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Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 03/09/15

Guests: Michael Crowley, Kevin Spacey, Terri Sewell, Ron Fournier, PhilMattingly, Jackie Kucinich

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: GOP to mullahs -- screw the deal! Let`s play HARDBALL. Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in a swiftly deteriorating Washington. Remember the Republican congressman who yelled out "You lie" during a State of the Union? How about inviting Bibi Netanyahu into the U.S. Capitol so that he could undercut the president? Now for the trifecta -- 47 Republican senators have written the hardliners in Tehran asking them to scuttle the Iranian nuclear talks, explode them before a deal can even be reached, telling them whatever deal President Obama signs will be printed in disappearing ink and can`t be relied upon once he leaves office. Is this where we stand in this country, where the opposition Republicans will try anything to scuttle an American president`s noble effort to avoid a war? Michael Crowley is senior foreign correspondent with Politico and Eugene Robinson is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist from "The Washington Post" and an MSNBC analyst. The senators wrote, quote, "President Obama will leave office in January 2017, while most of us will remain in office, well beyond then, perhaps decades. We will consider any agreement regarding your nuclear weapons program that is not approved by the Congress as nothing more than an executive agreement. The next president could revoke -- revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen, and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time." Well, according to "Bloomberg," the letter was organized by Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas. He defended the letter today on CNN.   (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. TOM COTTON (R), ARKANSAS: We`re simply saying that Iran cannot have a nuclear weapon, and Iran`s leaders, whom, according to many Iran experts, don`t understand America`s constitutional system, need to know that a deal not approved by Congress won`t be accepted by Congress now or in the future. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, Democrats obviously said they were outraged by this. Let`s watch. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: I can`t tell you how appalled I am at this letter. I think it`s deeply irresponsible. To have these GOP senators write to a foreign government in a way that`s at odds with the president`s policy is beyond disturbing. SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MINORITY LEADER: This letter is a hard slap in the face of not only the United States but our allies. This is not a time to undermine our commander-in-chief purely out of spite. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, the president today also responded to the letter. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think it`s somewhat ironic to see some members of Congress wanting to make common cause with the hardliners in Iran. It`s an unusual coalition. I think what we`re going to focus on right now is actually seeing whether we can get a deal or not. And once we do, then we`ll -- if we do, then we`ll be able to make the case to the American people, and I`m confident we`ll be able to implement it.   (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, Michael, I have to start with you on this. He makes a point. I don`t like the word "ironic" because I think most people don`t get irony. But he`s saying it`s ironic. But why are they -- why does this group of 47 Republican senators open up a dialogue with -- they must be talking to the hardliners over there -- who don`t want a deal for their own reasons? Probably maybe they want a nuclear weapons program. What a strange alliance to play with those guys. After playing with the right-wing leader of Israel, they go to the right-wing hard line of Iran with no other purpose than to scuttle any deal before it happens. MICHAEL CROWLEY, POLITICO: Right. So I think that is the practical effect of the letter. If you read the text of the letter, of course, it`s not addressed to the right wing, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, is the shorthand for it. It`s addressed to the leadership of Iran saying, You may not understand how our constitutional democracy works. But in fact, the Iranian leadership does understand that. The Iranian foreign minister, Zarif, got a graduate degree in the United States. He is a fluent English speaker, quite savvy about American politics. He`ll name drop-people at think tanks who specialize in nuclear issues. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: -- a doctorate-- CROWLEY: I believe it was the University of Colorado or University of Denver. MATTHEWS: I think it`s Denver. CROWLEY: I`m going to get in trouble if I get it wrong. The last thing very quickly I`ll add is that what the effect of it is, that the hardliners in Iran will say, Look, you can`t trust the Americans, the Congress is going to blow up any deal that you strike, and they will use it as a PR ploy within Iran to try to undermine a deal. MATTHEWS: I know this isn`t enforced anymore, but there is a Logan Act.   (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: You`re not supposed to negotiate, except the president of the United States. But here they are actually telling those people, Don`t trust our president, we`re going to -- it`s not going to work. But I`m trying to think through the policy of this. Do they want the Iranian right-wingers, the hardliners, who do want a nuclear weapon presumably to get their way? Because that opens us -- I mean, they don`t like hearing this -- to a war because if those guys win and we don`t have a deal, what`s to keep us from a war? EUGENE ROBINSON, "THE WASHINGTON POST," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, apparently, that is what they want. And if-- MATTHEWS: So our hawks are talking to their hawks. ROBINSON: Exactly. And you don`t have to step back very far to look at the big picture, right? Our government is now looking like the Iranian government. We talk about how impenetrable it is because you`ve got your moderates, you`ve got your hardliners and your fundamentalists and the ayatollahs. We`ve got the same thing here! We`ve got -- we`ve got -- we`ve got your moderates and your hardliners and the fundamentalists and -- I mean, it`s insane! MATTHEWS: But they can cut a deal. ROBINSON: Right. MATTHEWS: Now our people -- our opposition, our loyal opposition, is saying our president can`t keep a deal -- can`t make one, can`t keep one. ROBINSON: Yes, which is -- which is frankly outrageous. MATTHEWS: So what happens-- ROBINSON: And also not true.   