Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 04/23/15
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Drones kill.
This is HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews back in Washington.
Two big stories tonight. First, a U.S. drone targeted to kill
terrorists kills two captives, including an American. Also, the mainstream
media targets the Bill and Hillary Clinton financial juggernaut that runs
through their global foundation, Bill`s speeches, and Hillary`s State
Department. Is this a serious story of how top politicians use power, or
as the candidate herself argues, merely a distraction?
Before we get to Hillary Clinton and later speak with the man who flew
his gyrocopter to the Capitol to warn of political corruption, let`s start
with this fraught question of drone warfare. Isn`t it still better, I
argue, than going to a Middle East ground war?
Well, today, President Obama revealed the tragic news of the hostages`
deaths. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As president and as
commander-in-chief, I take full responsibility for all our counterterrorism
operations, including the one that inadvertently took the lives of Warren
and Giovanni. I profoundly regret what happened. On behalf of the United
States government, I offer our deepest apologies to the families.
It is a cruel and bitter truth that in the fog of war generally, and
our fight against terrorists specifically, mistakes, sometimes deadly
mistakes, can occur. But one of the things that sets America apart from
many other nations, one of the things that makes us exceptional, is our
willingness to confront squarely our imperfections and to learn from our
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Richard Engel is NBC`s chief foreign correspondent.
Richard, how`d this happen?
RICHARD ENGEL, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, it seems that in January,
according to U.S. officials who we`ve been speaking to at the Pentagon, and
I`ve been speaking to by phone from here in Italy, there were two separate
drone strikes in mid-January.
These appear to have been what are generally referred to as “signature
strikes,” which means that the drone operators, in this case the CIA,
didn`t know exactly who they were targeting. They just knew they were
targeting what they believed to be al Qaeda compounds. So they believe
they were legitimate targets and that the people inside them would be al
Qaeda members or al Qaeda affiliates.
In the first compound that was struck, along the Afghan/Pakistan
border, inside Pakistan, the two hostages were being held. The CIA didn`t
know they were being held there, one Italian, one American, the American
Dr. Warren Weinstein. One other American was also in that first target, an
American al Qaeda member named Ahmed Farouq, who was the number two al
Qaeda leader in Pakistan.
Then a few days after this first drone strike, also mid-January this
year, earlier this year, there was a second drone strike, and another
American, another American al Qaeda member named Adam Gadahn, was killed in
that strike. So you had two different strikes by the CIA earlier this year
in which two hostages were inadvertently killed and two American al Qaeda
members were killed, apparently also inadvertently.
MATTHEWS: Do we expect any change in our policy, or is that sort of
public relations to say, We`re going to review our policy?
ENGEL: Well, the – I have not heard anyone talking about seriously
reviewing the policy. When we speak to military officials, they say, Well,
this wasn`t really our operation, this was a CIA operation. Perhaps there
needs to be better visibility on how those two agencies de-conflict their
Generally, it is the CIA that carries out operations in Pakistan, so
there is some sort of geographic divisions among them. But I`m not hearing
any serious considerations that they have to overhaul the drone program.
There was no rescue attempt considered for the case of Mr. Weinstein
or the Italian because according to a DOD official I spoke to, they had no
real intelligence. They didn`t really know where he was being held. They
didn`t have a starting point, so there was no way for them to look. They
didn`t know he was in the house. They attacked the house, and then just
found out after a several-month review process that, in fact, these two
hostages were inside.
MATTHEWS: Thank you so much, Richard Engel in Italy. Those two
hostages that were killed, of course, were U.S. aid workers.
Anyway, I`m joined right now by MSNBC News political director, of
course, moderator of “MEET THE PRESS,” Chuck Todd. It is something to
watch a president, any president, come out and take the hit and say, even
if it was a pure thing that happens in war, it`s war, people get killed in
who weren`t intended to be killed.
CHUCK TODD, MODERATOR, “MEET THE PRESS”: No, it is. And the – you
know, you`re the commander-in-chief, and you`ve got to do all those
MATTHEWS: He could have ducked it.
TODD: I don`t think so.
TODD: I think if he`d ducked it, there would be a lot of people
going, How do you duck this? You`re the commander-in-chief. I think you
see people saying, you know, he didn`t give specific authority on this
strike because he doesn`t – you know, the – he doesn`t necessarily say
yes, no, on specific strikes anymore. This is done as sort of a – it`s
done below him on the chain of command. But he clearly has given this
MATTHEWS: Chuck, what do you think of this? This afternoon, White
House spokesman Josh Earnest said the standards in place for the use of
drones would be re-examined. Now, Richard Engel`s a little skeptical about
this from over there. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: In the aftermath of a
situation like this, it raises legitimate questions about whether
additional changes need to be made to those protocols. Again, to put it
more bluntly, we have national security professionals who diligent followed
those protocols based on what we all – based on everything that we know so
far. They followed those protocols, and yet it still resulted in this
unintended but very tragic consequence.
And that`s why the president has directed his team to conduct a review
of this particular operation to see if there are lessons learned, reforms
that we can implement to this process.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Chuck, you pointed out before we started tonight, there is
a big debate about the moral use of drones and the question of what`s the
fallout when you do it. You kill people, everybody knows about it.
