Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 05/04/15

Guests: John Reitmeyer, Paul Butler, Jeremy Peters, Susan Page, MichelleBernard, Ron Fournier

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Bridget Kelly to Chris Christie -- See you in court. Let`s play HARDBALL. Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington. So after months of nervous silence, after endless speculation over who gave the order to put out the traffic cones, the battle of the bridge is heading to court, and Chris Christie must be wondering what has Bridget Kelly got. What does she now mean, this woman who sent the e-mail, "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee," when she says, quote, "It`s ludicrous" to say she was the only one in Governor Christie`s office aware of what was going on at the George Washington Bridge? Well, today in Newark, federal court, Chris Christie`s former top official at the Port Authority, Bill Baroni, and his former deputy chief of staff, Bridget Kelly, pleaded not guilty to a series of sweeping criminal charges for their alleged involvement in the George Washington Bridge closures. After entering his not guilty plea, Baroni addressed reporters for the first time in more than 16 months. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BILL BARONI, FMR. PORT AUTHORITY EXECUTIVE: For more than a year, I have been silent. And today, I finally get to tell my story. I would never risk my career, my job, my reputation for something like this. I am an innocent man, and that is why I will testify on my own behalf as soon as the trial begins, and I will spend every day working to clear my name and get my reputation back. (END VIDEO CLIP)   MATTHEWS: Bridget Kelly`s lawyers say she`s eager to testify at trial, as well. Her lawyer says they may also try to force Christie to testify. It appears that she has no intention of going quietly. Here`s Kelly breaking her silence the other day. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BRIDGET KELLY, FORMER CHRISTIE DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF: Contrary to the way that I have been described by some of my former colleagues, I am not stupid. I am not weepy, insecure, unqualified or overwhelmed. I am not a liar. And I never lied to anyone about the George Washington Bridge issue. Additionally, for the indictment to suggest that I was the only person in the governor`s office who was aware of the George Washington Bridge issue is ludicrous. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Ludicrous. A trial date has been set for July 7th, not so far off. Steve Kornacki is the host of MSNBC`s "UP." Paul Butler`s a former federal prosecutor. And John Reitmeyer is -- meyer is, of course, reporting, covering the Christie beat for NJSpotlight.com. All of you, thank you. Let me start with Steve, who`s been out on point on this baby. You`re the governor. You`re Christie. You`re sitting in Trenton. Who are you afraid of right now? Is it Bridget Kelly, when she says, It`s ludicrous to say I was the only one in that shop, in the governor`s shop, that didn`t know this was going on, this movement of the cones punish the mayor of Fort Lee? STEVE KORNACKI, HOST, "UP WITH STEVE KORNACKI: Look, I think both -- the most fascinating thing to me is, usually, it seems in these -- in high- profile trials like this, when somebody gets indicted like this, somebody`s facing the potential for serious jail time, like Bridget Kelly and Bill Baroni are, we always hear this debate pop up. Is this person going to testify in their own defense or not? Is it a good idea or not? And you always, invariably hear their attorneys saying, Well, you know, they`d love to get on the stand, but there`s actually a lot of risks. We`re probably not going to go ahead and do it. And so many times, they just sit there and they never take the stand. What`s so striking to me is that both Kelly and Baroni are coming out right and emphatically, saying, we want to testify, we`re going on testify, we`re absolutely going to take the stand. It`s clear to me they have something to say. It`s a mystery to me exactly what that something is going to be.   MATTHEWS: Yes. KORNACKI: I do know when you start, you know, talking around to people in Bridget Kelly`s world, you`ll will hear them tell you that that e-mail, "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee," that seems to be the smoking gun, that seems to be the most incriminating thing -- they say when the full context of that thread comes out, of that e-mail thread comes out, that`ll look very different. I don`t know how, but that`s what you hear from them. MATTHEWS: OK, let me go to John Reitmeyer. Here`s the question (INAUDIBLE) It seems like both these people are going to testify now, apparently. Baroni and Bridget Kelly are arguing two separate things. Baroni is saying, I never had anything to do with this. There never was a -- certainly, I wasn`t part of it, to put the cones out to punish the mayor. Nothing happened. It didn`t happen -- at least my hands are off of it. Bridget Kelly is saying, The thought that we did this without the governor knowing about it or the people around the governor knowing about it is ludicrous. One`s saying it happened, but it was done under some kind of culture of punishment and reward by the governor of people that would go along him for reelection or not. And the other one`s saying, Not guilty, period. It didn`t happen. Aren`t they in total conflict, what they`re saying? JOHN REITMEYER, NJSPOTLIGHT PUBLIC FINANCE WRITER: I think that`s a good question. You know, obviously, Bill Baroni... MATTHEWS: What`s the answer? REITMEYER: I think Bill Baroni is sticking to the story that this was a legitimate traffic study and that he... MATTHEWS: Really? REITMEYER: ... he wants to make the case that...   MATTHEWS: Why is he doing that? I can`t be -- does he believe that? Well, let me ask (INAUDIBLE) never care -- you never know what anybody believes. Does he want the jury to believe that? Does he think they might buy the fact of reasonable doubt that this was some sort a clinical study about how to improve traffic across the George Washington Bridge, notwithstanding all the other evidence that`s going to be thrown out that this was political? Thrown in that this was political. REITMEYER: Yes, I think what he wants the jury to believe is that David Wildstein`s version is not a reliable version, and certainly David Wildstein is not going to be a reliable government witness to... MATTHEWS: But if it was a legitimate study to figure out whatever about traffic patterns, then Wildstein would have never copped a plea. REITMEYER: Well... MATTHEWS: The only reason he copped a plea was he was caught playing political hanky-panky here. REITMEYER: Yes, and I think another issue that Bill Baroni`s going to have to resolve if we do go to trial -- he seemed to pretty aggressively participate in the efforts to not tell Fort Lee mayor Mark Sokolich about this traffic study and notify police. And so... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: What would be the motive for not telling a guy about a traffic study? What would be the motive? It wasn`t a traffic study! Paul Butler, your theory about -- well, I don`t want any theories. What`s going -- if you`re the governor -- let me ask you this. You`re a prosecutor. Is the governor exposed here with Bridget Kelly wild and loose here and talking like she wants some vengeance here? PAUL BUTLER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Not really. So the governor could be subpoenaed to come to trial and testify for the defense by Baroni and Kelly if he`s got relevant information. But that`s a big if. Suppose the governor actually knew about this traffic incident before he said he did. That`s still not a defense. When you`re charged with fraud or conspiracy, "The boss made me commit a crime" is not a defense. So they can sully him up, but he doesn`t have criminal exposure.   Fishman -- let`s face it, the governor was the target of this investigation, or at least the subject of it... MATTHEWS: OK... BUTLER: There were no charges that were brought against the governor. MATTHEWS: Paul, is the jury going to buy that it doesn`t matter that the boss told me to do it? Come on. If this woman can testify or bring evidence to the effect that the governor created this culture of vengeance, that the governor created a whole office -- by the way, she`s head of intergovernmental. If he said this is -- if she says convincingly, The governor had this attitude of we`re going to punish the guys that don`t play ball with us, you don`t think the jury`s going to say, Well, wait a minute, then maybe this woman here, mother of a couple kids, single mother -- maybe she`s just trying to protect her job, and maybe that`s not criminal? Don`t you think a jury might nullify the argument even the law states that somehow... BUTLER: No. No, Chris... MATTHEWS: ... this is criminal? BUTLER: ... not with good prosecutors. And these are very good prosecutors. It`s just not a legal defense. It might be a defense in the court of public opinion, but that doesn`t count in the court of law. And when you read this indictment, it`s so petty, it`s so salacious, it looks like something out of the movie "Mean Girls" or "Mean Boys." MATTHEWS: Yes. BUTLER: They`re cooking up all these little schemes. So I don`t think a jury is going to go for its tax dollars being spent on dumb stuff like this. MATTHEWS: OK. Well, here`s Christie going at it pretty hard. Since the scandal began, Governor Christie has maintained his innocence. He says that the scheme was the work of a few rogue agents. And there`s -- here he is (INAUDIBLE) here he is really sticking it to Bridget Kelly, and I think why she has to come back the way she is. Here.   (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: I`ve terminated the employment of Bridget Kelly effective immediately. I terminated her employment because she lied to me. Just so we`re really clear, I had no knowledge or involvement in this issue, in its planning or its execution. And I am stunned by the abject stupidity that was shown here. A person close to me betrayed me. A person who I counted on and trusted for five years betrayed me! A person who I gave a high government office to betrayed me. Sometimes, people do inexplicably stupid things. Anybody who really knows me would not believe that doing something inexplicably stupid would please me. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: OK, that`s Jersey talk. We`ve been watching a lot of Jersey talk. Paul`s laughing because that`s the way people talk in Jersey. Everybody`s a tough guy, Steve. Everybody`s a tough guy. But here`s the governor there basically saying he knew nothing about this thing, even when it was being investigated and we were all talking about it on the air, everybody`s talking about it, the governor`s -- I don`t know anything about this thing. And now along comes Bridget Kelly saying, Are you to believe -- are you willing to believe, members of the jury, that all through this discussion about what happened on the bridge, when it was happening, as it continued to happen, that the governor of New Jersey never paid attention to why it was going on, never was involved in this? He`d have to be completely out to lunch to make this defense, almost like we accused Ronald Reagan of being at times, totally unconnected to the operations of his staff right in his office because she`s sitting right across from him in that headquarters of the governor. KORNACKI: I think there`s a couple different ways you got to look at this thing. I think you can break this down into two things. There`s the shutdown itself. There`s the build-up to and the actual shutdown of the lanes itself. And then there`s what happened for the next four months, which was an attempt, basically, to cover it up, to keep this from ever coming into public view. And that`s what you`re saying is true. A lot of people look at this, and they have a hard time believing two things. The first thing is they look at Bridget Kelly and they say, Was Bridget Kelly realistically in a position where she would be giving an order to close these lanes, or when she sends that e-mail, "Time for some traffic problems," that that is to be interpreted as an order that`s going to be followed?   And when you look at what Bridget Kelly`s -- I know she has that title, deputy chief of staff, and that sounds like, you know, a really high up title. When you look what her actual level of influence was within that administration, within Chris Christie`s inner circle, it was basically nonexistent. She was not known as somebody who speaks on the behalf of the governor, who gives out orders on behalf of the governor. So people have always had trouble believing that, and they`ve always had trouble believing that -- hey, say what you want about, did Christie know ahead of time, did Christie know during it. But the minute this became a public issue, the minute this thing appeared in newspapers in September of 2013, Chris Christie and his top people definitely were aware of those stories. And it becomes hard to believe that somebody like Chris Christie, or frankly, anybody for that matter, but a former federal prosecutor like Chris Christie doesn`t start to see those stories and at least get suspicious and