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Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 03/26/15

Guests: Clint Van Zandt, Seth Kaplan, Barney Frank, Jay Rollins, JohnGoglia, Harold Ford, Michael Duffy

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Mass murderer. This is HARDBALL. Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews up in New York. And "Let Me Start" tonight with the horrifying news about what happened Tuesday aboard that German airliner that crashed in the French Alps. According to prosecutors now, you`re looking at a man who committed mass murder. Based on an analysis of the cockpit`s voice recorder, investigators believe the 27-year-old co-pilot of Germanwings flight 9525, Andreas Lubitz, deliberately crashed the plane, killing 150 people on board. It happened after the senior pilot left the cockpit to use the bathroom. Lubitz is alleged to have purposely locked him out and then calmly steered the plane to its destruction. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BRICE ROBIN, MARSEILLE PROSECUTOR (through translator): He pressed the button for a reason that we cannot seem to understand. But we`d like to analyze it by some kind of deliberate action and willingness to destroy this plane. He voluntarily, deliberately allowed the plane to descend, the plane to lose its altitude. It`s really abnormal. He had zero reason to do so. There was zero reason for him to prevent his co-pilot, or his pilot from returning into the cabin, zero reason for not responding to the air control trafficker who was warning him about this descent, zero reason for refusing to type some kind of code, an alert signal to the rest of the planes in the region. (END VIDEO CLIP)   MATTHEWS: We begin tonight with NBC`s Katy Tur, who`s in Germany, and Bill Neely, who`s at the crash site in the French Alps. That expert there was certainly definitive, wasn`t he. This is not something explicable by technical or any other -- any other rationale. It`s a guy who wanted to kill everybody on that plane. That`s the way he explained it. KATY TUR, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and that`s the way it`s being seen right now. The German officials, the Lufthansa officials here in Germany, wouldn`t go so far as to say that on camera, but that`s certainly how people are feeling, that this guy deliberately flew this plane into a mountain and deliberately killed 149 other people, including children. There were two babies on that flight, 16 school children from one town here in Germany, including two of their teachers. It`s a serious state of mourning here in Germany, and now a very serious state of shock. What we do know about Andreas Lubitz, the co-pilot, is that he was German. He was fluent in English. Friends said that he had dreams of flying since he was a little kid. He started with Lufthansa, training with them in 2008, got his co-pilot`s license, officially certified to be a co- pilot, in 2013. Just a year-and-a-half later, after only 630 hours of flight time, officials say that he deliberately crashed that plane into the side of a mountain. Now, investigators are trying to figure out exactly why he did this. There`s no clues as to what his motivations might be. People that we`ve spoken with and that we`ve been able to hear from haven`t said that he seemed unusual in any way, that he was nice, that he was polite, that he seemed like he was having a good time with his job. They just don`t know how this happened. Investigators were seen here in Montabaur, his hometown, taking out boxes of evidence from his parents` home, including escorting an unidentified person outside of that home. They`ve also taken out boxes and computers from his apartment in Dusseldorf. They`re going to piece together all the information that they`re able to find to see if they can find a motive. What I`m finding particularly curious right now, though, Chris, is that we have only one confirmed picture of this 27-year-old. What 27-year- old do you know that doesn`t have a number of pictures from Facebook or friends that post of him? So that`s certainly an unusual thing. And there`s going to be a lot of questions as to who this guy was, and certainly why in the world he would deliberately do this and kill 149 other innocent people. And the voice recording for those last moments, where you apparently hear the pilot of the plane banging on the door, trying to get in, and then the screams of the passengers on board is chilling, to say the least, Chris. MATTHEWS: Let`s go to Bill Neely. Bill, it seems to me that if you`ve got eight minutes to contemplate your death, which these passengers did, it was quite a horrendous ending for these people. BILL NEELY, NBC CORRESPONDENT: An absolutely horrendous ending, a guy who in total silence deliberately programmed not just his own death, but as you said, the deaths of his colleagues and of his trusting passengers.   And where, really, Chris, do you begin to explain all this? You know, maybe we can begin with 9/11, not just because in that case, it was, of course, guys who deliberately drove their planes in that case into buildings, bud also the irony that the very safeguards that were introduced after 9/11 to prevent such mass murder have, in fact, enabled this guy to commit mass murder. So axes were taken out of the planes, and we have the closed doors and codes. This guy overwrote those codes to prevent his pilot getting into the cockpit to prevent him committing mass murder. I mean, it`s absolutely stunning, one of the most stunning developments we`ve ever seen in aviation history. Why he did it is still unclear. Apparently, authorities in the U.S., Spain, France and Germany have ruled out a terrorist motive. But what on earth drove him to do this, as Katy says, we simply don`t know. MATTHEWS: OK, we can rule out the fact that there was no religious or zealotry involved in this in terms of politics because unlike the Egyptair crash, where that pilot -- co-pilot brought down all those people and killed them in 1999 -- there was no reference to God during those voice recordings, nothing that would suggest any self-martyrdom or anything like that. But what about the six months he took off because of the burnout? Was that some kind of psychological breakdown? You know, we call it a nervous breakdown. What was it that caused him to quit his training program? NEELY: There are reports in one British newspaper, "The Daily Telegraph," quoting a father of a friend of his that he actually was suffering from depression at that point and needed