MATTHEWS: Suppose this thing goes down in the next couple weeks, and we don`t make the deadline by the end of this month, which is coming at us, the end of March. If they can`t reach a deal, who gets blamed? CROWLEY: Well-- MATTHEWS: Perhaps this is part of it-- CROWLEY: Well-- MATTHEWS: -- in a weird way. I don`t care who gets blamed, but it will be a blame game. CROWLEY: Sure. And there`s a blame game within the United States and then there`s a blame game on the international stage. And the thing that really concerns the Obama administration is that if this thing falls apart, you don`t want to be seen as the party that caused it to fall apart because you`re going to get into this realm of world opinion and can we muster support to keep the sanctions on Iran or perhaps muster military action on Iran? And if it looks like we were the reason the deal fell apart, there`s going to be sympathy toward Tehran, and there`s going to be a sense that the Iranians wanted to make a deal, but the Americans were-- MATTHEWS: Oh, in Europe. CROWLEY: -- too reactionary to do it-- (CROSSTALK) CROWLEY: -- in Europe, in the United Nations, Russia, China. And that`s very important. And there`ll be a debate within the United States if it leads us down the path to military action. And the White House is quite willingly starting to use the war card. Who is leading us to war? Whose fault is that? ROBINSON: No, I think that`s absolutely right. I think -- you`ll never get China and Russia, right, to happily go along with tougher sanctions and reimpose the sanctions regime if the talks fail. I don`t think -- I think that`s going to be a heavy lift to begin with.   MATTHEWS: Yes. ROBINSON: I think you lose the others. I think you lose Germany, Britain and maybe also France if you go down this road and make it so that, essentially, the U.S. Congress has torpedoed this deal. MATTHEWS: Yes. Torpedo is a good word. ROBINSON: And -- and -- and-- MATTHEWS: And my question-- (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Everybody accuses people like me and the president, actually -- I shouldn`t put myself in the same company, but I agree with him on this -- that if this goes down, if there`s no deal to stop them or delay their program, they race -- they just start racing. And what happens the day after March -- end of March this year, April 1st, and they start building a nuclear weapons program because there`s nothing to stop them? CROWLEY: Right. MATTHEWS: And then the call will come from the neocons and the people on the right in America, who will just say, yes, we got to go bomb them now. What else can they say? CROWLEY: Well, and you can see the Obama administration setting up the debate this way. And so what they--   MATTHEWS: Well, isn`t that the logical alternative? CROWLEY: Well, probably, because you aren`t going to be able to sustain the sanctions. If Iran is smart, what they will do is they will creep their way up to bomb capability without ever crossing the line. So they will say to the world, We`re just expanding our nuclear program. We just - - we have every right to do this, and why would you bomb us just because we`re-- (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: They would do that for what reason? They would not go ahead with weaponizing for what reason? CROWLEY: Because weaponizing is the red line that almost -- you know, that the world community would certainly take action. The United States-- (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Do we know for a fact if Israel can do it without our help? Do we have to give them overflight help over Saudi Arabia? Do we have to give them bigger bunker-busting bombs? Do we have to help them, or could they do it on their own? ROBINSON: I -- I-- MATTHEWS: They`ve done it before. ROBINSON: I think we have some stuff that they don`t have. I think Israel could do a number on the Iranian nuclear program without U.S. help. However, that number would delay the program by at most a few years and -- you know, two to five, whatever. MATTHEWS: What could we do?   ROBINSON: Well-- MATTHEWS: What`s our firepower? ROBINSON: But remember, Iran is a great, big country. And if you listen to what everybody`s been saying the last few days, we are not sure that we know about all of the Iranian nuclear facilities. MATTHEWS: Yes. ROBINSON: There`s a big question as to whether they`re undeclared and uninspected and-- (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: You`re making the case that the only way we deal with them is try to get a delay in force and hope for time to change conditions. ROBINSON: Well, if you put -- the Obama administration argument is that if you can put them in a straitjacket for a decade and keep them, at the end of 10 years, further away from making a nuclear bomb than they are now, then that`s a good deal. MATTHEWS: Yes. ROBINSON: That`s a good deal. Then you try to make another deal. But that`s a good deal. And it`s a better deal than war. CROWLEY: I will say that, you know, the line -- you notice that Bibi Netanyahu backed away from that line of zero enrichment--   ROBINSON: Exactly. CROWLEY: -- that they have to completely dismantle their program. Everyone agrees that`s unrealistic. I do think-- (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: -- could live with it. He still wants to get rid of the whole thing. ROBINSON: He still wants to, but he knows-- (CROSSTALK) ROBINSON: -- point that merits a little more debate is oil prices have crashed. That`s just happened since late last year. It`s really hitting the Iranians hard. And I do think it`s worth considering if we were to try to draw this out for a little bit longer, you know, would they feel more pain? But what the response from the administration is, you can`t keep the coalition together anymore. ROBINSON: No, you can`t. CROWLEY: There are P5-plus-1 negotiating partners and countries like India and Korea. They just don`t have the-- MATTHEWS: Anyway-- (CROSSTALK)   MATTHEWS: I think the word "torpedo" is my word for the night. I thought it was well chosen because that is what the 47 Republicans want to do. They don`t want to have this debate. They want to have this thing croaked. Anyway, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said this weekend that the president was trying to prevent the Congress from playing a role in foreign policy. Here he is. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: The fact that the president doesn`t seem to want Congress to participate in this underscores what a bad deal it is because I think he`s afraid that we might not approve it. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: What do you make of that? ROBINSON: Well, that`s true. They might not approve it. They seem determined not to approve it. But this is the president`s job. This is the kind of agreement that is the president`s job. MATTHEWS: OK. He`s not just asking for that. What he apparently wants -- Mitch -- they want to have some sort of legislation that`s passed that says, OK, in a couple weeks, we`re going to rule on this thing-- (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: -- just vote it down out of principle. ROBINSON: Well, exactly.   MATTHEWS: Without any evidence it was working or not. CROWLEY: Right, but if they vote no -- they can`t kill the deal by voting no. It`s not a treaty. The president doesn`t need congressional approval. MATTHEWS: They could -- they could -- yes, he needs-- (CROSSTALK) CROWLEY: No, it`s essentially them expressing their opinion. And the president has a lot of power to suspend sanctions on Iran. ROBINSON: But not totally revoke them. CROWLEY: But not permanently revoke them, repeal them. But he can suspend them for a couple of years. And what you hear from the administration is, once that happens and a deal gets under way, it will be like "Obama care." This is an argument I heard today from a former administration official. It will take on a life of its own, and undoing it after a couple years will be too hard (INAUDIBLE) MATTHEWS: There`s no principle involved with the opposition position on this thing. This 47 senators today -- you know, I don`t know whether it was sedition under the law, whatever it was, but it was an attempt to bring down this president on foreign policy. Thank you, Gene Robinson. Thank you, Michael Crowley. CROWLEY: Thanks, Chris. MATTHEWS: Coming up: Kevin Spacey plays HARDBALL right here. The Academy Award-winning actor stars in Netflix`s "House of Cards" as the diabolical and ruthless politician Frank Underwood. He`ll be here to talk to me about the show`s new season and he defends it, of course.   Plus, President Obama delivers what some are calling a masterpiece of a speech in Selma this weekend to mark the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday when over 600 nonviolent protesters were attacked by state troops. Voting rights was the issue then. Still is, of course. And then the Clintons unleash the attack dogs. James Carville says "The New York Times" isn`t reporting the news, it`s working off right-wing talking points. He said that about five times today. Will blaming a vast right conspiracy -- right-wing conspiracy, the early Monica maneuver, as we remember it -- will it work this time? And the other front page news today is that ISIS appears to be fraying from within. it comes at a time when the majority of Americans are calling for a U.S. ground war against ISIS. So what gives here? We going in or not? And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: President Obama told CBS this weekend that the only way the two sides will reach a deal is if the Iranians are willing to provide sufficient verification to the world that they won`t produce a bomb. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`ve said that if there`s no deal, you`re willing to walk away. That`s it. BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Absolutely. If there`s no deal, then we walk away. If we cannot verify that they are not going to obtain a nuclear weapon, that there`s a breakout period so that even if they cheated, we would be able to have enough time to take action -- if we don`t have that kind of a deal, then we`re not going to take it. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: And we`ll be right back.   (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. The third season of the Emmy-winning show "House of Cards" debuted on Netflix just 10 days ago, but many are already drawing comparisons to our real-life political process here in Washington, D.C. Well, throughout the series, we`ve come to know Frank Underwood for his ruthless efficiency in the pursuit of power. This season, we find him at his pinnacle in the White House as president, and he`s fighting to stay there. Here`s a clip. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Practically speaking, a thousand special interests, organized labor, opposition in both parties -- now, we can do a version of what you`re proposing-- KEVIN SPACEY, ACTOR: I don`t want a version. I want a vision. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As head of this team -- and I think I speak for everyone -- we have done-- SPACEY: Speaking as the president who chose this team and for whom it works, I want $500 billion to put 10 million people to work. I don`t care how much it hurts! I don`t care how controversial it is! Your job is to find a way! (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: I`m joined right now by the star of "House of Cards," Kevin Spacey, himself. Kevin, through your knowledge of American politics, is that the guy -- I`m asking an open question here -- that the American people would like to believe is going on in the back room of the West Wing right now, a guy who says, Get the damn thing done, stop giving me bureaucratic crap? Is that who we want?   SPACEY: Well, you know, I think if we go back and look through American political history, we certainly can reexamine, perhaps, some politicians who at the time might have been called ruthless and very, very difficult to negotiate with, who knew what they wanted and went for it. Lyndon Johnson comes to mind. MATTHEWS: Yes. SPACEY: And certainly, he had that reputation in Congress. But I think that once he became president, one of the things that was impressive about his presidency, despite all of the, I think, proper criticism he took over the Vietnam War, was that he saw the presidency as a place where you could actually get something done, where it was the time to step forward, even if you were doing something that was against maybe a stance you had had for many, many years as a congressman. And that certainly was true in the case of civil rights, that he decided that passing those three civil rights bills was more important than almost anything else he did in his presidency. And I would say that that was a pretty effective thing to do, and I think probably the way he went about doing it was twisting some arms. MATTHEWS: Yes. That sounds like Lincoln in the Spielberg movie, you know, getting the 13th Amendment to outlaw slavery. Anyway, here`s what your show`s creator, Beau Willimon, had to say recently about the new season. Quote, "A lot of people love the show for all those chess moves, and they like seeing Frank and Claire be invincible. They like seeing