Krystal Ball Won’t Stop Harping On Republicans

MSNBC The Cycle co-host Krystal Ball enjoyed an extra hour with which to bash Republicans and puff the Obama administration today as she filled in on the 1 p.m. Eastern Ronan Farrow Daily program. Ball questioned whether breaking news of the capture of Ahmed Abu Khattala, a terrorist wanted for organizing the Benghazi attacks, would “take away a sort of key talking point for Republicans.”

The failed congressional candidate invited Howard Fineman, of the Huffington Post, and Robert Costa of The Washington Post on to Farrow’s program to discuss Republican reaction to the news of the capture. Ball then proceeded to ask if why Republicans “have a huge problem with using our own justice system to go forward and prosecute terrorists,” and are “expressing a lack of confidence in our normal [civilian] justice system.” [See video below. Click here for MP3 audio]

Later on, Ball questioned her guests if “Republicans risk continued overreach on Benghazi here” and will “continue to try to tie Hillary Clinton to Benghazi attacks.”

Two hours later, on The Cycle, Ball chose to ignore the controversy surrounding The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank’s newest column, in which he grossly misrepresented the Heritage Foundation’s conference on Benghazi to portray the highly-respected conservative institution as anti-Muslim, in order to ask if “this capture (will) take some of the wind out of those sails.”

See transcript below:

MSNBC
Ronan Farrow Daily
June 17, 2014
1:46 p.m. Eastern
22 seconds

KRYSTAL BALL: Howard, I want to start with you. Does this capture take away a sort of key talking point for Republicans?

HOWARD FINEMAN: Well, it takes away a talking point and the Republicans, in their relentless search for other talking points related to Benghazi, will make the point they just made that you quoted about let's make sure we get all the intel out of this guy and not treat him like a regular suspect.

1:47 p.m.
36 seconds

BALL: Robert, Senator Feinstein released a statement supporting the administration’s efforts to prosecute Ahmed Abu Khattala in federal court, pointing out that the U.S. has successfully convicted over 500 terrorists since 9/11 and you know Washington Republicans very well. Can you explain why they have a huge problem with using our own justice system to go forward and prosecute terrorists?

COSTA: You have seen members of both parties today celebrate the news but there is a question, an open debate here on Capitol Hill, about what's next. Senator McCain and other Republicans saying that the suspect should be brought to Guantanamo Bay and there should be a military trial there. Some democrats, as you say, have supported the administration's efforts perhaps bring him to federal court. This is the fault line. This is where the acromony will be in the coming days.

1:54 p.m. Eastern
1 minute and 21 seconds

BALL: Robert, is there any sense or concern among republicans, that by arguing against trying these suspect in federal court, that they’re, in a way, expressing a lack of confidence in our normal justice system?

COSTA: Not so much. Republicans have two main issues ahead of these midterm elections: healthcare, Obamacare, and Benghazi. And they’ve really ramped up their efforts here on Capital Hill on Benghazi over the recent months, and they’re gonna try to do so ahead of November, so a critique is part of that argument, and they're not going to stop it.

BALL: Howard, how much do Republicans risk continued overreach on Benghazi here? I mean it just seems so partisan that we have this win, we’ve captured this subject, and immediately they're already finding ways to criticize the president.

FINEMAN: Well, overreach is possible but in a low turnout midterm election, which is usually what these are, you're trying to motivate your base. And for the base of the Republican party, as Robert well knows, this issue, the issue of Benghazi, does resonate with those voters, so I don't expect the republicans to let up.

BALL: And Robert, quickly, looking forward to 2016, are Republicans going to continue to try to tie Hillary Clinton to Benghazi attacks, is that going to be a key push back against her looking forward to 2016?

COSTA: Certainly, and I think you only have to look at Mitt Romney's comments at his retreat in Utah over the weekend, going straight at Secretary Clinton’s record at the State Department that’s part of the GOP message and they're starting early.

MSNBC
The Cycle
June 17, 2014
3:09 p.m. Eastern

BALL: Dana, we've seen Republicans using Benghazi as a way to energize their base, essentially. Does this capture take some of the wind out of those sails?

DANA MILBANK: Well, I don’t doubt that they’re going to keep puffing as hard as they can to keep the sail inflated, but ultimately, when you look at this, what were the issues of the Benghazi scandal? Well, the one that seems to gather the most talk these days was the talking points. But the larger question was always, could something have been done to prevent this in the first place and why haven't these guys been brought to justice? Well, they just took away one of the two legitimate avenues of inquiry and they’ve pretty much hashed through the question of what could be done in advance so I think we’re, now, congregating around the talking points question. And whatever anyone thinks about what Susan Rice said on five television shows two years ago. It's hard to see that alone bringing this president to impeachment. As some may have suggested it should.

BALL: Yes, indeed.

Laura Flint
Laura Flint is a 2014 summer intern for the MRC's News Analysis Division.