All In with Chris Hayes, Transcript 09/25/15
ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC GUEST HOST: Good evening from New York. I`m Alex
Wagner, in for Chris Hayes.
Right now, all eyes are on Pope Francis, who has just concluded mass
at Madison Garden in Midtown Manhattan, where he presided over a massive
gathering of the faithful with 20,000 people in attendance. He is making
his way through crowds of well wishers to the Vatican`s diplomatic
residence on New York`s Upper East Side. It has been a full day for the
78-year-old pontiff, a day that started off with an address to the United
Nations General Assembly.
He also visited ground zero and met with schoolchildren in East
Harlem. This is the pope`s second and final night in New York City, the
second leg of his historic three-city tour of the United States. Tomorrow,
he heads to Philadelphia where he is expected to have another jam-packed
day, which will include a speech at Independence Hall.
Joining us now from outside Madison Square Garden is Anne Thompson.
Anne, tell us about what you`re seeing on the streets over there.
ANNE THOMPSON, NBC NEWS: Well, Alex, there are – when the pope`s
little Fiat pulled away, some people here at 34th and 8th who`ve been
waiting very, very patiently, they could get a long-distance view and a big
cheer went up. But then he is gone. So, now, we`re all frozen in this
location until the police say we can move again. So – and this is what
happens after the pope leaves.
But I think what really struck me about this mass was at the end and
was the extensive standing ovation that the pope got as the mass ended and
Cardinal Dolan addressed him. I mean, he heads to Philly with the sound of
20,000 people cheering and applauding in a way that Madison Square Garden I
don`t think has heard in decades. It was an extraordinary thing to see and
to hear. New York showed everyone how much they love Pope Francis with
WAGNER: Anne, tell us a little bit about the folks who were on the
street awaiting Pope Francis`s passage through the city. How big were
those crowds, and did you get a sense of where folks were coming from? Was
it mostly folks in New York? Were we talking about folks that had come in
from other parts of the East Coast?
THOMPSON: It was a little bit of everything, Alex. There were some
people who just decided, especially down here around Madison Square Garden
when they finished work, to take advantage and try to get a glimpse of Pope
Francis. Some people just did it because honestly, you couldn`t move.
I mean, I will tell you, 34th Street was crowded like I`ve never seen
it ever. It was really hard to even move on the street. And I think some
of it`s curiosity, some of it comes from people who are genuinely touched
and moved by this pope. Some of the people there are Catholic. Some are
fallen away Catholic.
But I think that`s the other extraordinary thing about the appeal of
Pope Francis, is that you don`t have to be Catholic to be touched by his
message or to be moved by his message. His message is very, very basic.
And that is, as he said yesterday in his speech, you know, follow the
golden rule, do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
And when you start from that, that`s something I think we can all
agree on. And you put it in practice in your life. And I think that`s
what people are drawn, to that and the fact that this man walks the talk.
He lives humbly. He always stops to bless or talk to any person that he
sees in need.
In fact, I think he likes that better. That`s where he really – you
can see him just get energized by people because he feels that is such a
crucial part of his ministry – Alex.
WAGNER: Anne, thanks for that update.
I want to go now to NBC News correspondent Rehema Ellis, who is
outside the Vatican`s diplomatic residence on Manhattan`s Upper East Side,
where the pope is staying the night tonight.
Rehema, what are you seeing?
REHEMA ELLIS, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: What we just saw was about a
half a dozen or so of police cars with lights flashing that came down 72nd
Street passing the residence. This was the prelude, if you will, to the
We saw this earlier in the day when he came from the United Nations.
First, we see the police cars, and then we will see about 12 to 14
motorcycles just before you see the SUVs and then you see that tiny little
Fiat that the pope is riding in.
So, I suspect that he will be here at any minute, where he will spend
the night after a very busy day. His schedule is rigorous. I`ve said
before that it would be daunting for a person half his age. And yet this
pope, 78 years old, he starts very early in the morning and he`s going now
into the evening. He had guests here at 6:00 this morning who had an
opportunity to see him, to be blessed by him.
And then as you know very busy schedule, now with the mass, and even
when he came here for lunch this afternoon, which I`m told was just fish
and rice because he`s on a bit of a diet, and now we see some more of the
lights flashing behind me. Again, the pope is on his way. But he didn`t
have much down time because he got here at 12:58, if you will. By 1:58,
there were more guests coming into the residence.
And now, he may have an opportunity to rest a little bit after a very
long day as part of that 39-hour whirlwind visit to New York City where
he`s been from the lower part of Manhattan all the way up to Harlem,
greeting people along the way.
