Echoing GOP again, Matthews suggested Democrats will try "to lynch the president" if they gain control of Congress

››› ››› JOE BROWN

On MSNBC's Hardball, Chris Matthews once again suggested Democrats would abuse the congressional subpoena authority if they regain control of one or both houses of Congress in the 2006 elections. In a conversation with former Rep. Vin Weber (R-MN), Matthews asserted that in 2006, Republicans will likely campaign on the claim that if elected, Democrats "are going to try to lynch the president."

On the April 5 edition of MSNBC's Hardball, host Chris Matthews once again suggested Democrats would abuse the congressional subpoena authority if they regain control of one or both houses of Congress in the 2006 elections. In a conversation with former Rep. Vin Weber (R-MN), Matthews asserted that in 2006, Republicans will likely campaign on the claim that if elected, Democrats "are going to try to lynch the president."

The notion that Democrats will pursue partisan investigations of President Bush if they gain control of one or both houses was first advanced by Republicans and then picked up by Matthews. For example -- as Media Matters for America previously noted -- on the March 15 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) alleged that "you can expect two years of all-out investigations, attacks, anything they can bring to bear" if the Democrats regain control of the House or Senate in the 2006 midterm elections. Additionally, the Associated Press reported March 23 that in a fundraising letter, Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman claimed "[t]he Democrats' plan for 2006" is to "[t]ake the House and Senate, and impeach the president," adding, "With our nation at war, is this the kind of Congress you want?"

Matthews himself echoed these claims on the March 23 edition of Hardball, asking Democratic strategist Bob Shrum "[w]hat happens" if President Bush, campaigning on behalf of Republicans in 2006 "go[es] from state to state blasting away at the Democrats saying, 'Hey, if you guys [Democrats] get in power, all you guys want to do is censure me or waste our time with some other partisan activity. And, you know, we're going from the frying pan into the fire with your crowd.' " As Media Matters noted, Matthews returned to this theme on the April 4 edition of Hardball, asking Shrum if he could "promise" that, if the Democrats regain control of the House in 2006, "they will not use the subpoena power to go after the president." Additionally, Matthews asked former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) "what would happen" if Democrats regained the House, and Reps. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and John Conyers Jr. (D-MI) "got the subpoena power." Matthews asked: "Would they go after the president?"

On the April 5 edition of Hardball, Matthews again repeated the Republican suggestion that Democratic victories in 2006 would lead to Democratic abuse of congressional investigative authority, censure, and even impeachment. During a conversation with Weber, Matthews suggested that in their 2006 campaign advertisements, Republicans could claim that Democrats -- including Conyers -- "are going to try to lynch the president. They are going to try to censure him, but ideally they are going to try to impeach him. They are going to use the subpoena power to go crazy." Later, Matthews asked Weber whether his advice to the Republican leadership during the 2006 campaign "would ... be to warn the public of the liberals coming to impeach, or to censure, or to go after the president."

During a subsequent interview with Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean, Matthews twice played clips from the April 4 edition of Hardball, in which Delay alleged that Democrats -- specifically Conyers -- would move to impeach or censure Bush if they gained control of one or both houses of Congress in 2006. Matthews asked Dean if he had "anything to say about the possibility, the probability, or even the chance that if the Democrats get control of the House of Representatives and the subpoena power, they'll use it to investigate, impeach, or censure President Bush." Despite Dean's response that this line of reasoning was not "the real election issue" and that Democrats "don't think impeachment is as trivial as the Republicans seemed to think it was when they tried to impeach President Clinton," Matthews later asked Dean if the Republican argument that Democrats would impeach or censure Bush -- and the accompanying "fear factor" -- "will hurt your party in the fall." Matthews subsequently asked Dean if Sen. Russ Feingold's (D-WI) proposal to censure Bush over his authorization of a potentially illegal warrantless domestic spying program was "something Democrats should be considering doing once you get the subpoena power that comes with the majority status in the Congress."

From the March 23, 5 p.m. ET, edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews:

MATTHEWS: What happens if he spends the last month of this campaign after the summer is over, and when people are beginning to pay attention, regular people who are nonpolitical, and all of a sudden they watch the president going from state to state blasting away at the Democrats saying, "Hey, if you guys get in power, all you guys want to do is censure me or waste our time with some other partisan activity. And, you know, we're going from the frying pan into the fire with your crowd." What happens if the topic becomes the Democrats?

SHRUM: Well, first of all, I think Democrats are going to go out there and make it clear that we don't want to impeach or censure the president.

MATTHEWS: They haven't done it so far, Bob.