TODD: This is a – and look, there`s – there`s going to be plenty of
Pakistanis that see this and say, Oh, Americans are outraged when an
American dies accidentally…
MATTHEWS: But we`ve been doing that over there.
TODD: We`ve been doing it over there a lot – you know, for a lot
longer. So you`re going to have that part of this debate. Look, there`s -
- boy, you want to unwind this story. The president had to say these were
accidentals, including the two al Qaeda operatives that are American
citizens, because you need to have – there are still legal questions
MATTHEWS: Are we allowed under the – I argue this with my family
TODD: This has been a – this…
MATTHEWS: Are we allowed under the current reading of the
Constitution to kill Americans who have defected?
TODD: I don`t believe the Obama administration believes this. So
there`s – I think there is a legal…
MATTHEWS: They don`t believe it`s OK?
TODD: I – there`s a legal debate. Is this a war, right?
TODD: If it was a war, that`s one thing, right? It depends on the
definition of what the battle field – look, this is part of this legal
question. That`s one aspect of this, but set that aside.
There is the whole morality debate that we haven`t had as robustly on
whether the use of drones – what – have we opened a Pandora`s box, which
is – I come back to something to me that was so striking a week ago, and
it got no news coverage. The secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, announced -
- when he announced the purchase of a few more new F-35 strike fighters, he
said, This will be the last purchase perhaps that the Navy ever makes of
manned fighter jets.
We are going all unmanned, all on drones. There are unintended
consequences that go with this, not just the mistakes that come with
striking and you had bad intelligence, you didn`t know the hostages were
there, but how about the fact that you make it bloodless. If you make war
MATTHEWS: By our side.
TODD: By our side. Does it then make it easier to resort to a drone
MATTHEWS: Who`s going to resolve the question you and I just averted
there a bit, the question of whether a president – I say this is a family
TODD: I don`t know! I mean, I think…
MATTHEWS: … we have the right to nail someone we know is a traitor.
But are you a traitor if it`s not a declared war?
TODD: Look, I think this is something that Congress needs to resolve.
This is something I think the legal community needs to resolve. This is
something the Justice Department – this goes to – but they – I think we
need to have the morality debate here because what happens when somebody
strikes us with drones? You know, this is when somebody else is acquiring
the drone tech – we`re ahead of everybody else on drone technology, for
now, just like we were ahead of everybody else on nukes.
What – is this the – the proliferation – there are people I`ve
talked to who believe the proliferation of drones is worse than the
proliferation of nuclear weapons, in some cases, because it could lead to
an easier justification of doing military action, if there`s no – if you
don`t have – if you`re not risking your own blood and treasure.
MATTHEWS: I was down in Haiti the other week, two weeks, three weeks
ago, and there was a guy with a drone right over the hotel, just having fun
with it, the first I`d seen one close up. Anyway, thank you.
TODD: This is a new – a brave new world.
MATTHEWS: Thank you so much, Chuck Todd.
In his comments today, President Obama paid tribute to the two
captured aid workers – as I said, they are aid workers – who were killed
in that strike.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Today, we join their families and friends in honoring Warren
and Giovanni, two humanitarians who came from different countries but who
were united by a spirit of service.
There could be no starker contrast between these two selfless men and
their al Qaeda captors. Warren`s work benefited people across faiths.
Meanwhile, al Qaeda boasted to the world that it held Warren, citing his
Al Qaeda held both men for years, even as Warren`s health
deteriorated. They deprived these men of precious, irreplaceable years
with family, who miss them terribly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, in a statement put out by Elaine Weinstein, the wife
of the American aid worker who was killed, she faulted some elements of the
U.S. government in negotiating for her husband, but she said the ultimate
responsibility for her husband`s death rests with his captors.
Quote, “We do not yet fully understand all the facts surrounding
Warren`s death, but we do understand that the U.S. government will be
conducting an independent investigation of the circumstances. We look
forward to the results of that investigation. But those who took Warren
captive over three years ago bear ultimate responsibility. I can assure
you that he would still be alive and well if they had allowed him to return
home after his time abroad, working to help the people of Pakistan.”
U.S. Congressman John Delaney of Maryland has worked for years to help
get Warren Weinstein released. He joins us now, along with NBC News
terrorism analyst Evan Kohlmann.
Congressman, thank you for joining us. Tell us, if you can
succinctly, how have you tried to get him out. What was the effort like?
And how did the U.S. government help or not help you?
REP. JOHN DELANEY (D), MARYLAND: So we worked closely with the
family, with Elaine, who, by the way, is a remarkable woman, Chris. She`s
showed incredible strength and really held her family together while she
worked in a very effective way to try to get Warren home.
What we tried to do was make sure all of the assets of the U.S.
government, whether they be intelligence assets or relationships with other
partner nations who have more assets on the ground in Pakistan, were all
working to try to get Warren home.