I mentioned earlier that while this is an area where people are not
invited to come and stand unlike Madison Square Garden and Central Park,
the pope did invite people in in this afternoon including children and
their families from Ronald McDonald house, children who are suffering from
And he invited them in giving them an opportunity to see him, to be
blessed by him. And later, we were told he asked these families and
children to pray for him, the similar message that he offered people at
Madison Square Garden tonight. So, he ended his day much the way he began
Here are the motorcycles I told you about that often are the real
signal that the pope is right behind them. And now, we`re about to see the
vehicles with the SUVs.
WAGNER: Rehema, what can you tell us about the Vatican residence, for
those people who are familiar and not familiar with New York City?
ELLIS: Well, this is a residence here in a very upscale part of New
York, Madison Avenue on the East Side, 72nd Street. It is a five-story
building. And I`m told that they did an update on the wiring and the
plumbing. They spruced it up a little bit, even more than it already was.
But this building was constructed in the late 1800s.
So, there`s a lot of old features about it, but it`s a lovely
structure, I`m told, and from what I read. And again, it got some fixing
up in advance of the pope.
WAGNER: And, Rehema, for our viewers who are watching right now,
we`re getting a little glimpse. You can almost see the pontiff in the
Popemobile exiting – the Fiat pulling up. I think that`s one of the –
that was Cardinal Dolan exiting the vehicle. And I believe the pope is
closely behind him in another vehicle.
Rehema, give us a sense of who`s on the street at this moment and how
close onlookers can get to this motorcade.
ELLIS: There are hundreds and hundreds of police on the street, and
actually right in front of me there are no pedestrians. They have been
kept away from this area. What you see out here are reporters, camera
crews, and police officers. And for all the hundreds of police officers
you can see who are in uniform, I would venture to guess there are a number
of those that are in plain clothes so you don`t know about the officers.
But they`re not pedestrians. This is an area that is heavily guarded,
heavily secured. So tonight the pope will rest and get a good night`s
sleep and be very safe as he ends a very long and tiring but very uplifting
day, I hope for him, but it certainly was for the thousands of people who
came out in New York City to see him.
But this is a fortress area, Alex. This is all about guarding the
pope and keeping him safe tonight.
WAGNER: Rehema, do we know who else has been traveling in the pope`s
entourage while he`s been touring New York City and making these many
ELLIS: Well, one of the things we do know is that Cardinal Dolan, who
is the cardinal here in New York City, we saw him here with the pope, there
have been a number of other religious leaders who have been with him
throughout his journey today. There was also some lay people who had an
opportunity to travel with him, but oftentimes when we have seen him come
out of the residence, there have been priests who have been with the
cardinal – I`m sorry, with the pope, traveling with. And of course he`s
always traveling with his interpreter.
WAGNER: I want to bring in now George Weigel, our resident in-house
Vatican scholar at NBC.
George, talk to us a little about the sort of magnitude of this trip.
First of all, the whirlwind nature but also the scope of the trip insofar
as the pontiff has delivered mass to 20,000 faithful in Madison Square
Garden this evening, but also spent time in a one-on-one capacity at a
school in East Harlem. He`s going from the very, very big stage to the
very small intimate stage.
GEORGE WEIGEL, NBC NEWS SENIOR VATICAN ANALYST: I thought the school
visit was just marvelous because one of the things the Catholic Church has
done in the United States for almost 200 years now is educate poor kids,
educate kids who might not otherwise have a chance. And to lift that up
was a great thing for the Holy Father to do. And I think he enjoyed it.
He looked like he was having a good time too.
The event at Ground Zero today I thought was really quite striking.
In a world that is continually being torn apart by violence and wickedness
of the worst sort, here was this remarkable coming together of people of
faith, different convictions, and it somehow helped heal the remaining hurt
from 14 years ago. I said on a broadcast earlier today that one of the
unknown jobs of the pope is to try to help people deal with their pain.
He`s a pain absorber for people, and to see him meet with those families of
first responder deaths.
WEIGEL: Really embodied that role of the pope which Christ said to
Peter, you are to strengthen your brethren. So that was very important as
well. The centerpiece of this whole day is what happened at Madison Square
Garden. Everything the Catholic Church does only makes sense in terms of
its celebration of the Holy Eucharist, its celebration of mass.
And, you know, the Second Vatican Council said the liturgy is where
the church really begins and goes. And that`s the engine that makes all of
this go. And I thought it was a beautiful, beautiful ceremony.
