Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 01/08/15
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Still out there.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews out in Los Angeles.
The manhunt continues tonight for the two men believed to have carried
out the deadly terror attack on the offices of a French satirical magazine.
The men are brothers, both in their early 30s. They were born in Paris to
Algerian-born parents. One of them was convicted in 2008 as part of a
terror cell recruiting Muslims to fight in Iraq. And there are reports
that one of the brothers got training from al Qaeda in Yemen back in 2011.
Earlier today, two masked gunmen resembling the brothers robbed a gas
station northeast of Paris. Police are now going door to door in nearby
villages searching for them. Also this morning, in what may have been a
copycat attack, a police officer was shot and killed by an assailant
wearing a bullet-proof vest.
There are now 88,000 security people taking part in the manhunt and
investigation, and France`s interior minister today said that nine people
were detained overnight for questioning.
In Paris today, there was a remarkable sight. The Eiffel Tower went
dark – there it is – in tribute to the victims of yesterday`s attack.
And once again, thousands poured into the streets in a show of solidarity.
Also in the aftermath, three mosques were attacked around the country
in France. Meanwhile, Marie la Pen (ph), the leader ever the far-right
National Front in France, called today for a national referendum to
reinstitute the death penalty. She told French TV the Islamists have
declared war against France.
I`m joined right now by NBC News chief foreign correspondent Richard
Engel, who`s in Paris, also NBC News justice correspondent Pete Williams,
and also Tom Ridge. He`s the former secretary of Homeland Security.
Here, I want to start with you, Richard. Richard, the manhunt –
how`s it going?
RICHARD ENGEL, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, the French authorities
believe that they have perhaps located the area where the suspects may be.
But if you can listen to that sentence, they don`t know a whole lot.
There is a dragnet under way. They hoped that these suspects may be
confined to an area north of Paris, near a forest. But they are asking for
tips. They are putting the suspects` photographs on the television at the
top of every hour. They`re asking people to call in if they see or hear
anything. So frankly speaking, they think they may have them cornered, but
they really don`t know.
MATTHEWS: Tell us about the gas station hold-up. What do we – does
that tell us about the fugitives?
ENGEL: We – again, this is based on one witness account. The gas
station owner thought he saw people resembling the brothers` description
involved in the stick-up. He also thought he saw weapons and a car
resembling – resembling the one that the suspects were using.
But there have been so many rumors that have been floating around here
because once the government activated the public, they have been – there
have been rumors on social media. There have been – there`s been a lot of
misinformation. At one stage today, it was thought that the suspects were
driving on a very main road on their way to Paris, and we saw police here
in Paris scrambling to intercept these suspects.
So frankly, we don`t really even know if that gas station report is
accurate. It is being treated seriously, and that is one of the reasons
that this manhunt is under way in that area. But until they are found, we
really won`t know if they ever were, in fact, in this neighborhood north of
MATTHEWS: Richard, tell us what you can right now about the crime
scene in Paris at the magazine headquarters. What – what – what does it
look like, or what did it look like to the people who came in upon it?
ENGEL: Today, we spent a good deal of time at that corner. It is
right in the center of Paris. A lot of journalists have set up their –
their camera positions around it. But there`s been a steady stream of
people arriving, bringing candles, flowers. I saw one person come today,
she started crying as she was standing there, quietly to herself. It has
become a place where people come and say that they will not accept
terrorism, that they will not be silenced.
I saw one woman today holding up a pencil, a small sharpened pencil
that has become a symbol of defiance against this act of terrorism. So it
is a memorial site now.
MATTHEWS: Let me bring in Pete Williams. Pete, what do we know now
about these – these people who are now fugitives? Apparently, two of
them. We heard about a third, a younger man involved that perhaps has
turned himself in. Where does it all stand, in terms of the manhunt?
PETE WILLIAMS, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, in terms of the younger man,
we just don`t know. The French authorities haven`t said. His friends have
said, no, he wasn`t involved, he was in school at the time. There`s
suggestion that he`s related to the two. But the French authorities have
never made it clear what they think – what role he played. And all day
yesterday, there was confusion about whether there were two people involved
in the shooting or three. So we don`t know about him.
In terms of the older brothers, there`s quite a bit known about them
because they`ve been on the French radar for quite some time. The younger
of the two – one`s 34, one`s 32 – was convicted in 2008 after he was
arrested in 2005, planning to go to Syria and then into Iraq to join in
part of a cell of people that was recruiting young people from France to go
fight against the U.S. in Iraq.
His lawyer said at the time that he was relieved that he was arrested
because he got cold feet. But apparently, during the 18 months that he was
in prison, he was changed. He came out perhaps much harder, according to
some of his friends. The terror police in France had him under some
surveillance, but as one of the officials – and Richard can probably pick
this up today – they eventually decided that he wasn`t worth watching
MATTHEWS: Let me get back to Richard on that, and then I`ll go to Tom
Ridge, the former under – secretary for Homeland Security here, and ask
this question. How much surveillance can you put on a person? I know over
in France, you have this – what`s it called, the freedom to disappear, to
have no record. They don`t like – perhaps they`re going after Google and
companies like that that have search engines. They want to be free of any
kind of surveillance generally as a society.