And quite frankly, where we saw gaps or where we saw problems was not
that people in the U.S. government weren`t trying hard as individuals,
because the FBI and the State Department, they all were working really
hard. But I really believe, based on this experience and based on working
so closely on Warren`s case, that we do need better coordination of all the
capabilities the U.S. government has so we that can find these people
because if we know where they are…
MATTHEWS: Who`s on point? Who`s on point? Of all the agencies, if
you have to find the lead – where is the lead in getting back somebody
like this, one of these aid workers, when they`re grabbed by the
DELANEY: Right. Well, that`s one of the problems, right? The FBI is
on point, right, because that`s their job. The State Department is
obviously critical. What we want to do and what we`ve been talking about -
- and I had been actually been working on legislation based on Warren`s
situation, which we will finish – unfortunately, it won`t help Warren –
to effectively create a hostage czar within the White House.
We`ve got a lot of czars doing all kinds of things in government, but
we actually don`t have someone on point who can cut across the bureaucracy
of government and grab whatever resources and make sure it`s coordinated as
effectively as possible.
Sometimes, those resources mean talking about our foreign aid program
to a foreign country who`s not giving us the information we want, for
example. So it`s things like that, as well as our intelligence
capabilities. That`s what I think we need.
And that`s the part of this discussion that I think – you know, the
discussion about drones is interesting and some of the other things are
interesting, but I actually think the intelligence question, meaning, Are
we really doing everything we can – when you think about the enormous
capabilities in the United States of America, and how many countries rely
upon us, are we really bringing that all to bear to find these Americans?
MATTHEWS: You didn`t know where he was, did you. The family didn`t
know that he was on the border there between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
DELANEY: We suspected. You know, he was captured in Pakistan, and we
suspected he was in that region. But you know, we didn`t know. We didn`t
know where he was, which was incredibly frustrating.
MATTHEWS: Let me go to Evan Kohlmann about the whole geopolitics of
this and the whole use of drones. Is there any way really – you know, all
this about changing protocols and everything – if we`re going to use
drones aggressively, if we`re going to use them as our main firepower in
that part of the world to go after terrorist groups and knock them out at
the lieutenant level, you can`t be more – is there a way of being more
careful and still getting the job done?
EVAN KOHLMANN, NBC TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, I`d like to enlarge on
that because I don`t think it`s just a question of drones. A few months
ago, the U.S. military launched a special forces operation targeting al
Qaeda in Yemen and accidentally killed a South African hostage who was
being held by them, and we didn`t know he was there, either. So that had
nothing to do with flying robots.
MATTHEWS: But that`s a central – how do you know – first of all,
hostages are kept by the captors. If you go to kill the captors, you`re
going to kill, you know – we watch this in every detective movie. Every
time he`s being held – every drama written for American TV or movies or
radio in the old days was about a captured person that you have to protect
as you go in and raid the situation.
KOHLMANN: Yes, and look, and in this case, it`s not that ridiculous
because Ahmed Farouq, the American al Qaeda operative who was supposedly
killed alongside Gadahn – or excuse me, alongside Warren Weinstein – he
was featured in as Saheb (ph) videos in al Qaeda propaganda videos, very –
in very close proximity, you could say, to the hostages. So the idea that
he would be in physical close proximity to them isn`t ridiculous. It isn`t
Look, this is a very difficult science. This is not easy. No matter
what we do, whether we use drones, whether you use special forces, there
are going to be casualties in this war. I think we have to ask ourselves,
ultimately, was there any way of getting Mr. Weinstein back or the Italian
hostage back alive without doing something like this? And I think,
realistically, the answer is no.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Thanks so much, U.S. Congressman John Delaney and
also Evan Kohlmann, right there. Thank you both, gentleman.
KOHLMANN: Thank you.
DELANEY: Thanks, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Coming up – we`re covering all sides of this. Coming up,
10 days into her campaign, there`s a flood of questioning headlines today
about Hillary Clinton, the Clinton Foundation and overseas money. Tonight,
we`re going to look at the facts and find out how worried the Clinton
campaign should be and how much of this is real and how much of it is
Plus, President Obama told me this week that President – that Senator
Elizabeth Warren is, quote, “wrong” when it comes to that massive trade
deal he`s pushing. Well, tonight, Elizabeth Warren`s response from last
And the Florida mailman – actually, he is a mailman – who landed
that gyrocopter at the U.S. Capitol joins us tonight. A top U.S.
congressman, by the way, says that if it were up to him, that copter would
have been shot down. My God! Anyway, the pilot, 61-year-old Doug Hughes,
is here tonight. Talk about blaming the messenger, Congressman!
Finally, “Let Me Finish” with this news, that a majority of Democrats
in the Senate Finance Committee have voted to put the trade deal on fast
track, so all that you`re hearing about all progressives are against this
is not accurate.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Well, Loretta Lynch has now been confirmed by the United
States Senate to be the next attorney general of this country. The vote
was pretty strong, 56 to 43. Ten Republicans joined all the Democrats in
support of her confirmation, including several Republicans facing, of
course, reelection next year in states that President Obama won. Isn`t
The only senator not to vote – oh! This is ugly – Ted Cruz.
President Obama cheered Lynch`s confirmation late today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to say publicly
for the first time – I`ve been looking forward to saying this – that I am
very pleased that Loretta Lynch has now been confirmed…
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: What room was that in? Anyway, Lynch`s confirmation today
ends the longest wait of any attorney general nominee in 30 years.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Well, back in February, “The Washington Post” ran a big story that the
Clinton Foundation was taking money from foreign governments while Hillary
Clinton was secretary of state. It sparked a wave of press coverage and
attacks from Clinton`s critics, who raised concerns about conflicts of
Now, just 10 days into Clinton`s presidential run, the wave has become
a flood. And here we go. The scrutiny over the Clinton`s financial
dealings, their speaking fees, government work, charity organization work,
and private connections has now hit every major news organization in
America. The mainstream media is on it.