When Annie Thompson just mentioned the applause, I`m sure a few people
thought there hasn`t been anything like this since Willis Reed came out on
the seventh day of the `78 NBA finals limping on that bad leg –
WAGNER: It was a big night for the Garden, as Catholics in America.
I want to bring another Catholic in America, former Michigan Governor
Governor Granholm, you were writing in “The Huffington Post” this week
about the importance of Pope Francis`s words in the context of where we are
as a country politically. And I guess I wonder sitting as we are ahead of
the 2016 presidential elections, how much do you think the pope`s message
about immigration or climate change will maybe affect the dynamics of this
JENNIFER GRANHOLM (D), FORMER MICHIGAN GOVERNOR: From your mouth to
God`s ears. I mean, today, actually, there`s the start of this Values
Voters Summit. And you know, I`ll be curious to see. I mean, here the
pope is talking about the people who are not seen, the people who are at
And you know, for us lowly politicians the way we try to live up to
our faith, right, is to enact laws that exhort, you know, that take care of
the things that our faith is exhorting us to do like the pope. So how does
that manifest itself?
It manifests itself in making sure that for us – now, I`m a Catholic
Democrat. So, how I see this is OK, we`ve got to have a strong safety net
for those – for the rest for our common family, for our human family, we
have to make sure that we have Social Security and we`ve got health care
for children and all of that.
And so I`m curious this weekend that this values voters summit, is any
of this going to translate? This welcoming in the stranger. Will there be
some – will there not be a tin ear to people who are immigrants? Can we
see some action, some opening? Can it soften the ground on climate change?
Those things I just would so be grateful if the pope`s message goes
beyond just the Catholic faith, beyond just the Christian faith, but really
transcends political parties. That would be awesome.
WAGNER: Jennifer, I mean, in terms of American progressive Catholics,
I guess I wonder what the pope`s effect would be looking forward on those
Catholics who may not feel like they had a place in the church for years.
Do you think this is a turning point?
GRANHOLM: Oh, it is so – Alex, I`m just saying, I`m a governor who
was protested because of my position on whether the government should have
a role in a woman`s medical decisions. And when this pope came in and said
– and started to stress the things that we could do something about
related to poor people and all of that, that he emphasized not just the
cultural issues but the issues related to people who we are serving.
I was just like, Lord, this is – this is like manna from heaven for
those of us who are trying to serve in our own humble way. I`m just
saying, I think that for so many people like me and like others who have
felt closed out, people who may be gay, people who have fallen away, people
who may be divorced, they feel like oh, my gosh, there`s an opening now.
I`ll be curious to see whether more people are actually attending
church and whether his message goes beyond just the church walls but goes,
you know – goes out.
WAGNER: The exuberance, I can feel and hear the exuberance from over
here, Jennifer Granholm. Governor, it`s great to see you. Thanks for your
GRANHOLM: Good to see you, too.
WAGNER: Thanks as always for your time. When we come back, the other
humongous story of this day, the shocking resignation of Speaker of the
House John Boehner. The one and only Chris Matthews will join me on that
amazing news, coming up next.
WAGNER: Up next, the other huge news story today. Speaker of the
House John Boehner abruptly announces that he is stepping down and leaving
Congress. Chris Matthews joins us coming up next.
WAGNER: Now the other major news story of today, House Speaker John
Boehner`s bombshell decision to resign from leadership and from Congress at
the end of October. He made the announcement at a meeting with the House
Republican Caucus this morning and by all accounts almost no one saw it
I`m joined now by our very own Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC`s
Chris, it is great to see you as always.
Huge news stories today. We`re learning from politico that Speaker
Boehner was looking at November 17th as a possible resignation date. But
that the pope`s visit seemed to have somehow pushed all of this up to the
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HARDBALL: Well, I was taken the other day by his
desire to meet alone with the pope, just he and him, obviously a spiritual
moment. And he wanted to talk to him. He wanted his counsel, his prayers,
or something. And I thought this was interesting.
I don`t know if he ever had that chance. He said he did. But there
were a bunch of other cardinals in the room. I don`t know if they ruined
that chance for that entre nous moment.
But I think he`s been under a lot of stress. We all know that.
There`s this push, this mutiny on the right to knock him as – to declare
his speaker`s chair vacant and all kinds of threats that if he uses the
Democrats to save his seat as speaker, that they would really go in
rebellion against both the Democrats and Republicans.
So, he`s got very much a revolutionary caucus and he is not a
revolutionary. He`s a traditional Republican conservative from the
Midwest, the kind that I grew up with. The kind that has usually been the
Republican Party establishment.
