Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 03/03/15
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Netanyahu, not too nice to President Obama.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
Big news night, of course. Bibi makes his takeover bid of U.S. foreign
policy, saying he, not President Obama, should decide what`s in America`s
interests. He, not President Obama, should make the big decisions about
this country`s security. The man who pushed us to attack Iraq this time
pushed a harder line with Iran.
And that other big story tonight, Speaker of the House John Boehner gave up
the threatened government shutdown aimed at killing Obama`s immigration
And adding to the action tonight, “The New York times” banners a story
questioning Hillary Clinton`s e-mail practices while serving as secretary
of state. What is “The Times” getting at here?
We begin with Israeli prime minister Bibi Netanyahu and his attempt to
derail Obama`s foreign policy. In his speech to Congress today, Bibi
challenged the president on Iran, saying the deal is worse than no deal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Iran`s nuclear program can be
rolled back well beyond the current proposal by insisting on a better deal
and keeping up the pressure on a very vulnerable regime.
Now, if Iran threatens to walk away from the table – and this often
happens in a Persian bazaar – call their bluff. They`ll be back because
they need the deal a lot more than you do.
We`ve been told that no deal is better than a bad deal. Well, this is a
bad deal. It`s a very bad deal. We`re better off without it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, hours later, President Obama responded to Prime Minister`s
Netanyahu`s criticism. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: On the core issue, which is
how do we prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, which would make it
far more dangerous and would give it scope for even greater action in the
region, the prime minister didn`t offer any viable alternatives.
The alternative that the prime minister offers is no deal, in which case,
Iran will immediately begin once again pursuing its nuclear program.
His essential argument is, is that if we just double down on sanctions,
Iran won`t want to do that. Well, we have evidence from the past decade
that sanctions alone are not sufficient to prevent Iran from pursuing its
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I`m joined right now by U.S. Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn of
Tennessee and U.S. Congressman Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri. I want to
start with the congresswoman. What did you make of the speech? I was
listening. I though it was very well prepared, an excellent speech, a lot
of warm-up there, a lot of charm in the beginning. But I still wanted to
know what was his plan for dealing with Iran. I don`t – I didn`t hear it.
Did you hear it?
REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R), TENNESSEE: Yes, I – I heard him move forward
with that. It was a confident speech. And as you said, he was very
gracious and thankful to the U.S. for our friendship and the support that
He pointed out three things that need to be done. We need to stop the
aggression in the Middle East. We need to stop the threat of terrorism
worldwide. And he pointed out that we need to stop the threats against
What he did point out was that the deal that is there that would come to an
end 10 years down the road and then they have the opportunity to be from
under that and continue with their nuclear proliferation – that that is a
bad deal for us. And you know what? He`s right about that.
MATTHEWS: OK, let me go to Congressman Cleaver. What – did you hear
Bibi`s Netanyahu`s plan for ending Iranians` nuclear – Iran`s nuclear
threat? I didn`t hear it.
REP. EMANUEL CLEAVER (D), MISSOURI: No, I didn`t hear it. It was a very
good speech, but telling us the things that we need to stop is not a plan,
it`s a statement. And it`s a good statement and I like the statement, but
it`s not a plan.
And I think that this – I was trying to find out before we went on the air
who invented the eraser because this entire date (ph) needs to be erased.
This was a bad idea. All it did was played into the political tribalism
that is just destroying this place and this government.
MATTHEWS: Well, Senator Dianne Feinstein called the speech a powerful
speech. I agree it was a powerful speech and was smartly put together.
But she said he failed to answer the central question. Here`s Dianne
Feinstein. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: Where it was weak is how to
actually solve the problem, how to actually prevent Iran from achieving a
nuclear weapon. And right now, this is the only game in town. And the
prime minister really didn`t come up with any solutions. He made a
profound, passionate speech against any agreement. But this isn`t just the
United States in this. This is all of the big powers. What if the big
powers agree and the United States doesn`t?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you again about the options. What do you think our
options are, Congresswoman, in dealing with Iran? If you could list one or
two or three, what are they? What are our choices here?
BLACKBURN: Well, we do have the choice, as you had said or was said
earlier by the president, sanctions. That is one thing. But then the
other thing is to just tell them, No, we are not going to allow you.
You`ve got to open up and let the IAEA come in and do these inspections.
You can`t pull things off line. You cannot continue to build plants with
nuclear processing and enriching uranium and just not let them move forward
to do that.
This is so interesting to me that there are some that would begrudge Bibi
Netanyahu coming here and talking to his closest, longest ally and saying,
This is why – I`m pointing out this is why you do not want the deal. And
I think it is wrong of some to say…
BLACKBURN: … we expect him to micromanage U.S. policy. I would hope
that we have those at the Pentagon and at the State Department who are
being more thoughtful in their approach of this.
MATTHEWS: Can you name another time in American history where we`ve
invited someone into the U.S. Congress chamber to criticize a president`s
foreign policy? I can`t think of one – to criticize a president`s foreign
policy and offer an alternative. I`ve never heard of that done before,
BLACKBURN: I think that it was appropriate that he come here. I thought
he was gracious to the president…
MATTHEWS: Has it ever been done before?
