CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: "The New York Times" hits Hillary on the front page. The Clinton war room fires back. Let`s play HARDBALL. Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington. Today`s "New York times" grabbed readers with this front page headline, bottom of the fold. Quote, "Criminal inquiry is sought in Clinton e-mail use." Well, the Clinton war room has struck back. My questions tonight, what`s "The New York Times" got here? Is it Hillary herself being targeted, her team? Is there really a question of criminality here? Let`s find out from the reporter who wrote the story in "The New York Times," Michael Schmidt. He joins us now by phone. Michael, thank you for joining us on the story. Let me ask you this. When you had the story last night, what justified the front page coverage? MICHAEL SCHMIDT, "NEW YORK TIMES" (via telephone): Well, what justified the coverage was the fact that these inspector generals who had been looking into how the State Department was handling her e-mails and the classified information on there had gone to the Justice Department and said that classified information had been compromised here and there was a national security issue. MATTHEWS: And was this Hillary Clinton herself which "The Times" pointed to, or was it -- was it Hillary Clinton`s staff or what we call Hillary-land? Who was involved in what you saw as the story there? SCHMIDT: Well, it involved the account. And we`ve actually today have gone on and gotten some even more explicit details about what was going on with that. The inspector general for the intelligence community just put out a statement saying that she indeed had classified information on the account. It was classified at the time, and, quote, "This classified information should never have been transmitted via an unclassified personal system." It`s because of that that they turned to the Justice Department. MATTHEWS: Well, this I need this to be clarified because most viewers are probably unnerved -- enervated -- we -- we`s heard it so many times, we don`t quite get it. Hillary Clinton -- she has used a private e-mail account off the server out of their Chappaqua home, and that`s been known for a while. She gave back to the government tens of thousands of e-mails that used -- that she put through that server and put through in those e- mails. And that -- did she do her regular State Department business on those personal e-mails? And if she did so, what`s new because that, I would assume, would have been all the traffic of the State Department that she was using the e-mail for. SCHMIDT: Well, it was the only e-mail account that she used as secretary of state. She did not have a state.gov account. She only relied on that account. MATTHEWS: So how does she move classified materials, which she would have had her hands on all the time? How did she regularly do it? SCHMIDT: Well, in the government, there`s sort of two systems. There`s a classified system and an unclassified system. And a lot of people were e-mailing her from the unclassified system. But what happened, according to the inspector generals, is that there was information from the intelligence community that was being passed to her from other people that was not necessarily marked classified, but it was indeed classified at the time, and it ended up on her -- in her e-mail. MATTHEWS: Well, can she be blamable, then, if it was not marked classified and it was sent by someone else? She was passive to it, even in terms of knowledge of it being classified. SCHMIDT: Well, she had a personal e-mail account that was operating outside the State Department. She wasn`t inside the State Department. Her account was outside the State Department. MATTHEWS: How can there be criminality if there`s no knowledge that it was classified, because you say it wasn`t necessarily -- it wasn`t marked, and it was sent from -- if you get a letter in the mail, whether it`s e-mail or it`s snail mail, somebody sends it to you, how can you be responsible for that? SCHMIDT: That`s the issue. MATTHEWS: Criminally. SCHMIDT: The issue here is that this is classified information that was ending up in places that it wasn`t supposed to. and these inspector generals turned to the Justice Department and said, Look, something -- something -- this is not the way this is supposed to operate. You need to take a look at this. MATTHEWS: OK, can you imagine a regular newspaper reader, like I am - - and I read "The Times" every morning, practically every morning -- picking this up. You`d think Hillary Clinton had done something wrong -- criminal referral, something to do with her, something to do with her e- mails. But yet now you`re telling me this is mail she received, mail that wasn`t marked classified. And I`m wondering where could there be even the imagination of criminality here? SCHMIDT: Well, there are rules and laws and regulations on how classified information should be handled. There are ways that... MATTHEWS: You mean she should have put a stopper on this if it came in? Even if it wasn`t marked classified, she should have found a way of rejecting that as if it was spam? I mean, how was she proposed to prevent that from coming in? SCHMIDT: But by operating her e-mail outside of the system, she exposed herself to receiving... MATTHEWS: OK, well, that`s the... SCHMIDT: ... this type of information. MATTHEWS: So in other words, she`s being charged here, you`re referred to here over to the Justice Department, because she used her private e-mail account, basically because that system itself made her vulnerable to this kind of misuse by people -- of -- mishandling is the right word -- mishandling of classified information? SCHMIDT: Correct. MATTHEWS: So this is -- in other words, we`re going back to story one, way back in the beginning of the story. They`re now finally charging her or referring to the Justice Department a possible complaint that she used her private e-mail for official and even classified business. SCHMIDT: Well, what they`re saying is that she had classified information on there and... MATTHEWS: Yes, that`s a question of looking for what they figured they`d find because if she used the e-mail -- her own personal e-mail for everything, it would occasionally include stuff that somebody would send to her that wasn`t marked classified, and therefore, she wouldn`t have been able to detect it and somehow send it back where it came from, I guess. SCHMIDT: I guess I`d bring you back to the statement that the inspectors general has put out when they said this classified information should never have been transmitted via an unclassified personal system. MATTHEWS: OK. Well... SCHMIDT: I mean, that`s them. That`s the inspector generals. MATTHEWS: Well, let`s go to them. We`re going to go right now to Elijah Cummings and find out what he`s hearing. Thanks for that updated report, Michael Schmidt of "The New York Times." Hillary Clinton responded, by the way, to the big story today during a speech in New York. Let`s watch the former secretary of state herself. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), FMR. SEC. OF STATE, PRES. CANDIDATE: First, I want to say a word about what`s in the news today, and it`s because there have been a lot of inaccuracies, as Congressman Cummings made clear this morning. Maybe the heat is getting to everybody. (LAUGHTER) CLINTON: We all have a responsibility to get this right. I have released 55,000 pages of e-mails. I have said repeatedly that I will answer questions before the House committee. We are all accountable to the American people to get the facts right. And I will do my part. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Congressman Elijah Cummings is a Democrat from Maryland and a ranking member of the House Select Benghazi Committee (INAUDIBLE) also the Reform committee. Congressman Cummings, did you talk to the Clinton people this morning? Did they urge you to get out as a surrogate on the issue? REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: No, I didn`t talk to them. I talked to the IGs for the State Department... MATTHEWS: OK. CUMMINGS: ... and for the intelligence department. That`s who I wanted to talk to because I wanted to know about what was going on. And they made -- they were emphatic that they never -- they never requested a criminal investigation of Hillary Clinton with regards to the usage of her e-mails. And they made that clear. MATTHEWS: But what about these four e-mails they`re talking about... CUMMINGS: And by the way -- well -- well, Mr. Schmidt made an interesting point and you shouldn`t pass by it. They made it clear that there was no markings with regard to classification or dissemination on any of the e-mails they reviewed. Now, these are the folks that -- these are the IGs. And so when they tell me that there is no -- there was no request for any kind of criminal investigation with regard to Hillary Clinton`s e-mail usage, I have to believe them. MATTHEWS: So is there any effort by the IGs you talked to -- do they admit that they sent any material over to the Justice Department for review? CUMMINGS: They said they have a routine -- they had a routine procedure that they do when they find that maybe some information that is classified may be in the wrong hands or were misclassified. It is an automatic thing for them to send it to the Justice Department to try to straighten it out to make sure that people don`t have classified information they shouldn`t have. But keep in mind, when these -- they told me that when this information was being transmitted by Hillary Clinton or coming to her, there was no way for her to even know it... MATTHEWS: Well, that sounds (INAUDIBLE) CUMMINGS: ... that it was classified because they said emphatically that it was not marked classified or for dissemination. So I mean, how would she even know? MATTHEWS: Well, how did this become a news story if it was robotic, as you describe it, routine to the point of being almost robot-like, to have them send over the word to the Justice Department that a candidate for president`s e-mail is somehow the basis for some reasonable review by them to look at it either for criminal, civil, whatever action? That`s a serious bit of business, it seems to me. Why did they do it? CUMMINGS: As a lawyer -- let me tell you something, Chris. As a lawyer, when I read that, the headline at 4:00 o`clock this morning, I mean, I couldn`t go back to sleep because I know how serious it is. That`s why I jumped on it immediately. Chris, keep in mind, I mean, we have gotten so far away from what we were supposed to be doing with Benghazi. This is get Hillary Clinton by any means necessary. Make sure you impact her so that she cannot be a successful candidate. That`s what it`s boiling down to. And it pains me to even say that, but I just got to call it as I see it. MATTHEWS: Yes, I know. CUMMINGS: And so what the news -- the news entities do, they pick up a story and they repeat it over and over again. And as of just a few minutes ago, the headline still says in "The New York Times" that there`s a criminal investigation when, in fact, there`s not. MATTHEWS: Yes, well, the question I guess to you is, do you think she did something wrong initially by using a private e-mail account to handle all of this official business, whether she knew particular information was classified or not? It seems like they`re going back to that thing again, that basic decision, because there`s nothing here criminal in its particular intent. It seems the very act of using the e-mail for what could have been marked or wasn`t in this case but might some day be marked classified by someone was itself some kind of transgression that had to be reported to the Justice Department. So somebody things it`s important that she be in some way, I don`t know, reprimanded, notified, whatever, certainly reviewed by the Justice Department. (CROSSTALK) CUMMINGS: ... over and over again -- Chris, this is not -- it doesn`t take -- you know, this is not rocket science to figure this one out. You`ve got a situation where leaks are put out there, inaccurate information is put out there, incomplete information, to get the headline - - to get the headline. MATTHEWS: Yes. CUMMINGS: And the next thing you know, that`s what people are thinking. And then, of course, that does not -- is not helpful to her. But I feel very upset about this because this is not the way that we`re supposed to operate. (CROSSTALK) CUMMINGS: It affects the credibility of our committee, by the way. MATTHEWS: It`s always great to have