The front page of “The Washington Post” reports today that – quote –
“Bill Clinton was paid at least $26 million in speaking fees by companies
and organizations that are also major donors to his foundation.”
“The New York Times” ran a massive story today on how cash flowed to
the Clinton Foundation during Secretary Clinton`s tenure from the Russians
while they were seeking U.S. approval on a sensitive deal to control large
swathes of U.S. uranium deposits, approval that they won.
“The Times” reports that those contributions were not publicly
disclosed by the Clintons, despite an agreement Mrs. Clinton had struck
with the Obama White House to publicly identify all donors.
Then there`s this. Reuters reports today, also, that Hillary
Clinton`s family charities are refiling at least five annual tax returns
after a Reuters review found errors in how they reported donations from
governments. That means overseas governments.
In all instances, Clinton`s camp has denied any wrongdoing and, late
today, they put out a lengthy response to the “New York Times” story,
noting that Secretary Clinton was not directly involved, actually, in the
review process on that uranium deal.
Let`s dive right in here.
Stephanie Schriock is president of the pro-Hillary group – well, they
are pro-Hillary – EMILY`s List. Michael Steele was RNC chair, of course.
And Jonathan Allen is the chief correspondent at Vox – V-O-X, that is.
Stephanie, I`m going to give you the first swat at this.
I mean, there`s a lot of things out there. There`s money, all
different cases, big speaking fees, of course. The Clinton Foundation has
been enormously successful in raising money all around the world. Hillary
Clinton was secretary of state. Bill Clinton was former president and
Hillary Clinton may very well be the next president.
Where do you see in this reasonable, well, questions about possible
conflict of interest and responsibilities? Your thoughts?
STEPHANIE SCHRIOCK, PRESIDENT, EMILY`S LIST: Well, what I really see
in this is a very clear, orchestrated Republican strategy. When you don`t
have much to offer in policies that the voters want, you attack your likely
And they know they have got to tear her down. And that is precisely
what we`re seeing. We`re seeing it in this book that has been written by a
discredited author that is in media outlet after media outlet being
discredited piece by piece. And this is just the beginning, Chris. We are
going to see a lot of these attacks, because this is what the Republicans
have right now as a strategy.
MATTHEWS: If you have – can imagine a Republican running an
international global organization, a foundation to help little countries
with big problems, and also the guy running it was making a lot of money in
speaking fees from the donors, would you see conflict there, if it were
Republicans doing the same thing?
MATTHEWS: Would you see a conflict with a Republican doing this?
SCHRIOCK: The guy that you`re talking about is the former president
of the United States…
SCHRIOCK: … who has an incredibly powerful story to tell.
And the foundation, frankly, has done immense and incredible work
around the globe, particularly when you`re talking about empowering women
and girls, as well as, you know, eradicating – working to eradicate
HIV/AIDS. So this is a foundation that has done really important work.
MATTHEWS: Hey, I believe in the cause. I think it`s great. My son
worked for them overseas in Rwanda on AIDS.
MATTHEWS: I think it`s a great cause.
But let me ask you this. I have got to get a little counter here.
It`s my job, and I don`t mind doing it, Stephanie. And that is this. I
heard a roar of disapproval when Ronald Reagan took that two million bucks
from the Japanese after he left office, because people said he was kind to
them in trade negotiations.
And I don`t know if your voice was there, but a lot of my friends`
voices were loud. And I just wonder whether we`re cutting this fairly.
Your thoughts. And then I will get back to the bad guys here.
SCHRIOCK: Well, I think we have…
MATTHEWS: What did you think about Reagan grabbing two million bucks
the minute he left office?
SCHRIOCK: The precedent has been set. You just mentioned another
president. This is – often…
MATTHEWS: Is it fair?
SCHRIOCK: … often presidents of the United States have great
stories to tell, and they get speaking fees for doing it.
MATTHEWS: Two million bucks?
SCHRIOCK: What President Clinton has done is dedicated his time in
helping people around the world.
MATTHEWS: No, Stephanie…
MATTHEWS: … have you ever heard of anybody paying two million bucks
to hear a good story, two million bucks? Maybe two million ducks, but two
million bucks to hear – that`s a hell of a story. I mean, Mark Twain, I
don`t think got – would have gotten two million bucks.
Anyway, let me go to you, Jonathan, before we go to the Republican.
Is there a – why is your – these big papers, “The Post,” “The Times,” is
it all because that conservative guy wrote that book that we still haven`t
JONATHAN ALLEN, VOX: No, of course not.
MATTHEWS: It isn`t connected?
ALLEN: This story has been all – it`s connected, in that he`s
working with some of those big newspapers on the particular set of things
that he did research on.
The story about the foundation has been unfolding for a long time.
There are a couple of stories that are interesting storylines.
MATTHEWS: What`s potentially corrupt?