Is this going to tip the scale now towards surveillance because it`s
ENGEL: I – I – perhaps there could be some pressure in that. I
think what is more likely is it`s going to tip the scale in terms of
profiling. We`re starting to see more and more of an anti-Muslim
sentiment. We`re starting to see more people lashing out at the North
African community in general.
So I`m not sure if Parisians and French want to give up their privacy
and their right to deny surveillance, but I think they might want to impose
it on some other communities.
To go back to what Pete was saying, we did learn quite a bit more
today about the two brothers. Cherif, the younger brother, who was very
well known to French authorities – he was thought to be the ringleader of
this cell. He was the dominant of the two even though he was two years
younger than Said, his older brother.
We went today to the apartment block where they lived. It was a
public housing block in an immigrant neighborhood in Paris. People there
didn`t know much about it, didn`t want to talk about it. But it was there
that their radicalization process began, according to their lawyer and
according to people who have studied their case, back in 2005, largely
because of the Iraq war, they said.
Then when Cherif was put in jail, he was actually put in a prison cell
with one of the most notorious Algerian terrorists in custody in this
country and became much more radicalized while incarcerated.
MATTHEWS: God, it sounds like the worst case of people going to
prison and coming back the worst criminals in the world because of the
company they kept, been forced to keep.
Let me go to Tom Ridge, the former secretary of Homeland Security.
Tom, thanks for joining us. And here we go again, but it must – it must
resonate all through your being, the challenge of surveillance, of security
against the rights of freedom, and especially with immigrant populations
who are always sensitive to being profiled.
TOM RIDGE, FMR. DHS SECRETARY: Well, you know, Chris, you`re
absolutely right. First of all, I think we finally have to admit to
ourselves that it is a global scourge, number one. But the greatest
notoriety is when they kill innocents in the Western world, whether they`re
beheading journalists or humanitarian aid workers, going into the
parliament in Canada, or assassinating cartoonists.
And the question becomes, what do we, as a democracy, consistent with
our value systems – how do we minimize and reduce that risk? And is it a
question of more surveillance? Is it a question of profiling? These are
debates we`re going to have.
But I also think it calls right now more than ever for louder, more
sustained voices within the Muslim community to assist us in this effort,
in finding solutions and reducing the risk that these youths, who – we
better not think of them in Western terms because they do not embrace
Western values, they, quite frankly – we know most Muslims don`t abide by
that perverted and distorted interpretation of the Quran.
MATTHEWS: Well, let me get back to that problem. What do we do? I
mean, if the talk now is of profiling in France – and I can certainly
understand (INAUDIBLE) we`ll talk about that later in the program, with
Marine le Pen and the National Front. Obviously, that will be one of the
battle stations you take. You say, We have too many immigrants, too many
people who aren`t loyal to the republic. They shouldn`t be here. What
should we do about them? Well, we have capital punishment, something like
that. I can understand that temptation right now.
But given the American experience, we have an assimilating population
in our country, people come to our country, by and large, want to become
Americans, who want to be treated like Americans and should be. And then
how do we make sure that some who come here without that intention are
RIDGE: Well, I think…
MATTHEWS: Who have a negative intention toward our country.
RIDGE: Well, you know, Chris, I think – I think the answer to your
question is really embedded in the way you asked the question. The bottom
line is, is that in a democracy, a multicultural society like the United
States – and I think we do a much better job of integration and absorption
– but you share values, and you tolerate people and you tolerate diversity
and you accept freedom of speech.
And I think, any country, France, Great Britain, the United States –
we make a – draw a horrible conclusion that says that anybody that
embraces a religion has adopted the mindset of these zealots. And we have
to start with that premise and not categorizing all Muslim into one.
And then beyond that, we need to reach out and start working much more
closely, not in a rhetorical way, but a much more intimate way with the
One would wonder whether or not these zealots made their intentions
known in the broader – in their community and whether or not a fear of
retribution, or for whatever reason, they – law enforcement authorities in
France were not informed of that. Was there a disconnect between the law
enforcement in that community? And if there was, why did that exist?
I mean, there are so many fundamental problems in terms of integrating
this community into any democracy, and we`re going to have to wrestle with
them because it is with us for a long, long time.
MATTHEWS: Speaking of which, let`s go back to Pete Williams about the
question of Eric Holder going over there and getting together with the
other – with the interior minister in France. They`re pulling together
this summit right now. What can be gained, I mean, by getting together of
the Western powers, their police organizations, and figuring how you deal
with this zealotry?
WILLIAMS: Well, I think part of the issue – and this is something
that Holder has talked about before – is this balance between, on the one
hand – and Tom Ridge went through this when he was homeland secretary –
the United States wanting to know as much information as possible, for
example, about people traveling, trying to get lists of passengers before
the plane takes off, as opposed to the European approach, which has always
been much more oriented toward privacy.