probably figure out the basis of what`s going on. MATTHEWS: Yes. Yes, I think we know in politics, you recognize the smell of things. Anyway, Steve Kornacki -- also, there`s a culture. What was the culture of that office? And I know Paul says that doesn`t matter legally, Paul, but I`ll get back to you next time you`re on because I think if the culture of an office is, Screw the guys that get in our way, screw the guys that don`t play ball, and you`re taught every day at the office, and then you screw the guy because that`s what you`re taught to do -- my hunch as a non-lawyer -- you`re a prosecutor -- would be give the person a little bit of a break. In fact, I might let them off. Anyway, Steve Kornacki, Paul Butler, John Reitmeyer, thank you all. Coming up -- Mitt Romney might have lost the 2012 election explicitly because of those comments about the lowly 47 percent. Well, now the Republicans are running for president -- they`re out there trying to win over the middle class. In fact, a number of them are from the middle class. They`re talking about $1 sweaters and parents who worked at KMart. It`s all realistic stuff. In fact, it is real. But for all the talk, will Republicans, especially those like Marco Rubio and Scott Walker, born without the silver spoon, be able to make themselves the party of regular people and turn Hillary Clinton on the other side into the elite? Can they pull that one off? Plus, Bill Clinton says he and Hillary never let money given to the Clinton Foundation influence her decision making as secretary of state. He said it bluntly, and we`re going to talk about that. And that shooting attack in Texas -- we`re learning more about the gunmen who opened fire at an event where an anti-Islamic group held a contest on who could be the nastiest -- draw the lastiest -- nastiest cartoon of Mohammed. Do you believe that people set that kind of a mousetrap? Anyway, finally, "Let Me Finish" with the strange disconnect between political news out there right now and political reality. And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.   (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Well, one more note about Governor Chris Christie. His net job approval at home in New Jersey is at an all-time low. Wouldn`t you know it? In a new Monmouth University poll, 35 percent approve of the job Christie`s doing. Who are they? And 54 percent dis -- you like the way he`s behaving! Anyway, further (ph), half of those polled say they think Christie was personally involved in the George Washington Bridge scandal -- personally - - "poissonally," as they say. Anyway, a third say they think he was not involved. Must be the same third that like what he`s doing. We`ll be right back after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. SCOTT WALKER (R), WISCONSIN: A little aside on this. I actually was wearing a sweater yesterday. I didn`t want to wear the same color for two days, so I actually stopped by Kohl`s and bought this sweater in the rack where it`s 70 percent off, and we paid $1 for it with our Kohl`s cash (INAUDIBLE) So living the high life. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, he`s not Mitt Romney, is he. Welcome back to HARDBALL. That was 2016 White House hopeful and Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, who calls himself your average middle class American who shops at Kohl`s department store. It`s kind of boring (ph). It`s a message that`s worked for Walker in the past, however. Here he is. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) WALKER: Hi. I`m Scott Walker. This is my 1998 Saturn. It`s got over 100,000 miles on it. This is my lunch. I pack a brown bag each day so I can save some money to spend on, you know, the more important things in life, like sending my kids to college.   (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: But it`s not just Walker playing the poor boy. As "The New York Times`s" Jeremy Peters writes today, "We are in the midst right now of the empathy primary, the rhetorical battleground shaping the Republican presidential field for 2016. Harmed by the perception that they favor the wealthy at the expense of middle-of-the-road or middle class people, the party`s contenders for each -- are each trying now their hardest to get across what the first President Bush told recession-battered voters back in 1992, `Message, I care.`" He really said that! Here he is. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JEB BUSH (R), FMR. FLORIDA GOVERNOR: And today in America, here and in Florida and other parts of our country, if you`re born poor, you`re more likely to stay poor than any time in modern history. SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Why don`t we be for tax cuts to help poor people, so then we can have a plan for poverty? We can have a plan for poor people. We can have a plan for unemployment. SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The workers in our hotel kitchens, the landscaping crews in our neighborhoods, the late night janitorial staff that clean our offices and even the bartenders who tonight are standing in the back of a room somewhere in America -- if their American dreams become impossible, we will have just become another country. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: For more of the GOP`s effort to woo middle class voters, I`m joined by the man who wrote that story today, Jeremy Peters of "The New York Times" and Susan Page, the Washington bureau chief for "USA Today." He talks about the bartender in the back of the room. Could it be because the bartender in the back of the room in that Florida fund-raiser was the guy that taped Mitt Romney saying 47 percent? (LAUGHTER)   JEREMY PETERS, "NEW YORK TIMES": Yes, well... MATTHEWS: I would think that would be -- always go to the bartender now because he`s the one with the little camera going! PETERS: Yes. In this case, the bartender was actually his father, which is -- it`s a very powerful line when you hear... MATTHEWS: Oh, is that what he meant? PETERS: Yes. His father was a bartender. His mother... MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) in that scene? PETERS: In that scene. That`s what he`s building up there. MATTHEWS: I get it. PETERS: Yes, exactly. That`s kind of the reveal, where he says, You know, I am somebody who embodies the American dream. Look, if the son of a bartender and a KMart stock clerk... MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) PETERS: ... get just as a far as anybody...   MATTHEWS: So what`s the knock here? PETERS: ... who comes from power and privilege... MATTHEWS: I don`t see the knock. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: What`s the knock. PETERS: Well, I think the knock is at Jeb Bush. I mean, really... MATTHEWS: Oh, I get it. PETERS: ... if you want to -- if you want to, like, really read into what he`s saying there, he`s saying, you know, Somebody like me can have the same dreams and hopes as somebody who comes from power and privilege. Now, it could be Jeb. It could be Hillary. It could be both. He wins either way. MATTHEWS: Remember the "Spoon River Anthology," the guy said, Beware the man who rises to power on one suspender because he isn`t so nice to the people that don`t rise. SUSAN PAGE, "USA TODAY": Yes. Well, and the thing... MATTHEWS: And that`s what you have to wonder about.   PAGE: And the thing that makes Rubio`s comment powerful is -- now, his father is no longer a bartender. His father has passed away. PETERS: Right. PAGE: So he wasn`t technically actually the bartender in that hotel room. MATTHEWS: Right. PAGE: But he was in many such events when he -- after he emigrated here from Cuba. And that`s what makes it real, when it`s like actually grounded in something. And for Scott Walker, his dad was a Baptist minister. And I`m not sure he does all the shopping at Kohl`s maybe these days, but it`s not -- it`s something that is genuine with these candidates. And that is what makes it -- that is what makes it work, I think, as a political... MATTHEWS: So many of our president`s are elitists, old money, the Bushes, the Roosevelts, the Kennedys. The Kennedys were new money, but -- and so many came up the hard way. Bill Clinton`s father was a drunk. Ronald Reagan was a drunk. These were not happy -- they were not comfortable, regular families. They was mixed -- there were that divorced. People got killed and cousins showing up from anywhere with the Clintons. They`re not exactly the happy Nelsons from "Ozzie & Harriet," you know? PETERS: No, exactly. It`s only been... MATTHEWS: This is -- Nixon grew up via the cloth coat. He grew up from nothing. PETERS: Cloth coat. Right.   MATTHEWS: And he was the classic guy that didn`t have anything going for him. He won scholarships to Duke Law and Whittier and all that. So did the Republicans just make a mistake with Mitt Romney? Just too obviously rich? PETERS: I think Mitt Romney made the mistakes. Right? He was the one who famously said -- infamously said 47 percent. Right? So I think that that is what is looming over all of this. Remember what exit polling showed, that when you ask voters which candidate cares about somebody like me, it was 88 to 18 percent -- or 82 to 18 percent or something like that. MATTHEWS: It still is this time. PETERS: It was crazy. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: It`s still this time headed to the Democrats. PETERS: It really is. And so that`s what I think -- when Republicans lose that decisively on such an important question, of course they`re going to wake up and say... MATTHEWS: Why would you vote for somebody who doesn`t care about you? (LAUGHTER)   MATTHEWS: Anyway, in 2012, the Republicans` nominee for president, Mitt Romney, a multimillionaire, was caught on tape, as we said, with the infamous remarks about the 47 percent of Americans who could vote for President Obama no matter what because they`re dependent on government and believe they`re victims. Today`s Republican contenders want to get so far away from Romney as possible. Here is Ted Cruz himself. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Where he got clobbered was 47 percent. I think Romney is a good man who ran a hard campaign. But I cannot think of a statement in all of politics I disagree with more strongly. I think Republicans are and should be the party of the 47 percent. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, the damage may already be done, however. According to a Pew Research poll I mentioned from February of this year, 43 percent of respondents said that Republicans care about the middle class but 54 percent say the GOP does not. In the same poll, 60 percent of those surveyed said the Democratic Party cares about the middle class. Only 38 percent say it does not. So, Susan, the numbers still sway. So if you`re going to vote Republican, it must be for some other reason than people care about you. (LAUGHTER) PAGE: That`s right. Or maybe you`re with the fraction that believe they do. It is very hard to win a presidential election if you have written off 47 percent of the vote from the start. But I will say that I don`t think biography determines whether you can connect with middle-class voters.   You look at FDR and JFK, who you mentioned before. MATTHEWS: Can they make the Democratic Party nominee, probably Hillary Clinton, into some sort of social elitist? (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: And, therefore, they`re the regular people because she is educated very well. She hangs around with the smartest people, the richest. You know what I mean. PETERS: Well, what they`re doing now is they`re attacking her from being disengaged from normal, everyday life for so long. They`re dinging her for not having driven a car in 16 years. It`s going to be stuff like that. MATTHEWS: And will that work? I can`t see that in the history books. She lost the election because it was said that she hadn`t driven a car. It doesn`t seem important. (CROSSTALK) PETERS: No, it doesn`t. PAGE: How does she respond? Does she come across... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Here, let`s watch this. Let`s watch that comment.   (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Last time I actually drove a car myself was 1996. And I remember it very well. And, unfortunately, so does the Secret Service, which is why I haven`t driven since then. (LAUGHTER) (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, there`s a Woody Allen joke. (CROSSTALK) PAGE: She should probably avoid that kind of comment, like when was the last time she fixed her own dinner, when was the last time she had to comb her own hair. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Is she allowed to drive a car with the Secret Service running around after her? Could she just say, let me drive, I want to drive my car today? (CROSSTALK) PAGE: LBJ drove his own car. Of course, it was on his own ranch. I`m not sure.   MATTHEWS: Yes. (LAUGHTER) PAGE: But she -- it is up to her whether she is able to be painted as an elitist or whether she comes across as someone who actually understands the lives of people... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Would you like to not drive your car every day? PAGE: No. I love driving my car. MATTHEWS: I love driving. Johnny Carson used to drive every night to work. I think most of us like to drive. I don`t know. PAGE: The prince, prince of England drove his newborn home, didn`t he, in his own Range Rover yesterday. MATTHEWS: Regular guy there. There`s a regular guy. (LAUGHTER)   MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you, Jeremy Peters and Susan. By the way, great for Charlotte. Up next, the latest on the investigation into last night`s shooting in Texas where gunmen opened fire outside a -- talk about causing trouble -- an anti-Islamic event caused -- well, it caused this, probably. This is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Two gunmen are dead after opening fire last night outside an event held by an anti-Islamic group. It happened in the Dallas suburb of Garland, Texas. One security officer was injured by the attackers before a traffic officer returned fire, killing both gunmen and thwarting the attack. Good work there. The shoot-out took place in the parking lot, where the American Freedom Defensive -- or Defense Initiative was hosting an art contest to showcase, catch this, provocative drawings of the Prophet Mohammed. A video from inside the event captured the moment when the attendees were told of the attack. Here it is. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A police officer has been shot. Two suspects have been shot, possibly have explosives on them. We will tell you that`s what we`re worried about right now.   We are going to move you all into the auditorium here in just a minute. I just need everybody to remain calm and become orderly. We will take you into the auditorium a little further away from the front of this building. All right? (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, a bomb squad later said that no explosives were found at the scene. The two -- the shooters were roommates in Phoenix, Arizona, were identified by police as 34-year-old Nadir Soofi and 30-year-old Elton Simpson, an American who converted to Islam. Well, back in 2010, Simpson -- he`s the one on the right -- was charged for planning to wage jihad and travel to Somalia for that purpose. However, prosecutors were unable to prove a terrorist connection at the time. Following the attack, ISIS supporters tweeted their support for the shooters. This is the other day. But the FBI`s investigating whether there was any official connection with the group or any connection. I`m join right now by terrorism analyst Evan Kohlmann. This is problematic to me, because I wonder whether this group that held this event down there to basically disparage and to make fun of the Prophet Mohammed doesn`t in some ways cause these events. Without the word causing, how about provoking, how about taunting, how about daring? How do you see the causality factor here? EVAN KOHLMANN, MSNBC TERRORISM ANALYST: Look, I don`t want to be insulting the freedom of speech. Everyone has the right to the freedom of speech and it is good to stand by that principle. But these people are not standing by the principle. They`re standing by the principle of hatred for other people. That`s their guiding light. That`s what they do. They are intentionally trying to provoke a response from the Muslim community. And, unfortunately, this was predictable. And you know that because the police told them, in order to hold this event, they would have to have $10,000 worth of security on hand. They had a SWAT team outfitted like it was Baghdad. So obviously someone knew that there was a likelihood that some stupid person would do this. And, again, I don`t think it is any great revelation that if you shout fire in a crowded theater and you incite people and you say nasty invective about people`s ancestors and their religious symbols, that there are a couple of crazy nut cases that are going to come out of the woodwork and are going to try to take action over that. But that has nothing to do with Islam. There are Christians, there are Jews, there are plenty of people from other faiths who have done the exact same thing. So we have to be very careful here. When you provoke people and incite people, that doesn`t make violent actions right, but don`t be surprised that it happens.   And these people are not only putting Americans here at home at risk. They`re putting American servicemen abroad at risk. And that`s what they don`t seem to understand. The same thing with the guy down in Florida who wanted to burn a bunch of Korans. MATTHEWS: Yes. KOHLMANN: The people who pay the price for this are American servicemen in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere who are targeted by extremists. And that is simply not fair. MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about the predictable factor. And maybe I shouldn`t use the word cause, because -- but when you do something that has a predictable reaction to it, you`re pretty much getting there. My question is, how often does this go on, do you know, that they have these displays of anti-Mohammed artifacts and paintings? How often do they have them without event, without reaction? KOHLMANN: Well, look, thankfully, these events don`t happen that often, but unfortunately they get a lot of press because of the fact that these folks are deliberately going out and they`re putting in it people`s faces. The same group that was responsible for this is trying to put  ments here in New York which disparage Muslims and disparage Islam and make Islam look like some kind of violent, blood-curdling faith. And the thing is, is that if you look at any other faith, you can find all people -- all people of all faiths saying these terrible things about each other. But you don`t see the American Freedom Defense Initiative putting up banners about Jean-Marie Le Pen, the right-wing extremist from France who continues to this day to deny the Holocaust. They haven`t put up a banner about that. What about him? And I think that`s the problem. This is all very selective. And as a result, Muslims feel alienated. And this is exactly what leads to terrorist recruitment. You want to know why young Muslims in the United States might not feel welcome here, they might not feel like they have a place in American society, well, is it much doubt when you see stuff like this? This does not help. Is it their right to do this? Yes, it`s their right to do this. MATTHEWS: Yes. KOHLMANN: Is it right to do this? No. It is not right to do this.   (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: I think in all these cases, you find people on both sides who want as much polarization as possible. They do want the holy war from both sides. They want the world divided East from West. Here is Pamela Geller, who organized the draw Mohammed event. She released this statement after the attack -- quote -- "This is a war. This is a war on free speech. What are we going to do? Are we going to surrender to these monsters?" Her organization is designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. And that seems to make your thought clear here. I remember the old says when the Communist Party and the Nazi Party would sort of team up in a weird sick sort of symbiotic way. One would have an event. The other would attack it. It`s -- well, I think she caused this trouble. And whether this trouble came yesterday or it came two weeks from now, it`s going to be in the air as long as you taunt. Anyway, thank you, Evan Kohlmann... KOHLMANN: Thank you. MATTHEWS: ... for coming on and being an expert on this. Up next, Bill Clinton says that when it comes to money, there is no one set of rules for him and Hillary Clinton. There`s actually set of rules, but he sees it a different way, and a set of rules for everyone else. Wait until you hear what he means by this. It`s not what you think he means. It is not incriminating. I can tell you that. You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)   PAGE HOPKINS, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Page Hopkins. Here`s what`s happening. A New York City police officer shot in the head on Saturday has died. Officer Brian Moore was sitting in an unmarked car when he was shot. A suspect is in custody. Authorities in Mexico say SurveyMonkey`s CEO, David Goldberg, died from severe head trauma in an exercise accident. Goldberg died Friday while on vacation with his family, including his wife, Sheryl Sandberg, an executive at Facebook. And the royal baby has a name. According to Kensington Palace, it`s Charlotte Elizabeth Diana, and she is fourth in line to the throne -- and now we`re going to take you back to HARDBALL. MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. In an NBC News exclusive interview, President Bill Clinton is offering a robust defense against charges that major donors to the Clinton Foundation received special treatment while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I asked Hillary about this. And she said, you know, no one has ever tried to influence me by helping you. No one has even suggested they have a shred of evidence to that effect. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Pretty strong denial there.   Bill Clinton made 11 speeches when he was paid $500,000 or more while his wife was at the helm of the State Department, including one in Moscow after a Russian-backed uranium deal was OKed by Washington. Bill Clinton says he has to make these speeches and will continue to do so. Here`s his argument. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CLINTON: People like to hear me speak. And I have turned down a lot of them. If I think there is something wrong with it, I don`t think it. And I do disclose who gave them to me, so people can make up their own mind. QUESTION: So, she is now running for president. Will you continue to give speeches? CLINTON: Oh, yes. I have got to pay our bills. (END VIDEO CLIP) (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: That`s hard to believe. Anyway, the controversies are having an effect, of course. Our new NBC poll -- "Wall Street Journal" poll out tonight found Clinton -- that`s Mrs. Clinton`s overall unfavorable rating has ticked up six points since March. And the percentage giving her high marks for being honest and straightforward has declined 13 points from a year ago. But with just Democratic voters, who will pick the nominee, of course, Hillary Clinton remains sky high at 86 percent consistently seeing her positively.   Joining me right now at the roundtable is Huffington Post global editor Howard Fineman, the president of the Bernard Center for Women -- of course, the Bernard Center is headed by Michelle Bernard. And this is like the Clinton Foundation headed by the Clintons. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: And "National Journey" columnist Ron Fournier. MICHELLE BERNARD, FOUNDER, BERNARD CENTER FOR WOMEN, POLITICS AND POLICY: Thank you. MATTHEWS: Ron, here`s the thing. And this is where the left and the right drive me crazy, because they talk about totally -- of course the Clinton Foundation does great work. So, people will say that. And then the other -- so, the left will say, they do great work, great work, great work. And then the right will say, but these guys are sleazeballs, sleazeballs, sleazeballs. Well, let`s talk about both. But let`s start with the fact the president, the former president, says, I`m going to keep giving these speeches because nobody has ever been able to identify where Hillary has done something because I got something. That`s a pretty good challenge. If there is no evidence of anyone getting something from Hillary for something he got, where is the lack of ethics? FOURNIER: Is that the standard now? MATTHEWS: I`m asking you. FOURNIER: We have to prove bribery before it is something our officials shouldn`t do?   MATTHEWS: It would be a start, if you want to make a case they do something wrong. FOURNIER: No, no, I think a start is to avoid any conflict of interest. Any -- MATTHEWS: What makes it a conflict? FOURNIER: We have all kinds of comingling of money he`s making and he`s getting it from people who are investing in a foundation and who are getting benefits from the government. You know, there is no evidence of a quid pro quo. MATTHEWS: Who has ever gotten a benefit from the government because Bill Clinton got a speech from (INAUDIBLE)? You just said it happen. FOURNIER: No, no, I said there is no evidence of a quid pro quo. MATTHEWS: No, no, but you said that he gives speeches, get some money and they get benefits. What are the benefits they`ve ever get? FOURNIER: What -- there isn`t evidence of, somebody got a favor done because of the money. But we do have a very obvious and big overlap between people who are donating to the foundation and people who are dealing with the government -- MATTHEWS: Wouldn`t it be better for the globe -- Howard, you`re global. Wouldn`t it be better -- (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: I`m kidding with my friend here.   