But he doesn`t fit anymore. He doesn`t fit with these people or the
Republican Party out there because if you look at the three people – you
know this, Alex, the three people leading in the polls, Trump and Dr.
Carson and Carly Fiorina, if you add up their votes, it`s well over 50
percent of the polling right now. So, the party is being led by the
revolutionary crowd right now and he doesn`t represent them at all.
WAGNER: Chris, I wonder if you`re Mitch McConnell, right, another
establishment Republican known kind of as a dealmaker on the Hill, how do
you greet this news? I mean, I`m reminded of the old adage, the devil you
know versus the devil you don`t, and I wonder how Senate Republicans in
particular think about this decision.
MATTHEWS: Well, the problem with the Senate is it`s been overrun by
so many House members. If you think about the decorum and the bipartisan
nature of the Senate, it basically was killed when all those House members
from the Republican side went over to the Senate and they brought the
values of the house with them, which is very partisan, that values system,
The Senate didn`t seem to operate like that. I still – I don`t think
it`s as bad as the House yet, Alex, in terms of zealous partisanship.
WAGNER: What do you think, Chris, about how house Democrats are
greeting this news? We spoke with Maxine Waters earlier today and we`ll be
playing that interview later on in the hour. But Boehner talked about
bipartisanship in what will probably be seen as his farewell press
conference, and he talked about his relationship with Democrats, which is
not something that we talk about frequently in terms of Washington.
And I wonder what you think the Democratic reaction can and should be
in this moment.
MATTHEWS: Well, I`m not Nancy Pelosi, and she has her own political
stresses and pressures on her and aspirations, but I hope they don`t press
too high a price to Boehner in trying to get a continuing resolution to go
– to get 218 votes. I hope they give him enough votes to get the thing
through and not use this as a chance, but I understand they`re going to ask
for more defense spending and more domestic spending as the price for even
a short-term continuing resolution.
My hope, call me crazy, but if Boehner`s going out, why not go out
with a bang?
MATTHEWS: Find a way to bring to the floor the Senate immigration
bill. It`s a good bill. It`s not a left-wing bill –
WAGNER: But do you think he`ll do that?
MATTHEWS: Look, I`m praying he will because this will put this hell
behind us. It`s a good bill. It provides for ultimately being able to
become a citizen after a lot of obstacles, a lot of hurdles. But you can
Secondly, it really does have an enforcement mechanism. We all know
walls aren`t going to keep a guy or a woman from coming to America if they
need a job. It will stop people from illegal hiring.
This is the kind of thing that would really work if they pass it and
really mean to enforce it and we wouldn`t have Donald Trumps running around
demagoguing the issue.
What I am afraid of is that both sides want the issue – the
demagogues want it to run against immigration and the Democrats want it to
keep the Hispanic vote 100 percent or 89 percent Democrat.
If they just pass the bill, so Pelosi, if I were her, and I`m not her
and I`m not in her position, go to Boehner and say, you know what , let`s
get that rules committee to bring this to the floor. Special procedures.
WAGNER: It would be –
MATTHEWS: It would be wonderful. It would kill Trump. It would kill
WAGNER: And, look, and I`ll say, Chris, you know this well, a lot
gets done in a lame duck session of Congress. A lot is getting done in a
lame duck moment of this president`s final term. And maybe a lot will get
done in the lame duck moment of John Boehner`s speakership.
Chris Matthews, it is always good to see you. Thanks for your time.
MATTHEWS: Thank you so much, Alex.
WAGNER: Much more on John Boehner`s resignation coming up.
Representatives Chris Van Hollen, Maxine Waters and the man known as
junior, NBC Capitol Hill correspondent Luke Russert.
Don`t go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: This morning, I woke
up, and walked up to Starbucks as usual and got my coffee and came back and
read, walked up to Pete`s Diner and saw everybody at Pete`s. And got home
and thought, yes, I think today`s the day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WAGNER: And with that, House Speaker John Boehner dropped his
bombshell decision to resign from Congress. It certainly seems to have put
a spring in his step at a press conference today to explain the decision
the speaker walked into the room singing a song.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOEHNER: Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-a. My oh my, what a wonderful
I used to sing that on my way to work in the morning.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WAGNER: The announcement comes just days before the federal
government runs out of money on September 30th. With House conservatives
threatening to shut the government down in a ploy to defund Planned
Parenthood and to challenge Boehner`s speakership if he stands in a way.
At his press conference, Boehner suggested the potential battle was a
major factor in his decision.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOEHNER: It`s become clear to me that this prolonged leadership
turmoil would do irreparable harm to the institution. As you`ve often
heard me say, this isn`t about me. It`s about the people. It`s about the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WAGNER: Boehner now joins Eric Cantor on the House list of republican
leaders effectively forced out by the party`s right wing. Despite
Boehner`s strong opposition to this administration, the speaker drew
widespread praise from across the aisle including from the president
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: We have obviously had a lot of disagreements and politically
we`re at different ends of the spectrum, but I will tell you, he has always
conducted himself with courtesy and civility with me. Maybe most
importantly, he`s somebody who understands that in government, in
governance you don`t get 100 percent of what you want, but you have to work
with people who you disagree with, sometimes strongly, in order to do the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WAGNER: But Boehner`s resignation got a very different reaction when
Senator Marco Rubio brought it up at the Values Voters Summit today in
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARCO RUBIO, (R) FLORIDA: Just a few minutes ago, Speaker
Boehner announced that he will be resigning.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WAGNER: Joining me now, NBC News congressional correspondent Luke
Russert, known to Speaker Boehner and now the world as junior. The man who
was at the speaker`s press conference today, got the first question.
Luke, you are our in-house Boehner whisperer. What`s going on and
what`s going to happen to House Republicans in the near-term with the
government shutdown and in the long-term in terms of leadership?
LUKE RUSSERT, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: So what`s going on? Well, we
have heard rumblings that John Boehner was considering retirement and most
all of us who cover him on a day to day pretty much knew he would retire at
the end of this congress barring Jeb Bush winning the presidency and
begging him to stay.
The question was not if, but when. I think that was moved up because
of Pope Francis`s visit, honestly. And I asked that to Boehner. He said
no, not necessarily. But Pope Francis`s visit definitely put it in
perspective. So that`s why this came out today.
Now, what happens next? I have it on good sourcing that Kevin
McCarthy is all set to become the next speaker of the House of
Representatives. He should not face a real serious challenge. So he
In the near-term next week by Boehner doing this, essentially falling
on the sword, the government will be funded. A clean bill that funds
Planned Parenthood will come through the Senate. It will then be put on
the House floor probably Wednesday, the last day possible by Boehner. It
will get maybe 35, 40 Republican votes and pass with Democratic support.
That averts that fight. Then you have to raise the debt limit. You
have to fund the government again more likely than not in December. And
oh, by the way,
export-import bank needs to be figured out as well as funding the highway.
So the next speaker has a lot to do.
Could Boehner try to get all this done in the month of October if the
Senate was willing to play ball? Sure. But I don`t necessarily know if
they would be willing to do that or if McConnell thinks that that`s wise
for his own future
considering how many of his members dislike him.
In our own NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll showing 72 percent of
Republicans dissatisfied with the congressional leadership. I think that
sort of perhaps showed Boehner that while he could win the fight it`s not a
good one on the horizon for him or McConnell.
WAGNER: Well, Luke, before we let you go, in terms of the man
himself. I mean, this is a speaker that you have interacted with a lot.
You know the man well. Yesterday there were tears. He was incredibly
publicly emotional. Today he literally walked into this press conference
singing zip-a-dee-doo-dah. To say he was light of heart would not be an
understatement. This seemed like a decision he made easily.
RUSSERT: You know, he`s relieved, Alex, because I think the pressure
on him has just grown so much over the last six months. And you have to
remember I`ve seen where John Boehner grew up. He grew up on the side of a
small hill in Reading, Ohio one of 12 children, four kids to a room. His
parents slept on a
pullout couch. He had to sweep a bar every morning at 5:00 a.m. before he
went to school. It took seven years to finish college, never thought that
he would amount to being a college graduate and successful businessman,
much less get elected to congress and become speaker.
So to have the Holy Father there yesterday, that was the pinnacle of
his life. I have it on good authority that it`s bigger than almost his
wife getting married to him or his children.
So I think that`s really what happened is that he`s comfortable. He
knows that`s he`s accomplished as much as he can and he`ll go on in the
I don`t think he`ll have a leadership symposium or anything. I think
he`ll be on the golf course thinking my gosh, what a run I had.
WAGNER: And he`s given a gift to all of us here at NBC and MSNBC.
And so far we can call you junior officially on the air.
RUSSERT: I know, 30 years old and I`m junior. I love that. I just
turned 30 in August and I can still be junior.
WAGNER: It`s your new nickname, buddy.
RUSSERT: Hey, I saw your mom outside the Nunciore (ph). She looked
WAGNER: Thanks, Luke, for sharing that with America. Thank you, Luke
Russert, as always, my friend.
I`m joined by Congressman Chris Van Hollen, Democrat from Maryland.
Congressman Van Hollen, thanks for joining us on this Friday night. How
did you hear the news that John Boehner was going to be stepping down?
REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D) MARYLAND: Well, I was surprised as well.
Like Luke I figured it was a matter of when, but I didn`t think it would be
this soon. And I`m sure the speaker`s very relieved. He was clearly
relieved at his press conference.
But this is a very bad sign for the future of the House and the
prospects of actually getting things done because what this means, Alex, is
that the 40 Tea Party folks, the most extreme folks in the Republican
caucus at the end of the day had their way. They`re emboldened now. And
whoever becomes the next speaker, they will hold a hammer over whoever that
And anytime the speaker gets out of line with that right-wing Tea
Party agenda they can bring it down.
WAGNER: So is there going to be a government shutdown, congressman?
VAN HOLLEN: Well, we`re going to work very hard to avoid a government
shutdown. And the clock is ticking. We`re going to work very hard to do
that. If we are able to avoid it, this does mean even bigger trouble,
though, just months from now because the folks who are going to be upset
about the failure to shut down the government – if we`re able to keep the
government funded, if we`re able to keep women`s health programs and
Planned Parenthood funded for the short period of time so we can buy some
negotiating space, which is what I hope happens, then the question is what
next? What happens just a few months from now?
WAGNER: Well, and let me ask you on that front, are House Democrats
excited by the prospect of Kevin McCarthy taking the gavel?
VAN HOLLEN: Well, I think Kevin McCarthy, I mean, he wasn`t trying to
push the speaker out. He`s been a team player with the speaker. But I`ve
got to believe he`s thinking tonight, you know, what just landed in my hand
here? Because there`s no reason to believe that Kevin McCarthy is going to
be able to deal with
this 40 Tea Party member caucus any better than Speaker Boehner did.
In fact, they`re going to be emboldened. They`re going to be making
demands on Kevin McCarthy and constantly threatening to bring him down. In
fact, there are some Republican radio hosts right now who are already
talking about bringing down Kevin McCarthy so they can keep going here.
So this is a bad, bad sign for those of us who would like at least
something to happen in the House to keep the government open, to keep it
funded over the rest of the year at the kind of levels that are necessary
to maintain our priorities in this country.
WAGNER: Congressman, do you think there`s even the shade of
expectation that Speaker Boehner might do something on immigration or try
and do something big in
his remaining days as Speaker of the House?
VAN HOLLEN: Well, I hoped that he would go out with something bold as
well. It seemed to me that if you`re going to resign as speaker you might
as well resign when you`re getting some big thing done for the country.
The problem of course on the immigration reform bill is that it went away
at the end of the last congress. I mean, the bill that came out of the
Senate went away with the new congress. You`d have to start from scratch.
And at this point in time, the senators, the Republican – the senate is
now in Republican control…
WAGNER: Like Marco Rubio.
VAN HOLLEN: Marco Rubio, who helped pass it out the first time is now
against it. So that`s not something the speaker`s going to be able to do.
I`d love it if he tried. But it would die in the Senate now.
There are other things he could do on budget issues and make sure that
we funded the government at adequate levels to invest in places like the
National Institutes of Health and Head Start and education. He could do
that. But it didn`t sound to me at the press conference today that that
was what was on his mind. It was like he just wants to get out of here.
Congressman Chris Van Hollen.
VAN HOLLEN: Unfortunately, it`s going to leave quite a mess for the
next couple months.
WAGNER: Indeed it sounds like it will. Thanks for your time as
VAN HOLLEN: Thank you.
WAGNER: Up next, I`ll talk with Democratic Congresswoman Maxine
Waters who joined congress the same year as John Boehner, about what could
still be in store.
WAGNER: House Speaker John Boehner, who today made the surprise
announcement that he is leaving congress, started his congressional career
in 1991 in the same freshman class as a politician with a very different
political stripe: California Democrat Maxine Waters.
During an emotional press conference discussing his decision earlier
today, Boehner was asked what he is going to miss when he leaves congress.
He pointed to the camaraderie he has with his colleagues and then
specifically cited a conversation he had with Waters.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOEHNER: Now, you know, there`s nothing about my politics and Maxine
Waters` politics that`s even anywhere close. But yesterday, about 5:30,
she called my office. I got a note that she called. So I called her back.