you on here, sir. Thank you so much, Elijah Cummings of the United States Congress. Joining us right now is Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Eugene Robinson of "The Washington Post." Gene -- where do I begin on this? "Senior administration -- senior government official"... EUGENE ROBINSON, "WASHINGTON POST," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: "Government official." MATTHEWS: Government officials, to me, as a reader and a person who`s been in journalism, seems to me not House Republicans. Could it be House Republicans or could it... ROBINSON: Well... MATTHEWS: Could it ever... (CROSSTALK) ROBINSON: You know, the House is part of the government, so sure, it could be. But that`s not how you would generally... MATTHEWS: But government usually means executive. It usually means executive. ROBINSON: That`s what you would think. Also, at our paper, "The Washington Post," and I believe at "The New York Times," when you allow a source to go unnamed, the policy is that you`re supposed to explain why that source is going unnamed. MATTHEWS: What would they have said there? They didn`t want to get in trouble for being political because it`s a nonpolitical person? ROBINSON: Perhaps. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: I don`t know how to write it. ROBINSON: I don`t know, but... MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s get back to the story... ROBINSON: But you see -- but about the story itself -- you know, there`s a document at the heart of the story, which is the referral, the document referring... MATTHEWS: From the IGs to the Justice Department. ROBINSON: ... from the IGs to the Justice Department. MATTHEWS: Right. ROBINSON: It is not clear to me from reading the story -- and I`ve read it a few times -- that "The Times" has seen that document, has actually handled it and seen that document and read it. And it is being characterized, you know, one way by "The Times" sources as a request for criminal investigation. MATTHEWS: Mishandling of government... ROBINSON: It is being... MATTHEWS: ... documents by putting them in her private e-mail. It allows the fact that one of -- somebody in Hillary`s camp did it. It doesn`t say it`s her, although it alluded to the fact it was her in the first go-round, and whether it`s criminal or not, is the word that grabbed me. ROBINSON: Well... MATTHEWS: Criminal. ROBINSON: You know, criminal is a big word. But it seems to me if you`re going to write a story that has a document, a single document at its heart, if you haven`t been able to see the document and you`re relying on sources to tell you what it says and to characterize it, then you ought to give readers a clear shot at that fact, at least, that, you know... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Has this story got legs in the big papers tomorrow? ROBINSON: Well, here`s what has legs, is the fact that -- you know, Hillary Clinton did run a private e-mail server, right, and then -- and turned over a bunch of e-mails, but has apparently wiped the server clean. And I think there will always be questions about that. You know, why did she do that? But this specific story, you know, it kind of depends. At some point, one hopes, we actually get to see the document. And then we`ll know whether it`s... MATTHEWS: Well, "The Times"... ROBINSON: ... just a routine thing or not. MATTHEWS: ... has got the heat on it. The heat`s on "The Times." I`m sure "The Washington Post" is going to be looking at this tomorrow. ROBINSON: I`m sure. MATTHEWS: I`ll be looking to see what page it`s on. If it`s on the front page, I`ll know there`s legs. Anyway, thank you, Gene Robinson. Coming up -- if you caught my HARDBALL interview last night with Ted Cruz, you heard how obvious he was pushing Bernie Sanders. Many on the right are out there trying to build up Bernie to help take down Hillary Clinton. Former U.S. congressman Barney Frank says progressives shouldn`t fall for it. He joins us next here live. And the day of a weekly -- a deadly shooting now at the Louisiana movie theater. President Obama says the area where he`s most frustrated right now as president, most stymied, is on that issue of guns. And in the week when Donald Trump got the headlines, a lot of other Republicans had their turn driving the clown car, including Marco Rubio, who`s doubled down on his cheap shot that President Obama has "no class." Finally, some Republican insiders are pushing the idea that Donald Trump has already hit his peak, but that may well be -- I think it is -- wishful thinking. Anyway, this is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (NEWSBREAK) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) CLINTON: We each run our own campaigns. And I always knew this was going to be competitive, but I want to have a great debate in the primary and caucuses around the country, and that`s what I`m looking forward to. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. When Hillary Clinton was asked earlier this month about her Democratic opponent, Bernie Sanders, she said she expects the race to be competitive. Well, now in an op-ed piece in Politico magazine this week titled "Why progressives shouldn`t support Bernie," former congressman Barney Frank of Massachusetts makes the case that Democrats should get behind Hillary Clinton early. "A long primary campaign will only erode the benefit Democrats are now poised to reap from the Republicans` free-for-all." Here he says again, "I am convinced that a prolonged pre-nomination debate about the authenticity of Clinton`s support for progressive policy stances will do us more harm than good." Recent national polling, by the way, shows Clinton well ahead of Senator Sanders at this point, 63 to 14 among Democrats across the country. But the latest poll out of New Hampshire, which was last conducted in June, showed Sanders within striking distance of Clinton in that key primary state at 35 percent to Secretary Clinton`s 43 percent. I`m joined right now by longtime Congressman Barney Frank. Congressman, thank you for joining us. BARNEY FRANK (D), FORMER MASSACHUSETTS CONGRESSMAN: Thank you. MATTHEWS: Everybody wants to know what you think about this, because you`re sort of a pretty well-known liberal by the old terminology. The new terminology, the