HOWARD FINEMAN, THE HUFFINGTON POST: Yes. MATTHEWS: Wouldn`t it be better if we didn`t have a Clinton Global Initiative? I don`t agree. I think we`re better off with it. FINEMAN: No, I think the foundation has undoubtedly done good work. And Bill Clinton was on that trip to Africa where he gave that interview, to take part in the activities of it. They do all kinds of below the radar, great work. MATTHEWS: He probably thought he was giving an interview about the great work of the Clinton Global Initiative. FINEMAN: That`s in there too. MATTHEWS: She was wearing a safari jacket. He may have been misled. FINEMAN: He may thought so otherwise. But, yes, to Ron`s point, I think what happens is that various people get sort of lifted up into the Clinton stratosphere, if you will. MATTHEWS: Well, actually, everybody on the plane. FINEMAN: Yes, I know -- MATTHEWS: Forty-seven trips he took --   (CROSSTALK) FINEMAN: What you do see is that people who become part of Clinton orbit get to run in circles that they previously had no access to. MATTHEWS: Is that bad? FINEMAN: The people in Kazakhstan or the guy from Canada wanted to get uranium mines. Was there any quid pro quo when the government said OK? Was there any kind of quid pro quo that he furnished the planes for Clinton? No. But it`s all part of the atmosphere -- MATTHEWS: OK. FINEMAN: -- and the stratosphere which makes people wonder about whether these people know what`s going on. MATTHEWS: They are obviously selling access, in the sense they accepting money from people who want to buy their friendship and goodwill and company. FOURNIER: Do you think that`s -- (CROSSTALK) MICHELLE BERNARD, BERNARD CENTER FOR WOMEN: It`s completely different than, for example, what we saw Bob McDonnell in Virginia. There is a huge difference between what`s happening here, and what we`ve seen happened in other places. The problem with the Clintons, and it`s sort of a problem and kind of not a problem is, it is the appearance of impropriety. The fact that the president looks so defensive in this interview with Cynthia McFadden. But the bottom line is, for better or worse, I kind of say he`s analogous to Marion Barry, you know, the mayor here in Washington, former mayor that we used to call the Teflon mayor. He is Teflon Bill Clinton.   MATTHEWS: He is not that tough. He went to prison. (CROSSTALK) FOURNIER: Let me ask you a question, why did President Obama say she did not take donations from foreign companies? That the foundation should not take donations from foreign countries? Why did they say it would be disclosed? MATTHEWS: For the reason you`re arguing. FOURNIER: And why didn`t she? Why did they still take and why they didn`t disclose it? (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: I think Clinton advocates and Clinton critics see the same reality. They have different views on it. The Clintons work the chalk line in tennis, the corner in baseball. They hit the corner like a good pitcher, right up to the edge sometimes. (CROSSTALK) BERNARD: And they don`t knowingly, and as the president said, they didn`t knowingly did anything. FOURNIER: It worked in the 1990s. What we`re seeing already in these polls. It is a different time and voters now have access to more information than it did before, and she`s paying a price. MATTHEWS: OK. Everybody, the roundtable is staying with us. It`s going to stay heated and differential between us, among us.   Anyway, the Republicans who want to be president, by the way, a lot of clips coming back, great clips coming back about this sort of political exorcism. There are so many Republicans on the right, the hard right right now, who think the President Obama and the Clintons -- President Obama and the Clintons are demons that have to be exorcised from the American soul. This is really getting wild, and we`re going to end on it tonight. This is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Well, President Obama inched back into positive territory in our new NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll. Here it is: 48 percent of those polled said they approved the job he`s doing as president of the United States, 47 percent disapprove. You may not think that`s so great but it the best since June of 2013. And we`ll be right back after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: We`re back with our roundtable, Howard, Michelle and Ron. Political exorcism, you know, that`s what some Republican hopefuls seem to be promising campaigns of -- look, at them -- Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina and Mike Huckabee, are focused on attacking the Clintons and President Obama as demons to be chased from the American soul. Mike Huckabee has said President Obama`s actions go against, quote, "what Christians stand for." He`s also focused his ire on President Clinton, a pre-announcement video Friday. He signaled a campaign aimed at attacking the Clinton machine. Here he is. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On his first day in office, Governor Huckabee`s door was nailed shut. It was in Bill Clinton`s Arkansas. You had all of the apparatus of the Democratic Party aligned against Mike Huckabee. All of a sudden, this Republican comes out of nowhere and wins.   (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: The former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina has become a one-woman attack machine against Hillary Clinton. Even her announcement video established her as a foil to the Democratic candidate. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`m getting ready to do something, too. I`m running for president. CARLY FIORINA (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Our founders never intended us to have a professional political class. They believed that citizens and leaders needed to step forward. We know the only way to reimagine our government is to reimagine who is leading it. I`m Carly Fiorina and I`m running for president. (END VIIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: And then there`s Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, who entered the race today. Dr. Carson has called the Affordable Care Act the worst thing since slavery, compared President Obama`s America to Nazi Germany, and even called the president a psychopath. Here he was today in Detroit. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DR. BEN CARSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have to have another way of election and bring in people with common sense who actually love our nation and are willing to work for our nation and are more concerned about the next generation than the next election. (END VIDEO CLIP)   MATTHEWS: Michelle, there is more of this to come in this segment. It`s just the demonization of a president you happen to disagree with, who maybe far left of where you are, but he`s not the devil. BERNARD: He`s not the devil, and it`s so surprising, particularly coming from Ben Carson, who quite frankly -- (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Did he bang his head? BERNARD: -- in the African-American community and elsewhere. MATTHEWS: Did he bang his head? BERNARD: He drank the Kool-Aid. Ben Carson is Horatio Alger. He has a pull yourself up from the bootstraps story. Conservatives said we love you and he thought, oh, they love me. So, now, I`ll just say everything negative I can about Barack Obama. It`s horrible. FINEMAN: Can I say, the way this lines up with this three, you`ve got by race, gender and region, you got -- it`s like one-on-one coverage. You got Huckabee trying to destroy Bill from Arkansas. You`ve got Dr. Carson against Obama, and you`ve got Carly -- MATTHEWS: They match them up. FINEMAN: To get a story.   