BLACKBURN: … and I don`t know…
MATTHEWS: Why now? Why do we break a tradition? Why do we do something,
all of a sudden, for the first time in history, let somebody from a foreign
government come into our governing chamber and tell us the president`s
BLACKBURN: Well, Chris – Chris, look at what is transpiring here. If
they go ahead with the deal with Iran that is going to let them 10 years
down the road have access to enriched uranium and be so close to building a
bomb and have nuclear weapons – my goodness, look at what you`re doing!
Ten years is a very short period of time.
And I think, rather than trying to dictate policy, what he was doing is
saying, This is a warning, and I hope you do not do this, and these are
some considerations that I think that you ought to make, and we in Israel
plan to make certain that we stand against our enemies. And I thought it
was very well done and that he highlighted many of the concerns that our
MATTHEWS: Congressman, I want to talk to you about politics because we all
know that Bibi Netanyahu, whatever you think of him – and I think he`s a
strong guy – is a man of the right wing, right-wing Israeli politics. He
supported the war in Iraq. He pushed us to go into war, publicly so. No
one seriously believes he supports a two-state solution because he keeps
raising the bar. He says, Well, I want the Arab states not only to
recognize Israel but they now have to sign on and say it should be a Jewish
state. I mean, he keeps raising the bar. No one thinks he wants a two-
It seems to me that he doesn`t agree with the president fundamentally, all
across the board, on all kinds of policies. And to bring him into that
chamber and say, Here`s your chance to blow the bugle against the
president`s foreign policy, was unprecedented by Mr. Boehner to do so.
CLEAVER: Well, you asked a question earlier that I`ve been asking all day.
We can find no instance in the history of the United States – we`ve gone
through wars after wars, after the dropping of the atomic bomb at
Hiroshima, Nagasaki. We don`t have any precedent for what happened today.
I supported Israel all of my adult life, and most of the people here in the
Capitol do, as well, but what happened here today was bringing a foreign
leader into the U.S. Capitol to contradict whatever our president was
doing. And the truth is, we don`t know what is being developed in that
agreement. That`s one thing we don`t know for sure.
MATTHEWS: That`s true.
CLEAVER: And so we`re having a lot of discussion about something that we
don`t know anything about. And the parts that may be most difficult I
don`t think we should know about right now. This is a very delicate kind
of negotiations. And I think that the American people deserve to hear from
the president, and there are people who can stand up and say the things
that Prime Minister Netanyahu said. It would sound much better coming from
John Boehner than coming from somebody from a foreign government.
MATTHEWS: Let me go to Congresswoman Blackburn just to finish up. What
did you make of the decision by your speaker, the Speaker of the House,
today to go ahead with a clean bill on Department of Homeland Security and
to drop the effort to kill the president`s executive orders on immigration?
BLACKBURN: Well, I didn`t agree with it. I have led the effort to block
that executive amnesty, passed a bill back in August, and then the
amendment that was on the DHS funding bill that would block it. And what
we need to do is stop this. Even I`ve got Kenser Polinkas (ph), who heads
up the USCIS service union, has said – has pointed out how dangerous this
is. And the fact that they are not vetting these individuals that are
seeking to come in here, into the country – this is something that is a
very dangerous, dangerous move…
BLACKBURN: … and I voted against that today. I didn`t think it was the
right move. I`d rather the Senate Democrats do their job, stop blocking
these bills from going to the floor. And I hope that Leader McConnell will
go to the nuclear option and move these things to the floor…
BLACKBURN: … get them to the floor, have the debate…
BLACKBURN: … have it in a transparent fashion…
BLACKBURN: … so that the American people can say these people are for
it, these people are against it. They called the vote, and this is how
they voted. They need to stop hiding out and trying to avoid…
BLACKBURN: … taking a vote on tough issues!
MATTHEWS: Thank you so much, U.S. Congresswoman…
BLACKBURN: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: … Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee and U.S. Congressman Emanuel
Cleaver of Missouri. Thank you both for coming on.
MSNBC political analyst David Corn is at the Washington bureau. He`s, of
course, the Washington bureau chief for “Mother Jones.”
Let`s go over these two issues. Bibi Netanyahu – I thought it was a well
constructed speech. A lot of people worked on it. It was masterful.
DAVID CORN, “MOTHER JONES,” MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well…
MATTHEWS: But it leaves us still with the question. What`s his answer?
What is it, except war? I heard war today.
CORN: I think you`re right. He basically – you know, he was trying to be
kind to the president. He said the president`s done a lot of good things
and he tried to smother the political fire that he and Boehner started.
But at the end of the day, his message was, The president is being fooled
MATTHEWS: He`s a rube (ph).
CORN: Iran is hoodwinking him. He can`t be trusted. And he said that if
the deal works, Iran still gets a nuclear weapon. But even if there is a
deal and it`s implemented, Iran will find a way to cheat and get out from
under it. So basically, he said no deal can work. He said he was for a
better deal, but not for war…
MATTHEWS: Let`s get back to the numbers here. In 10 years, we may well –
we probably will have a Republican president by then because Democrats
aren`t going to hold the White House forever. And what`s he afraid of?