And this is a continuing dialogue between the U.S. and the rest of
Europe especially. Although, as these attacks increase in scope in Europe,
that mood is very much beginning to change, and the officials there are
much more willing to share information. So that`s one thing, information
But secondly, I think the mere fact that they`re getting together goes
back to what Secretary Ridge was talking about here, a recognition that it
is a global challenge. And third, on this point of surveillance – you
know, it really is a manpower issue. If you have an increasing number of
people coming into your country that you think might be a terror risk, and
you want to keep an eye on them 24 hours a day, there simply are not enough
federal agents and police to do that, and you have to make decisions about
who are the biggest risks.
And it appears that the French decided that this young man, for
whatever reason – these two were not as big a risk, put their attentions
elsewhere, and now they`ve got this decision to live with.
MATTHEWS: And that`s where we are. Thank you so much, Pete Williams.
Thank you, Richard Engel and Tom Ridge.
Coming up, the attack in Paris has united many in the creative
community. In fact, here in the United States, Jon Stewart and Conan
O`Brien are among those defending the right of free speech around the
Plus, some on the right, led by Senator Lindsey Graham of South
Carolina, are saying that President Obama is personally to blame for the
terror attacks. These are pretty strong statements, and there are going to
be more of them.
And later, new trouble for New Jersey governor Chris Christie. A
federal prosecutor just hit his reelection campaign with a subpoena. More
on his tactics in that reelection campaign coming up here on HARDBALL
And Republicans are now building their stockpile of arguments against,
guess who? Well, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton. They must
expect her to run. They`re not waiting for the announcement. They`re
prepping for it right now tonight.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: President Obama made an unplanned stop to the French
embassy within the last hour. The president was returning from his trip in
Phoenix when he stopped by the embassy here in Washington – in Washington
to pay respects to the victims of yesterday`s attack. He signed a
condolence book and expressed his solidarity with the French people.
And we`ll be right back after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CONAN O`BRIEN, COMEDIAN: In this country, we just take it for granted
that it`s our right to poke fun at the untouchable or the sacred. But
today`s tragedy in Paris reminds us very viscerally that it`s a right some
people are inexplicably forced to die for.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Wow. Welcome back to HARDBALL. Conan O`Brien there is one
of many comedians expressing solidarity with those murdered at that Paris
satirical magazine. Conan, Jon Stewart and Bill Maher all stepped out of
their comedic roles for a moment to reflect on the power of free speech and
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JON STEWART, “THE DAILY SHOW”: Our hearts are with the staff of
“Charlie Hebdo” and their families tonight. I know very few people go into
comedy, you know, as an act of courage, mainly because it shouldn`t have to
be that. It shouldn`t be an act of courage. It should be taken as
established law. But those guys at “Hebdo” had it, and they were killed
for their cartoons.
BILL MAHER, COMEDIAN: … to bring it home to us, because we are
satirists – and I`m a satirist who deals with this subject particularly –
it`s kind of scary.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, there you have it. Tina Fey, who was at a Television
Critics Association press conference, was asked about the attacks and their
effect on free speech, particularly satire. She said, “We all must stand
firm on the issue of free speech. We are Americans. And even if it`s just
dumb jokes in `The Interview`” – that`s the movie – “we have the right to
And cartoonists around the world weighed in, as well. This was a
portion – this is a portion of a report by NBC`s Lester Holt.
LESTER HOLT, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In an expression of
solidarity, cartoonists around the world have penned their own tributes.
“Je Suis Charlie” reads this one, holding a pencil at the point of a gun.
Another shows a paintbrush writing the words “Down with terrorism.” And
this one simply shows a weeping Charlie Brown.
MATTHEWS: Well, joining me right now is Lizz Winstead. She`s co-
creator of “The Daily Show” – that`s quite an achievement in satire – and
Ted Johnson, senior editor of “Variety.”
Let me start with Lizz. Your response emotionally to this thing?
What do you feel about these people who went to work the other day in a
Parisian editorial room, sitting around the room, thinking about how to be
creative and sarcastic, satirical, doing what we do for a living in many
cases, and getting gunned down for that? For that!
LIZZ WINSTEAD, AUTHOR, “LIZZ FREE OR DIE”: You know, I feel how –
you know, so many of those comics expressed it brilliantly.
I think, for me, if feels like when you deal with – with sacred cows
and you are a satirist and your goal is to not just be funny, but to expose
hypocrisy, and now, when you look at the world, Chris, you know what it`s
like. When you add the Internet and Twitter and Facebook and so much rage
and anger and you`re taking all that on, it feels extra scary.
Bill Maher was right. It feels like, when you take on – whether you
see hypocrisy within the NRA, whether it`s zealots from climate deniers,
whether it`s the anti-abortion zealots, when you want to take those sacred
cows on, and then you see every step of the way that there`s been violence
even in our own communities, it feels really scary.
Ted, you`re thinking about the community our here in L.A., in
TED JOHNSON, EDITOR AT LARGE, “VARIETY”: Well, this is coming just on
the heels of what happened with “The Interview.” And I think the worry
certainly is of danger over, you know, even satire, yes.