Stamper" -- his assistant -- "being invincible. If it was easy for Frank, if he didn`t stumble, if he didn`t fail, then the show would become a parody of itself. And I`m not interested in that." So it`s tougher -- the way you`re portraying in this new series is being president creates a lot more challenges than getting there, even for the Machiavellian way he got there. What`s that -- does that tell you about what we`re watching in Washington now, how difficult it is for Obama to get things he wants? SPACEY: Well, I think it`s interesting, you know, in the case of looking at Frank Underwood and Claire Underwood that we now in this third season have a chance to examine two characters who primarily in the previous two seasons had been very successful in working in the shadows, in the dark alleys, and now suddenly find themselves in the hottest, whitest spotlight you can imagine. And both -- what the heart of this season is about is how does that change them, how does that change what they want to accomplish, and how does that affect their relationship and their marriage? And I think all of those areas are what we`ve tried to explore in this third season. MATTHEWS: And she wants something, too. SPACEY: Yes. Yes. And frankly, she deserves it. She`s an awesome character.   MATTHEWS: Yes. I know. I don`t mean in terms of time on stage, but I mean the U.N. job, I mean, in the script, that she obviously wants a piece of the action. SPACEY: Well, you can go back to, you know, Roosevelt and -- and say that, you know, she was an ambassador to the United Nations, although I don`t think it was at the time that he was in office. And it was an appointment. But we have had women who`ve taken on remarkably important roles in politics. And I think we will probably continue to see that in the future. MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about macho and your fight with Petrov, the guy who`s very much like Vladimir Putin. These episodes show him to be quite the match for Frank Underwood, I mean frighteningly so. If you think Vladimir Putin is tough, this guy apparently is as brilliantly Machiavellian as Underwood at his best. SPACEY: Yes, it`s a little hard to talk for me about specifics of plot, because, you know, while you may have watched it and some of your viewers have, there are millions of people who haven`t caught up with season three. But I will say that there are certain aspects to the confrontation that Frank has with the Russian president that people might recognize. MATTHEWS: Spoiler alert: He`s bad. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: Anyway, here`s another scene from the season three, the current season of "House of Cards." This is a White House Cabinet meeting with Claire Underwood, played by Robin Wright. There they are coming together here. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "HOUSE OF CARDS")   ROBIN WRIGHT, ACTRESS: The secretary and I recommend increasing our relief funds to Zimbabwe, outspend the Israelis. SPACEY: Well, President Chimbetu will just pocket the money. WRIGHT: Well, we always anticipate a certain level of-- (CROSSTALK) SPACEY: A certain level? He`s egregious. The man`s a monster. WRIGHT: Who happens to run the African bloc. SPACEY: Who happens to kill his own people when he`s not stealing from them, which is why I reduced aid to Zimbabwe. WRIGHT: If we want him to remove the amendment, we have to be persuasive. SPACEY: We are scraping together every penny we can to save AmWorks. The last thing I want is to be slammed for giving additional money to a brutal dictator from USAID just to persuade him. This is ill-conceived. You should think before you bring a proposal such as this. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: It isn`t like "The Godfather," and never speak against the family in public.   (LAUGHTER) SPACEY: Yes. MATTHEWS: There, you have a marital spat the Cabinet table. (CROSSTALK) SPACEY: He doesn`t have such a pleasant night at home later on in the executive bedroom, I guess. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: What do you think about Underwood as a guy you have gotten to know, and maybe not love? But he would do well, it seems to me, in a really, a really frightening dictatorship where you work your way up through people, killing people, stabbing them in the back, leaving them in their cars with the exhaust on, that sort of thing. He doesn`t need the people`s judgment much, this guy. SPACEY: Well, he certainly seems that -- you know, the whole series has been such an interesting examination about power, how people get power, how they try to retain power. And he has certainly gone about it in his particular Machiavellian ways. But the thing for me that`s been so exciting about coming to work every day is that I don`t show up every day thinking that I know everything about this man. The writers, our writing team, Beau Willimon, who you indicated earlier, is our show runner, they continue to peel back the onion. I continue to be surprised when I discover something in a script that I didn`t know was going to be revealed or where we decide to put an even thicker layer of onion on top of his character. So, it`s actually very exciting to come to work because it`s brand-new for me each day.   MATTHEWS: You know, I learn a lot. I have been here 40 year and I keep learning things that are very much close to your script. One of them is this -- not as evil as Frank Underwood, but as Machiavellian. Members of Congress who get elected in their late 20s and early 30s spend 30 years plotting which of the other guys will be moving on, which of the other guys will be defeated, which will move on to be chairmen of different committees and who they will have to contend with in 30 years. They do sit home and do that at night, like Frank did, Frank does. SPACEY: Although there are some congressmen, like Kevin McCarthy, who manage it do it in four years. (LAUGHTER) SPACEY: So, it didn`t take him 30 years to become whip. MATTHEWS: Well, he`s moved fast. Well, he got some help from Eric Cantor. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: I mean, it`s one thing when they drop like flies before you. By the way, Barack Obama ran for the Senate. Both his opponents got in marital problems right in the middle of the campaign and were blown away. He ended up having an easy race for the United States Senate. So, it does happen, good luck, you know? Hey, Kevin, my friend, congratulations. You have done it again. Who would have believed? You created a whole new platform that everybody is going to say, I could have done that. Why didn`t I do that? How come he`s the superstar? And you are. And thank you for coming on HARDBALL tonight.   