The minute we get the word we get from the inspectors they`re heading
towards a bomb, we blow them up. Everybody knows that!
CORN: There`s – you know, 10 years is actually a long time to assess
what`s going on, and getting inspectors in there make it harder for them to
develop the weapon that he says they want. Now, remember, he`s at 20
percent in the polls and he`s coming into this election. He needs every
MATTHEWS: Bibi Netanyahu.
CORN: … Netanyahu – hawkish vote he can get. So he comes here, and
what he basically was doing was – as it plays back at home, he was
schooling the president of the United States and what is best for Israel
and that you can`t trust Iran. And I think he was basically saying Obama
is naive. And that`s going to play well back home. It should be rightly
MATTHEWS: You know what I heard? I hear him say Israel will stand, no
matter what – will stand – meaning, I will bomb when the time comes.
CORN: Well, let`s see. I don`t know if he would do that. I don`t think a
lot of the national security establishment there supports him in this.
MATTHEWS: No. I think he wants to do it.
MATTHEWS: He`s a man of the hard right. We should say (INAUDIBLE) who was
wrong on Iraq, and he`s wrong on the two-state solution. He`s wrong across
the board, if you are a moderate middle-of-the-roader, even in Israel,
CORN: Well, that`s right.
MATTHEWS: He`s well to the right of most Israelis. Thank you, David Corn.
We`ll have you more time when you finish your latest fight.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, coming up, “The New York Times” reported today on the
front page – it`s front page, at the very top of the front page – that
Hillary Clinton used her personal e-mail to conduct official business while
she was secretary of state and may have violated federal rules by not
preserving those e-mails when she left the job.
The right obviously loves a good attack on the Clintons, but in this case,
there could be less here than meets the eye, except “The New York times”
did put it at the very top of the front page. What are they looking at
Plus, new details about the ISIS terrorist known as “Jihadi John.` We`ve
got a newly released audiotape from 2009, in which he denied he`s an
Meanwhile, in Iraq, government forces have launched a major offensive
And our roundtable tonight tackles the three big stories of the day –
Bibi`s power struggle with President Obama, Hillary Clinton`s e-mails and
John Boehner throwing in the towel on DHS funding, three hot fights
Finally, “Let Me Finish” with Bibi Netanyahu`s speech to Congress. I have
a point of view on this, which you will hear tonight near the end of the
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Well, take a look at this strongly worded statement about Prime
Minister Netanyahu`s speech today from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
She said the speech was an insult – that`s her word – to the intelligence
of the United States. She said she was saddened by the condescension
toward our knowledge of the threat posed by Iran and our broader commitment
to preventing nuclear proliferation.
And we`ll be right back after this.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Hillary Clinton came under scrutiny
today by “The New York Times.” In a top of the front page story, the paper
reports that Clinton used her personal e-mail account for official
government business when she was secretary of state and may have violated
federal requirements for preserving and retaining those e-mails.
“The Times” reported that under federal law, letters and e-mails written
and received by federal officials such as the secretary of state are
considered government records and are supposed to be retained so that
congressional committees, historians and members of the news media can find
Michael Schmidt, who broke the story for “The New York Times,” was on MSNBC
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL SCHMIDT, “NEW YORK TIMES”: If she wasn`t using a government
account, then the State Department had no way of cataloging and retaining
all of her e-mails for record-keeping purposes, for congressional
oversight, for Freedom of Information Act requests and for historians to go
back and look at it. So essentially, it was shielding her communications
from those things.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I`m joined right now by David Axelrod, the former chief
strategist for President Obama`s successful presidential campaigns and
former Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele.
I just want to open with the public with some, you know, things that we
don`t really expect of government. When you leave the government – I was
a speech writer years ago at the White House – you had to turn over all
the speech drafts that you had written, all of them, even though you`re
proud of a couple of them. You`re supposed to have turned them all over.
There was even a ridiculous, I thought, rule you`re not even to Xerox them.
You were to turn them all over, all your materials.
So I don`t know what this formal custom – how often it`s honored, how
often it`s not. It`s almost like don`t take your pens home and use them at
MATTHEWS: I wonder if it`s one of those rules.
David Axelrod, you have got experience with this. What do – do you think
this is something worth of the top of the fold of “The New York Times,”
Hillary Clinton didn`t – used her e-mail, instead of her government e-
mail? Is this worthy of this kind of hooting and hollering?
DAVID AXELROD, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it`s not clear to me what
rules she violated.
There was some – I saw a report later in the day that suggested that the
rules that she violated or allegedly may have violated were not in place at
the time that she was secretary of state.
The one question I had was why she didn`t have an account, a State
Department account. I think that`s probably pretty unusual. But I think
the bigger thing, Chris, this points out is the kind of difficulty you have
when you`re in this netherworld between almost being a candidate and being
a candidate, because really they should be out right away knocking this
things down in a very aggressive way. And they`re going to have to do that
if they`re going to get through a presidential race.
MATTHEWS: Well, strategically, do you think that`s why we`re hearing even
now the talk of moving up the announcement date to April?