MATTHEWS: Well, there`s a hell of a lot more Arab terrorists out
there, even if they`re only a small part of the community, than there are
JOHNSON: Yes. Exactly. Exactly.
But the – there`s also this counterworry that – that, yes, there`s
awareness, yes, there is this unity in the wake of the Paris bombings, but
this is going to make studio executives, this is going to make financiers
even more skittish to take on some of these projects, that they`re going to
just – they`re not going to even finance them in the first place, they`re
not going to green-light them in the first place, because they will look at
it and they will say, you know what? It`s just not worth it.
We`re – some of these projects, it`s hard enough making money, but
now when you add on top of that the idea that they would face this – this
geopolitical threat or the threat from terrorists…
MATTHEWS: So all the bad guys now are going to be Gary Busey, some
white guy that doesn`t look like he`s ethnic at all?
MATTHEWS: Is that what we`re going to – I was thinking of “True
Lies,” the Schwarzenegger movie, where they really do show a terrible
portion of a terrorist. Right? They`re not good guys.
JOHNSON: Yes. Yes.
MATTHEWS: You know?
Let me talk to you about sarcasm in satire. We all – I`m a bit older
than you two, I think – but we all grew up with it. I remember going to a
football game back in the `60s where Holy Cross played Harvard, and
somebody from Harvard, some wise guy, was running around dressed like the
Cardinal Cushing of Boston waving – shaking holy water on everybody.
MATTHEWS: And then we went and played Army up at West Point and I had
some friends of mine, in fact, whose birthday, one of them is yesterday,
went out there and made fun of the soldiers at West Point, and we got away
I mean, this hijinks is sort of who we are.
JOHNSON: I mean, look back…
MATTHEWS: Go ahead, Lizz. This is what we do. It`s not just
professional. It`s sort of like the way you get through life is laughing
WINSTEAD: That`s right.
MATTHEWS: You know.
WINSTEAD: And I think that the second there`s a chilling effect – I
mean, I personally – the studio system and Hollywood haven`t been green-
lighting all sorts of edgy comedies for the most part.
They`re always pretty safe in that, which is why these interesting
places, you know, like the satirical magazine in Paris are independently
run. Like, some of our best social critics are the ones who have done it
on their own terms and have been able to do it on their own terms, you
know, like The Onion, for example. They had the most brilliant piece of
satire after 9/11.
MATTHEWS: OK, bottom line, prediction now. It seems like “Taken,”
which I loved the first “Taken” – the second wasn`t so good with Liam
Neeson. But the first one was a great movie.
They had to find the weirdest bad guy, so they get the Albanians.
MATTHEWS: Is that where we`re going to go, Ted? You got to find the
most exotic bad guys?
JOHNSON: I think we`re going to see more of Wall Street financiers as
the bad guys.
MATTHEWS: Oh, because they don`t fight back.
JOHNSON: That`s always – yes, that`s always the easiest one to kind
of fall back on.
WINSTEAD: Or the Amish because they have zero technology with which
to even know.
MATTHEWS: “Witness” is a great movie, anyway. And the Amish looked
very good in that movie.
MATTHEWS: I have seen them all.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, I hope we do maintain our freedom to be sarcastic.
And I hope we keep it. And I don`t like my religion being attacked one
bit, but I understand it`s the price of living in this society of freedom,
which I`m very happy to be living in.
WINSTEAD: That`s right.
MATTHEWS: Lizz, thank you so much.
MATTHEWS: It`s great to have you on, as always.
Ted Johnson, thank you for welcoming me out to Lotusland.
JOHNSON: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Here we are.
JOHNSON: That`s right.
MATTHEWS: Up next, look who is already playing the terrorist card.
This is really pretty rotten stuff, Lindsey. Lindsey Graham, he says as
long as Barack Obama is president, we can expect many more attacks like the
one in Paris the other day.
Lindsey, please make the connection.
Plus, more bad news for Chris Christie. The federal prosecutor in
Newark has subpoenaed his reelection campaign for governor for information
about his tactics. And we know what those are. And we will get back with
the roundtable to talk more about that tonight.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Those deadly terror attacks in Paris have ignited a political feeding
frenzy among some conservatives here in the United States who are looking
to destroy President Obama`s credibility and standing, no surprise, but
it`s pretty ghastly.
Today, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina launched a
series of highly incendiary accusations aimed sharply at the president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I think he believes that
strength is offensive, that he doesn`t want to be bold, because he may
President Obama`s policies are making us very much less safe here at
home. When he left Iraq, he did so based on a campaign promise. He`s
trying to close Gitmo based on a campaign promise. His campaign promises
are getting a lot of people killed.
Our intelligence-gathering abilities have been compromised. These
policies driven by President Obama of being soft and weaken and indecisive
are coming home to haunt us. And it`s just a matter of time that we`re
going to get here at home if somebody doesn`t adjust soon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, the roundtable tonight to talk about that is former
RNC chair Michael Steele, Politics Daily founder Melinda Henneberger, and
Bloomberg Washington bureau chief Jonathan Allen.
