Chris Matthews Sees Edwards Indictment as GOP 'Revenge,' Like in 'Third World Countries'

On Friday's Hardball on MSNBC, host Chris Matthews proposed a GOP conspiracy behind the indictment of former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards: "Do you think there's politics in this prosecution? Was it just a Republican U.S. attorney going after this guy, sticking around to do the dirty work for the 'R's?" [Audio available here]

Matthews posed that question to Democratic strategist and former Edwards spokesperson Karen Finney, even she wasn't buying it: "You know, I don't know." Undeterred, Matthews continued his bizarre rant: "But this looks like one of those things you read about in third world countries or in India or somewhere or Pakistan, where they get someone who's been out of office a couple of years, get them while they're down, hit them with some incredible charge with campaign funding that nobody's ever heard of before and put them away for a while. It just looks like revenge against the party – against somebody that lost an election."

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Also on Friday's show, Matthews argued that any suggestion that Barack Obama follows European socialist ideals was a "slur" against the President. But apparently it's okay to compare prosecutors in the Edwards case to corrupt third world law enforcement.

Here is a transcript of the June 3 exchange:

5:00PM ET TEASE:

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards was indicted today on six counts of taking illegal campaign contributions, which prosecutors say he used to cover up his extramarital affair and baby. Edwards decided to reject a plea agreement and fight the charges in court. So is this, my question, a legitimate use of campaign law?

(...)

5:22PM ET SEGMENT:

MATTHEWS: Do you think there's politics in this prosecution? Was it just a Republican U.S. attorney going after this guy, sticking around to do the dirty work for the 'R's?
                
KAREN FINNEY [FMR. EDWARDS SPOKESPERSON]: You know-

MATTHEWS: I'm asking you.     

FINNEY: I know you are-

MATTHEWS: Two and a half years to make this case.

FINNEY: Well, obviously I think they wanted to take their time to make sure they had a good case. Whether or not they do, I guess we're going to find out. You know, I don't know. I don't – it's disturbing if it's true that this would actually create a whole new sort of way around campaign finance laws in theory, right? Because you could say, 'Well, the money wasn't for my campaign it was for my sick cousin.'

MATTHEWS: Yeah.

FINNEY: And I think that's part of the concern.

MATTHEWS: You know how it struck me – and I'm no fan of Edwards, ever, I thought he was a little too slick. I think he's slick as a trial liar too. I think he works the older rural people to his advantage. But that's just a prejudicial judgment which I admit right up front – But this looks like one of those things you read about in third world countries or in India or somewhere or Pakistan, where they get someone who's been out of office a couple of years, get them while they're down, hit them with some incredible charge with campaign funding that nobody's ever heard of before and put them away for a while. It just looks like revenge against the party – against somebody that lost an election.

(...)

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC