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Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 5/6/2016

Guests: Jay Newton-Small, John Brabender, Willie Brown, Lanhee Chen, Larry Sabato, Charlie Savage, April Ryan, David Ignatius

Show: HARDBALL Date: May 6, 2016 Guest: Jay Newton-Small, John Brabender, Willie Brown, Lanhee Chen, Larry 

Sabato, Charlie Savage, April Ryan, David Ignatius

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Trump versus Ryan.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews back in Washington.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan is the highest-profile Republican to hold back from supporting the party`s presumptive presidential nominee, Donald Trump. Today, Ryan invited Trump to meet with him and other House Republicans next week.

Trump has shown no effort to make nice to Ryan. He tweeted this morning, "Paul Ryan said that I inherited something very special, the Republican Party. Wrong. I didn`t inherit it. I won it with millions of voters."

On Fox today, Trump said he was surprised by Ryan`s criticism.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I was really surprised by it. And it`s fine. He can do whatever he wants to do. It`s fine. But I was surprised by it. And by the way, many other people were surprised by it and some were really surprised by it and not happy about it. I will tell you I have many endorsements from yesterday. They`re coming in left and right. He`s one of the only ones that really was surprising.


MATTHEWS: Wow. In an interview with Breitbart, Trump also dismissed Ryan, saying some people think he`s better off without him.


TRUMP: I like him, but the fact that he would do that -- and he`s doing it under the banner of unity, when in actuality, that`s the opposite of unity. I`ve also had many people say that I`m better off. But I don`t believe that. I think we should have unity. I think it would be better to have him. But you know, it`s just too bad. Many people think I`m better off. Who knows.


MATTHEWS: Wow. Meanwhile, this morning, a spokeswoman for Trump went even further, saying Ryan shouldn`t be speaker if he doesn`t back Trump.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If the Republican speaker of the House does not come around to supporting the Republican nominee, do you think that Paul Ryan is still fit to be speaker?

KATRINA PIERSON, TRUMP SPOKESWOMAN: No because this is about the party. Paul Ryan needs to be -- he`s the leader right now. We`re told Donald Trump is only the presumptive nominee. He`s not the nominee until 1,237. So really, it`s incumbent on Paul Ryan to help bring unity to...



MATTHEWS: This all comes as a number of high-profile Republicans say they won`t support Trump`s candidacy. They include Mitt Romney and Senator Lindsey Graham. Late today, Jeb Bush added his name to that list, saying, "Donald Trump has not demonstrated the temperament of strength or character. He has not displayed a respect for the Constitution, and he is not a consistent conservative. These are all reasons why I cannot support his candidacy." That`s Jeb Bush.

But there was also some good news for Trump. He won the backing of none other than Dick Cheney, whose daughter, Liz, is running for Congress this year.

Eugene Robinson`s a columnist with "The Washington Post" and an MSNBC political analyst. Jay Newton-Small is Washington correspondent for "Time" magazine. And John Brabender is Republican strategist and former senior strategist to Rick Santorum`s presidential campaign.

John, let`s talk about it from the inside. If you`re on the ballot this year, (INAUDIBLE) Liz Cheney will be the nominee out there in Wyoming for Congress, you can`t just -- I`ve just noticed there seems to be a pattern. If you`re on the ballot this year as a Republican for reelect or the first time, you don`t -- you don`t want to diss the candidate at the top of your ticket. It`s very hard to get party people to come out for you without supporting the party. Your thought.

JOHN BRABENDER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: (INAUDIBLE) have any idea how popular he`s going to be come November. And in many places, he`s extremely popular. We`re seeing in places in some of these primaries now where he was getting 60 percent of the vote. So why in the world would you attack that person.

But you see sort of the diversity that`s going on there within the party, how fractured it is. I mean, we`re not going to need a convention during the summer, we`re going to need a support group, at this point.

MATTHEWS: Jay? Because it just seems to me if you don`t hang together -- what was the line from the -- from the American revolution, You don`t hang together, we`ll hang separately?

JAY NEWTON-SMALL, "TIME" MAGAZINE: Yes, and I mean, it`s amazing to see a convention where out of last five Republican nominees, only one is actually going to the convention, and that`s Bob Dole at this point. Nobody else is going. Who`s going to go to this convention?

MATTHEWS: Bob Dole, the vice presidential nominee of 1976, the presidential nominee of 1996.

NEWTON-SMALL: Yes, and, like, I mean, he`s the only one of the last five of them. And...

MATTHEWS: And everybody likes Bob Dole. I must say that.