AXELROD: I think that`s part of it. Part of it has to do with fund-
raising. They have to raise a lot of money.
But I think this is an awkward position to be in, because is she
increasingly going to be a target, and yet she isn`t geared up and doesn`t
have the apparatus to respond as quickly as she should.
MATTHEWS: I think, Michael, that – we talked about this with our
producers, who are – nobody believes this, but are of very different
political stripes. It does begin in the middle and move to the left.
MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.
MATTHEWS: But it`s different, the people that work here.
But there may be some secret hard conservatives. I`m not sure.
STEELE: I hope so.
MATTHEWS: But I`m somewhere closer to the center sometimes than some
And it seems to me that people have made up their mind about Hillary. You
just say the word Hillary. You can argue about Benghazi or paperwork or e-
mails. And people go to their same battle stations. Some people trust her
and love her. Some people don`t trust her and don`t love her.
And it just seems like one of those personalities. Bill Clinton wasn`t
exactly like that. Roosevelt was.
Eisenhower wasn`t. There are people in public life – I think Jeb Bush is
one – who doesn`t arouse that kind of deep emotions. But Hillary, you
just say e-mail, oh, my God, she hid those e-mails. The attitude is –
STEELE: It is instantaneous, and unfortunately for her, she tends to feed
into some of that.
MATTHEWS: OK. Explain.
STEELE: Well, I think there`s this sense of detachment or like I`m hiding
something. It`s sort of a surreptitious conversation.
MATTHEWS: When did you see that first?
STEELE: Oh, my – probably going back to her days in the White House as
first lady. And I think a lot of that has to come with how the press dealt
with her. A lot of it comes with how people approached her and her
husband, her defense of her husband. So, I think she has this instinctive
defensiveness that everything is out to get her.
STEELE: … becomes a problem.
MATTHEWS: What is was it, Satchel Paige, they are coming?
STEELE: Yes. They are coming. Yes.
MATTHEWS: Let me go back to David on this, because Nixon had this problem
too, in certainly an almost criminal way, he had it, of fearing anybody
knowing anything about him.
But there is – I remember back with the Rose Law Firm records and she
didn`t want there to be a special prosecutor. Who knows whether that
helped or hurt, but it did feed on this notion of I don`t want anybody to
know about me.
AXELROD: Well, there is because of these things a higher standard that
she`s going to be held to, and she`s going to have to – she`s going to
have to be as transparent as possible to put that down.
But you know the old expression. Just because you`re paranoid doesn`t mean
no one is after you.
MATTHEWS: I know. I think it was Satchel Paige.
MATTHEWS: No. Don`t look back, they may be gaining on you. I`m sorry.
STEELE: That`s right.
AXELROD: But the fact is that she has been a target and she is going to
continue to be a target.
And as I said before, I think she has to not treat the press, you know, not
go to DEFCON 5 every time she gets one of these. But you do have to react
quickly, aggressively, answer all questions, be as forthcoming as possible.
And I think there`s a special burden on her to do that. And if she`s going
to be successful, she is going to have to.
MATTHEWS: Former White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, your colleague,
told “The Today Show” today that this is highly unusual, this whole thing.
Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT GIBBS, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it is obviously highly
unusual. I think it`s something that they`re going to have to explain in
good measure today, and probably figure out how to get a lot of those e-
mails or as many as they can back into the archives.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Secretary Clinton`s spokesman, Nick Merrill, responded
earlier today, saying that: “Like secretaries of state before her, she used
her own e-mail account when engaging with a department official, other
department officials. For government business, she e-mailed them in their
department acts, with every expectation they would be retained in their
accounts. When the department asked former secretaries last year for help
ensuring that their e-mails were in fact retained, she immediately said
yes. Both the letter and spirit of the rules permitted State Department
officials to use non-government mail, e-mail, as long as appropriate
records were preserved.”
You know, I think this is going to be – what is it, Michael, that your
party people, people to the right of you perhaps in the Republican Party,
what do they think the big Hillary secret is, the character thing, the big
dark – we all know the marriage has troubled. Big deal. We know about
it. A lot of marriages are troubled.
We have watched her as a public official or a first lady going back to 19 -
- God, she`s been in public life since he was attorney general of Arkansas.
We have watched her. She`s been on the screen, like a butterfly
collection. She`s been stuck there. We have been looking at her.
STEELE: It`s all of that.
MATTHEWS: What is the big secret about Hillary Clinton?
STEELE: It`s – the big secret is there really is no secret, because we
know it all.
It`s how you talk about it, it`s how you frame it, going back to
Hillarycare back in `93. All of that is part of the narrative, the Rose
Law Firm. All of this feeds into this theory of her, of who she is.
MATTHEWS: But Whitewater was nothing.
STEELE: Well, for some people, it was something, just as Benghazi.
STEELE: Just as Benghazi was something.
MATTHEWS: Would you explain that, David?
MATTHEWS: What is they think they have got?
MATTHEWS: Because I think we`re going to be talking about Hillary until we
STEELE: You are.
MATTHEWS: And we`re going to wonder, what are we talking about here? A
woman who loves public life, who has certain policy and political
ambitions, yes. Go on.