Michael, you first.
What`s the causality, can you find it, between Obama`s commitment to
close Gitmo and end the war in Iraq finally, after all these years, had
something to do with what happened in Paris?
MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: There – I don`t know the
correlation. I don`t understand the context of which that answer was
Look, the bottom line, Chris, is that the president of the United
States is not in a position to trump the president of France when something
of this magnitude, as horrific as it was, happens on his soil. The
president, I think, took the appropriate, at least in the beginning, a very
measured tone and approach to this, as he should.
This is not about, you know, Gitmo and what happened in France.
They`re two very separate issues. And what frustrates me a lot of times
and I think a lot of Americans is when our politics, and particularly our
politicians, conflates into something as serious as this and distorts
really what we should be focused on.
MATTHEWS: What is it in the American bloodstream, Melinda, that makes
us look for bad guys among ourselves? And it just looks like, well, we got
to blame somebody.
How about blaming the fact that it`s a free world, we live in a free
world? It`s the price we pay, to have bad people exploit it, bad people
who can get guns and bad people who are willing to kill. And living in a
free society, there`s not much you can do about it.
MELINDA HENNEBERGER, FOUNDER, POLITICS DAILY: Well, that`s right.
MATTHEWS: And the idea of blaming some – some guy from South
Carolina blaming some president from Chicago for something that happened in
Paris is weird.
There`s some kind of weird projection Lindsey is in to. I`m not a
shrink. But there`s something weird about him about weakness and strength
and this macho thing that is really disturbing, because it`s totally weird.
And I like the guy, but he`s weird about this stuff.
What is this projection of weakness and the need to be more macho?
What`s that about? What`s that got to do with Paris?
HENNEBERGER: I`m not going to talk about Lindsey`s projection. But I
do think – and you`re right.
MATTHEWS: Well, explain to me, why he`s talking like this.
HENNEBERGER: I couldn`t begin to say why Lindsey is talking like
But you have heard rhetoric like this for a long time from
Republicans. Certainly, when I was out on the campaign trail in `14, I
heard other Republicans saying, this president doesn`t take terrorism
seriously. This president doesn`t think we`re in a war on terror, which is
obviously just not true.
This president refers to ISIS as the J.V. team, which he of course
said long before Americans were being beheaded. But the reality is – and
I assume everyone knows this – is that no matter who is president, no
matter how many wars we involve ourselves in, there`s still going to be the
risk, as you say, in a free society of having something like this happen.
John Bolton was saying, this means this can happen – if this can
happen in Paris, it could happen in Washington and New York. It`s already
happened in Washington and New York.
MATTHEWS: Well, Bolton`s a flamer anyway.
But former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, just to quote him, he
predicted an attack here already and preemptively blamed the coming attack
which he predicted on the president, already. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BOLTON, FORMER UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS:
The leadership of the country has to acknowledge that we`re in a war. If
it can happen in Paris, it can happen in Washington or New York. You can
count on it.
Unless the president of the United States understands that Western
civilization is under attack here and responds accordingly, we will simply
see this tragedy repeated endlessly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You know, I know why these guys – Jonathan, Bolton`s back
there again like Bill Kristol and the rest of them and all the Kagans.
They can`t wait to get us to attack another Arab country, as if that`s
going to make us more secure.
I fail to see the connection. We could have gone to war in Hamburg,
where a lot of these 9/11 people were operating out of. We could go to
different parts of Newark. I don`t know where we could go, look for any
place they might be, any place they might be, and go to war with that
place. That`s not going to protect us.
It`s about surveillance. It`s about hunting down the bad guys. It`s
about making them pay where you can, killing Obama (sic). It`s about drone
strikes. It`s about all the efforts we have taken. Why do they still want
to have a boogeyman? Why do they still have to blame the president of the
United States, who`s tried to deal with this problem, and has effectively
done so in many cases?
JONATHAN ALLEN, BLOOMBERG NEWS: Well, I think they`re trying and
failing to score political points off of tragedy.
And I don`t – I think that`s why chairman Steele just a moment ago
said that this wasn`t – didn`t make much sense. There wasn`t really a
logical connection here. I think Ambassador Bolton is like a wind-up
soldier. You wind him up, you stick him in any direction in any
environment and he wants to go to war. There`s not a lot of sense to it at
MATTHEWS: Well, here`s Rush Limbaugh. He says the Paris shootings
are the result of Benghazi. Figure that one out.
Michael, you got to do that too. Make this connection.
STEELE: Oh, great.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE RUSH LIMBAUGH SHOW”)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: By going to the U.N. and saying
that a video was responsible for the death of a U.S. ambassador and three
other Americans, when it wasn`t, by sending Susan Rice on five Sunday
morning talk shows to spread that lie, to run ads in Afghanistan or
Pakistan starring Obama and Hillary, continuing this lie that a video –
these actions have consequences, ladies and gentlemen.
My point is, this country`s leadership has fed the beast. This
country`s leadership has fed the rage.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You know, I can`t follow him, because, clearly, the people
who killed these satirists in Paris were angered by their satire. There is
a connection between those two, absolutely no justification for what they
did, but there was a connection.
Is he saying that we shouldn`t point to connections when we find them?
Or what is he arguing that again – again, the causality. How is Obama
responsible for what happened?
STEELE: It sounded – it sounded really – Chris, I was going to say,
it sounded a lot like sort of the talking points that we`re going to hear
for the presidential campaign, laying out these arguments early to sort of
lay down the predicate against both the administration and a future Hillary
The reference to Hillary Clinton in this context to me makes no sense.
The reference to Benghazi makes no sense. I – you know, this – this is
about what Paris and in particular the president of Paris has been – of
France has been doing, globally engaging, along with the United States, in
This was a direct response to that. And the fact of the matter is,
again, the president of the United States is not the president of the
world. As much as we sometimes want to make the argument, and even the
president sometimes may come off as that, if you want to say, these
realities are here for us right now.
We are engaged in a global war on terror. All of our partners and
allies are fighting this battle. And as has already been noted, we have
got to stick together. We cannot pretend that, oh, we talk about Benghazi
and we connect it to Paris, that everybody is supposed to think, oh, yes,
It doesn`t. That`s not how this is playing out, I don`t think.
MATTHEWS: You know, and there are some good arguments you could make
from the right about this president. You can say, don`t draw red lines
unless you intend to enforce them.
MATTHEWS: Do a better job negotiating with the Iranians.
These are all legitimate political arguments. But the stuff, the crap
we just heard thrown through the air by Rushbo and the rest of these people
and Lindsey – I`m so discouraged by Lindsey lately. He got reelected
against a bunch of right-wing clowns. He ought to relax and stop being
MATTHEWS: Anyway, the roundtable is staying with us.
And when we come back, a new front in the federal prosecutor`s
investigation of the big guy, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Well, there`s the bridge, the Hoboken mayor, sketchy bond deals, and
it now appears that federal prosecutors have opened up another front in
their criminal investigation into New Jersey Governor Chris Christie`s
“The Wall Street Journal” is now reporting that – quote – “federal
prosecutors in New Jersey have subpoenaed Governor Chris Christie`s
reelection campaign for documents relating to government meetings that were
allegedly canceled with New Jersey`s” – actually, “Jersey City`s mayor
after he declined to endorse the governor.”
Get the pattern here?
As “The New York Times” reported last year, Jersey City Mayor Steve
Fulop had the rug pulled out from under him after he declined to endorse
Christie`s reelection bid. The punishment they described or ascribed was
They reported that Mayor Fulop was promised access to the heads of
seven governmental agencies after he won reelection as Jersey City mayor,
but once Christie`s team learned that he was not endorsing Christie, every
single one of those meetings was canceled. Quote, “Almost all cancellations
came within an hour and the remaining ones followed closely on their
I`m right back with the roundtable, Michael, Melinda and Jonathan.
Melinda, this has – it looks to me, I`m not a lawyer, but I`m looking
at RICO kinds of things. You`re looking at patterns of running a criminal
enterprise. You`re looking at, it seems to me, patterns of where you
punish and you don`t punish, or you reward and most of the time you do
punish. In fact, we`re going to show you a tape in a moment of somebody
with Megyn Kelly, of course, talking about this pattern. It`s pretty clear
that someone on Governor Christie`s team – just a minute here – had it
out for the New Jersey mayor. And when Christie`s team shut down the
bridge, a different mayor, Ft. Lee`s Mark Sokolich, frantically called
Christie`s appointee at the Port Authority, but was ignored.
In one e-mail change, Christie`s deputy chief of staff as Megyn Kelly
asks the official of the Port Authority, did he call him back? To which
the official responds, radio silence. His name comes down – Bridget
Kelly, by the way – comes down after Mayor Fulop. In other words, we have
a pattern here – treat them like we did Fulop. Cut them off. Radio
silence. He isn`t playing on the team. Is that criminal?
MELINDA HENNEBERGER, FOUNDER, POLITICS DAILY: I`m not a lawyer,
either. So, I`m not going to say whether that would be criminal. It
doesn`t look good, definitely. And if he`s thinking of running for
president, this would certainly play into the narrative that he`s a bully
who uses his power for himself and not for the people of the state of New
Jersey. But, of course, it depends, you know, how long is the
investigation going to go on and what does it find? This – you know, this
certainly doesn`t help.
MATTHEWS: You know, you have the public behavior of the governor,
which is kind of a bully, but it`s public, not criminal, certainly. It`s
kind of guy at least. Then you see the evidence of how he rewards and
punishes people who Democrats, whether they back him or not. Then, you got
a U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman looking into this, subpoenaing documents,
Jonathan. You question where does “hardball” politics end and criminality
begin in? And, clearly, this U.S. attorney thinks it might be criminal.
What else are they subpoenaing this stuff?