And she said, you know, I`ve watched you for 25 years here. We came here
together and watched your career. And watched you today. And she says, I
just want to tell you something, I`m really proud of you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WAGNER: A short time ago I had a chance to speak to Congresswoman
Waters about that phone call.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MAXINE WATERS, (D) CALIFORNIA: I called him after watching him
with the pope, and I watched him because he was absolutely very vulnerable
at that moment. He was emotional. And I knew what it meant to him to have
the pope here in the House of Representatives addressing the joint session
I knew that this was something that he had wanted to happen for a long
time. And so I said to him, you know, we came here together and you`ve
done very well. You`ve been successful. You have become the Speaker of
the House of Representatives and that`s not an easy thing to do. You have
to really, really work very hard and get the support of a lot of members of
your conference in order to do that and you`ve achieved that. Not only
have you achieved that, you are now realizing this historical moment in the
history of the congress of the United
States. You got the pope to come and do this address to the joint session.
And so I just want to tell you, I`m proud of you.
And I think, you know, he might have been a little surprised, but we
have a relationship. And I think there are other people who will learn
about this, will be a lot more surprised than certainly John Boehner
because they don`t know about these kinds of relationships. They get
snippets of us in the press, and I am described as this very left-wing
liberal, you know, congresswoman and he`s described as this very
conservative leader who can`t get things done, and they don`t know that
we`re working oftentimes behind the scenes and we`re able to help get some
things done even though we disagree on some very basic issues.
And so that was the call. And that`s what I said to him. And I think
he was very appreciative of it. He`s come to the conclusion that he`s
going to retire. But I think he can be proud of his success. He may not
have been able to do everything that he`s wanted to do because I know he`s
wanted to do some things where there was disagreement in his conference and
he wasn`t able to get it done.
Just like now, we are trying to work on, you know, reauthorization of the
export-import bank. He wants to get that done. But he`s being resisted by
the right wing in his caucus, in his conference, and he can`t get it done.
So you know…
WAGNER: Congressman, do you think that he will get it done? Do you
think that the so-called – what you could perhaps term the lame duck
session of his speakership will be filled with the things that he would
have liked to do prior to this period?
WATERS: I don`t know. But I sure would like him to try. I would
like him to get this Ex-Im(ph) bank authorized. I would like him to help
move this highway bill. I would like him to do everything he can to keep
the right wing from shutting down this congress over Planned Parenthood.
So I don`t know how much he will try to do in this lame duck.
WAGNER: Congresswoman, let me ask you one more question. Who would
you like – who would House Democrats like to see take over the speaker`s
WATERS: We`re not saying. We`re not going to get in it. We`re not
going to identify anybody that we think would be the best. As a matter of
fact, that might
We`re going to let them fight it out. They`re going to have to have a
struggle inside that conference. They have been at odds with each other
inside that conference for a long time now. And so I don`t think anything
is going to happen easily. It`s going to be a little struggle over there
and we don`t know who it`s going to be. We`re not saying anything about
it. This is their fight. Let them fight it out.
WAGNER: And they certainly will.
Congresswoman Maxine Waters, great to see you. Thanks so much for
WATERS: And thank you so much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WAGNER: Still to come, a look back at just what kind of legacy John
Boehner leaves behind.
WAGNER: Up next, what does a John Boehner-free Republican congress
look like? And what about the legacy of the 61st Speaker of the House?
We`ll talk about that coming up next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOEHNER: We should not be judged on how many new laws we create. We
ought to be judged on how many laws that we repeal. We`ve got more laws
than the administration could ever enforce.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WAGNER: John Boehner is earning widespread praise for his leadership
in the House of Representatives, but his nearly five-year term as speaker
may go down as one of the least productive periods in House history.
Characterized by unprecedented obstructionism and gridlock with repeated
budget crises, a stalled vote on comprehensive immigration reform, and over
60 failed votes to repeal or
Boehner is leaving behind a complicated legacy and an uncertain path
forward for the House Republican caucus.
I`m joined by Michael Thomasky, columnist for The Daily Beast and Norm
Orenstein, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and co-
author of “It`s even worse than it looks: How the American Constitutional
System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism.”
Michael, let me start with you. I want to ask you a question that one
would think we would know the answer to, which is – what do you think John
politics truly are?
Jonathan Chait posits that effectively Boehner`s differences with the
Republican base are more tactical than philosophical. Molly Ball in The
Atlantic says, no, effectively John Boehner is the front man for the GOP`s
Where do you think he actually is in terms of his ideology?
MICHAEL TOMASKY, THE DAILY BEAST: I think he`s what we would have
called 20 or 30 years ago a rock-ribbed conservative. I don`t think
there`s much question about that.