From the April 5 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews:

MATTHEWS: OK. Now a comparison ad usually means you show something nice about your guy, but then you nail the other side with how bad it could be if they took over. I've been thinking now for a couple of days now at least that what the Democrats are going to face this fall, what the Republicans are probably going to throw at them is, "You think we're bad, we got a guy named Safavian you never heard of and we got this guy DeLay. He's gone now. And we're no day at the beach, but look what they've got. They've got a bunch of crazy guys who are going to try to lynch the president. They are going to try to censure him, but ideally they are going to try to impeach him. They are going to use the subpoena power to go crazy. Don't let John Conyers of Michigan" --

WEBER: And they're going to punch out the Capitol police.

MATTHEWS: See? You're doing it. See what you're doing here, you're turning the Democrats into a cartoon of vengeance and evil, and apparently in this case, assault on a police officer.

WEBER: I wouldn't characterize the whole Democratic Party in that way, just one member.

[...]

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about this strategic question: If you were asked advice by the Republican leadership right now how to win the House, keep it this fall, hold at least 15 seats, would it be to warn the public of the liberals coming to impeach, or to censure, or to go after the president or would you try to push what you've accomplished or a more positive agenda?

WEBER: I think they've got to push an agenda. I think it's true that the Democrats will try to impeach or censure the president.

MATTHEWS: You believe that.

WEBER: I believe that. Or at a minimum, investigate him to paralysis. And I think that's a legitimate issue, but I don't think that's going to move the country. The country's not going to buy that necessarily. What'll motivate people is the same agenda. Smaller government, lower taxes, strong national security, traditional values. Those are the things that motivate conservative voters.

[...]

MATTHEWS: Governor Dean, I want you to look at a tape from last night's interview we had with Tom DeLay. It was an exchange about the impeaching of the president.

[begin video clip]

MATTHEWS: Do you believe that the Republicans, if they lose the house, will turn over the subpoena power to people who will try to impeach the president?

DELAY: Absolutely. John Conyers, not too long ago, held a mock meeting of all the left and talked about impeaching the president, and he's called for impeaching the president. Do you think when he gets the gavel on the -- as chairman of the Judiciary Committee, he won't try to impeach the president? Of course he will.

[end video clip]

MATTHEWS: Governor Dean, as chairman of the national committee of the Democratic Party, do you have anything to say about the possibility, the probability, or even the chance that if the Democrats get control of the House of Representatives and the subpoena power, they'll use it to investigate, impeach, or censure President Bush?

DEAN: You know, it's interesting, I think the real election issue in this election is do you want more of the same or do you want something different. We're different. We're not like the Republicans. We don't jump to conclusions, we don't think impeachment is as trivial as the Republicans seemed to think it was when they tried to impeach President Clinton.

[...]

MATTHEWS: Let take a look at this. It's more of Tom DeLay last night. It's along the same lines I just talked about it. I just talked about prosecuting this president once they get in power in the House.

[begin video clip]

MATTHEWS: Do you think, more modestly, they might push for censure along the lines of Russ Feingold in the Senate. Which one do you think they're going for, his head or a big wound.

DELAY: I think they'll try to go for his head. I think some of the more reasonable thinking Democrats will try to pull him down and away from walking off that cliff, but you've got to know these people. John Conyers is left of the left.

[begin video clip]

MATTHEWS: Do you think that kind of campaign argument will hurt your party in the fall, the fear factor?

DEAN: No, I think these guys are out of credibility. As you were talking about with Pat Buchanan and [former San Francisco Mayor] Willie Brown, think of what these -- what George Bush has brought to Washington: his own procurement officer, arrested and indicted; the chief of staff of the vice president, arrested and indicted; the Republican leader of the United States Senate, Republican Bill Frist, under investigation for insider trading; Tom DeLay, resigned. On and on and on it goes. That is the Republicans. We're going to do this differently.

[...]

MATTHEWS: Governor, let me ask you about Russ Feingold. He is making noises about running for president. And he's out there, the Democratic senator from Wisconsin, saying that he would like to have the president censured for the National Security Agency's electronic spying. Now, do you think that's something Democrats should be considering doing once you get the subpoena power that comes with the majority status in the Congress?

DEAN: Again, Chris, we can certainly look into all that stuff, and we would like to know what the president knew and when he knew it. But there is a lot to do in America, and revenge against the president is not the first thing on the Democratic Party agenda.

Posted In
Elections, Government
Network/Outlet
MSNBC
Person
Chris Matthews
Show/Publication
Hardball
Stories/Interests
Attacks on Progressives, Propaganda/Noise Machine
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