AXELROD: I think among the crowd – I think among the crowd that Michael
used to hang out with, there`s a certain amount of outrage in search of an
And that`s what you see. They don`t know what they`re looking for.
They`re just hoping to find something, because she`s in a pretty formidable
position right now, and they want to shake her loose. But that`s part of
the game that she`s going to have to put up with and fight through.
AXELROD: And it`s not going to change. If she doesn`t – if she`s not
ready for that, and I suspect she is, then she shouldn`t run.
MATTHEWS: Yes. I think we know Bill really well. He likes hamburgers and
MATTHEWS: And we have got him figured out.
STEELE: But, for Hillary, we don`t.
MATTHEWS: That may be it. We don`t understand what makes her get up in
MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you, David Axelrod.
AXELROD: Good to be with you.
MATTHEWS: We can talk on this all night. I think it would work after a
MATTHEWS: Anyway, up next, we`re learning more about the ISIS terrorist
known as Jihadi John. His daddy says he didn`t do it. Well, that would be
a good daddy, but not necessarily a good jihadi.
And this is HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
A new audio recording is said to capture a 2009 conversation with Mohammed
Emwazi, the man identified last week as Jihadi John. The tape documented
Emwazi speaking with an advocacy organization called CAGE. It`s a
controversial group that helps communities affected by the war on terror.
In it, Emwazi is complaining about his interrogating by a British
intelligence official – intelligence official, who was investigating
whether he intended to join the terror group Al-Shabaab in Somalia.
And while he says in the thing that he denied being an extremist, he says
the agent didn`t believe him. Here it goes.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He looked at me and said, I still believe that you`re
going to Somalia to train. I said, after what I just told you, after I
told you that what`s happening is extremism, this and that, and you`re
still subjecting that I`m an extremist?
And he said, yes, and he just started going on, trying to put words into my
mouth, saying, no, you`re doing this, this, this, this, and we`re going to
keep a close eye on you, Mohammed. And we already have been. We`re going
to keep a close eye on you, threatening me. And then, you know, I just
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, the voice on that recording has not been independently
verified by NBC News yet.
Today, however, Emwazi`s father authorized his lawyers to speak to NBC for
the first time. And he`s saying that his son is not the ISIS leader known
as Jihadi John.
I`m joined right now by NBC`s Keir Simmons in London and MSNBC terrorism
analyst Evan Kohlmann.
Keir, this not – I guess is this just a father saying his son is innocent?
Is that all we take it for?
KEIR SIMMONS, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, here`s how it played out,
An NBC team tracked down Emwazi`s dad today. And we were told first by a
work colleague that his dad had said previously, may God take revenge on
him, meaning his own son, and then today his lawyers say that his dad says
that they don`t believe it`s him, that they haven`t seen the evidence that
it is him.
Look, Chris, the fact is, for his father to be right, an awful lot of
people need to be wrong, including some government officials who have told
NBC News and other news organizations that it is him.
What`s interesting about this, Chris, is that Emwazi was a member of a gang
here in West London, basically. And what he appears to do, with some
others, is move to Syria and join the ISIS gang. And what we`re hearing
now from his dad does feel a little bit like a parent whose son is in a
gang saying, that`s not my son.
MATTHEWS: What did you think of that recording, that 2009 recording that
we have got now, the audio recording? What did – I`m not sure what game
he was playing, but, clearly, if you believe he`s Jihadi John, he was just
enjoying his attempts to foible the authorities.
SIMMONS: Well, it goes to the same issue I was talking about there really,
which is that you can see it in two ways.
Either it is a young man who is innocent, who is frustrated by being
accused of things he hasn`t done and being kind of prevented from traveling
by British authorities because he is innocent, or again it is a young man
who has been involved in street crime, who is connected to gangs, who is
doing the kind of thing that gang members do, which is to basically deny
everything and play the innocent guy.
So, you can make your own choice. And the thing about hearing that audio
is that you get to hear for yourself and decide for yourself.
MATTHEWS: Evan Kohlmann, your views of this thing, both things, the father
denying the son`s guilt and the son speaking in a kind of a whimsical way
about his efforts to confuse the authorities?
EVAN KOHLMANN, MSNBC TERRORISM ANALYST: Yes, look, you have to understand,
it`s his father. And I have seen this before. It happens all the time in
A lot of these parents find it very difficult to accept the fact that their
kids have gone so far astray. But when you look at the actual evidence,
when you look at the history, oftentimes, there were plenty of clues that
these kids, something was very wrong. And in some cases, these parents
have recognized it; they just didn`t want to believe it.
Now, as far as his recording or his complaints about the British, look,
Mr. Emwazi has been linked to Bilal Berjawi, who was a London-based jihadi
commander who eventually went to Somalia, was killed in a drone strike
there, a U.S. drone strike.
This is a guy who, really, you have to be very careful about taking
anything he says at his word. And this is exactly what these folks are
told to do if they are captured by law enforcement, to deny everything, to
say, I`m there – I was there for a safari, I was there for an adventure, I
don`t believe in jihad.
This is what they`re told to say. They know to say this.