word progressive is used everywhere from -- it used to be Teddy Roosevelt, a bit to the right of liberal. Now it`s all the way to the left of liberal. What is the difference between a progressive and a socialist, as you think it through, or is there still a distinction we can draw? FRANK: Well, there`s a difference between a progressive and a socialist. Look, socialism is a very respected intellectual view of the economy. I happen to disagree with it, because I really do believe that the free market, the capitalist system is the best producer of wealth, but I do believe that it needs to be strongly regulated to how it`s conducted and what you do to distribute it. Bernie Sanders has made a very important choice, to be the outsider within the system. For more than, what, 30 years, he has stressed two things, first of all, that he was not a Democrat. And he has pointed out to the integrity of that position, that not being a member of a party was a virtue. And, secondly, he voted with the Democrats in the Congress, but always stressed that he wasn`t a member of the party. Secondly, he defied this American aversion to the world socialism by proclaiming himself to be a socialist. Both of those are entirely legitimate positions. My problem is that, having staked out this outsider position, it`s kind of hard to pivot instantly now from being an independent socialist to being just a progressive Democrat. That is only a problem because, if we have this primary campaign -- and here`s what I`m afraid of -- Hillary Clinton has taken very strong liberal positions, progressive positions, whatever you want to call them. I`m afraid there are people who are going to say that she`s only doing that because Bernie Sanders spooked her into it. That`s not accurate, but inaccuracy is not a barrier to things being accepted. And what you will see is the Republicans saying, aha, we knew Clinton didn`t really stand for anything serious, and she`s now just trying to win over the votes from that socialist. That`s inaccurate, as I said, but very damaging. MATTHEWS: Well, we got some evidence of that from last night`s show. You made the point that Republicans are speaking favorably of Sanders as a way to undercut Clinton. They really are. Republicans believe boosting of Sanders` candidacy is their only way to prevent Clinton emerging as the nominee with broad early support in the process, strengthening her positioning in November. They`re correct. One clear result of a long Clinton-Sanders nomination contest would be that some of her vulnerabilities will accrue to her -- his vulnerabilities will accrue to her. Well, we witnessed that very strategy in action on HARDBALL last night, Congressman. Here`s Republican Senate candidate and Senator from Texas Ted Cruz boosting self-described socialist Bernie Sanders. Here he is going at it. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The Democrats, virtually all of them, are supporting this cronyism and corporate welfare. The one person who`s standing up strong is Bernie Sanders. This is an issue where Bernie and I are in complete agreement. MATTHEWS: Is that a strategy on the right, to build up Bernie Sanders? CRUZ: Well, I have said for a long time I like and respect Bernie Sanders. MATTHEWS: Well, yes, but you`re building him up. CRUZ: Because he`s honest, he`s candid. MATTHEWS: You just did it. You took an opportunity for a callout there to build him up. What is the strategy to build up Bernie Sanders from the right-wing perspective? You`re right-wing, now that we`re identifying each other. CRUZ: Chris... (CROSSTALK) CRUZ: Chris, what I... (CROSSTALK) CRUZ: I respect honesty in politics. MATTHEWS: OK. CRUZ: Bernie admits he`s a socialist. I`m enjoying watching Hillary Clinton explain to the voters how she is just as much of a socialist as Bernie Sanders. Bernie is being honest about this and I wish both... (CROSSTALK) CRUZ: ... politicians in the Democrat... MATTHEWS: You are building him up. CRUZ: ... and Republican Party. MATTHEWS: I mean, you`re getting so enthusiastic. I know what you`re up to. It`s called troublemaking. Well, you`re a Bernie Sanders Republican, from what I have heard tonight. But thank you for coming on. I understand entirely the strategy you`re up to. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Congressman Frank, I think you were the prophet of reality here. I think this guy is out there doing it. I don`t know if it`s conspiratorial. But they seem to be enjoying -- they`re trying -- it seems to me -- you`re the expert -- I think they`re trying to gin up on the Democratic side the kind of two-fisted free-for-all, whatever, that you`re seeing on the Republican side with Trump. FRANK: No question. Look, I almost sympathize with some of these Republicans. Getting into a debate with Donald Trump, it`s like trying to make Shakespeare while Moe, Curly and Larry are your supporting cast. (LAUGHTER) FRANK: And it`s hard to look good in that. But there`s no reason for us to try to minimize our advantage. Look, and I don`t understand why some of my friends on the left, and where I am, don`t see what happened to Mitt Romney. The fact is that Mitt Romney sent much of the campaign proving his conservative bona fides to his And Base. That weakened him for the final election. MATTHEWS: Yes. FRANK: And I don`t see any point in us having that with Hillary Clinton. Look, if we knew for sure we could win, that her liberal positions were overwhelmingly popular, we could afford the kind of debate over nuance. But weakening her campaign -- and, by the way, money is the key factor here. We know they`re going to greatly outspend us. Why force her to spend most of her money between now and May or June on again proving that she always has been for what she always has been? And that`s the other point, this view that she`s too moderate. She was a big liberal in the Clinton administration. Paul Krugman documented during the `08 campaign that she was to Barack Obama`s left on domestic issues. She`s been -- this notion that she`s somehow been this secret moderate has no evidence. But the Sanders candidacy will allow people to interpret her sticking with a position she`s already has as somehow, as you got Cruz to acknowledge, a move by her to preempt the socialist. MATTHEWS: Yes. It`s great having you on, former Congressman Barney Frank of Massachusetts. FRANK: Thank you. MATTHEWS: Thank you, sir. Coming up, President Obama says his biggest frustration in office has been an inability, his inability to pass gun safety laws, this on the same day that a gunman opens fire in a Louisiana movie theater. And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Well, we`re following the latest developments from last night`s movie theater shooting in Lafayette, Louisiana. And here`s what we know. Two people were killed, nine injured when 59-year-old John Russel Houser opened fire 20 minutes into the screening of `Trainwreck." He shot off 13 rounds from a .40-caliber handgun. It`s a semiautomatic. And he later shot himself dead. The victims were 33-year-old Julian -- or Jillian Johnson and 21 year- old Mayci Breaux. Houser had a criminal history and was described as having a history of mental health problems as well, including manic depression and bipolar disorder, according to court records from 2008. I`m joined right now by NBC`s Craig Melvin. Craig, you`re down there at another trouble spot. This is not a racial incident. This is an incident of, what, mental illness, gun safety? What is the aspect of this that you can figure for a national audience? CRAIG MELVIN, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: You know what, Chris, I think it`s probably a little bit of both. And the folks that we have talked to here have said as much, law enforcement and local elected officials. I mean, here you have a guy who, back in 1989, 1989, we uncovered some documents that shows he was charged with trying to hire a third party to set fire to an attorney`s office. And then you fast forward. Several years after that, there was a criminal domestic violence complaint. He wasn`t charged. Police show up at his house. His wife says that he`s supposed to be taking medication for a mental illness. He`s supposed to be taking the medication, doesn`t take the medication every day. He doesn`t eat like he`s supposed to, which exacerbates that condition. He was denied a concealed carry permit because of that criminal domestic violence complaint and the arson charge. MATTHEWS: Yes. MELVIN: So you have got a picture that is emerging of a guy who, you take a few steps back and you say, wow, we probably should have seen this coming. We probably should have seen this coming. I talked to an associate of his earlier on the air who said that he was quick-tempered, he was political. In fact, he ran for office a couple times in Columbus, Georgia. Also in Georgia, he owned a bar at one point. Local sheriff in LaGrange, Georgia, local deputy says that they had to shut down the bar because of some violations. So, he shows back up and hangs a banner with a swastika on the side of the bar so large that you could see it from the main roadway. That`s the kind of guy that we`re looking at here, Chris. MATTHEWS: OK, Craig, it`s always great to have you. You have got all the trouble spots to cover. Thanks so much, NBC`s Craig Melvin down in Lafayette, Louisiana. Anyway, the topic of gun violence has been on President Obama`s mind. Here is what he told the BBC in an interview conducted yesterday before the shooting. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you ask me where has been the one area where I feel that I have been most frustrated and most stymied, it is the fact that the United States of America is the one advanced nation on Earth in which we do not have sufficient commonsense gun safety laws, even in the face of repeated mass killings. And for us not to be able to resolve that issue has been something that is distressing. But it is not something that I intend to stop working on in the remaining 18 months. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: I`m joined right now by Huffington Post politics editor Sam Stein. He`s also an MSNBC contributor. Sam, every time one of these things happen, I just go, you know, it`s a pressure world out there, a lot of competition in life. Everybody doesn`t have the same competence to deal with these situations. They have mental, emotional problems. This is another one. I don`t know if it means much politically, except when I heard about the swastika. SAM STEIN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, but if you look, we`re not -- the United States is not like the capital of mental problems. Every country has citizens with mental problems and crazy... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: But they`re not armed. STEIN: But they`re not armed. And so we talk about, for instance, censoring video games, right? Like, that`s something that comes up all the time in one of these. We don`t play -- we aren`t the only ones who play violent video games in the world. A lot of countries play violent video games in the world. So the idea here, the constant theme throughout these things... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: By the way, we`re a violent country if we didn`t have guns. Have you seen those statistics? STEIN: Yes. MATTHEWS: The number of people that kill each other without -- using ovens, whatever, they drive over people, it`s an amazingly violent country. STEIN: Yes. MATTHEWS: But gun control, we`re getting to it, gun safety. STEIN: Sure. MATTHEWS: This guy tried to get a carrier license. STEIN: Yes. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: He couldn`t get one. The law was there. And I think NRA people, gun rights people, Second Amendment people would people say, wait a minute, the law is there. It stopped him, but he gets the gun the way any criminal gets a gun, criminally. STEIN: Yes. And they point out, rightfully, that Chicago, for instance, has incredibly tough gun laws, some of the toughest in the nation. But every weekend, we hear about massive amounts of gun violence in that city killing tons of people. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: You can drive from Chicago to other areas of the country and get guns. (CROSSTALK) STEIN: Because there are no borders when it comes to getting a gun. MATTHEWS: Right. STEIN: So people in Chicago can go to Indiana, for instance. So when you talk to gun control advocates, when you say what is the solution to this, they say you need to really button up the shortcomings here. You need to tighten the system. You need to have more sharing among agencies. MATTHEWS: Yes. STEIN: Maybe more screening before someone can purchase a gun. But you won`t have a full, safe system regardless of the... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: This is a probably powerful gun, a pretty useful gun. It was a .40-caliber semiautomatic. It had 13 rounds that he fired. So, he was able to fire off a lot of rounds, including the one he killed himself with, without ever reloading. STEIN: Sure. MATTHEWS: And that`s a lot of firepower in your hands. STEIN: And when we were having the post-Newtown debate, we spent a lot of time looking at the size of magazines, as well as the automatic and semiautomatic guns. MATTHEWS: He knew what he wanted, didn`t he? STEIN: The truth of the matter is, is that the vast majority of violence happens in this country happens because of handguns, basically. (CROSSTALK) STEIN: But the mass shootings are -- tend to be the more headline- grabbing ones. MATTHEWS: Well, he knew what he wanted. He went out and bought it somehow, illegally, and did the purpose, met the purpose he wanted. He wanted to kill people. STEIN: Exactly. MATTHEWS: And he planned to get away. STEIN: That`s the creepiest part, is that he wanted to get away. It was only when he was engulfed by police that he ended up shooting himself. But what happens when he gets away, if he gets away? Does he go on another violent rampage? Figuring out where it ends is what kind of.. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: First-responders. Thanks so much, Sam Stein. Good reporting and analysis. We will be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger. New information now in that breaking story out of Los Angeles. The bomb squad is now investigating a suspicious device outside a bank in Studio City. You`re looking at pictures from just moments ago of the bomb squad robot carrying what we`re told is some sort of water bottle that police describe as a suspicious device. It follows what police have been calling an active shooting situation. Law enforcement sources tell NBC News that a suspect began acting erratically and said that he had an explosive device. That suspect was shot by police outside the bank. The area has been evacuated until that device can be investigated -- now back to HARDBALL. MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Donald Trump has been driving the clown car the last couple weeks when it comes to the 2016 elections, of course, but that doesn`t mean he`s alone in that clown car. Trump`s antics have overshadowed some truly clownish performances of late. Let`s start with Marco Rubio. On Wednesday, he said President Obama had no class. On FOX News last night, he was asked if he stood by that assessment. They also played him a clip of how I reacted to his words. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We already have a president now that has no class. MATTHEWS: You know, that`s the kind of slur -- that`s not a political charge -- that`s a slur against a man, against a president. And this sleazy comment that he has no class, what does that mean? I would like to get him under sodium pentathol and say, buster, what do you mean by no class? What do you mean by that? And find out what he does mean. It`s a cheap slur that works with the cheap seats in the Republican Party. RUBIO: Well, I have said repeatedly, Barack Obama, I think, is a great husband and a great father. But I do believe the way he`s conducted his presidency has been divisive. I think he unnecessarily demonizes his opponents on policy issues. In essence, it`s not that there`s a disagreement on policies. He actually wants to convince people that you are a bad person. QUESTION: You stand by that statement? The president has no class? RUBIO: I think, in the way he`s conducted himself in the presidency on some of the major issues of our time, he has not conducted himself with the dignity worthy of that office. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: For more on this and other clownish moments, I`m joined by tonight`s roundtable, David Corn, he`s Washington bureau chief for "Mother Jones", and MSNBC political analyst. Zerlina Maxwell is the contributor to "Essence" magazine, and Matt Schlapp is a Republican strategist. What did you make of the comment? Were you as put off by it as I was? DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES: I thought it was -- MATTHEWS: No class. CORN: I thought your word was correct. I hate to agree with you, but cheap. A cheap shot. The thing is, it comes on the same day in which he`s appearing with John Kerry, the Senate foreign relations committee talking about the Iran deal, and Marco Rubio is making this charge that because of the Iran deal, the U.S. will now be obligated, forced to defend Iran from any attack on its nuclear facilities. PolitiFact called this completely false. This is a right wing talking point -- MATTHEWS: You mean, we`re going to fight Israel? CORN: Yes, we`re going to fight -- that was his argument in all seriousness. So, he`s out there -- if he wants to have a classy debate about the Iran deal, this is not the way to do it. So, he is just playing to the far party base. MATTHEWS: It`s hawkish, too. His big supporters have hawkish, too, I assumed. Don`t you think? ZERLINA MAXWELL, ESSENCE: Oh, yes. I also think the idea that the president has no class or that he has been divisive when Mitch McConnell in the beginning of the presidency said out loud we`re going to try to block the president, I just think that doesn`t ring clue. MATTHEWS: You can be divisive and still have class like me. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: Anyway, Senator Rubio said he was referring to President Obama`s demonizing political opponents when he said he had no class, but that`s not what he originally said. The slur came up actually in the context of Donald Trump`s presidential campaign and why Trump shouldn`t be elected, he said. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RUBIO: We already have a president now who has no class. We have a president now who does selfie stick videos, that invites YouTube stars there, people that eat cereal out of a bathtub, that accuses his -- you just saw the interview he did right now where he goes on comedy shows to talk about something as serious as Iran, the list goes on and on. It is important for us to have a presidency that restores dignity and class to the White House. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: He`s going on "Fox and Friends" to talk about you shouldn`t go on fun shows. "Fox and Friends" is a good, pleasant way to start the day, but it`s not the highest possible level of journalistic insight. You thoughts. MATT SCHLAPP, CHAIR, AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE UNION: I liked Marco Rubio`s second answer. I think let`s keep it on the politics. David brings up the Iran deal. Here`s what we should all be talking about. We have serious issues that our country is facing. When I think about the invectives that get thrown out in politics, I go back to `08 with the Obama, Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton. She said Barack Obama is running a campaign out of the Karl Rove book. She called it deceptive. She went after him pretty hard. So, we shouldn`t have a double standard. There should be -- MATTHEWS: It`s referring to someone`s background or their character. You have to be very careful about that stuff. SCHLAPP: I agree. MATTHEWS: You have a wrong side of the tracks thing, something base about the guy. It does get ethnic. Not always, not always, so there`s sort of playing to that crowd who are ethnic. CORN: But he is playing to a crowd that has believed from the beginning that Barack Obama is not a legitimate president. That because of his birth, because of his secret socialism Muslim views, whatever it may be, this is -- (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Look, he does have a certain situation. SCHLAPP: That`s too far, too. Let`s not go there. They have a disagreement with him on all of these policies. They think he`s a political left winger and a radical. That`s fair. They should be able to go there. (CROSSTALK) CORN: But not to say he`s illegitimate, that he doesn`t believe in America. MATTHEWS: He`s not saying -- I`m talking about the people in the audience. The woman who says he`s an Arab and stuff like that. A lot of them in the audience, they`re not all candidates, but the candidates know how to talk to them. They talk to that rabble out there, that hates him because of what he looks like, what his name is, the whole deal. SCHLAPP: That`s true on both sides. MATTHEWS: What charges have the Democrats made? SCHLAPP: You don`t think there`s any Democrats that make charges that go too far? MATTHEWS: On ethnicity, background? SCHLAPP: Absolutely. MATTHEWS: Where? SCHLAPP: How about Barack Obama sent out from his campaign about the Mormonism of Mitt Romney? What about those? Did we ever criticize those? MATTHEWS: I didn`t know about those. MAXWELL: I didn`t know about those, either. SCHLAPP: They talked that Obama was a good Christian family man, and the message was clear, which is he`s running against a guy that maybe isn`t. MATTHEWS: Mormons are Christians. MAXWELL: I do remember the birth certificate though. (CROSSTALK) CORN: It was a birther thing that went on for quite a while. MATTHEWS: I started in politics with an LDS guy, both of them, Frank Moss and Wayne Owens. I`m with them, OK? Anyway, next stop, in all liberal Democrats, anyway, strange video. Here`s Mike Huckabee`s campaign posting to its Vine site. A twisted mash- up of a classic Disney movie and nuclear annihilation. Let`s take a look here. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SUBTITLE: "Hakuna Matata" is not a strategy. Reject evil. Stop Iran. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Yes. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: They`re accusing the president and John Kerry, you know, and Jack Lew, all the rest, to try to negotiate a difficult deal. It`s a good debate, whether it`s good or bad for us, but was that Hakuna Matata? Were they whistling and enjoying themselves? Tell me why. SCHLAPP: It means don`t worry, Chris. And, look, the Huckabee campaign is trying to use one of these new online tactics and they threw out a video. MATTHEWS: Who is saying don`t worry? SCHLAPP: He`s saying that John Kerry and Barack Obama -- MATTHEWS: That`s why they spent weeks and months and years trying to put together a deal, because they`re not worried? SCHLAPP: No, no, when you hear that this means Iran will now get closer to a nuclear weapon -- CORN: They won`t. SCHLAPP: Exactly. So, David agrees that we shouldn`t worry. I think we should worry. CORN: Wait a second. MATTHEWS: I worry about everything. MAXWELL: I worry when people running for president are using cartoon ads talking about nuclear weapons. MATTHEWS: This is Lou Schwartz all over again. You know it. CORN: I want to know, is this classy? Is this classy? SCHLAPP: I`m not 25 years old. I don`t know how this works. CORN: You talked about having a good policy debate over this issue. Is this how you do it? MATTHEWS: The political advantage of sending Obama over to Africa, and the very week he`s in Africa. I don`t think it`s serious. It happens to be a coincidence. The roundtable is standing with us. Up next, Republicans pushing the idea that -- the insiders pushing it. Talk about wishful thinking. Oh, he`ll be going away in a couple weeks. Did they predict three weeks ago he`s going to be where he is now? No, don`t listen to predictors. We don`t know how long Trump is going to fly up there. This is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: There is an outburst on capitol hill this morning from Senator Ted Cruz when he accused Mitch McConnell of lying about a deal on a vote to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank. Let`s watch. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: It saddens me to say this. I sat in my office, I told my staff. The majority leader looked me in the eye and looked 54 Republicans in the eye. I cannot believe he would tell a flat- out lie. And I voted based on those assurances that he made to each and every one of us, what we just saw today was an absolute demonstration that not only what he told every Republican senator but what he told the press over and over and over again was a simple lie. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: I`ve never seen that before working on the Hill for years. Anyway, McConnell`s office had no comments on Cruz`s remarks. And we`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: We are back with the roundtable, David, Zerlina and Matt. Well, Donald Trump was one gear, attack. He`s made the press the prime focus of that campaign. Let`s watch him. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REPORTER: The Pew Research, which is independent. DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Don`t be naive, you are a very naive person. REPORTER: If your research says for immigrants on the whole -- TRUMP: Come on, try getting it out. Try getting it out. REPORTER: I`ll get it out. TRUMP: I mean, I don`t know if you are going to put this on television, but you don`t know what you are talking about. You keep bringing up negative. You only want to talk about negative. Why don`t you bring up positive polls? REPORTER: I did. (CROSSTALK) TRUMP: Let me tell you, the people don`t trust you, the people don`t trust the media. That`s a typical case of the press with misinterpretation. They take a half a sentence -- (APPLAUSE) They take a half a sentence -- by the way, they take a half a sentence and they take a quarter of a sentence, they put it altogether, the typical thing. And you`re with Telemundo, and Telemundo should be ashamed. I want to thank -- no, no, you are finished. You have obviously been groomed -- REPORTER: Are you suggesting that John McCain did something to lead to his capture? TRUMP: Of course not. REPORTER: Why did you say what you said? (CROSSTALK) TRUMP: Go back to being a pundit. Go back to being a pundit. You have Kasie Hunt there, who never reports accurately, by the way. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, come on. TRUMP: And you had Katy Tur -- no, it`s true. You had Katy Tur. They didn`t explain what took place there because that was happening yesterday in Laredo, that was absolutely a happening. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: I don`t know where you go with that one. I want to start with you. MAXWELL: Ii just think that he`s driving the clown car. You are right about. That I think you are also right that this is going to last and last because he is, what he is saying resonates with some part of a significant portion of the Republican base. And he is leading in the polls, no one predicted that. This harkens back to 2012 when Herman Cain led at a certain point. I think there are certain people in the Republican base who are dissatisfied -- MATTHEWS: How about simple human levity? And simple human -- obviously, I like a lot of people he`s attacking. But they`re not going to get hurt by it. It`s kind of like-- it`s entertaining, how would you like listening to that mush mouth when Republican said, who say nothing. CORN: It`s beyond entertaining. MATTHEWS: I guess we can talk about infrastructure. I believe it, but it`s not entertaining. CORN: No, it`s not. I think one out of four, one out of five, one out of six Republicans -- MATTHEWS: So, it takes right now -- CORN: No, no, they want a venter in chief. They still are upset about Obama becoming president. They feel they`ve lost control of the country mad as hell, not going to take it anymore. It doesn`t matter what Donald Trump says. It doesn`t matter -- MATTHEWS: It does matter. I think you`re underestimating. CORN: No, no, it doesn`t -- MATTHEWS: He`s hitting targets. CORN: It doesn`t matter whether they agree fully with what he says, how he says it. MATTHEWS: He`s narrowing it down. CORN: He`s taking on everybody. MATTHEWS: Help me out here, Matt. He`s attacking the media. SCHLAPP: That`s right. MATTHEWS: It concerns the most, that`s why I like FOX and the under water walrus, on noon time on radio. They hate the liberal media. SCHLAPP: It`s not just that. He is also going after other people, even in his own party like John McCain and Lindsey Graham who are not fan favorites of conservatives. He went after "The Des Moines Register" -- MATTHEWS: Because they`ve been around forever, and they have to change the world. SCHLAPP: That`s right. The people that are doing well in the Republican nominating process are running against Washington, D.C. They think it`s broken. They`re tired of these people. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: It always worked. SCHLAPP: Well, it`s particularly working now. Ronald Reagan did an effective job of doing it was well. By the way, I think Bernie Sanders is doing that on the other side, too. He`s basically looking at Hillary Clinton -- MATTHEWS: Are you going to do what Ted Cruz did here last night? Are you going to start the buildup of Bernie? The right wing buildup of Bernie. You guys are Bernie. CORN: They love Bernie. SCHLAPP: Wait a minute. Aren`t you doing a little buildup of Donald Trump? (CROSSTALK) SCHLAPP: There we go. He`s legitimate, isn`t he? Here we go. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: You`re political operative. Anyway, thank you, David Corn and thank you, Zerlina Maxwell, and Matt Schlapp. When we return, let me finish on the slur by the president by one Marco Rubio. You are watching HARDBALL, a place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this slur on the president by Marco Rubio. I think it`s there in the Republican conversation, this familiar disdain for Barack Obama. No matter how things are doing, no matter where the conversation is, it`s considered good politics to dump on him. Not just the president but the man. To win the favor of the nastiest person in the room say something nasty about the president of the United States and this is what debates is politics right here. It`s regular casual debasement of the one and the other side. Don`t just disagree with him or her. Don`t just put down their arguments or policies or achievements. No, you want to truly score, you do in there for the kill and put down their personal behavior, their upbringing. You say they were born in the wrong side of the track. You say they have no class. Senator Rubio was given a chance to take back his slur. He refused to do so. I think he should find a way. Knocking the other side personally simply ends the discussion. 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. 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