ALLEN: So, what`s potentially corrupt is that there are a number of
corporations and individuals with business before the U.S. government,
while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state, and if she becomes president,
who have given tons of money to the Clinton Foundation.
And, by the way, they can give a lot more to the foundation than they
can give in hard money to a presidential campaign.
MATTHEWS: Right. Why do they give money?
ALLEN: For access. For access and in hopes of favor. That does not
mean that those favors were done.
What we haven`t seen here is any smoking gun. But we`re not fighting
a legal battle. Hillary Clinton`s not fighting a legal battle.
Republicans aren`t fighting a legal battle. They`re fighting a battle over
weather the presidency of the United States is a power that they want to
give to Hillary Clinton. And one of the questions is, who influences her
and how do they influence her?
ALLEN: And so that`s why you`re seeing all this reporting on this.
That`s why you`re seeing all this – this anger around it.
And, by the way, to answer your questions about Republicans, Democrats
were ready to burn down the Capitol when Tom DeLay had a foundation and his
big political donors were giving to that to get access…
MATTHEWS: That`s that little housing development down in Texas.
ALLEN: For foster kids or adopted kids as well.
ALLEN: Yes, that – yes.
MATTHEWS: Michael, your shot.
MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you know, I think…
MATTHEWS: Do you see corruption here or just – what do you see,
smoke and fire, or just smoke?
STEELE: I see smoke. I see smoke. We want to try to find the fire.
MATTHEWS: OK, what`s wrong? What`s wrong in what you see?
STEELE: I think the fact is, it`s part – it`s sort of burning up the
narrative now that there`s this concern about whether or not we can trust
her, whether or not she`s going to be honest.
You know, from my perspective, I`m looking at this. Now I know
MATTHEWS: No, really, you have got to nail this down, Michael. What
is it that she did that caused you to question her honesty, what she did,
not Bill Clinton? He grabbed the speaking fees out of the White House.
STEELE: It`s the idea – it`s the idea – a couple of things, one,
the idea that you put yourself in a position where I can question your…
MATTHEWS: How did she do that?
STEELE: By being in office and having this relationship with these
governors – these governments through the foundations and the
organizations that either she has an affiliation to or her husband has an
affiliation to as the former president of the United States.
Go back to Stephanie.
First of all, I think anybody who has had anything to do with the
Clinton Global Initiative believes – agrees it`s good work. Is there
something we ought to be watching here in terms of the speaking fees? I
don`t understand – you said access. That covers such a multitude of
opportunity. Some people like social aspect. They just like to hang
around with the Clintons because they like their company.
STEELE: But the access gives – but the access gives you the uranium
SCHRIOCK: And if I may, Chris…
MATTHEWS: Yes. Go ahead. You certainly may. Go ahead.
SCHRIOCK: Well, I was just going to say that Hillary Clinton was
spending four years as secretary of state, watching out for the security of
the country over this time period.
The campaign even made it clear today that she had absolutely no
involvement in the State Department`s review over the say…
MATTHEWS: Uranium deal, right.
SCHRIOCK: Exactly right.
MATTHEWS: I made that point.
SCHRIOCK: And so she has been a very, very good secretary of state.
And I think this is ultimately – and we look at this as what the voters
are looking for here.
This election, again, I know, we`re going to step back and it`s going
to sound corny, but the truth is, they want to talk about what`s going on
in their lives. And the Republican strategy here is about making it about
MATTHEWS: Well, let`s be honest. You know what they`re up – they`re
up to crib death. They want to knock her out before she even gets started.
You know – Stephanie, you know exactly what.
SCHRIOCK: That`s right.
MATTHEWS: They`re going to hit her now when she doesn`t have a full
team ready to defend.
Thank you so much.
SCHRIOCK: And it`s not going to work.
MATTHEWS: Michael, this will not – we will revisit…
STEELE: I know we will.
MATTHEWS: Last point. What`s the worst thing Hillary Clinton has
done? Nail it. What`s she really done wrong that you know is wrong?
STEELE: I think all of this could have gone away if she just put that
server on the street and let people see what`s on it.
MATTHEWS: Oh, the server.
STEELE: Because I guarantee you a lot of what we`re talking about
right now will be found there.
ALLEN: She may be beyond reproach. It may turn out that way. But
she`s not beyond question.
MATTHEWS: Well, that`s an easy charge to make. The server is
destroyed. You can`t be disproven.
STEELE: Well, you know, I`m just saying, this is something that could
have been avoided.
But, number two, “The New York Times” and “Washington Post” are not
part of a Republican cabal. I appreciate Stephanie trying to make that
STEELE: But this is something of her own doing.
MATTHEWS: Michael, this reminds me of that old Irish game. Somebody
dies and they always say, you know, he never liked you. There`s no way we
could ever disprove what you ever said.
ALLEN: The Clintons should step away from the foundation while she`s
running for president and/or president.
STEELE: Thank you.
ALLEN: That`s the clean answer.
MATTHEWS: OK. OK. Thank you.
ALLEN: Put it in someone else`s hands for a while.
MATTHEWS: You know how long that will be – people will be interested
in that? They`re not anymore.
Anyway, thank you, Stephanie Schriock – Schriock. Thank you very
much. I`m trying to be nice to you, because we have got two big guys over
here, and they seem to have teamed up.