MATTHEWS: Thank you.
The American prisons are filled with people who didn`t do it.
KOHLMANN: Exactly. Exactly.
MATTHEWS: That`s just the nature of what we are.
KOHLMANN: And the British really don`t make mistakes like this.
The U.K. security services, when they pull someone aside, more often than
not, they know exactly who they`re pulling aside, and they know exactly
what they`re doing there.
KOHLMANN: So, I think – in this case, I think you really want to give the
U.K. security services the benefit of the doubt, especially because we all
know how this story ended.
KOHLMANN: And it didn`t end in a good way.
MATTHEWS: I think it was a good daddy of a good jihadi.
Anyway, thank you, Keir Simmons, and thank you, Evan Kohlmann, for your
KOHLMANN: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Up next, our roundtable takes on the big three stories of the
day. And there are three, Netanyahu`s address to Congress, this weird
story about Hillary Clinton`s e-mail, and of course an even bigger, John
Boehner`s surrender over funding the Department of Homeland Security. This
whole effort to shut the government over immigration ain`t happening,
because they can`t do it.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger. Here`s
Shots were reportedly fired near the headquarters of the National Security
Agency. The agency says one of its buildings was damaged.
A jury has been seated for the trial of Boston Marathon bombing suspect
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Opening statements will take place w.
Another band of winter weather is set to bring snow back to the South, with
up to a foot expected in parts of Kentucky.
And in Georgia, a second execution is now on hold pending analysis of the
lethal injection drug that will be used. Brian Keith Terrell was set to
die next week. Another death row inmate`s execution was postponed
yesterday – now back to HARDBALL.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: The days when Jewish people
remain passive in the face of genocidal enemies, those days are over.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
NETANYAHU: Even if Israel has to stand alone, Israel will stand.
NETANYAHU: But I know that Israel does not stand alone. I know that
America stands with Israel. I know that you stand with Israel.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
It was a day of extraordinary drama in American politics. You just saw it.
And as you saw it there, it began with Israeli Prime Minister Bibi
Netanyahu delivering a truly unprecedented address during a joint meeting
of Congress. Thanks to a backdoor invite from House Republicans, Netanyahu
used Washington`s most prominent platform to eviscerate our own president`s
foreign policy goal for a nuclear deal with Iran.
Moments after the address, President Obama responded.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If we`re successful in
negotiating, then in fact this will be the best deal possible to prevent
Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Nothing else comes close. Sanctions
won`t do it. Even military action would not be as successful as the deal
that we have put forward.
What I`m focused on right now is solving this problem. I`m not focused on
the politics of it. I`m not focused on the theater of it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, after their two-fisted show of strengths, Republicans then
turned to cleaning up the mess they made in the same issue here at home.
Just after Bibi`s address, House Speaker John Boehner gave an all but –
all ill-conceived mission (ph) we all recognize that threaten to shutdown
the Department of Homeland Security. Boehner passed a clean funding bill
despite a major insurrection by his own caucus, less than a third of his
own members voted for a clean bill.
The roundtable tonight takes it all. “National Journal” editorial director
Ron Fourier, “Bloomberg`s” Washington bureau chief, Jonathan Allen, and
“USA Today`s” Washington bureau chief, Susan Page.
Susan, the Bibi`s speech, I think we all know and I`m a speechwriter for
years, was really well done. I mean, it was really – it had emotion, it
had everything, it had humanity, it had history, it had Old Testament. It
had the World War II series situation.
SUSAN PAGE, “USA TODAY”: It had a little bit of humor, quoted Hemingway –
PAGE: – quoted Robert Frost. Did two things, helped him at home, I
think, in his tough reelection battle, also made it more difficult for
President Obama to sell the nuclear deal to members of Congress, especially
the Republicans who control Congress, assuming that he reaches one with
MATTHEWS: And it almost guarantee some kind of vote, doesn`t it? That
whole buffing up, fluffing up, whatever the wrong word to use is here of
how great this deliberative is. He`s basically saying, it`s you guys who
should decide whether the deal goes on or not.
JONATHAN ALLEN, BLOOMBERG: President Obama is going to have an opportunity
I think to veto legislation that would give Congress a role in this Iranian
nuclear deal. But the problem for the president is if there`s a huge vote
in Congress in favor of putting Congress in that position, it makes Obama
look bad, it makes the deal look bad.
RON FOURNIER, NATIONAL JOURNAL: We`re supposed to have one commander in
chief. And what this was today, a great speech, but it was a campaign
speech. It was big campaign ad he used – filmed on the floor of our
Bibi and his headmen in the Republican Party were able to undermine the
president. And that`s a precedent that`s going to go well beyond
Netanyahu, this controversy. It`s going to affect the next president. And
some day, we might have a Republican president who might regret –
MATTHEWS: I still think there`s no precedent for bringing into chambers of
the United States Congress somebody to attack the president.
PAGE: I think it`s unprecedented. I think it crosses the line we used to
think it existed. He had the biggest forum that Congress can give anyone,
a foreign leader, for a close ally, making the case against a big
initiative by the president.