JONATHAN ALLEN, BLOOMBERG NEWS: Certainly, that`s why they`re looking
into it. And obviously there are lawyers and prosecutors who will make a
decision about whether there`s criminal behavior. There are certainly ways
in which politics can get there.
I think often times, there`s a reluctance on the part of the Justice
Department, on the part of prosecutors to pursue political retribution,
unless it involves, you know, some sort of bribery, some sort of money
exchanging hands, or not exchanging hands, denial of benefits, things like
So, I think it`s a hard case to make. I think prosecutors can be
reluctant to bring those cases. At the same time, having such an
investigation hanging over his head and it makes it harder for Christie to
run for president, as does the entry of Jeb Bush into the field. And I
think if you look at his recent behavior, it suggests that Christie may not
actually run, hanging out with Jerry Jones for instance at these Dallas
MATTHEWS: Unpack that. Why would it be a sign you`re not running for
a higher office if you hang around with the Dallas Cowboys? Aren`t they
America`s team? Isn`t that a good thing?
ALLEN: Not in his home state of New Jersey or in South Jersey, you`d
be an Eagles fan or Giants or Jets fan.
MATTHEWS: Don`t forget the Eagles.
ALLEN: I mispronounced it. I`m sorry, it`s the Eagles.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, they`re very much concerned about this. Michael,
is your party squeamish now enough about big city ethnic politics to say,
you know, we really don`t want a president that uses muscle like this, even
if he does escape the judge?
MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I think the idea of the
use of muscle is something that all politicians are going to be careful
about, just as we saw the outcome of the Virginia governor`s situation
where McDonnell. I think everyone`s going to be very squeamish about
associations and relationships and the gifts that they get. So these
efforts to sort of rein in political behavior – because that`s what we`re
talking about, at least initially, Chris – this is political behavior
between the governor and the mayor of New Jersey.
Now, I think, you know, maybe the back story on this is less about the
bridge and the politics of the bridge and the federal funds that were –
that are questioned with respect to the distribution after Hurricane Sandy,
and whether that had some type of, you know, issue attached to it as well.
So there are various aspects of this on the legal side, but this is mostly
political right now.
MATTHEWS: I agree.
STEELE: And I don`t see this much getting out of the dirt beyond
MATTHEWS: What we`re seeing, Michael, you know the world as well as I
do. Sometimes people are doing things they don`t think are criminal.
I don`t think McDonnell thought he was committing crimes. I think he
was grabbing some opportunities. His wife was too. He was enjoying the
office with the perks that come with friendship when you`re in a high
position. You have new friends who want to be generous. I don`t think he
thought he was a criminal.
And in this case, I`m sure Christie didn`t think he was committing
crimes. He`s not a crook. I don`t think he is.
Anyway, the roundtable –
STEELE: I don`t think so either.
STEELE: I was going to say in Virginia under state law, he wasn`t
committing a crime.
HENNEBERGER: He still says he didn`t commit a crime.
MATTHEWS: Well, prison is filled with guys like that.
Anyway, thank you. The roundtable is coming back to talk about
Hillary. She`s getting hit mostly from the right. I want to talk about
that tonight because that`s what I think is on the table.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Senator Barbara Boxer, one of the real Senate liberals
announced she will not run for re-election in 2016. A California Democrat,
of course, she`s been a champion of liberal causes during her four terms in
the U.S. Senate, including gun control, women`s rights and protecting the
environment. She`s been a fireball.
She was first elected in 1992, the so-called “Year of the Women”, when
four women won seats in the U.S. Senate. She had served 10 years before
that in the house. She always won.
Senator Boxer says the vote she`s most proud of is her vote against
going to war in Iraq. By the way, my hero Senator Ted Kennedy said the
Boxer`s retirement means that California will have its first open
Senate election in 24 years and that scramble has begun.
And we`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Hillary Clinton hasn`t even announced her plans to run for president,
but Republicans are already preparing to do so. They`re now stockpiling
their weapons. In a preview of the attacks in store for Hillary, the
former secretary of state, Jeb Bush has jumped into the punching match last
night. Speaking at the private fund raiser in Greenwich, Connecticut,
according to Hearst Media, he spoke to attendees – they spoke to attendees
of the event who wanted to remain anonymous.
But Bush told his audience that if Hillary runs, she`ll have to answer
for President Obama`s foreign policy and won`t be able to, quote, “run on
her husband`s legacy.” According to the attendees who spoke to Heart, Bush
said, “If someone wants to run a campaign about the `90s nostalgia, it`s
not going to be very successful.”
Well, the pile-on continued today, with the Republican National
Committee releasing a web ad criticizing Secretary Clinton for her high
speaking fees and accusing her of padding her pockets.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For the low, low cost of like $2,777 per minute,
folks, that`s just $46 per second. You, yes, you, can promote Hillary
Clinton as your featured guest at your next event. But Mrs. Clinton
commands review all promotion materials and reserves the right to cancel
the event for any reason whatsoever at any time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, that`s an irritating ad.
Anyway, back with the roundtable, Michael, Melinda, Jonathan.
Jonathan, you`ve written you`re the biographer of Hillary Clinton.