MATTHEWS: Michael Steele and Jonathan Allen.
SCHRIOCK: Wish I could be here.
MATTHEWS: Actually, I wish you would too.
MATTHEWS: Up next, the Florida mailman – this is a great guy coming
up. You can`t beat this guy. Here he is flying here tonight – no, he`s
flying – well, he flew that gyrocopter on to the lawn of the U.S. Capitol
to make his protest clear about the corruption of too much money, secretive
money in politics.
Well, Jason Chaffetz from Utah wanted to shoot that guy out of the
sky. As I said, blame the messenger. He`s now under home detention, sort
of. Actually, he can actually move around. He`s here on HARDBALL tonight.
We are going to talk to him. There he is right now, Doug Hughes.
I want this guy to address a joint meeting of Congress. That`s what I
want him to do.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JASON CHAFFETZ (R), UTAH: He is lucky to be alive, because he
should have been blown out of the air and very well could have been. He
QUESTION: You think he should have been blown out of the air?
CHAFFETZ: I – I think if you`re going to do that and come down, if
it was up to me, I would have – I would have taken care of the problem.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: “If it was up to me, I would have taken care of the
Wow, Jason Chaffetz is a tough customer.
Welcome back to HARDBALL.
That was House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz. And the problem he
wanted to shoot down is Florida mailman Doug Hughes, who is with us now.
Doug Hughes, by the way, piloted his homemade gyrocopter last week on
to the lawn – there it is – of the United States Capitol. He said he`s
fed up with fat cats pouring millions of dollars, billions of dollars into
American politics without any traceability, the old dark money.
So, the 61-year-old flew literally under the radar with letters to
every member of Congress. They included this quote from now Secretary of
State John Kerry – quote – “The unending chase for money, I believe,
threatens to steal our democracy itself.”
Joining me right now from his home in Ruskin, Florida, where he`s
currently there, is Doug Hughes.
First of all, Mr. Hughes, congratulations for your message. Let me
just – without getting into big trouble, I completely support your
Let me ask you, are you – what`s the condition right now of your
detention? Are you allowed to walk around, go to the store, go to
Starbucks, whatever? Can you do that?
DOUG HUGHES, FLEW GYROCOPTER ONTO CAPITOL GROUNDS: No. No. I`m
under house arrest. I can`t leave the inside of my home.
MATTHEWS: The inside of your home. Show me your ankle, the bracelet.
I would love to – the country wants to see that. Can we look at it now?
HUGHES: OK. It`s just a GPS.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Let me look at it.
HUGHES: And I have to charge it every day.
MATTHEWS: You have to charge it? Yes.
HUGHES: It`s – it`s not removable. But it can get wet. I can shower
with it, but I`m not supposed to…
MATTHEWS: What is your feeling when you first wake up in the morning
and you feel that on your leg? What do you feel about personal
responsibility, the goal that you set when you set about this mission to
fly the gyrocopter to the Capitol Building?
How does it all settle when you first wake up in the morning? Do you
say, damn it, I did the right thing, I`m a hero, at least to myself, or
what? What do you say?
HUGHES: Well, that`s the whole thing, Chris, is that it is personal
If you read Thoreau on civil disobedience, you have to be willing to
accept the consequences for what you`re doing if you believe in them. And
I do. I don`t know what the consequences are going to be. We`re going to
have to see that through.
MATTHEWS: What percentage of the media coverage has focused on your
message, and what percentage, do you think, has focused on your means?
HUGHES: Chris, I have watched remarkably little media. Everybody
knows better than me how much the media has – how they have covered it.
I do think that the people who don`t want to talk about the corruption
in Washington do want to talk about horde of Muslim terrorists coming in on
horde of gyrocopters and jumping out and charging the Capitol with swords
HUGHES: That`s the vision that they want to talk about.
MATTHEWS: That`s not my cartoon.
Anyway, you did get to a lot of attention on this. Look at this.
Syndicated columnist Kathleen Parker, who I respect wrote: “It takes
courage to stand where you put your money or to deliver your letters to the
U.S. Congress in person. See, Mr. Hughes, your stunt worked.”
Let me ask you about the corruption, you call it. Describe an example
of what you think, a case where big money, any money, changes how a
congressman or a senator votes, or a president. Where do you see it
HUGHES: Well, where I see it happening that bothers me the most is
that almost 50 percent of our Congress that`s retired, whether they lost
the election or they retired, has gone to work for K Street or as lobbyists
off K street, earning 14 times what they made in the Congress.
And that`s not a fixed amount, but, on average, 14 times what they
made in the Congress. And I don`t think any of these people are worth $1.5
million or $2 million a year as consultants. I think they`re getting paid
for voting the way the lobbyist firm they associated with told them they
had to vote.
MATTHEWS: So you think it`s a post-payment.
HUGHES: … quid pro quo.
MATTHEWS: You think it`s a – you think it`s a delayed payment for
services rendered in office?
And I think the American public will see it the same way. And it`s
What I did was illegal, and I may go to jail for it. They do it every
day, and none of them will ever see jail time for it.
MATTHEWS: How many years would it be after serving in Congress would
you say no more – no lobbying?