MATTHEWS: OK. What do you to believe as a person watching that call, like
he didn`t know what the game was here, so you watch it. I thought he was
saying, look, I`m a travel guy to the Middle East, you`re a rube. You`re
coming into the bazaars of the Middle East, you`re going into these Persian
bazaars, with the snake charmers and the guys that are going to cheat you.
Let me tell you, they will always come back on the deal. He`s like giving
you advice, right, Jonathan? He`s like you`re the rubes.
ALLAN: He was says, President Obama you`re naive.
FOURNIER: He stood where the president of the United States usually stands
and says trust me, don`t trust him. That`s a heck of a thing to –
MATTHEWS: Well, here`s how Speaker Boehner broke the news, by the way, to
his caucus this morning that they were giving up on the big fight. Now,
this was a fight by the Republicans to say no money for homeland security,
unless the president`s executive orders giving citizenship, effective
citizenship to 5 million, goes away.
Anyway, “Our Republican colleagues in the Senate never found a way to win
this fight. The three-week continuing resolution we offered would have
kept this fight going and allowed us to continue to put pressure on Senate
Democrats to do the right thing. Unfortunately, that plan was rejected,”
I`m John Boehner here. “And more active threats coming into the homeland,
I don`t believe a DHS shutdown is an option. Imagine if, God forbid,
another terrorist attack hits the United States.”
Essentially, he said we can`t afford the risk.
PAGE: What a surprise. I mean, not that, in the end, the House would have
to fold, go along with –
MATTHEWS: What do the cowboys say in return? What are they saying about -
PAGE: But it took weeks and week. I mean, what are we going to talk about
MATTHEWS: What are they going to fight about?
PAGE: Well, they`ll continue to fight about immigration, but they`re not
going to use funding for the Department of Homeland Security to do it.
MATTHEWS: He did get 75 votes. I mean, I was impressed he got, he did get
ALLEN: He got 75 Republicans and Nancy Pelosi which was –
MATTHEWS: Will now be primaried and accused to being for amnesty? I think
ALLEN: I think those 75 that voted with him can withstand that, and
everybody else thought the safe vote was to vote no. So all those
Democrats voted for it –
MATTHEWS: To basically corral people that were safe in their seats, who
didn`t have to worry about primary fights?
ALLEN: That`s right, and I think there were a bunch of people who voted
for this that might not have – I`m sorry, voted against it who might have
voted for it if push came to shove. But they looked at all those Democrats
putting up a vote and said, hey, easier for me to go home, and vote against
this and not have to worry about a primary.
FOURNIER: It`s a hell of a (INAUDIBLE). We`re now talking about who lost
or won this phony vote over a bill that we know wasn`t going to go
anywhere, and we still don`t have immigration reform. This is how
dysfunctional this entire system –
MATTHEWS: Well, I would like to know under what conditions would the
Republicans in the House accept a truly comprehensive deal. I think the
Senate vote was good. The Senate bill is good. It`s got E-Verify, it`s
got border protection. It`s got a road to citizenship.
But all of that is a fait accompli. They`re already here these 11 million
people. They`re not going to get rid of them. Who are we kidding?
PAGE: When we thought that bill has that compromise, had some energy last
year, but it didn`t go anywhere in the House. There`s no signs at all that
the House –
MATTHEWS: What`s the fear?
PAGE: The fear is a lot of Republicans oppose a path to legal status for
people here illegally.
MATTHEWS: Even if we shut the door on further illegal immigration?
PAGE: Well, of course, that`s one argument, the borders aren`t secure.
So, if you can convince them the borders were secure, maybe. But –
MATTHEWS: Would they buy the same deal from a Republican conservative?
PAGE: Some Republicans who opposed a path to legal status, even if the
borders were secure.
MATTHEWS: But he didn`t get to a good bill that was enforced. Whether a
Republican coming in next, whether it`s Jeb or it`s Walker, somebody, would
they be for it again?
PAGE: Well, I think Jeb Bush would be for establishing –
MATTHEWS: Well, may be, but how the Republican Party?
PAGE: Well, you know?
MATTHEWS: It`s weird, the why we are talking about this, or somebody is
for 30 or 40 more years, I think they make a deal.
Anyway, the roundtable is staying with us.
And up next, what do you make of “The New York Times” report, top of the
paper about Hillary Clinton`s e-mails? Is this esoteric or what? Or is
there something behind this I don`t even get?
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Well, Dr. Ben Carson is one step closer to running for
president. Dr. Carson announced today he`s forming an exploratory
committee for 2016. He`s the first Republican actually to officially take
that step, allows him to begin raising money for a presidential campaign.
This guy is running.
The conservative Carson rose from a poor upbringing in the Detroit section,
and the head of the pediatric neurosurgery right now at John Hopkins. What
a rise to fame he`s had. He`s somewhat of a darling on the right now with
his attacks on President Obama and the health care law.
And we`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: OK, figure this one out.
We`re back with the topic, Hillary Clinton`s e-mails. Can you believe it?
Ron Fournier took today`s story, put in context of another recent Clinton
stories like donations to Clinton Foundation from foreign countries, and
came to this conclusion – maybe Hillary Clinton should retire her White
Ron writes, quote, “I`ve known both Clintons of years. I admire their
intelligence and passion and empathy. They`ve been good to my family.