This attack, to me, looks like they`re preparing for the landing. This is,
like, some early bombardment of Hillary on the way into announcement some
kind in the next couple of months.
ALLEN: Yes, I don`t think expect that will change. I think it will
just intensify. You know, the speaking engagements, corporate boards, ties
to Wall Street, from the Bush side, like, at some point, that will probably
look like they live in a glass house. I mean, Jeb Bush is giving paid
MATTHEWS: What about Mitt Romney? He`s on all kinds of boards? I
mean, isn`t this the Republican lay of the land? I mean, how can he attack
her for being like them?
ALLEN: I mean, look, Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton need each other,
right, because they take away the biggest knocks against each other, the
dynasties, the ties to Wall Street, the ties to corporate America. There`s
sort of – they cancel each other out on this. So, the two of them were
actually in a really good position to sort of lock arms on those things and
attack each other on those for a little while and get them out of the way.
MATTHEWS: Well, what about this, Melinda, going after him saying it`s
all fair game to go after Bill and his behavior back in the `90s, not just
the good economy back then? That`s no surprise, either, I don`t think.
HENNEBERGER: It depends on what behavior we`re talking about. But,
you know –
MATTHEWS: Well, we all know what behavior we`re talking about. OK.
HENNEBERGER: I don`t think that`s going to be a way to go. Those
references in several ways intended to help Hillary more than they hurt
her. But I don`t think it`s surprising that all of these are Republicans
are, as you say, piling on right now. In fact, I think they should be, you
know, if they`re serious about running. I mean, she`s not only the front
runner. She`s the only runner across the aisle right now. So, you know –
MATTHEWS: Right. But going after her fruit?
HENNEBERGER: They`re softening her up.
MATTHEWS: Why go after what fruit she requires before giving a
speech? I mean, why is that anything more than Mickey Mouse?
HENNEBERGER: Because that makes her look so out of touch. That makes
her look like the woman in, you know, who has to have everything just so
that old, you know, Marie Antoinette slam against her that has always been
tried. I mean, that – and some of that, she pointed the way toward those
attacks herself when she said something, like, referring to herself as we
were dead broke when we left the White House.
So, I think that`s completely predictable and not a bad way to go, for
MATTHEWS: OK, dead broke and a lot of fruit.
Anyway, thank you, Michael Steele, Melinda Henneberger and Jonathan
When we return, I`m out of here in Los Angeles, by the way. We`ve got
a preview of the big Hollywood movies up for the Golden Globe this weekend.
Will “Selma “, I`m thinking, will “Selma” win a prize? That`s ahead.
This is HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: We`re back.
I`m out here in Los Angeles where awards season is officially underway
and the 72nd Annual Golden Globes Award takes place on Sunday. The
favorites this year include “Birdman”, that`s psychological comedy about
the film industry itself, as well as “The Imitation Game” and “The Theory
of Everything”, both of which are all about geniuses. And also, this is
the one that fascinates, the civil rights drama, “Selma” which just came
But the nominees include several political TV shows with strong women
in lead roles, “House of Cards” with Robin Wright, and, of course, “The
Good Wife”, got three nominations a piece, while “Homeland” and “Veep” got
one each, all with women stars.
I`m joined now with Kim Masters, editor-at-large with “Hollywood
Kim, you know, I have a sense with all this buzz and fighting about
the way LBJ is portrayed, they didn`t like it, of course. But I haven`t
seen the movie yet. “Selma” seems to be getting a lot of noise. Is this a
chance that they could win best picture in the Golden Globes this weekend?
KIM MASTERS, HOLLYWOOD REPORTER: I suppose there`s a chance. I think
if you`re talking Vegas odds, people are probably thinking “Boyhood” is
probably going to win best drama, and maybe “Birdman”, because unlike the
Oscars, the Globes has musical and comedy category plus a drama category.
So, there are two top prizes in film. So, I think that`s where it is.
I have to say, Chris, I think that the conversation about “Selma” is
not necessarily the best conversation because it`s about the role of LBJ in
this march and his willingness to help pass Voting Rights Act and whether
he was dragging his feet. I feel that kind of discussion, you know, it`s a
bit confusing to – certainly for the Academy, for the Oscars, to voters,
they get nervous with things like that. Is it right? Is it wrong?
MATTHEWS: By the way, it`s not true. It`s simply not true, by the
way. This is objective reality here. LBJ was one of the great champions
of voting rights.
Anyway, I should also mention my role in the coming episode of “The
Good Wife.” I play the debate moderator. It`s a very hard show. It`s
about the battle for state`s attorney, and, as I said, some very hot seats.
Let`s look at this quickie.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: This Sunday.
MODERATOR: Mrs. Florrick.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Umm –
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is she doing?
ANNOUNCER: “The Good Wife.”
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: It`s hot stuff, Kim. I really love it. Three days of
working over in Brooklyn to put this story together. And I`ve got to tell
you, Margulies is such a pro.
Thank you, Kim Masters.
That`s HARDBALL for now.
“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.
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