But these days a rock-ribbed conservative who`s possibly willing to
compromise and legislate is a sellout and a quisling to the more extreme
wing of his party. So, gets tagged as a moderate. But he`s not a moderate
at all ideologically. He`s a conservative. He just believes, or once
believed or tried to believe or something like that, in the idea of
legislation and compromise, but then he caved as speaker repeatedly.
Repeatedly, repeatedly, time and time again he caved to his extremists.
So, you know, the ideological differences between him and Tim
Huelskamp doesn`t really make any difference. What makes a difference is
that they led him around rather than the other way.
WAGNER: Norm, how do you read this in terms of the path forward? Is
it effectively the end of what some people would call a blue state
Republican Party and a red state Democratic Party or representatives from
those respective wings? Are we going to see those people elected to
congress ever again?
NORM ORNSTEIN, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUE: Not for a very long
time, Alex. I mean, we have seen not just the sharp polarization and the
regional divide take place the way it has, but it`s turned into tribalism
and we`re not going back from it anytime soon, and if we`re looking ahead
the Republican Party is characterized by basically a struggle between
radical crazies and right-wing realists.
And Boehner was a realist. And the fact is anybody coming into the
speakership, Kevin McCarthy coming in now, is not going to have any
or many Republicans, who are going to be eager to go along with the notion
that, well, we`ve got to govern, which is what McCarthy himself said after
the Republicans took the majority in the Senate.
So nothing seriously changes except the deck chairs right now.
WAGNER: Michael there, seems to be a thesis that show the base it
can`t be done, let them walk to the cliff, let them incite a shutdown and
they`ll learn. And in fact the people that seem to be taking the lessons
the hardest, the people that are really paying the price, are the
establishment. Time and time again we see them being the sort of
sacrificial lambs in this process, and I guess I wonder what price do you
think the base will extract now that Boehner is departing?
TOMASKY: I don`t know. But it`s a good question because they`ll
think of something new, I`m sure. And to people on the radical end of the
Republican caucus in the House of Representatives I don`t think they feel -
- excuse me – that there is much of a price to be paid for a government
shutdown, certainly not with respect to their own re-elections because they
come from districts where the vast majority of their voters or a majority
anyway of their voters are going to think that a shutdown is fine, that
they stood up to Obama and they stood up to the Democrats.
And even nationally for the last shutdown that Ted Cruz led they
didn`t pay much of a price. You know, other events took precedence, and
they didn`t pay any price for that.
So I think if the establishment wants them to walk to the cliff
they`ll walk to the cliff and they`ll take the establishment over the cliff
and the establishment might think that they`re going to pay a price and the
Republican Party might pay a little bit of a price in a presidential
election but these individual members will pay no price.
WAGNER: Norm, how much longer can these two wings of the party co-
exist under the same roof?
ORNSTEIN: this is going to be a really difficult struggle and I think
it`s almost an existential one for the Republican Party now. It`s been
building for a long time.
And you know, Alex, I was saying to Mike before we began that when Tom
and I did our book “It`s Even Worse Than it Looks” there were plenty of
establishment Republicans who were really upset and said oh, that`s
ridiculous, we haven`t gone that far off in a different direction, they
ignored the warning signals, and of course the fact is the young guns,
including McCarthy, the now departed Eric Cantor, and Paul Ryan incited and
really inflicted a lot of the anger out there on the Tea Party people and
now they`re paying a price and it`s not going away and the establishment is
losing at the moment and they`re losing on the presidential side as well.
WAGNER: They should have read the book. Michael Tomasky and Norm
Ornstein, thank you guys both.
ORNSTEIN: Thanks a lot.
TOMASKY: Thank you, Alex.
WAGNER: Coming up next, if you don`t have plans yet for tomorrow,
allow me to make a suggestion. Don`t go away.
WAGNER: It is another big day here in New York tomorrow as dozens of
celebrities and world leaders and 60,000 other people gather in Central
Park for the fourth annual global citizen festival, an event to help the
fight to end extreme poverty by the year 2030.
The festival features performances by Pearl Jam, Beyonce, Ed Sheeran
and Coldplay, and I will be out there as well as I usually am with those
folks hosting the event on MSNBC with my colleagues Thomas Roberts, Janet
Mock, and Willie Geist.
And we will be simulcasting the whole thing right here on MSNBC and
MSNBC.com starting at 3:00 p.m. Eastern time. You do not want to miss it.
Trust me on that.
That is us – that is it for us this evening. I`m Alex Wagner. Chris
will be back on Monday.
The Rachel Maddow Show starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.
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