I`ve actually long thought that she has the potential to be a better
president than he was. But now, I wonder whether there`s a part of her
that doesn`t want to be president. She seems to be placing obstacles in
her lane before the race begins. Is this sabotage or something else?”
Well, I`m back with the round table, Ron, Jonathan, and Susan.
FOURNIER: That was my Maureen Dowd imitation.
MATTHEWS: Explain, Lucy, that she`s somehow threw that, like a rock star
that can`t take all the publicity and celebrity and somehow ruins their
FOURNIER: Hey. When you know that you`re seen as someone who believes
that the ends justify the means and who will cut any corner to get ahead.
Who is not authentic, who plays by your own set of rules, why would you do
things like not have a public e-mail and have all of your e-mails
secretive. Why would you do something like take money from foreign
countries that support –
FOURNIER: She is the one running for president, it`s her decision. She`s
taken money from foreign countries that suppress women and support
terrorism. That`s the kind of thing that either you`re really stupid, and
she is very bright woman, or you have some basic blind spots, which is what
I think it is. You just don`t see how bad this stuff is.
Or there`s a part of you maybe just don`t want to do this.
ALLEN: I mean, I think what is interesting about this story is that it
used to be there was criticism that the Clintons wanted to rewrite history.
Now, it seems that Hillary Clinton doesn`t want to have history recorded at
all with these emails. It`s disturbing on the level of, you know, these
are – as Ron pointed out today – these are our e-mails. This is our
And I think it goes to a larger question.
MATTHEWS: Wait a minute. Suppose you work in the State Department, you`re
the secretary of state, which is a fabulous position to hold, and you write
an e-mail to your husband. Bill, I`ll see you at cafe –
MATTHEWS: Why would all of that get in the middle of government documents?
ALLEN: It doesn`t have to. You can have a private e-mail for your private
conversation, but you shouldn`t be conducting government business from your
private e-mail account. And, honestly, if you look at the way it was set
up, it was set up with the forethought to evade the spirit of the open
records laws. I mean, it`s a path –
MATTHEWS: What was the law at the time she did this? What was the law at
the time she did this? I thought the law wasn`t in effect until after.
ALLEN: We`ve had laws about open records for a long time. And you can go
back to the Bush administration where you have people on Capitol Hill
getting groped by Democrats about what they were using –
MATTHEWS: Can you believe this is the top of “The New York Times” this
ALLEN: On one day? Sure. Do I think it`s going to cost her the
FOURNIER: I agree.
ALLEN: The trait (ph) might be the problem. The paranoia –
FOURNIER: Oh, yes. It`s what`s she (INAUDIBLE)
MATTHEWS: OK. You want to say the non-paranoia vote here. I get two
paranoias. You seem –
PAGE: You know, Clinton defenders will say, we jump things about them,
that we would let go by with somebody else, that if Bernie Sanders had a
private e-mail he was using with Senate business, we think, oh that`s –
MATTHEWS: What difference would it make?
ALLEN: He`s not going to be president.
MATTHEWS: I got to go. Thank you.
PAGE: But the fact that she knows that she is subjected to a standard.
MATTHEWS: It`s the chicken and the egg, it`s the chicken and the egg.
Ron Fournier, thank you, Jonathan Allen and Susan Page. We should have
held that until the end of the show.
When we return, let me finish with Bibi Netanyahu`s speech to Congress
You`re watching HARDBALL, and it will be hardball coning up, the place for
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with Bibi Netanyahu`s speech to the
The Israeli prime minister`s address was a master work. It had a nice ice
breaker up front, a nice salute to Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid that
showed right up front that he wanted this to be a bipartisan affair.
I think the speech was particularly strong when the Israeli leader talked
of the times that President Obama has done things for Israel, things he
didn`t share with the public. So the warm up was fine, again, masterful.
And then, when he got everyone to take off the armor, they`re accustomed
instinct of self-protection, he put the knife in.
What else can you say about his direct assault on President Obama who has
been working for months to get the best possible deal with the Iranians?
Who`s he kidding? If we just try harder.
Does he really think he`s serious about this, all this talk about walking
away from the deal, the Iranians are going to walk away from the deal so
we`ll get a better deal in this what he calls Persian bizarre. Are we the
rubes and he`s the sharpie?
Let`s be honest here. Bibi Netanyahu would have had a chunk more
credibility today on that peace and more issue if he had not been blowing
the bugle over the heads of the Bushes and neocons as we rushed into
Baghdad. His complaint about Iran`s grab of other countries would have a
lot more blare to it if he hadn`t been that he, Bibi Netanyahu, been the
one totally into that war. He was all for it to turn Iraq into an Iranian
If there is anyone in this country who follows these things believe that
the man who spoke to the Congress today believes in American foreign policy
generally toward the Middle East, does he believe in the two-state solution
even in principle?
Well, we heard today was not a plan for a deal but a call to war. That was
the message, that was the music, and if the Republicans who cheered him
would only listen they would know that it`s the mission.
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.
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