to get away from his training. Now, that is one report. It`s been unconfirmed. And of course, there aren`t any members of his family around to answer those kinds of questions. And as Katy said, you know, it`s not just that there`s only one photograph out there of him. There are a lot of unanswered questions about who this guy was. As ever in these cases, he appeared perfectly normal to his friends and to people in his flying club. But obviously, after today`s revelation, it`s quite clear he was not a normal co-pilot. MATTHEWS: I just wonder why people always say that. Maybe that avoids them having to take any responsibility for saying he had strange qualities. People always say, Seemed like a quiet, normal person to me. Anyway, thank you so much, Bill Neely at the crash site. I want to bring in right now Seth Kaplan, managing partner of the "Airline Weekly," and MSNBC contributor Clint Van Zandt, a former FBI profiler. Clint, what`s your -- my hunch immediately when this broke, and I told it around the office, was Egyptair. But I mean, that`s just because we`ve been through one of these cases, where inexplicable behavior by a co-pilot turned out to be explicable. That guy wanted to kill himself and everybody on the plane. That was his motive and that was his conclusion to live.   What did you -- what did you come up with as you`ve been watching this? CLINT VAN ZANDT, FMR. FBI PROFILER, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, number one, we know that`s happened about half a dozen times in the last 20 years, where we believe a pilot, a co-pilot has intentionally crashed the plane. And let`s talk about depression. Chris, 9 percent of Americans, according to CDC, experience depression of some type, and that`s reflected within the 30,000 Americans, again, that commit suicide every year. But you know, most people who commit suicide, they`ll go off in a corner. They`ll run their car off a bridge. But there are those few, Chris, who rage against a world. Those are the ones that commit violence in the workplace. They come in and shoot everybody. Or they come into a school because they`re angry at the world and they`re going to take it out on everybody. That`s what the FBI, that`s what the Germans and French have to consider as they do this psychological autopsy on this guy, trying to find out what made him tick so terribly as he did two days ago. MATTHEWS: Now, the Egyptair pilot who committed that mass killing and killing of himself, as well, was angry because he had just been fired when he got on that -- when we took off on that flight, or basically taken off that course. There was an immediate motive that, of course, Egyptair is pointing to, rather than religion. But this is something we`ve gotten used to martyr/suicide -- murder/suicide, but this is just -- this is really -- it`s going to be one that`s going to puzzle us for a while, isn`t it. What did you make of the fact that they took off, apparently, from his training because of some sort of breakdown? VAN ZANDT: Well, again, at 27, you know, if you`re experiencing depression, other psychological problems, you know, that can be evidence at 27. But this is somebody who wanted to fly his entire life. He finally got the chance to do it. So what`s causing that depression? That`s something that the authorities are looking at, Chris. That`s why today, they`re carrying out boxes of evidence from his two different residences. They`re going through every electronic record, every paper record, every friend, every family member. They`re trying to create this wiring diagram both of his life and inside of his head... MATTHEWS: Yes.   VAN ZANDT: ... to try to understand what made him go bad like this. MATTHEWS: Well, chillingly, the French prosecutor today described the co-pilot as nonresponsive after locking the door, but he could be heard breathing up until the end, even as the senior pilot is heard pounding on that door to get back in. Let`s watch this report. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ROBIN (through translator): He`s knocking. He`s asking to be let in. Zero response from the co-pilot. We hear human breathing within the cabin, and we hearing this breathing up until the final point of impact, which we assume means that the co-pilot was living, was alive in the cockpit. Again, zero distress signal, zero signal of urgency, zero "Help me" or SOS. Nothing of the sort was received by any air traffic controllers. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Let me go to Seth Kaplan. Seth, I`ve been in a lot of little planes, double engine planes, with one pilot sometimes, and it`s bothered me that one person controls whether I live or die. But in this case, you got a big jetliner, and under the procedures and protocols they follow in France, apparently, in Germany, that only -- that one person can lock themselves into the cockpit, right? We can`t do that here. There`s going to be a flight attendant, at least, there, right, under our protocols. SETH KAPLAN, "AIRLINE WEEKLY": Exactly, Chris. And that`s what was happening in many if not most parts of the world. And in fact, a number of airlines -- and somewhat belatedly, Lufthansa tonight -- have changed their procedures, in some cases, gotten out in front of their regulators, and said, you know, We`re not going to wait for anybody to tell us to do this. This morning in that same pressure conference that you referenced a few minutes ago, your Katy Tur, actually, who we heard from a few minutes ago, asked the CEO of Lufthansa, Carsten Spohr, Why don`t you do this? And he, you know, in what you could only call a little bit of a dismissive way, said, Well, you know, I don`t see why we should need to change this because of one incident. Certainly, if there`s ever once incident that would force you to change that, this would be the one. Lufthansa now having joined some of its competitors in Europe. Canada`s regulator has put this in place. And Air Canada earlier in the day, even before that, said that it would do it on its own because, Chris, yes, common sense, certainly now in retrospect, that if you at least had somebody else in the cockpit -- although we can`t say for sure that this could have been prevented, it certainly would have been another redundancy, somebody who could have tried to talk the guy out of it or could have tried to fight with him to open that cockpit door and let the captain back in. MATTHEWS: We`re going to show that tape when we come back after this break. But let me go back on this, Seth, to that point of -- I understand it`s fairly easy to do what that man who killed everybody on Tuesday wanted to do. It`s fairly easy, apparently, to override the system, to lock the door, to keep the person from getting in, even if they know the combination, et cetera, et cetera. It`s not that hard to be a killer of your entire airplane, if you seek to do that. Is that right? KAPLAN: You know, Chris, you know, it`s almost -- if you picture a hotel lock, right? You`ve the bottom lock, where, you know, the maid can get in, and then a series of other locks. And if you lock them all, it becomes really hard to get in.   