Hastert reputation on the line

Joe was shocked to hear the news that former Republican House speaker, Dennis Hastert, was charged with hiding cash withdrawals to evade banking reporting requirements, as well as lying to the FBI.

“Denny was a guy beloved by everybody and he would be the last guy in the world you would ever expect to see this headline from,” Joe said to the rest of the panel.

There was also shock on Capital Hill from both sides of politics as the news spread that the longest serving Republican in the House could be facing years behind bars. “He was a unifying figure in the House,” said The New York Times’ Jeremy Peters. “No one expected something like this to happen to this guy”.

What are the FBI alleging?

The indictment states Hastert was approached by an individual in 2010 regarding a past misconduct, and alleges that he agreed to pay $3.5 million to compensate and hide the misconduct.

It’s alleged that when the bank started to question transactions made by Hastert between June 2010 and April 2012, he started to take out less than $10,000 at a time so the withdrawals didn’t have to be reported. When questioned by the FBI, the 73-year-old denied it was hush money and that he was trying to flout banking rules, but claimed he was withdrawing the money because he doesn’t trust banks.

The Prosecution also says the alleged misconduct took place many years before in Yorkville, Illinois, which is the town next to where Hastert used to live and work. “The fact that the indictment mentions his years as a wrestling coach and a teacher certainly suggests that the misconduct he considered worth paying $3.5 million to keep quiet, obviously goes back to that time in his life,” Joe said.

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Pataki throws his name into the hat

Former New York Governor George Pataki wants to be the Republican presidential candidate for 2016.

He is now the eighth person to formally announce their candidacy, and Joe thinks he is the most qualified Republican on paper so far. Pataki served as Governor of New York for 12 years, and 9/11 was during his three-term stint.

Rick Perry and Lindsey Graham are also expected to announce they are running next week, in a race that could involve more than 12 candidates.

Who else?

Congressman Peter King could also make a bid, saying he’ll make a decision next month. “In any event, we can’t let the Republicans fall into the hands of those who are anti-defense,” he said while taking a swipe at another candidate, Rand Paul, who he claims is “totally unqualified” to be the next president.

And why shouldn’t King or businessman Donald Trump get in on the act? “Look at all the other people in this race,” The New York Times’ Jeremy Peters said to the panel. “You would expect that with all of these entries that it would actually discourage people from entering, but it’s had the opposite effect”.

Will Trump trump them all?

Speaking of Trump, Joe thinks he could really shake things up in the primary, despite the fact the businessman is often labeled a “clown”. “His name is on every building and his name is known all over the world,” he said. “He’s going to have the money and he’s going to have the name ID, and he’s going to have the press to maybe shake things up a little”.

And it seems likely Trump will run after hinting that he is going to make a major announcement on June 16, before heading to New Hampshire the following day.

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Elizabeth Warren is mad as hell

In a recent interview at a California tech conference, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) got pretty heated when answering a question on the lack of national investment.

“Too many of the people in Washington do not represent the folks who elected them. They represent the rich and the powerful, who don’t want their taxes raised, who don’t want to see any change,” she said. “And they stay in the ear of enough of the folks in Washington that it has made it almost impossible to get any kind of change.”

The issues that Senator Warren sees as in most need of change include passing a meaningful infrastructure bill,  refinancing student interest loan rates, and funding the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

“The only way we get change is when enough people in this country say, ‘I’m mad as hell, and I’m fed up, and I’m not going to do this anymore.'”

The Morning Joe panel sat down to discuss Senator Warren’s interview, which Donny Deutsch remarked felt a little like a “Howard Dean moment,” recalling the infamous speech in 2004 where Dean’s enthusiasm got the better of him and (some say) lost him the Democratic nomination. Luckily for Warren, she isn’t running for President, though she does have a message – a forceful, impassioned one at that.

Put up or shut up

Funding has been a popular topic as of late, especially with the Philadelphia Amtrak crash earlier this month that killed eight people and injured over 200. But it’s one thing to talk about funding; it’s another to talk about reform.

Anyone can come out and say the government isn’t spending enough money. Is Elizabeth Warren willing to make the tough decision to stand up to the special interest groups and unions who helped elect her and fight for real reform, asked Joe? Probably not. “She loves standing up to the rich, and the powerful, and the people that create jobs. Let her stand up to the people that stop reform.”

“If there’s anyone who would stand up to special interests, it would be her,” argued Mika.

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