SPACEY: Thanks. Good to see you, Chris. MATTHEWS: Up next: President Obama marks the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday with an emotional appeal for civil rights and voting rights. And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Selma shows us that America`s not the project of any one person, because the single most powerful word in our democracy is the word we, we the people. We shall overcome. Yes, we can. That word is owned by no one. It belongs to everyone. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Wow. Welcome back to HARDBALL. That was, of course, President Obama speaking in Selma this weekend, actually on Saturday. The president and his family, along with former President George W. Bush and nearly 100 members of Congress marched on the same street, the same bridge where civil rights demonstrators were beaten bloodily by police 50 years ago in what became known as Bloody Sunday.   Civil rights icon and Georgia Congressman John Lewis was in Selma 50 years ago, and he spoke about that day. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. JOHN LEWIS (D), GEORGIA: We were beaten, tear-gassed. Some of us was left bloody right here on this bridge; 17 of us were hospitalized that day. But we never became bitter or hostile. We kept believing that the truth we stood for would have the final say. (APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: What a soulful man he is. Anyway, Selma, Alabama`s, current member of Congress, Representative Terri Sewell, is a Democrat from Alabama. She joins us now. Thank you, Congresswoman, for joining us. And, well, where are we now? You know, it`s 50 years ago. That march had a lot to do with getting the Voting Rights Act of `65, so that, on the books, not just in the amendments to the Constitution after the Civil War, but in the books, you have the right to vote. Back then, 2 percent of your -- of that county, Dallas County, was registered to vote, the black people, just 2 percent. How is it going today in terms of registration and voting?   REP. TERRI SEWELL (D), ALABAMA: Well, Chris, thank you so much for having me on. This past weekend was an amazing testimony to the strength of the American fiber, because I think that even in a place like Selma, where we`re now predominantly African-American, we`re working on our second African- American mayor, I get to represent Selma and the civil rights district in Congress today, that the real struggle for us right now is an economic struggle. But I have to tell you that I thought that the president`s speech was really amazing. And I thought that his focus on making sure every American knew what took place on that bridge and how uniquely American that experience was-- MATTHEWS: What`s it like to serve in Congress with Republicans who don`t agree with you? And I know they agree in principle everybody has the right to vote. And yet, in 36 states, they`re out there trying to make it very difficult to vote, to the point where they don`t -- they succeed when they pass laws that say -- to make it tougher to vote, just to vote. SEWELL: Yes. Well, listen, I think that, for me, being -- Selma being my hometown, it was awesome to be able to welcome a bipartisan delegation of members of Congress. It`s very tough, Chris. I won`t lie, because, you know, I think that the partisan politics and the nature of it right now is so stifling to get any legislation done, but having an opportunity to come to Selma, to walk in the footsteps of John Lewis with John Lewis is truly transformational. And my hope is that all Americans will take serious the right to vote, and that we in Congress will go back, renewed by our -- by witnessing living history, that we will actually go back and restore the voting rights amendment. MATTHEWS: What do you make of what happened in Oklahoma at that frat house, where I thought David Boren, the former governor, former U.S. senator from that state, now the president of the University of Oklahoma, basically cracked a whip? This guy threw the fraternity off campus, said, as long as he`s the president of that university, will never get back their fraternity house again. He condemned even casual conversations in which bad words are used, racist words. Here`s a video of that fraternity and what the members were doing at the University of Oklahoma, chanting racial slurs, including the N-word. The video was posted on YouTube on Sunday. Here it is. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)   UNIDENTIFIED MALES: There will never be a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) SAE. There will never be a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) SAE. You can hang them from a tree, but they will never sign with me. There will never be a (EXPLETIVE DELETED). (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: You wonder -- you have to wonder what planet or century those young people thought they were on. But they`re paying the price. What did you think of Boren? No B.S. here. He just went and cracked the whip and said, you`re off campus, you`re gone as a fraternity. SEWELL: I think that -- what the incident that happened at the University of Oklahoma just shows us what the president was saying. There`s a lot of unfinished business in America with respect to civil rights and voting rights. And I think that the president of the University of Oklahoma was right to crack the whip. I think that, you know, Selma is now. The lessons that we learned in Selma 50 years ago are as relevant today as they were 50 years ago. We understand that we must be ever vigilant in the fight for civil rights and voting rights. Progress is elusive. All old battles become new again in a heartbeat. MATTHEWS: Yes. SEWELL: So, we must be ever vigilant in our struggle to make sure that we all live up to the ideals of the Constitution that all men are created equal. MATTHEWS: Well, I hope you come back on the show a lot. Thanks for coming on, first time I met you. You`re great. Thank you, Congresswoman Terri Sewell. Thanks for joining us. You represent Selma, Alabama.   