Now, to be clear, you mentioned earlier, Egyptair -- the thing about that -- and the one thing that, again, you know, shows us that it`s not to say that this necessarily would have been prevented in the past -- you know, Egyptair happened in 1999. There was one two years before that, Silkair from Jakarta to Singapore... MATTHEWS: Right. KAPLAN: ... in 1997. And in those cases, that was pre-9/11, less secure doors, but still doors that the -- you know, the good guy, so to speak, outside the cockpit was not able to penetrate. So hard to say for sure that there was anything that could have prevented this, but certainly, you know, if after all of those psychological screenings, you still end up with somebody slipping through and getting in the cockpit who shouldn`t be there, you`d want to have that one more redundancy of somebody else, even if it`s just a flight attendant, covering while the other pilot goes to use the bathroom or whatever it is, being there in cockpit, giving you a chance... MATTHEWS: Right. KAPLAN: ... of preventing what happened. MATTHEWS: Last question to both of you. First to Clint, if that pilot had had a gun, would that have helped? I know that was a controversial debate years ago. But if he had a gun, could he have shot his way into that cockpit? VAN ZANDT: I -- I don`t -- I think that`s more television, Chris, than shooting -- shooting your way into the cockpit... MATTHEWS: You can`t do it? VAN ZANDT: I thought about that today, but I don`t think so. MATTHEWS: Why do you say it`s television? Because people will say, Well, that was one option we didn`t have. VAN ZANDT: Yes, I don`t think -- you know, for the FBI, when we breach a door, we`ve got a special shotgun round that we use on the lock because we know the chances are a handgun round is just going to bounce off and come back at you.   MATTHEWS: I see. VAN ZANDT: You know, you could punch six of (ph) 15 rounds through and try to hit the guy on the guy on the other side of the door, but then what do you do? MATTHEWS: That wouldn`t do any... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: No, no. I am talking television who (ph) says you dismember (ph) a lock and get in. I`m just wondering if we don`t have any fail-safe, we`re in trouble. Your thoughts. Is there any way a different situation could have prevented this from going the way it went with the death of all those 150 people? KAPLAN: Yes, well, what you just asked is almost like the broader gun control debate. You know, is the gun more likely to do some other kind of harm... MATTHEWS: Yes. KAPLAN: ... than to do the good that you`re looking for. And I`m not sure, either, that it is... MATTHEWS: OK. KAPLAN: ... and rather doubt it. But yes, the main thing that could have changed it would have been having somebody else in there. We don`t know if it would have, but good to see -- just as after 9/11, the world changed very quickly... MATTHEWS: OK...   KAPLAN: ... and we became smarter. That`s already happening. MATTHEWS: Well, anybody that gets complacent ought to realize that this is done because the current protocols and procedures -- they didn`t work. So whatever anybody else did, they didn`t think enough. Anyway, thank you, Seth Kaplan. Thank you, Clint Van Zandt. Coming up, the big question -- could it happen here? What kind of safety rules and protocols do we have in place to guard against this kind of thing happening on one of our jetliners? That`s the big question for us looking forward. Plus, Barney Frank is with us tonight. The always outspoken former U.S. congressman talks about his life in politics and the changing attitude in this country towards gays. And boy, that`s been changing. And new polling on the 2016 race just out today. Jeb Bush and Scott Walker may still be the favorites, but can someone else like Cruz break through? God help us. We`ll be right back with the strategy for the big hitters in this fight. And stunning new revelations about the people we count on to keep us safe. According to the Department of Justice tonight, Drug Enforcement agents held sex parties with prostitutes who were themselves hired by drug cartels down in Colombia. Doesn`t that make you sleep sounder, the fact that our agents are on the take down there? This is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Well, two Illinois men now are under arrest for conspiring to support ISIS. Army National Guard Specialist Hasan Edmonds and his cousin, Jonas, were arrested last night. Prosecutors say they wanted to use Army uniforms, access and their knowledge of the military to attack a military facility in northern Illinois. That`s home. Hasan Edmonds, age 22, was arrested at Midway airport. Prosecutors say he was on his way to Cairo, where he planned to fight for ISIS. His 28-year-old cousin, Jonas Edmonds, was picked up at his home. And we`ll be right back.   (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Well, the tragedy on board Germanairwings -- Germanwings flight 9525 this week shines a light on the glaring difference in policy and protocol between U.S. and European airlines. In the U.S., here at home, when a pilot leaves the cockpit to use the bathroom, for example, another crew member such as a flight attendant must go in the cockpit at that point until the pilot returns, so there`s always two people there in the cockpit. That is not the case in Germany. In a news conference today, the CEO of Lufthansa, the parent company of Germanwings, was asked about that issue by NBC`s Katy Tur. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CARSTEN SPOHR, LUFTHANSA CEO: There is regulations in some parts of the world, including the one I assume you are coming from, the U.S., but only a small number of airlines in Europe. As far as I know, no airline at all. For sure, none of the big airlines we work with. KATY TUR, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Are you going to do that in the future? SPOHR: I don`t see any need to change our procedures at this very point (INAUDIBLE) single occasion, but as I mentioned before, Germany will get together with the various experts in the Lufthansa group airlines, in the authorities, with our German government to see if our procedures can be refined. But I think we should not now jump into short-notice activities. We rather should refrain from that and make analysis first. TUR: So you`re confident in your pilots? SPOHR: I wish you understand my German, because I said twice -- and I repeat it in English without any doubt -- my firm confidence in the selection of all pilots, in the training of all pilots, in the qualification of all pilots, in the work of our pilots has not been touched by this single tragedy. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Don`t mess with this guy.   Anyway, this afternoon, the company reversed its position on cockpit regulations. That guy was reversed, along with other European carriers. They now say they will require two crew members to be in the cockpit, the very question Katy was asking. I`m joined right now by Jay Rollins, a former pilot for American Airlines, John Goglia, a former NTSB board member. Thank you, gentlemen, both. I just want your thoughts about this, wide open. What are we learning this? What was blown before? Why did this happen? JAY ROLLINS, AVIATION EXPERT: I`m amazed that that reaction would come out of the anyone in an official position after this has happened. MATTHEWS: He`s a red light guy. He`s not a green light guy. He doesn`t have the authority to change the policy. That was his problem, wasn`t it, bureaucratically? ROLLINS: Those of us in the industry want to vomit when we hear a story like what happened. It`s just unconscionable. And the entire thought pattern that we can hire people with 650 hours and have vetted them well enough to be in the right seat of an airliner is just ridiculous. MATTHEWS: So this 27-year-old kid should not have been in there? ROLLINS: No, I -- not in my opinion. MATTHEWS: Let me go to John Goglia.   John, what do you think about this? Is it a problem of recruitment, vetting? This kid, apparently, according to "Der Spiegel" today, had been -- had relieved himself after six months -- or whatever -- for six months during training because he couldn`t hack it, he was burned out, whatever the phrase was. There was something going on with this guy that wasn`t copacetic with where he was heading as a pilot. JOHN GOGLIA, FORMER MEMBER, NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD: Well, that`s a missed opportunity for the airline. They should have recognized that. The pilot in charge of their training should have recognized that. But, Chris, I would like to correct something that has been said repeatedly. It`s the fact that we have the extra person in the cockpit when we`re making the change, those are company policies. The FAA only requires that one pilot be in the cockpit and he dons the mask. There doesn`t have to be, by regulation, another person in there. MATTHEWS: Well, who unlocks the door for the guy to come back from the toilet? GOGLIA: Well, there`s usually a latch, electronically, if they can`t reach it. MATTHEWS: But you mean there`s nobody on the other side locking the door? GOGLIA: Well, the door locks automatically when you close it. MATTHEWS: And they open it with what, a combination? How do they get back in? GOGLIA: A combination when they want to get back in. But, remember, when we put the door in, it was meant to keep the bad guys out. MATTHEWS: Right.   GOGLIA: And the bad guys, through threatening, intimidation or any other reason, could attain that code. So the pilots need a way to deny access if they think there`s a bad person on the other side of the door. That`s why they have the ability to override that code from the cockpit. MATTHEWS: So if the guy who went to the bathroom has a knife around his neck, or at his neck... GOGLIA: Exactly. MATTHEWS: ... and the pilot inside, the pilot who is still at the helm, he says, wait a minute, there`s something wrong, I`m not going to let you back in? GOGLIA: Correct. Correct. So he has the control. MATTHEWS: This is serious business. Do you see anything, sir, John, that would improve the way we do it right now? GOGLIA: Well, I certainly don`t want to change the process with the door, because we have -- you know, we have had just in the U.S. a number of cases where the door has denied some person that was having problems from getting in the cockpit. So, I don`t want to change that. So, we need to find a way to make sure our pilots receive the scrutiny that`s required, and not go overboard with the scrutiny. You know, that`s insulting to most pilots and most people. So we need to find a balance. And that`s going to take mental health professionals to figure out what we need to do. (CROSSTALK)   MATTHEWS: How did you guys react back in 1989 when that EgyptAir guy, for whatever combination of religious and anger reasons -- and nobody can get to the guy`s head, but he was praying 13 times to God as he brought that plane down, fighting the whole time with his senior pilot to bring the plane down, and he succeeded. What did you think when you heard that, that wait a minute, what`s going on here? We have got guys up there in the cockpit who want to kill everybody on the plane, including themselves? We have got to find some way to keep them out of that cockpit. GOGLIA: That`s right. And the second person in that case, in what you just cited, the second person was unable to do it. So, what makes us think that a flight attendant we put in the cockpit is going to have any greater success than the captain did in that case? MATTHEWS: So, here we are. I have got Jay back here. Are we going to live in the world now where, even if the odds are good, we can have one person deciding whether the whole plane gets killed? ROLLINS: Well, that happens to be in the world we live in. MATTHEWS: Yes. ROLLINS: We`re dealing with human beings, and some of them are psychotic. MATTHEWS: Yes. ROLLINS: I really believe that the only way around this is to give a lot more attention to the hiring process. The whole purpose of a pilot having excess hours in order to fly an airliner is not just so he can get flying skills. It`s also so that we can vet him, we can see him in other situations in smaller aircraft to prove himself before we entrust our children and our grandmothers...   (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: So, if there`s anything really dangerous in the guy, it will show up? ROLLINS: Hopefully. MATTHEWS: Boy, this is tough stuff. Thank you so much, Jay Rollins. You guys know your stuff. Thank you, John Goglia. Thank you for that expertise. Up next, former Congressman Barney Frank will join us. He`s out with a new book about his life and politics. You know it`s got plenty to say. Barney is a good friend of mine. I hope we sell some books. This is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, 1987) REP. BARNEY FRANK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: I just want to thank the people in this room who -- who has made this possible for me.   Wrong note, because what I thought was going to be a very tough time turned out to be a surprisingly easy one. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Wow. Back to HARDBALL. That was an emotional Barney Frank thanking supporters soon after he became the first member of the U.S. Congress to come out of the closet back in 1987. Well, now the 16-term former congressman of Massachusetts out again, out with a new book, of course. It`s called "Frank: A Life in Politics from the Great Society to Same-Sex Marriage." It`s an account of Frank`s very public career in politics, as well as the personal burden he carried for as long as a closeted man -- gay man. I`m joined right now by former U.S. Congressman Barney Frank. Thank you. Congressman, thank you. How is the book tour going? FRANK: Well, it`s -- the publisher was afraid I was overdoing it, But I told him -- Chris, you would know from your own experiences -- at its most intense, it`s about two-thirds of a campaign day, with the difference is that the people you are talking to are nicer. So it`s actually kind of easy.   MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about back in -- in 2000, you and I were in Philadelphia, at the old Wanamaker`s tea room, there was an HRC, Human Rights Campaign, event. And I was stirred by -- I mean, I`m straight, but I was stirred by the fact that you went up to that group of mostly young gay men, a lot of them, maybe a 1,000, it seemed, a big crowd, and you said to them very optimistically keep hope because things are changing. And you saw that back 15 years ago. That was pretty amazing. I have always remembered that. FRANK: Oh, absolutely. In fact, you know, I got the first indication, Chris, when I did come out, and my pollsters, people you know, Tom Kiley, John Martello (ph), they said, you know, you better ask people what they think. And here`s the statistic that really had an impact on me; 44 percent of the people in the district I represented said I would get hurt because people knew I was gay. But only 22 percent of them were personally upset, and that 22 percent wouldn`t have voted for me if everybody else had died. So, I what realized was, at that point, fewer people were themselves prejudiced than thought they were supposed to be. And as more of us became honest about who we were and dealt with the stereotype, that`s where I got nine confidence that we were going to beat this thing. MATTHEWS: You know, I think -- I`m just guessing here, but you never faced any problem as a kid, did you, for being gay or anything like that, when you found out you were gay? It wasn`t like a bullying situation or anything like that, was it? FRANK: No. One thing, I didn`t tell anybody. I was otherwise, as I said, pretty normal. I liked loud music, sports. And then as I got a little older, frankly, I got cover from the stereotype. You know the stereotype of the elegantly dressed, well-mannered gay man. MATTHEWS: Yes. FRANK: As you know, having known me then, that... (CROSSTALK)   MATTHEWS: No. You were not that guy. FRANK: I didn`t have to. MATTHEWS: I don`t think you were the snappy dresser. But this thing about Congress -- how politics today? Do you think that we have gotten -- look at recently as 2004, John Kerry, one of the reasons he lost a very close presidential election was that thing on the ballot in Ohio. It was that recent in our history that it could be used as a wedge against Democrats. FRANK: You`re absolutely right, Chris. And nothing in our lifetime, I believe, of significance, has flipped so soon, because, by now, it`s the Republicans who are afraid of it. You`re absolutely right. George Bush was running to beat gay marriage. Mitt Romney, after Massachusetts decision said we could have same-sex marriage, put all his energy in the election of 2004, while he was governor, he was trying to destroy same-sex marriage so he would have a platform to win the Republican nomination as the man who stopped same-sex marriage. And instead we`re in a situation now where Republicans are hoping -- and I know this and you know this -- they want the Supreme Court to say that same-sex marriage is a constitutional right, because they know if they respond to their base, to their primary voters and come out against same- sex marriage, they get hurt in the general election. MATTHEWS: What do you make of this thing that was just signed by Mike Pence, a former colleague of yours, Republican colleague, out in Indiana, that says you can be a bartender or you can be a hotel clerk, and if a gay couple comes up, man or woman, a couple of men or women, if they come up and you don`t like their orientation, their identity, you can refuse service to them? It seems to me that`s against the civil rights law. FRANK: It is. And, by the way, you can`t confine that, the Supreme Court has said, just to gay and lesbian people. It has to be that, in general, if you have a religious objection to an anti-discrimination law, you can act on it. What if you`re a wedding planner and a divorced Catholic comes in who hasn`t gotten an annulment?   MATTHEWS: Yes. FRANK: That`s a violation if you are a very devout Catholic of that rule. What if you are a Muslim who owns a store, and a woman comes in, in short shorts? Can you refuse to serve her? (LAUGHTER) FRANK: Because if you`re Muslim -- seriously. So, this isn`t something -- you can`t have it for gay people only. And I don`t think America wants that. Look, if you personal want to discriminate, fine. If you don`t like me, I don`t want to see you. But if you get a license, in effect, from the community to run a business and all the support that you get, then the obligation is to serve anybody who is well-behaved. MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about you for a second. You disclosed that you were gay in an interview with "The Boston Globe." You now described how you -- here`s how you described it back in `87. Here it is. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) FRANK: Having been asked the question, it seemed to me the only reasonable thing to do was to give a direct answer. QUESTION: How do you feel, having given a direct answer?   FRANK: Well, in one sense, it`s kind of a relief. There was a sense of, well, that`s not hanging over me anymore. On the other hand, I feel a little funny. I mean, it`s a little late in life to become any kind of a sex symbol. (END VIDEO CLIP) (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: In your book, you write this about coming out -- quote -- "Until then, I hadn`t realized the full effect on my personality of living in the closet. But several of my colleagues enlightened me. Simply put, I was now nicer." Is that true? (LAUGHTER) FRANK: Well, they all told me that. (LAUGHTER) (CROSSTALK) FRANK: Chris, I know there are some people in your line of work who I sometimes talk back to who think of me as nicer. So, maybe they should say less mean.   But, yes, I was imposing a terrible toll on myself. Some people say, oh, you have a great career, you don`t need a private life. The opposite is true. As your career gets better, as you get to be well-known and you enjoy this public appeal, and then you go home alone and you`re angry, and you`re angry at yourself, and that`s the worst kind of anger, because you can`t put it off on anybody else -- and, yes, there`s no question I was -- I had a quicker temper. I was unhappy. And if you`re unhappy, we know that boils over into everybody either. And I do believe that I just became nicer and easier. I will give you one quote. My husband, Jim, told me one day that he ran into one of the Republicans I had to deal with when we were doing the financial reform. And he said: "Oh, I figured you were in town. Barney was a lot nicer to me today than usual." MATTHEWS: Wow. Anyway, we all miss you. Do you miss the Congress? FRANK: I miss some of my friends. Chris, I was burned out. And People said, oh, were you driven out by the rancor? As you know, that wasn`t it. I`m very good at rancor. (LAUGHTER) FRANK: It`s one of my best things in life. Being rancorous is easier than tough legislating. I did enjoy it while I was there, but I just -- I wore out. I just hadn`t -- I didn`t have the -- I did not have the emotional energy anymore. MATTHEWS: Who was the replacement part for Barney Frank? Anybody? I don`t think there is one.   FRANK: Oh, yes, there are several, but if I name one, then I`m going to leave out a bunch. MATTHEWS: Oh, you used to say things like this. FRANK: I think there are an awful lot of very good people. I think in general people underrate the members of Congress. MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you. Thank you, buddy. Thanks so much. The book, go out and buy this book. Frank, I mean, straight and gay people, this is the story of American life in politics. FRANK: Chris, can I say one last thing? MATTHEWS: Yes, sir. FRANK: You did a great job on that airline thing. That`s a profound thing. And I thought what you did was very, very useful. MATTHEWS: Thanks so much, Barney Frank, former U.S. congressman, author. Up next, the big fight on the right between the establishment, Jeb Bush, and the new kid, Scott Walker, and the disrupter -- I think he is a disrupter -- Ted Cruz.   You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger. Here`s what`s happening. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says it appears a gas-related explosion caused a building in the East Village to collapse. At least 12 people are hurt, three critically. Two other buildings caught fire. The health care worker being treated for Ebola at a Maryland hospital has been upgraded to serious condition from critical. The patient was evacuated from Sierra Leone earlier this month. And, in Switzerland, nuclear talks with Iran are said to be at a critical stage ahead of a deadline next week -- back to HARDBALL. MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. The New Hampshire primary is only 10 months away, and Jeb Bush remains the front-runner, according to a new poll out earlier today from Suffolk University. Bush is the first choice of likely voters in New Hampshire`s 2016 Republican primary with this ain`t big, 19 percent, which means 81 percent are not for a guy they know. Followed by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who they hardly know with 14 percent, Rand Paul with 7 percent they find fascinating. And this shows they`re not too smart up there. Donald Trump, 6 percent. Are you crazy? But Jeb`s front-runner status is sought is because perhaps, largely based on name ID, there is a desire among conservatives in the GOP for anyone but Bush. When the same poll asked conservatives for their first choice, Walker wins. He tops Bush by 6 points. Since Walker has established himself as a threat to Bush, there`s a target on his back as well.   "The Washington Post`s" E.J. Dionne today brilliantly wrote that Ted Cruz wants to be the first, the last conservative standing against the establishment, otherwise known as Jeb. E.J. writes, "The Cruz strategy starts with marginalizing former Arkansas governor and Ben Carson, the position and best-selling author who has developed a significant following on the right. Huckabee and Carson also on the running for evangelical votes. If Cruz pushes them aside, he could then go on after Walker and then after that, go for Bush. For more on the strategies of these GOP candidates, I`m joined by the roundtable: Joan Walsh of "The Salon" and MSNBC political analyst, Michael Duffy is editor with "Time Magazine", and Harold Ford, Harold is a hard name to pronounce, is a former Democrat Congressman from Tennessee. Democrat first, Harold, this thing on the Republican side is fascinating because people tell me there`s at least four Republican parties now. There`s the evangelical wing, where you come from, down in Tennessee, I mean, geographically, and there`s, of course, the libertarian wing, which is small but interesting. The hawk crowd, you know, the establishment crowd, the money boys. So, are there -- is this going to be like brackets in March Madness, you can keep going as long as you`re doing well in your bracket? HAROLD FORD, JR (D), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: That`s a good analogy. I think so. If you look at both polls, Walker only got 20 percent. So, that means that 80 percent of the electorate is not with him. I think for Jeb, he`s got to figure he`s not going to poll above 23 percent, 24 percent. If he raises the money, he can stay in there, hang in there until the end, and hopefully, hang around -- MATTHEWS: But