A few segments after MSNBC’s Hardball host Chris Matthews questioned why terrorists often turn to bombs as their weapons of choice, Matthews surprisingly hammered Democratic Congressman and possible Clinton running mate Xavier Becerra on the Benghazi Committee’s findings about the administration’s inability to save Americans trapped at the ill-fated consulate.
Matthews began the interview with some extended pleasantries by gushing that Becerra would “might make a great vice president, that's just my opinion, because I like leadership people in the House having worked for them in the old days.”
That said, however, Matthews dropped the hammer by asking point-blank if it “distrub[ed]” him that “the President of the United States, and secretary of defense, a fine guy named Leon Panetta, issued an order to go try to save these people and eight hours later, nothing really had been done, they had a three-hour meeting arguing about God knows whatever, diplomatic niceties or whatever, nothing got done.”
As a faithful Clinton surrogate, Becerra admitted that “it disturbs anyone that four Americans died,” but largely meandered his way through an answer about how numerous investigations have concluded that, simply, “we were limited, limited in time, limited in resources, limited in good communication.”
Matthews was not amused and shot back about how what occurred on September 11, 2012 went against the American spirit of never leaving anyone behind as it didn’t seem as though the Obama administration put forth a full effort from Washington:
And shouldn’t we really make an effort — well, what do you think happened in that three-hour meeting in the white house? They were dithering around and I just want to know the information for myself. I want to know when there's a screw-up, a snafu here of this porte, because the other two guys were killed later. Maybe we could have saved them.
Becerra seemed frustrated as he lectured Matthews that he knows he’s “trying to push, push, push to find out what happened,” but he wasn’t going to give him what he wanted.
The shockingly tough host again pressed about whether or not the inability to save those at consulate “bother[ed]” him, but Becerra ruled that at least “the President did request that we take action.”
When Matthews asked why it wasn’t carried out, Becerra deflected with only enough time for Matthews to briefly inquire if he’s being vetted by the Clinton campaign to be their vice presidential candidate.
The transcript of the interview from MSNBC’s Hardball on June 28 can be found below.
June 28, 2016
7:27 p.m. Eastern
CHRIS MATTHEWS: I'm joined by Democratic Congressman Xavier Becerra of California. He’s the leader of the House Democratic Caucus, one of the top leaders in the House. You support Hillary Clinton and that's fine. You might make a great vice president, that's just my opinion, because I like leadership people in the House having worked for them in the old days, but my question is, does this — forget the Hillary thing for a second. Does it disturb you the United States President, the President of the United States, and secretary of defense, a fine guy named Leon Panetta, issued an order to go try to save these people and eight hours later, nothing really had been done, they had a three-hour meeting arguing about God knows whatever, diplomatic niceties or whatever, nothing got done. Orders were not carried out. Does that bother you?
DEMOCRATIC CONGRESSMAN XAVIER BECERRA (Calif.): Chris, first, thanks for having me on and sure, it disturbs anyone that four Americans died that you want to find every way possible to show that we could have saved them so we won't make the same mistake again, but I think after some seven, eight, nine investigations, I think it's become very clear we were limited, limited in time, limited in resources, limited in good communication and the result was the tragic death of four Americans which hopefully we will learn from this, take the lessons and won't let it happen again.
MATTHEWS: If you had somebody or any other American out there in the third world, in a tricky situation, there's a revolutionary country, and you heard they were just under attack, and there may be some people still alive there, wouldn't you do everything you could because isn't that part of our culture to go back and try to save our people, leave nobody behind, it's an old Marine rule? And shouldn’t we really make an effort — well, what do you think happened in that three-hour meeting in the white house? They were dithering around and I just want to know the information for myself. I want to know when there's a screw-up, a snafu here of this porte, because the other two guys were killed later. Maybe we could have saved them.
BECERRA: But I think — I think you keep trying to find — I know you are trying to push, push, push to find out what happened.
MATTHEWS: But doesn’t this bother you?
BECERRA: My understanding is the President did request that we take action. He did make — submit the order.
MATTHEWS: It's called an order. It's called an order. He's commander in chief. When he gives an order, it should be followed out.
BECERRA: So, he gave the order. So he did give the order.
MATTHEWS: What happened?
BECERRA: That's the problem. Between the order being given and seeing the military that was on the ground try to move, lots apparently happened. It’s — and I wish I could tell you that we knew the answer. Eight investigations haven't been able to give us a reason why there wasn’t quicker action — except for as I said before, resources, time was limited, confusion ensued and so this is the result and so again, let's learn from this lesson, let's put the resources where we need it so our personnel are protected and let’s make sure we are always making sure that if you will give service to this country, whatever part of the world, we’re going to be there to protect you.
MATTHEWS: Well, you have to sing for your supper a little bit besides giving us smart answers. Let me ask you the question. Have you been asked for any background information as a possible vetting procedure for the vice presidential nomination?
BECERRA: Chris, you probably know more than I do about the process. I think —
MATTHEWS: You guys, did you get asked for any information about yourself yet?
BECERRA: No. No.
MATTHEWS: Okay. Love that. Direct answer. Direct answer. I appreciate it. I couldn't get that last night from a cabinet member, but thank you. We know you're not on the list yet. Anyway, I hope you are. I think you would be great. I like leaders. I like leaders and you're one. U.S. Congressman Becerra of California, head of the Democratic caucus in the House.