Up next: James Carville says that journalists are being fed the story on Hillary Clinton by the right wing. In other words, "The New York Times" is working off the right-wing talking points. Will blaming the right-wing conspiracy work this time? Didn`t work last time. You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) PAGE HOPKINS, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Page Hopkins. And here`s what`s happening. Forty people were injured when an Amtrak train collided with a truck in North Carolina; 213 passengers were aboard the train at the time. A Missouri appeals court judge is taking over Ferguson`s municipal court following a Justice Department report that found a pattern of racial bias in the police department. The city`s court system has also been under scrutiny. And protests are continuing in Madison, Wisconsin, following the police shooting of an unarmed teen on Friday night. An investigation into that incident is under way -- and now we`re going to take you back to HARDBALL. MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Well, the hard focus on Hillary Clinton continues on the front page, and has been front-page news today again in the wake of last week`s big private e-mail story. Well, today, Clinton lieutenant James Carville tried putting the fire out in an interview with Andrea Mitchell here on this network. He says "The New York Times" got the story from Clinton`s enemies on the hard right, specifically from right-wing talking points. Here`s James.   (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: "The Times" gets something from some right-wing talking points. You know, "The Times" took right-wing talking points. The press, you know, which took right-wing talking points. The right-wing talking points. Where do you think the e-mail story came from? ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Let me-- CARVILLE: It came from Republican staffers. That`s where it came from. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, last week, I asked Michael Schmidt, the reporter at "The New York Times" who broke the story if he got his scoop from Republican oppo. Here he is, Michael Schmidt. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MICHAEL SCHMIDT, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": What doesn`t make sense is that they have known about this for many, many months. MATTHEWS: Did they drop it? Let me just try a couple theories. Did you get this from oppo from the Republicans? SCHMIDT: No.   (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Did you get it from the Clinton people trying to put it out ahead of time? SCHMIDT: This was much harder. MATTHEWS: Just enterprise on your part? SCHMIDT: Yes. MATTHEWS: Just enterprise, sheer enterprise? SCHMIDT: Shoe-leather. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: In that same interview, Anne Gearan, a reporter covering this story for The Washington Post, also denied being tipped off by the hard right. Here she is. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ANNE GEARAN, "THE WASHINGTON POST": That was a clean break. The Republicans had nothing to do with it and that`s become a narrative now on the Democratic side is that this is a manufactured story that the Republicans are pushing and that the media is biting on. And that`s just not the way it happened.   (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, what James Carville and other Clinton allies are doing here is familiar terrain, of course. Back in 1998, Clinton`s camp blamed the Monica Lewinsky coverage on what they called a vast right-wing conspiracy. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, FIRST LADY: The great story here for anybody willing to find it and write about it and explain it is this vast right- wing conspiracy that`s been conspiring against my husband since the day he announced for president. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, will it work here? Our roundtable tonight is going to take a look at that, "National Journal" editorial director Ron Fournier, Bloomberg`s national correspondent, Phil Mattingly, and senior politics editor of The Daily Beast Jackie Kucinich. Jackie, you first. Is it -- let me just ask you this. I didn`t hear any evidence from Carville that this was put -- was handed over to "The Post" or "The Times." It wasn`t given to them. It wasn`t oppo work. It was enterprise reporting. Does it matter that he keeps saying this so many times? Will people believe it? Will anybody believe it? JACKIE KUCINICH, THE DAILY BEAST: I mean, "New York Times," that bastion of right-wing talking points. It doesn`t make any sense. And it feels very retro.   And I think everything they say doesn`t matter, because she`s going to respond to this. Hillary Clinton is going to respond to this. And the Clintons don`t usually respond to things personally when something is patently false and it`s just, you know, the right wing agitating. MATTHEWS: So, let me go back to Phil. You mean, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will go out there and give the straight skinny on this, not this very I think ineffective PR that`s been coming out, like we gave you 50,000 pages. OK, well, there`s another 90,000? We don`t know. Or that we want the State Department to release the e-mails when she had them in her possession? This dumb talk they`ve been using, hoping people who are following it and loyal to the Clintons don`t understand the story. Do you think she`s going to give us the straight skinny on this press conference? PHIL MATTINGLY, BLOOMBERG NATL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Democrats who are not former, current or soon to be Clinton hands have their ways -- yes, she will do that. Jackie and I were talking about this before, I will be stunned to see full-blown press conference where reporters get free rein to talk to the former secretary of state -- MATTHEWS: What do you expect? MATTINGLY: -- and ask her a ton of questions. That`s the great question. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: What do you expect? How do you control it? How would she have a press conference where she keeps changing the subject? What will be the technique to avoid answering the questions directly? MATTINGLY: It`s not possible for that to actually occur. But the idea that the Clintons would put her in a scenario where everything is not controlled, it just -- it wouldn`t align with everything they`ve done.   (CROSSTALK) RON FOURNIER, NATIONAL JOURNAL SR. POLITICAL COLUMNIST: I think she can end this in about five minutes. No. Two minutes, end the entire controversy. There`s only two questions, and only two answers. Here`s the servers, here`s your e-mails back. These are the people`s e-mails. And here`s receipts to show I`ve given my foreign donations. These are her controversy. These are her mistakes. She can either fix them or drag this out. And, James Carville, I`m sorry, but the `90s are calling. They want their PR tactics back. They don`t work nowadays. And, look, they`re the king of oppo research themselves. James Carville, you tell me he hasn`t given "The New York Times" stuff on Republicans? I don`t care if the devil, himself, gave "The New York Times" this information. It doesn`t matter where it came from. It`s the truth, that she violated regulations, that she assaulted transparency, that they`ve been deceiving and lying about it ever since, her henchmen out here. They`ve got to come clean. Turn over the servers. Hand back the foreign donations. The controversy is over. MATTHEWS: You know, what I`ve been frustrated by the elegance with which we spoke about the ideal press conference, and then you watch them, whether it`s a convention -- the worst of the congressional hearings. They don`t follow a logical transition from question to follow-up to better follow-up, to isolate the person holding the press conference, Phil. It never seems to work that way. People ask one ding bat question after another and they ignore it because they`re competing with each other. They don`t want to help somebody get a better answer. I always think, if you just listen to the last answer, you can follow up on that, rather than thinking of a new question. MATTINGLY: If you talk to the politicians, I think they rely on that.   MATTHEWS: Chaos. MATTINGLY: They hope that that`s going to come and they plan for that. And I think there`s one benefit Hillary Clinton would have if she holds a press conference is that nobody has gotten a free shot at her with an actual question for a long period of time. So, a number has built up. But to Ron`s point, there are only a few that need to be asked and need to be answered. MATTHEWS: Yes. MATTINGLY: I think you need to try to figure out -- MATTHEWS: First question goes to Sid Blumenthal. Second question to David Brock. FOURNIER: I think we make a -- MATTHEWS: I`m just teasing. FOURNIER: I think we make a mistake in the media if we think this is about how well she performs and frankly her team is making a mistake if they think -- MATTHEWS: I think you`re right. It`s the objective fact. FOURNIER: Right. There`s really only one thing to do here and that is to come clean with the --   MATTHEWS: You think Bill Clinton the other day -- FOURNIER: You can`t talk your way out of things. MATTHEWS: He said transparency was good enough. If they take some money from some bad guy in Algeria, and they give it to taking care of, you know, flood relief down in Haiti or somewhere, and we tell you we`re doing it, no harm done -- will that work? You say it won`t work. FOURNIER: Not when there`s been -- MATTHEWS: Dirty money -- FOURNIER: Very credible allegations. First, they`re taking money from banks that are under investigation. There`s been credible allegations of pay-to-play. She -- the champion of women`s rights, this is the aspirational reason why we should vote for her is taking money from countries that suppress the rights of women. I don`t see how -- MATTHEWS: To turn the pillow over to the cold side right now, Jeb Bush, and I mean the cold side. This guy, they`re not ready for him out there. According to a new NBC/"Wall Street Journal" out tonight, Scott Walker leads the field out there, 53 percent of Republicans say they can see themselves voting for Walker versus only 17 percent who say they can`t. That`s a 36 point positive spread. Marco Rubio, another one, second in the poll. Jeb Bush is seventh out there, 47 percent of Republicans say they can see themselves voting for Jeb; 42 percent, as many say they can`t. This sounds like overdone Bush. KUCINICH: Yes. I think that`s his biggest problem.   MATTHEWS: Whereas Hillary is flying high right now. KUCINICH: You hear him say, I`m not my father, I`m not -- you know, I`m not my brother. It`s not -- it`s not working. And the thing that Scott Walker has going for -- MATTHEWS: Jeb flew into office on the Republican side. So, maybe the second one gets home free. The third doesn`t. KUCINICH: No, but I think Walker has something else going for him, he`s a sitting governor and he`s doing things the right likes right now. He signed the right-to-work legislation. He`s showing himself to be this conservative fighter that he`s really presented. He does have the benefit of being a sitting governor, being able to do these things -- where Jeb Bush hasn`t done that. MATTHEWS: Do you listen to how he sees it? I think there`s two things that drive the Tea Party on the conservative right, which are very legitimate. One is make some sense of the border. Every other country in the world does. We have a liberal immigration policy. We should have one. But it should be enforced. It should be real. Democrats are kind of loosey-goosey about the whole proposition to make anything real. But spending money, wasting money, he doesn`t say it like I beat the unions. What he says is I protected the taxpayer against the teachers union. It`s all about protecting spending. That`s what people on the right all agree on. All Republicans agree on this. It`s a unifying issue. Stop wasting our taxpayer dollars. MATTINGLY: He has a record that continuously wins and he has a message that wins. How do you fight against right to work or freedom to work? He`s figured out a way not to make this a purely union-bashing measure, although that will work in certain parts -- MATTHEWS: He says I protect the taxpayers. MATTINGLY: It`s a message -- MATTHEWS: These are public employee unions. They`re not just unions.   MATTINGLY: But it`s a message that works and it`s one that Jeb Bush will have to overcome, no question about it. FOURNIER: Flip side of the pillow for both, I know we`re really hammering Hillary Clinton. MATTHEWS: No, no, you were -- FOURNIER: OK. Let me say -- MATTHEWS: -- very tough. I was observing. FOURNIER: I don`t take anything back. But it`s still early in the process. If she`s transparent and accountable, she can overcome this. Jeb Bush, I would love to see how he is on the number two. How many people are picking him as a number two choice? That`s a key thing with him. MATTHEWS: They might not get that far, though. FOURNIER: It might not. MATTHEWS: I`ve got two words for you -- Ed Muskie, a guy that couldn`t lose. Anyway, the roundtable is sticking with us.   