NEWTON-SMALL: Right, but even those people who are on the ballot aren`t going the convention, everybody like Kelly Ayotte from New Hampshire, who has said she`s not going to endorse Donald Trump, that she, quote, unquote, "supports" him, but she`s not going to go to the convention.

MATTHEWS: McCain`s not going.

NEWTON-SMALL: McCain`s not going to the convention. I mean, it`s...


MATTHEWS: Gene, let`s talk about this -- there was an old phrase, the mountain comes to Mohammed...


MATTHEWS: ... way out-of-date phrase. But Trump`s basically saying, you know, Ryan`s got to come to him.


MATTHEWS: The Republican Party must move to him.

ROBINSON: Come to me. And -- and look, there`s a certain reason here, right, to -- there`s a certain logic to what Trump is saying. He -- he creamed everybody in the primaries.


ROBINSON: He won. He took possession of the Republican Party, like it or not. Now, nobody quite understands what that means or why that happened or whatever. They`ll figure that out. But in the meantime, it`s his. And so absolutely, he expects Paul Ryan to come to him, and -- and...

MATTHEWS: Well, it`s his...


ROBINSON: ... he`s not going to go to Ryan.

MATTHEWS: Is this...

ROBINSON: When he goes to the Hill for that meeting...

MATTHEWS: Isn`t it important...

ROBINSON: ... I think it`s going to be...

MATTHEWS: This is a great dramatics question. You can lead off with this. In drama, you got to stick to your character, and you dance with the one that brung you, and his character is Mr. Shtick, Mr. I`m tough, you come to me. Is that important, that he keep that character?

ROBINSON: Oh, I think...

MATTHEWS: Even if it costs him enemies.

ROBINSON: You know, it`s seems to be one of the things that his many supporters like. But he`s going to have this meeting on the Hill that Paul Ryan is putting together. And I think if Ryan expects to just outline conservative principles that he then expects Trump to sign onto, he`s sadly mistaken.


ROBINSON: ... because I think Trump is going to say, Well, that`s all very interesting...

MATTHEWS: Suppose he says, Jay, Lose the wall...


MATTHEWS: Lose the wall and (INAUDIBLE) on this ban on Muslims. You got to lose those two babies.


MATTHEWS: What does Trump say?

NEWTON-SMALL: Ryan`s staffer said one of the reasons why he felt he could not support Donald Trump at this point was because Donald Trump doubled down on the ban on Muslims. And Ryan has long said he -- remember, he gave a speech right after Trump came out with this policy and said, That is not our Republican Party.

MATTHEWS: Of all -- of all the issues, John, explain this from a Republican -- why would the Muslim ban be tougher than the wall and (INAUDIBLE) sending back 12 million people who are here illegally? Which is -- which...

BRABENDER: Well -- well, let me -- let me go back in general because I honestly think that the Republicans are having the wrong argument. What we`re missing is -- what this race is not a choice election. For Trump to win, it`s a movement election. And a movement election means that the rules all go out the window and you have to create your own.

The targets he has to move are independent voters, blue collar Democrats, and get every vote that Romney got. He`s doing actually pretty good with independents and blue collars. The problem is, he`s not getting all the Romney votes, and he has to do that. And Clinton is smart enough to figure out that her target right now are moderate Republican women.


BRABENDER: And everything she -- and -- and the president have done in the last two days has been talking to that audience.

MATTHEWS: They certainly -- they all know the scoreboard. They know what they`re fighting, the turf.

NEWTON-SMALL: Yes. And women just do not like Trump. I mean, no matter what he says, you know, he can`t seem to make up ground...


NEWTON-SMALL: Well, and actually...

MATTHEWS: What number is he getting now, 40 percent of women?

NEWTON-SMALL: Forty percent of the Republican primary women voters. But in terms of the general, women overall in America, he`s still underwater by 70 (ph) points.

MATTHEWS: When I was thinking today, trying to weigh this up on the plane today coming down here again, he`s problem got a minimum vote of 45 percent in the general. He`s probably going to get -- losing to Hillary by 10 points, say 45 (INAUDIBLE) So he`s -- he`s already gone 90 percent of the way he`s had to go to get to the presidency from nothing.

I`m not sure the train stops after 90 percent.


MATTHEWS: It may. Hillary may stop the train. But this train`s come from zero to 90. Hillary started around what, 60, to get to 90? I mean, she was pretty far there.

ROBINSON: But the thing we -- the thing we need to remember about Donald Trump, from what we`ve seen the last nine month, is he does not play by everybody else`s rules. He plays a different game.