HUGHES: Right now, in a lot of professions, you sign a non-compete
HUGHES: And under the non-compete clause, you can`t go to work for
another company that does the kind of business that you were working for.
Now, stay with me.
MATTHEWS: I`m with you.
HUGHES: The non-compete clause is in effect after you have left the
employ of that other company.
HUGHES: And they can tell you what you can and can`t do.
We can do the same thing with Congress. We can say, there`s a non-
compete clause as far as who you can go to work for or whether or not –
who you`re going to work for, whether or not the amount of money looks
suspicious, whether it looks like you`re accepting payola.
HUGHES: And it could be for 10 years.
MATTHEWS: Let`s see how you make that a law and whether that`s
constitutional or not, but I like the way you think.
Thank you, Mr. Hughes. I think a lot of people are watching right now
who sympathize with your cause and they know it`s hard to come up with the
solution as well.
Thank you so much, Mr. Hughes, Doug Hughes. We know who you are.
HUGHES: All right. Thank you.
MATTHEWS: We know your cause. Thank you.
Up next: President Obama made headlines here on HARDBALL this week,
when he said Elizabeth Warren was wrong about that big trade deal he wants
– so, when we come back, Elizabeth Warren`s response.
We`re also going to point out that a majority of the Finance Committee
in the U.S. Senate, 7-5, the Democrats on that committee voted for fast-
track. So, this isn`t one-sided, but it is a hot debate.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I love Elizabeth.
We`re allies on a whole host of issues. But she`s wrong on this. And when
you hear folks make a lot of suggestions about how bad this trade deal is,
when you dig into the facts, they are wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
That was from my interview with President Obama on Tuesday, where he
made his case for the possibly historic Trans-Pacific Trade deal.
Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren is the most celebrated critic
in the deal, and last night on MSNBC`s “RACHEL MADDOW”, Warren responded to
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Now, it`s the case that the
president says that he wants the American people to judge this deal based
on the facts, but, to do that, he`s got to make the deal public. If it`s a
great deal for families, like the president says, or a great deal for
workers, then put it out there and let them see it before we have to grease
the skids to get the deal done. They`re asking us to vote now on greasing
the skids, so that we give up now any chance to be able to amend it, any
chance to be able to block it, any chance to be able to slow it down. And
my view is – when the process is rigged, then the outcome is likely to be
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: OK. For more on the debate on the – it`s in the
Democratic Party, over the trade showdown, let`s bring in our roundtable,
Jonathan Capehart with “The Washington Post”, he`s an opinion writer, MSNBC
political analyst as well. Nedra Pickler is a White House reporter for the
“Associated Press”. And John Feehery is a Republican strategist.
Nedra, it seems to me there`s a lot of peripheral argument here.
First of all, every senator at Stanford could go in and look at this report
as it`s being developed. She can do it anytime she wants. There`s going
to be a 60-day review period publicly where everyone in the world is going
to see it. It`s going to take like 180 days to get this thing finally
See, the idea that this is being done in secret arrangement isn`t
quite accurate, except the early parts. That`s how you get a deal
NEDRA PICKLER, ASSOCIATED PRESS W.H. REPORTER: Yes, they`re playing
with the words a little bit. It is not accurate to say this is a secret
deal, which is the language they keep using. It is accurate that they are
right now negotiating it privately, but eventually, as you said, all of
this language is going to be available for public view.
MATTHEWS: And there`s never been a trade deal that`s ever been
approved, except by fast track. I worked in that for years. I knew you
had to do it one way, because otherwise, you can`t get the other 12, in
this case, the other 11 countries to agree to something you then bring up
to a vote. There`s no body to the argument.
JOHN FEEHERY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Elizabeth Warren seizes on this
because she`s great at getting the press and she`s great at rolling out the
MATTHEWS: Why doesn`t she just say – why doesn`t she just say, I
don`t believe in free trade, I`m a protectionist? Because it sounds –
FEEHERY: Because she`s somewhat delusional and she`s a conspiracy -
she`s a conspiracy theorist and it works with –
MATTHEWS: I disagree –
FEEHERY: I mean, she says this kind of stuff all the time.
Everything is rigged. Everything is – you know what, the facts are the
facts and this trade deal will help America get jobs.
JONATHAN CAPEHART, THE WASHINGTON POST: Here`s the thing about what
Senator Warren said yesterday that stuck with me. And that was, she
admitted to Rachel that she had seen the deal. She has read the deal. But
she`s not allowed to talk about it. Now – and she wants the American
people to see it.
What I didn`t hear in that interview is, well, if you`ve read – if
you`ve read the trade agreement, or what, at least as much as it that there
is, what about it does not comport to what the president has said? And
isn`t that why the American people send people to Washington, to read these
bills and tell them what`s going on?
MATTHEWS: John, I was impressed by this notion that all progressives,
all Democrats are against this deal. And I see a vote in the Senate
Finance Committee. OK, it`s the finance committee, may be a little pushed
towards wealth. 7-5, the Democrats voted towards fast track.
Let`s take a look, by the way, the light-hearted things here, take a
look at a video that House Speaker John Boehner put out, John, today,
celebrating his first 100 days in Congress.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: All right. Let`s do
BOEHNER: Well, we were able to pass a bill here in the house that
did, in fact, expand access to these college savings accounts. And the
president was trying to tax these plans.
