizabeth Warren. Which
direction is the party going to take? And will Hillary move the party back
to the center?
Back with the roundtable right now, Michael, Melinda and Hogan.
Melinda, I think this is one of those big nights in politics. I think
the fact that Senator Warren, in a manner somewhat like Ted Cruz, I mean,
going across the Hill, (INAUDIBLE) the party and say, cause of trouble,
don`t go along anymore. In this case, she`s saying, don`t vote for a big
spending bill which includes a nice little gimme to Wall Street.
HENNEBERGER: Well, nobody wants to see a government shutdown. But, I
don`t think --
MATTHEWS: Ted Cruz wasn`t afraid of one.
HENNEBERGER: But nobody wants to see a check on Wall Street and roll
backs, either. It isn`t just liberals on the Hill. I think that among
average Americans, you don`t see people, boy, I really wish we`d get off
the backs of Wall Street and big business.
I think that`s where the public is. There`s a lot of that kind of
populous feeling among ordinary Republicans, maybe not the ones on the
MATTHEWS: Well, one of the charges on the right, the real right of
this country is, and I hear this from the real left, if the Democratic
Party doesn`t get populist, they`re going to get snaked by the Republicans
who will be populist. That the Republicans will come from, the libertarian
right saying you guys will be in bed too long.
GIDLEY: That`s right. I think that`s accurate. What`s interesting
to me, though, as you move this thing forward, right, if this bill does get
out of the House, you`re going to have some weird relationship between
Elizabeth Warren and Ted Cruz, because they`re both --
GIDLEY: They`re going to be against the bill for different motivating
MATTHEWS: They`re both against torture.
GIDLEY: Right. But I`m saying, it could both sink in the Senate for
two people who are diametrically oppose to just about every issue for
different motivating factors. But they`re against the same bill. It`s
going to be very odd. I don`t know that it gets out of the Senate.
MATTHEWS: Yes, we could be here through Christmas.
STEELE: We could be here through Christmas. I still cannot find this
more odd than to hear, you know, Elizabeth Warren coming off as the Joan of
Arc of the left to go and fight Wall Street.
MATTHEWS: There is a similarity --
STEELE: And let me finish my thought. And poor Ted Cruz who was
making the same principle charge, you know, as somehow, you know,
Methuselah or some --
MATTHEWS: McCarthyism, in my mind.
STEELE: In Chris Matthews` mind.
GIDLEY: He was called the political terrorist.
STEELE: Political terrorist.
MATTHEWS: Let`s discriminate here between somebody who`s trying to
make sure Wall Street doesn`t get another bite out of the apple they
shouldn`t have, and somebody`s out there saying Chuck Hagel is taking
200,000 bucks from the North Koreans. There`s a difference.
STEELE: But she needs to go reconcile that attitude and that approach
with the rest of her party who`s taken checks from Wall Street for the last
HENNEBERGER: Well --
STEELE: Starting with this administration. So, don`t give me this
holier than thou on Wall Street right now.
MATTHEWS: He speaks the truth, this child in the temple. You have
just said something here, because the Democrats money comes from New York
and it comes from where ever people from New York go during the rest of the
year and it comes from San Francisco and L.A. It`s a coastal party when it
comes to money. Now, they`re attacking big money. This is fascinating.
HENNEBERGER: Both parties on the Hill are in the pocket of Wall
Street and I think that anyone who took them on could get a lot of support
among average Americans, because that`s why people don`t --
HENNERBERGER: That`s why Congress is held in such low remarks.
MATTHEWS: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: I think it`s good for the country this fight. We could
stay on a few more days fighting about the big budget bill, as long as you
have somebody looking out for the people.
Thank you. Thank you very much.
And thank you, Michael Steele, Melinda Henneberger, and Hogan Gidley.
When we return, let me finish with the revolution in a Democratic
Party we`re witnessing tonight.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics and where you hear
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this revolution in the
Democratic Party that we`re witnessing tonight. If Senator Elizabeth
Warren is able to whip the party in defeating this monstrous spending bill,
if she is seen as the key crusader against Wall Street in this grand test
of power, it will set the course for the months and years ahead.
The one thing we know about the Democratic Party is that it stands in
the shadow of recent defeat. Last month`s election delivered the Senate
into Republican hands. It reversed the composition of the Senate from 55-
45 Democratic, to 55-45 Republican.
It enlarged the Republican lead in the House of Representatives to the
point that it would be very hard for the Democrats to win back control in
2016, even with a strong standard running for president.
The other thing to say about the Democrats is that they seem stuck in
place. You get the sense that the party caucus, the House and the Senate,
are not smaller in number, but smaller in ideas. They look to be simply
holding on, sticking to the usual positions and phrases, hoping for
salvation by adherence to their most basic constituencies.
Both of these factors, the fact of defeat and fact of studded thinking
makes tonight`s wide open assault on the Republicans and the president and
this big spending bill and its little give away to Wall Street all the more
important. Remember this date, December 11th, 2014, it may be the birthday
for a Democratic Party that`s regained its reason to be.
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
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'Hardball with Chris Matthews' for Thursday, December 11th, 2014