BERNARD: Yes. FINEMAN: They matched up the three, three on three, in the early round. FOURNIER: Ben Carson compared gay marriage to bestiality and pedophilia. Carly Fiorina said that the drought in California is blamed -- she blamed it in environmentalists. Mike Huckabee has urged our men and women, young men and women in this country, not to get in the military until we had a different commander in chief. These are the fringe of the fringe. MATTHEWS: Anyway, as you mentioned, in February, Mike Huckabee bashed President Obama`s speech at the National Prayer Breakfast. Let`s watch him here. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MIKE HUCKABEE (R), FORMER ARKANSAS GOVERNOR: Everything he does is against what Christians stand for, and he`s against the Jews in Israel. The one group of people that can know they have his undying, unfailing support would be the Muslim community. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: You got that? Huckabee? Anyway, in April, Huckabee said young Christians might want to wait until, as you said, Ron, after President Obama leaves office before joining the military. Let`s listen to that stuff. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) HUCKABEE: There is nothing more honorable than serving one`s country and there is no greater heroes in our country than our military, but I might suggest to parents, I`ll wait a couple years until we get a new commander in chief that will once again believe one nation under God and believe that people of faith should be a vital part of the process of not only governing this country but defending this country.   (END AUDIO CLIP) MATTHEWS: He can`t be running for president. (CROSSTALK) FOURNIER: We`re at war and he`s telling people not to fight the war. If a Democrat did that, what would we be saying here? (CROSSTALK) FINEMAN: Also, this is not really a presidential campaign, exactly. MATTHEWS: Yes, what is he doing? FINEMAN: This is a bid to become a leading attack pundit for the next 10 to 20 years. This makes Richard Nixon look really depth -- MATTHEWS: OK. Thanks. It`s inflammatory. Here`s Dr. Carson, he`s become an icon, as you said, Michelle to conservative and a punch line to many others. Here`s why. Let`s watch Dr. Carson. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)   CARSON: Obamacare is really, I think, the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`ve been told that he said we`re living in a Gestapo age? What do you mean by that? CARSON: I mean very much like Nazi Germany, and I know you`re not supposed to say Nazi Germany, but I don`t care about political correctness. Perhaps some of the things that are going on right now which could be easily remedied are not being remedied in order to keep the economy depressed because there would be no appetite for many of the social programs if people were doing what -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You think being gay is a choice? CARSON: Absolutely. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why do you say that? CARSON: Because a lot of people who go into prison go into prison straight, and when they come out, they`re gay. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: That`s a doctor`s opinion. I look for a second opinion. BERNARD: It is absolutely horrifying. You take one look at him and you say to yourself, well, your ancestors didn`t come here on their free will, so how is the Affordable Care Act in any way comparable to slavery?   Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina have the same problem. People are going to say, who is the real Ben Carson? The person who probably went to Yale and University of Michigan for medical school because of affirmative action and because of social problems and didn`t end up like many of the black men we see in prison today in Baltimore, where he came from, because of these same social problems. Who was Carly Fiorina? The woman in 2008 believed in TARP, believed in the bailout, said it was necessary, believed in cap and trade, and now she`s -- MATTHEWS: Ron, I`ve got to ask you this. Everything has become ideological. Everybody tries to figure out your orientation or identity because it`s always in the news now. How much is nurture and how much is nature? There`s no answer to that, probably, ultimately. But here`s a guy -- why is it ideologically necessary to say something like you can become gay by going to prison? Why is it a political statement? It`s become one. FOURNIER: Because both parties, especially the Republican Party, have moved extremely to their base. These are -- all three of these people are very serious men and women who are selling themselves out for speaking fees and cable contracts. That`s what`s happening here. MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you so much, Howard Fineman. Thank you, Michelle Bernard and Ron Fournier. We`ll be right back after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Let me finish this Monday night with a strange disconnect between political news and political reality. The political news has been noisy on the right and the left. From all around us, we`ve heard the wild roars of partisan zeal and yet -- and yet - - look at the latest polling. It shows Jeb Bush building something of a lead among Republicans with Marco Rubio and Walker, Scott Walker, grabbing the place and show positions. The bellicose Ted Cruz, on the other hand, is a lame fifth. Hillary Clinton, whom the media would suggest is not listing sufficiently left enough, is riding high at 80-plus approval, right, where she`s been all along. Look, the Democrats are where they`ve been, center left, while the Republicans lean more starboard than they have in my lifetime, but they`re still not wild or nutty enough to abandon ship and pick someone like Ted Cruz or Huckabee, or Carson or Santorum. So, don`t expect the 2016 election to be over until it`s over. I don`t think either party`s agenda calls for as assisted political suicide.   And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END Copyright 2015 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>