Matthews, Guest Dismiss Scandal Questions About ‘Ethical,’ ‘Great’ Clinton Foundation

With even traditional outlets like the Associated Press and liberal journalists raising concerns about the Clinton Foundation, MSNBC’s Hardball host Chris Matthews and EMILY’s List president Stephanie Schriock did their best on Tuesday to stave off the damage by making sure viewers knew that the foundation has been “very transparent and ethical” in doing “great work.”

Fortunately, viewers weren’t left completely out of the dark as former RNC chair Michael Steele and USA Today’s Heidi Przybyla repeatedly fought back in warning that the behavior by the foundation and the State Department exhibited why the American people dislike Washington. 

Przybyla chimed in before the liberals on set could go into spin mode as she ruled that she didn’t see anything illegal in the Clinton Foundation donors fetching State Department meetings but rather “classic evidence of influence buying and the type of influence buying and access that everyone at this table knows goes on all over Washington.”

Matthews and Schriock immediately responded that it may not be a good thing, but that’s how Washington works and seemed to excuse the behavior with Matthews brushing off the donations and meetings and particularly one in which donor and Prince of Bahrain met with Clinton: “[I]t seems to me appropriate to meet with the Crown Prince of Bahrain if you are secretary of state. Just a thought.”

Moments later, Steele injected some reality in diving into the details of donors being reward with meetings at Froggy Bottom:

Look, Chris, you make the point, you play off the number because so few people out of 156, 80 something, but they gave $156 million to the foundation after those relationships. You didn't put on the table the fact that the foreign dignitaries, a Nobel Prize winner and others who had the same access contributed $170 million to the foundation. So, you line up the dockets here and you see that even if there is no, you could say it's transparent, there is nothing wrong...The Bangladeshi Nobel Prize winner who was being charged by his government for the way he ran their foundation in his country sought out Hillary Clinton, alright? So Hillary Clinton, you know, he wants her help. She gives him some help. Alright? Subsequent to that, not him but organizations that he has a direct tie and oversight of then contributed $100,000 and $250,000.

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Matthews responded that there’s been no harm done since many of the Clinton Foundations have probably been friends with the Clintons for years: 

First of all, we don't know all kinds of reasons why they accept somebody into their office. A lot of these people have been friends forever. The Marine wife, wife of Steve Rattner, they’ve been giving money to the Clintons, hanging out with them for years. There are all kinds of motives for letting a person have an interview.

Providing her own talking points, the leader of the pro-abortion group lamented that the scrutiny is unfortunate because “[t]his is an organization doing massive amounts of charitable work” and not, as Steele noted, “a distraction.” 

As he’s done on previous occasions, Matthews gushed that the Clinton Foundation is “a great organization...do[ing] great work” before reminding those who were unaware that his son used to have a job with the Clinton Foundation in Rwanda assuring medications and aide money weren’t stolen and reached people in need.

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“It won't be another one of these jokes most foreign aide is. Michael, it's a good cause,” Matthews added in throwing some shade toward Steele.

Before moving on, Matthews accosted Rudy Giuliani for issuing a blistering statement on recent Clinton Foundation developments as he and Schriock played judge in deeming there to have been nothing illegal the Clinton Foundation did: 

MATTHEWS: I see no criminality here. I can see ethics. I can see all kinds of conflict, which is we live in Washington. Everybody watching knows when you give to a political politician, you expect access. When they call up and say he wants to meet with you sometime this week, you get the meeting. 

SCHRIOCK: But Hillary took no action and she made that clear and that is very true. She took no action as secretary of state. None whatsoever.

MATTHEWS: No evidence of that. You’re right. Just meetings.

Przybyla immediately jumped in and seemed to agree, but informed Matthews and Schriock that it doesn’t really matter: “The problem was it doesn’t look that way to the American people. We’re being very legalistic about it.”

The relevant portions of the transcript from MSNBC’s Hardball on August 23 can be found below.

MSNBC’s Hardball
August 23, 2016
7:04 p.m. Eastern

HEIDI PRZYBYLA: But here's what the whole narrative means, Chris including what's come out today from AP, including what came out from Judicial Watch, which is that this is not classic pay to play but what it is is it's classic evidence of influence buying and the type of influence buying and access that everyone at this table knows goes on all over Washington. In this case, it has an extra layer of being problematic because it's involving foreign governments and not just your classic millionaires and billionaires.