sooner or later, 23 ain`t enough, because that means somebody else has got 40. JOAN WALSH, THE SALON: No, good enough for Mitt Romney. FORD: Well, it just means that there are others who will drop out. I read what E.J. said about the Cruz strategy. That`s a lot of ifs and a lot of what-cans, and a lot of might happen. WALSH: Right. FORD: If you`re Bush, you`d rather be --   MATTHEWS: A lot of wet cans? FORD: What ifs, what cans -- MATTHEWS: Oh, I thought you said wet cans. FORD: No, no -- WALSH: Those too. FORD: If he`s able to hang around long enough, Jeb, and he`ll have the money to do it. You got to think he comes out of the Republican primary. And if Walker is his most formidable opponent right now, you have to think, as people learn more and more about him, he may find some slippage along the way. MATTHEWS: Do you think Bush can be the nominee? FORD: I absolutely think Bush could be the nominee. As a Democrat, he problem, I`m most concerned about him as the nominee. MATTHEWS: Do you think he can be the nominee? MICHAEL DUFFY, TIME MAGAZINE: If he comes up with $100 million in the first half, he`s going to be the nominee. It`s just amazing how much money he`s raising. MATTHEWS: Does not John Connelly get -- did he spend like 100,000 bucks per vote?   DUFFY: In this race, money really matters, even more than the Democratic one. And you can be a 24, 25 percent with nine guys in the race and you`re winning -- (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: How many ads do you have to run to get somebody to vote for you? People don`t vote for ads, do they? DUFFY: No, but you can take a lot of the other opponents out really fast. MATTHEWS: Oh, negative advertising. DUFFY: And you can start going after the other side too, earlier. A hundred million in just the first half -- MATTHEWS: So, he can do what Romney did. Just destroy the other guys. WALSH: Just destroy the other guys, sit there and wait. And also, let them destroy themselves. There`s going to be a lot of room on the right. They`re going to be shooting at each other. Ted Cruz is formidable, both hitting Bush, but also Scott Walker. Scott Walker may have peaked. I mean, as somebody who`s watching Wisconsin, he`s had a bad few weeks. He t seems like he was not ready for the spotlight. MATTHEWS: Don`t make Ed Schultz mistake. WALSH: No, no, I understand --   MATTHEWS: Everybody thought he was dead a couple of years ago. WALSH: I have made that mistake about him in Wisconsin and I`ve admitted it, but I really think if you watch him this last -- he just flip- flopped again on immigration. MATTHEWS: Yes. I think Walker looks good, my hunch. He looks tough. FORD: I think he`s an impressive guy, sounds like an important city councilman when he talks. It`s just hard to imagine, as you look at all the big foreign policy challenges we face and as more and more issues come to the forefront, I think that helps Bush more. You look at the president in the last few days saying we`re going to slow our withdrawal from parts of the Middle East -- ultimately, these candidates are going to have to answer those serious questions, which I think also redounds to Mrs. Clinton`s (INAUDIBLE) as well. MATTHEWS: We have a history in this country of always going center right, center left. We never go to the actually middle because it doesn`t exist politically. But we go close to the center, and it just seems like we`re like the French that way, we don`t go crazy. But every once in a while we do, 1972 with McGovern, 1964 with Goldwater. Could be these your guys? When you`re watching these fireworks with -- could it be a year they just go wild, wacko, crazy and go with somebody like Cruz, because they`re so angry at Obama, so crazy they don`t think they can beat Hillary, so they`re just going to hate? DUFFY: He`s trying to unify the two wings, the government hating and the social conservative. Not clear that will work or that gets him to where he needs to go. He`s obviously a great performer. MATTHEWS: That`s a good corner to have on the market, 20 percent, 30 percent. DUFFY: Unlike Walker, Cruz is a good performer. He may not last very long. FORD: Right. DUFFY: But he`s going to be extremely interesting to watch.   The other thing that these polls don`t have much predictive power at this stage, but there is one fact, I think really in this poll that really is bad news for somebody, and that`s Chris Christie coming in under Trump. How much longer does he have, Christie? MATTHEWS: I`m appalled that Trump is doing anything. Is this the year -- what percentage, Congressman, I`m going to be very forward now, what percentage of the Republican Party do you think is nut world crazy, just so angry at the world they`ll just vote for anybody, like voting for Trump, voting for Cruz? What percentage? FORD: It probably varies by state. I think you find a higher percentage in Iowa. That number could be as high as, you know, 30 percent. MATTHEWS: Last word, percentage of wild, crazy, nut? WALSH: Twenty percent, 25 percent. MATTHEWS: That`s pretty same. How many crazy left wingers? FORD: Same. MATTHEWS: Democratic Party? There aren`t any, are they? WALSH: Fewer. Fewer. MATTHEWS: That`s a nice well-rounded answer.   Anyway, the roundtable is staying with us. And up next, another terrible headline about the people we`re supposed to be keeping us safe. This time sex parties with DEA agents and prostitutes, the prostitutes being paid for by the Colombian drug cartels. This is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Love this story. The great Dean Smith is still giving back to his beloved University of North Carolina. The hall of fame basketball coach died last month. But today, we learned that Smith in his will left $200 to every Tar Heel player that earned a letter to him ever, so they could go out to dinner tonight on him. Two hundred bucks for everybody who ever played for him. Smith coached for 36 years, and those checks went out to 180 of Smith`s former players. What a guy. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: We`re back with the roundtable, Joan, Michael, and Harold. And this is a terrible story. According to a Justice Department report released today from the U.S. Justice Department, several agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration, that`s the DEA, reportedly had sex parties -- that`s the phrase -- with prostitutes hired by drug cartels in Colombia, that`s the country.   