And up next, "The Washington Post" is reporting that ISIS is fraying from within. Front page today. What does it mean for the president`s strategy and an American public ready to send in the troops? This is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERICAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Same-sex marriage has a record number of supporters, according to the new NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll. Catch this -- 59 percent, three out of five of us polled say they`re in favor of same-sex marriage. That was the highest percentage in the history of the poll. That number is up six points from just 2013 when 53 percent of those polled were in favor. And we`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: We`re back with the roundtable, Ron, Phil and Jackie. And there was a surprising front page story in "The Washington Post" about the vulnerability of ISIS. According to "The Post", quote, "The Islamic State appears to be starting to fray from within. Reports of rising tensions between foreign and local fighters, aggressive and increasingly unsuccessful attempts to recruit local citizens for the front lines and a growing incidence of guerrilla attacks against Islamic State targets suggest the militants are struggling to sustain their carefully cultivated image as a fearsome fighting force, drawing Muslims together under the umbrella of a utopian Islamic State." Other news this news weekend seemed to undermine that premise. The Nigerian terror group Boko Haram pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, suggesting it was still seen as the premiere jihadist group in the world. Let me go back to Jackie on this. You know, apparently what`s going on inside is this cauldron where they want people to get out into the outpost and take the airplane hits from us, the bombing raids, but all the people want to live in the cities where they`re protected from bombing because Americans don`t want to blow hospitals and schools. So, they`re trying to get the people but the Europeans and the Americans who come from around the world and the North Africans, they all want to live in the cities. So, the locals are getting forced out to the front like Stalin finding Hitler here.   It is a terrible situation where you`re just getting chewed where the bombing is going on. I could see that caused a stir. KUCINICH: Right, and that`s the thing, is they have to govern if they`re going to create this state and we`re talking about services, we`re talking about basic things and if they can`t do that, then they`re going to have these problems. And in terms of U.S. strategy, seems like everything is very in flux right now. It seems like it`s too soon -- MATTHEWS: Well, does that mean that the policy of containment will kill them? FOURNIER: It`s hard to tell. You have to take it with a grain of salt, because we`ve been the last 14 years, we`ve learned, what we hear from intelligence, what we see in the front of the newspapers doesn`t always turn out. If this happens to be true, it would really verify what the president has been doing and suggest that we don`t have to go further, that we just keep our foot on their neck, where we can roll them up. I`m kind of dubious. MATTHEWS: Then the Iranian militias went -- the Iranian Quds force wins and also the Shia-led militias from Iraq win. MATTINGLY: Their influence is certainly growing. This underscores the need for pressure on the Islamic State. Whatever the strategy is and nobody thinks the strategy is going to involve U.S. ground troops anytime soon, but the ability to have a coherent offensive strategy when it comes to the Iraq forces with the Sunni tribes, with the Shia-backed, Iranian- backed forces that can actually put pressure, rifts are exposed like this when that`s pressure put on them what you`re starting to see right now and I think that`s why this needs -- MATTHEWS: Well, speaking of pressure, a recent Quinnipiac poll found that by 2-1, a big majority, Americans backed sending troops. Here`s my quandary. I always try to figure out public opinion, like all of us. The American people almost 2-1 want us to go in, with troops like big regiments, go there and beat them, take them apart. At the same time, most Republicans you hear think Iraq was a disaster. KUCINICH: Right. MATTHEWS: So, most recent experience with war was a bipartisan disaster. So, how do -- are we already back to ready to fight again? Has that memory faded? KUCINICH: I don`t think so. When you talk to lawmakers, they`re not ready to send troops in again.   MATTHEWS: The American people, why do they say they are? KUCINICH: Look at what`s happening -- I mean, people forget so soon. Look what`s happening -- MATTHEWS: Why are they saying yes? KUCINICH: You can`t even take care of the people coming back -- (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: No, I`m talking public opinion. Why is public opinion say let`s go in? FOURNIER: It`s a relatively new blip, it`s because the summer, they saw -- MATTHEWS: Beheadings. FOURNIER: Those beheadings. So, this has been, I think over the course of time, we`re going to see more people not wanting it. We`re just in kind of a blip up because what we saw recently. MATTINGLY: This is reactionary. It`s got to be. When you see it on the front page every single day, this is how you react. MATTHEWS: It`s James Foley. Everybody saw the face of that guy --   FOURNIER: It would not sustain if we put a bunch more troops and those numbers would right down. That`s the point. MATTHEWS: Yes, I think we still benefit -- I was just reading about Lusitania, taking us into World War I. You screw with us and we are ready to fight for a country that says it doesn`t like war. Let`s remember the Alamo, remember Lusitania, remember Pearl Harbor, remember James Foley. I mean, I think there`s a lot of that. I`m part of that myself. Anyway, thank you, Ron. FOURNIER: It was a much easier war to fight. MATTHEWS: And Phil Mattingly from "Bloomberg", and Jackie Kucinich. FOURNIER: Thank you. MATTHEWS: The best of the Kuciniches. When we return, let me finish with the language of the Logan Act which Congress passed and the president signed in the early days of our republic. It`s quite relevant to what those 47 Republicans did the other day in the Senate. You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)   MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with the language of the Logan Act which Congress passed and the president signed in the earliest days of our republic. And each citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who without authority of the United States directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years or both. I wonder if the senators who rushed to sign that letter to the Iranian leaders had read this document which is known as the Logan Act. It basically says that only the government of the United States is allowed under the law to negotiate with foreign governments. Again, I wonder if these 47 senators gave thought to what they were doing here. Then again as I said in the beginning of this show, they did know exactly what they were doing. They were trying to undermine the work of an American president by first of all disrespecting him even if they don`t get charged and imprison for it. What they`ve done here is craven. And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now. END THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END Copyright 2015 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>