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Okay, we are going to go through these cases, guys, but your first reaction for you, Stephanie,, but I’m going to — because I think the cases, I agree about the access. It reminds me of how you get a meeting. If you give to a Senate campaign, either party, male or female, whatever if you contribute to a campaign, you will get an appointment with that person once they're elected. That's the way it works and you may not like it, right Michael? 

MICHAEL STEELE: Oh, absolutely that's the way it works. 

MATTHEWS: If you make a contribution to a politician you get an appointment. 
                                            
STEPHANIE SCHRIOCK: But that's where it ends, though. That’s where it ends.

(....)

MATTHEW: Now, they’ve said they’ll let the guy in but they’re doing it because he’s also pursuing the regular channels and by the way, it seems to me appropriate to meet with the crown prince of Bahrain if you are secretary of state. Just a thought. 

SCHRIOCK: Precisely and all of these meetings were scheduled through official channels of the State Department and she's secretary of state. Her job in fact is to meet with world leaders and government leaders which the vast majority of her meetings over her tenure were exactly that.

(....)

SCHRIOCK: If I may, the foundation actually went above and beyond in setting up its arrangement so it was very, very transparent and ethical from the very beginning, the 2009 foundation, but more so than any foundation has been

STEELE: Clearly, it wasn't transparent and ethical enough. Look, Chris, you make the point, you play off the number because so few people out of 156, 80 something, but they gave $156 million to the foundation after those relationships. You didn't put on the table the fact that the foreign dignitaries, a Nobel Prize winner and others who had the same access contributed $170 million to the foundation. So, you line up the dockets here and you see that even if there is no, you could say it's transparent, there is nothing wrong.

MATTHEWS: I'm trying to get all the information on the table. What are you bringing to the table I don't have? I mean, help me here, Michael
                        
STEELE: You know, the Bangladeshi Nobel Prize winner who was being charged by his government for the way he ran their foundation in his country sought out Hillary Clinton, alright? So Hillary Clinton, you know, he wants her help. She gives him some help. Alright? Subsequent to that, not him but organizations that he has a direct tie and oversight of then contributed $100,000 and $250,000. Now, it may all be very innocent, but the fact of the matter is, how does it pass a smell test when everything else doesn't add it up.

MATTHEWS: Couple things come through. First of all, we don't know all kinds of reasons why they accept somebody into their office. A lot of these people have been friends forever. The Marine wife, wife of Steve Rattner, they’ve been giving money to the Clintons, hanging out with them for years. There are all kinds of motives for letting a person have an interview. Right?

(....)

SCHRIOCK: But on the other hand, you can’t have all the gates coming because, one, we have to remember this is the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative. This is an organization doing massive amounts of charitable work. 

MATTHEWS: I'm not challenging that point. 

STEELE: That's a distraction. That's not the point. 

SCHRIOCK: I think it is actually really important.

(....)

MATTHEWS: Well, I got to say, I’ve said this before many times on this show, I completely believe what Stephanie says. It's a great organization. It does great work. My son worked for it like ten years ago. He got the job himself after he graduated from Brown. He talked to [INAUDIBLE] magazine or somebody up there. He didn't want to do the Peace Corps for two years because I had done the Peace Corps, so he has a girlfriend, wanted to limit it so I did five months in Rwanda right after the genocide. He went over there and worked with the people, made sure the AIDS money or the AIDS drugs didn't go into the European black market and what the Clinton people do which is really tough, they say look, give to us, the drugs, pay for them and we’ll make sure the local government doesn't steal it. I mean, this is a big thing in aide. Most aide gets stolen. What the Clinton people do is we’re going make sure if you give to them, if you give to the Global Init — the money will get to the right people. It will benefit people. It won't be another one of these jokes most foreign aide is. Michael, it's a good cause. 

(....)

MATTHEWS: I see no criminality here. I can see ethics. I can see all kinds of conflict, which is we live in Washington. Everybody watching knows when you give to a political politician, you expect access. When they call up and say he wants to meet with you sometime this week, you get the meeting. 

SCHRIOCK: But Hillary took no action and she made that clear and that is very true. She took no action as secretary of state. None whatsoever.

MATTHEWS: No evidence of that. You’re right. Just meetings.

PRZYBYLA: The problem was it doesn’t look that way to the American people. We’re being very legalistic about it.

Tell the Truth 2016 NB Daily Campaigns & Elections 2016 Presidential Media Bias Debate Political Groups Liberals & Democrats Political Scandals MSNBC Hardball Video Government & Press State Department Clinton Foundation Heidi Przybyla Chris Matthews Michael Steele Stephanie Schriock Hillary Clinton Bill Clinton
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