The new report outlines the shocking behavior of U.S. law enforcement agents while serving overseas. The DEA is cited in the report for attempting to stonewall, even, the investigation. Punishment for some of the agents included suspensions -- get this, boy, did they get hit hard -- two to ten-day suspensions for this. One of the most serious allegations is about the supervisory special agents, or SSAS, three DEA SSA or special agents, in particular were provided money, expensive gifts, and weapons from cartel members. So, Joan, this isn`t just about sexual misbehavior. WALSH: No. MATTHEWS: It`s not about, you know, not upholding the dignity of your office. It`s about taking stuff, like sex workers -- WALSH: It`s about corruption. MATTHEWS: -- from cartels and saying, what are you doing tonight? WALSH: And it`s about no chain of command, no obvious repercussions. They charged them. They found over and over, what they would do is they would find out what was going on, but they would charge them like conduct unbecoming, not sexual misconduct, which could get them thrown out. So, they consistently undercharged them when they weren`t just brushing it under the table and they made it very hard to get the details. FORD: I don`t disagree with the misconduct around it sexually. But what`s more bothersome to me is that it was paid for by the people that we were supposed to be ensuring the drugs were not -- they were not transporting drugs through our country. So -- MATTHEWS: By these guys, that`s what I`m thinking. (CROSSTALK) FORD: This could be treasonous.   MATTHEWS: That`s what I thought. DUFFY: Well, you know, and there`s a pattern here, not only of law enforcement officials not policing their own. Last week, we were talking about the Secret Service guys who drove into the White House and their punishment was a night off, or something like that, later investigated. Again, not as a serious investigation of law enforcement people, at the federal level of their own. This is important, because this was in a Justice Department I.G.`s report. That`s one of the toughest I.G.s in the country there is. WALSH: And they were stonewalled. DUFFY: That`s right. MATTHEWS: This is one time I may be rooting heavily for Jason Chaffetz, because he`s the oversight chairman here. He says when Congress turns in April, when they get back for the vacation, he will have hearings on these incidents. Let`s listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. JASON CHAFFETZ (R-UT), HOUSE OVERSIGHT CMTE. CHAIRMAN: The punishment is totally unacceptable. They gave them essentially a three or four-day weekend off. That is not appropriate punishment. They put national security at risk and they should be fired. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well -- DUFFY: He`s right!   WALSH: He`s right. MATTHEWS: We may be on the Jason Chaffetz team tonight. Your thoughts, Congressman? FORD: In short, I agree with him. MATTHEWS: How does oversight work on this? How do you get the agency to get its act together by calling hearings? Will that do it? What do you do? How do you fix this thing? FORD: Well, I`m a believer of you holding people accountable, and be fired. We need to figure out how this deep this has gone, how many times this has happened, if it`s happened more than one on this DEA`s chief watch, if this person was in charge, I don`t know what the details, that person have to be relieved of his duties. How can you tolerate agents being finance by the enemy and hope that our agents can then still do their job in behalf of the American people. I just find that incredulous. MATTHEWS: Look at what happens in esprit de corps and honor. And, of course, when the Treasury Department had the Secret Service agents, there was a certain notion, these guys are treasure men. They`re the guys who fight counterfeiting and stuff like that. They`re serious people. They`re moving them over to the Department of Homeland Security weaken that branch? DUFFY: Of course, because it made them into this giant, you know, agency, where almost no one is accountable at all. This is not the first time that U.S. agents traveling overseas have run into this problem, or that the DEA has. MATTHEWS: Corrupted? DUFFY: Yes, there will be a point in whatever hearing happens or whatever defense is mounted, that this was part of a covert operation. I`m just -- you just know, that will be. (CROSSTALK)   MATTHEWS: We`re not only going to get in trouble with my comment on that. Anyway, thank you, Joan Walsh, as always. Mike Duffy, I`m one of the Irish here, Harold Ford, thank you very much. It`s Harold Ford. We`ll be right back. I`m going to learn how to pronounce that. You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this story about the DEA. I don`t know about you, but I was aghast when I heard that special agents of this country`s drug enforcement agency were getting prostitutes money, gifts, and weapons from the Colombian drug cartels. Aren`t these people sworn to be out there fighting the drug cartels? Aren`t they supposed to be risking their lives to be taking down the people shipping drugs into this country? And here we are, getting a strong, credible allegation that they are on the take from the very cartels they were sent down there to fight and hopefully destroy. And what about the punishments being handed out here? Two to ten-day suspensions for taking, quote, "money, expensive gifts, and weapons from drug cartel members", and for attending, quote, "sex parties with prostitutes funded by the local drug cartels for these DEA agents at their government-leased quarters over a period of several years"? The article reporting on this in "Politico" refers to all of this as stunning, and I agree. And if this story turns out not to be true or the DEA will turn out to be very, very corrupt. Why would you give a two to 10-day suspension for taking gifts, prostitutes, or whatever from the drug kings? Why would you keep people in such roles of drug agents if they`re being caught on the take of the outlawed drug gangs in the country where they have actually been sent to fight the drug trade? This may be a case where the Congress feeds to assert its constitutional role of oversight. There`s something wrong here, either in the reporting or the reality. If this story is true as reported, it`s horrendous.   The only question then is, why did they bury the lead? This isn`t about sex parties, it`s about who paid for them. It`s not just about screwing around on the job, it`s about screwing your country. And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now. 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. 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