That`s our budget –
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: And look at that book. Look at that book on his desk
FEEHERY: That`s a good book. I read it. I think everyone should buy
it. You know –
MATTHEWS: That`s product placement.
FEEHERY: That`s product placement. Well done, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Thank you. That`s “Tip and The Gipper”. We`ll be right
back with the roundtable staying with us.
Coming up next, surprise. House Republicans are planning to release
their Benghazi report, that one that`s all about Hillary, of course, in the
middle of the presidential campaign come 2016. What are they waiting for?
You know, excitement.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: We`ve got new polling on the 2016 race for president. A
new Republican has raced to the top. According to a new Quinnipiac poll,
Marco Rubio is the new Republican front-runner, nationwide. Rubio is
pulling in 15 percent, just ahead of fellow Floridian, Jeb Bush, who`s at
13. Scott Walker is next at 11. Ted Cruz is in fourth with nine, 9
We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHUCK TODD, MEET THE PRESS: Are you going to be done with this by the
end of this calendar year rather than get into `16 and become a player on
the presidential race?
REP. TREY GOWDEN (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Lord, I hope. I would like to
be through as quickly as possible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Wow. We`re back with the round table, Jonathan, Nedra and
And that was Republican Congressman Trey Gowdy, who`s chairman of the
House Select Committee on Benghazi, saying he`d like to release his final
report before 2016.
Well, that was back in March. But now, that release could be pushed
back to next year, into the middle of the presidential election season.
That timing, of course, could complicate the campaign of Hillary Clinton,
who`s at the center of that investigation, so called.
In an interview with NBC News earlier today, Congressman Gowdy blamed
the administration put the potential delay, saying they`ve been
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOWDY: What I was trying to do is just alert people, this is a
potentiality, if you don`t cooperate with us on our investigation. So, if
John Kerry and the president will help me get the documents and they
control the agencies, all the agencies involved, they help me get the
documents, and the witnesses are available, there`s no reason for us to go
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Congressman Gowdy may well have tipped his hand last night
on FOX, given all that he knows now, and he knows a lot, he said he doesn`t
assume the final report will be critical of Hillary Clinton.
And here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS: If this comes out after the end of this
year, the end of the year 2016, the credibility is going to be pinched
because people are going to say that`s political, you wait until Secretary
Clinton was running for president.
GOWDY: It could be. Of course, that assumes that the report would be
critical of her and I don`t make that assumption, because we`re still in
the process of gathering facts. If the report is not critical of her, then
she would probably want it to come out closer to the election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: The close reading of that is that given that all that we
know now, she could be cleared, which means pretty evidence for Hillary
Clinton having through this thing.
MATTHEWS: They`re admitting they don`t have anything yet.
PICKLER: Well, let me just go out on the limb here and say that this
report actually going to be critical when it comes out. I just –
MATTHEWS: So, why did you say it wouldn`t be if it came out now?
PICKLER: Because he`s trying from the first day to make sure that
this seems like the most impartial review yet. But now we see it`s coming
out in 2016 –
MATTHEWS: But is he saying after all we`ve seen, she`s still clear.
I think it`s an amazing statement when you listen closely to it.
CAPEHART: Nedra said something very interesting here. Trey Gowdy`s
initial review, there had been seven inquiries. What on earth could he be
looking that said –
MATTHEWS: What`s the smoking gun?
FEEHERY: I don`t know the story. This story was going nowhere and
now we discovered that Hillary put her emails on a server and then destroy
the server. So, you know, this will take sometime, maybe a lot of time and
MATTHEWS: So, she can never prove her innocence now.
FEEHERY: What`s that?
MATTHEWS: She can never prove her innocence now. It`s all on the
FEEHERY: You know, she probably should follow the law and had her
emails on government server. That would have been good.
PICKLER: She gave them a huge depth with those emails, because now
they have the talking points on this.
MATTHEWS: Giving. She gave you guys a rabbit hole.
FEEHERY: A presidential campaign would not be built on this. But
it`s going to be part of a broader narrative about –
MATTHEWS: I get it. They operate in their own rules. It`s very
clever, we`ll see if it works.
Thank you, John Feehery, my friend. Thank you, Nedra Pickler. And
thank you, Jonathan Capehart.
MATTHEWS: I got it.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this news that a majority of
Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee voted to put the Pacific Rim
trade deal on fast track. I find it impressive that senators from Oregon,
the state of Washington, Florida, Delaware, Maryland, Colorado and Virginia
all voted favorably.
This is not – if you have noticed it – the way this story has been
running the last several days in the papers. Ever since the trade bill
grabbed the front page, the only voices heard have been those from Senator
Elizabeth Warren, who opposed the issue. And you`ve seen on HARDBALL, this
has become a hot debate here. The president and former President Bill
Clinton had been on one side, the country`s labor unions have been
Hillary Clinton has yet to take sides, except it is fair to say she
backed the Pacific Rim trade deal while serving as the secretary of state,
calling it the gold standard of trade deals. As I`ve made it clear, if you
want to follow this debate, watch HARDBALL. It`s going to be hot and it`s
going to be here.
And that`s HARDBALL tonight. Thanks for being with us.
“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.
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