MATTHEWS: Can he play alone?

ROBINSON: John described it as a movement election. I think it might be something...


ROBINSON: ... even more radically different from what we...

MATTHEWS: Hillary`s going to have $2 billion.

ROBINSON: ... but not the usual game.

MATTHEWS: He`s going to try to play the game with $75 million, a lot less than $2 billion, or else he has to starts peeling off millions of dollars himself -- billions of dollars. So he needs the party.

ROBINSON: Well, he`s going to take RNC money, though.

NEWTON-SMALL: He can`t afford not to have the party. And (INAUDIBLE) even if it`s (INAUDIBLE)

MATTHEWS: OK, President Obama`s doing this very clever stiletto like coming in once in a while kind of thing. He just touches in. He weighed in today on the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump.

Let`s listen to the president.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to emphasize the degree to which we are in serious times, and this is really serious job. This is not entertainment. This is not a reality show. This is a contest for the presidency of the United States, and what that means is that every candidate, every nominee needs to be subject to exacting standards and genuine scrutiny.


MATTHEWS: John, everybody, this question. Can he -- that`s brilliant, that kind of talk. It`s very sober. It`s very quiet and seemingly non- partisan, although everything`s partisan now.

He has to -- if he keeps to that tone, Eisenhower talking down a bit, saying, This is what -- how -- how -- why it`s important, can he also do that and take shots and Trump? I think he has to decide pretty early on now what kind of a summer and fall he`s going to spend. I would say that`s the smart perspective. If he goes in there and does the labor hall pounding the table, say, We got to get rid of this bum, I`m not sure he can do that and do that. What do you think?


MATTHEWS: ... smart move.

BRABENDER: He is talking very deliberately to white suburban moderate Republicans on the basis and the issues that they care about. And they`re trying to isolate them saying, You can`t go to a cocktail party and say you`re voting for Trump.

MATTHEWS: Is that how he did that? I thought he was talking...


MATTHEWS: ... serious business here.

BRABENDER: I think that`s exactly what he was doing. The problem is -- the problem is this vote for Trump is not about Trump. These aren`t people that waited their whole life to vote for Donald Trump. These are people waited a long time to stick their eye -- their finger in the eye of Washington, D.C. So everything`s the opposite.

MATTHEWS: I agree. It`s attitude. It`s all about attitude.

NEWTON-SMALL: By all accounts from people that I`ve spoken to in the White House, they`re saying he is chomping at the bit to get out there and criticize Trump. He thinks that he`s...


MATTHEWS: ... like that or the other way?

NEWTON-SMALL: No, like that.

MATTHEWS: None of the Saturday night thing we all saw last week.


MATTHEWS: Which way?

NEWTON-SMALL: No, I think like that, in the sense that he`s going to -- he`s going to highlight the complexity of this job of being president of the United States.


NEWTON-SMALL: And every time there`s some very complex, very tough situation, he`s going to stand up and say, Now, is Donald Trump (INAUDIBLE) capable of handling this, you know, because look how complicated this. Look how hard this thing is. And look at -- you look at Donald Trump. He had a taco -- a taco salad yesterday they tweeted out. And that was retweeted, like, 4,000 times...

MATTHEWS: It was Cinco de Mayo yesterday.

NEWTON-SMALL: ... right, you know, it was...

MATTHEWS: It was a big day.

NEWTON-SMALL: Yes, it was a big day.


NEWTON-SMALL: But it was retweeted 4,000 times and it was a taco -- I mean, like, you know, in terms of serious policy, that`s -- that`s not a solution to, like, appealing to Latino Americans, you know?

MATTHEWS: You don`t think?


ROBINSON: Well, that`s not...

MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) to be tested (ph).

ROBINSON: That`s not -- the taco salad is not going to be Trump`s biggest problem (INAUDIBLE)


ROBINSON: ... putting -- putting grandma on the bus and sending her...


MATTHEWS: Anyway, as I mentioned, Jeb Bush said he won`t back Trump this fall. He joins Mitt Romney, who said yesterday, I see way too much demagoguery and populism on both sides of the aisle, and I only hope and aspire (ph) that we`ll more greatness. I don`t intend on supporting either of the major party candidates at this point."

Senator Lindsey Graham also announced today he wouldn`t back him, back Trump. Let`s watch him.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC), FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don`t think he has the temperament or judgment to be commander-in-chief.

Quite frankly, he lost me when he said my friend, John McCain, was a loser because he was captured as a POW. He lost me when he accused George W. Bush of lying to the American people about the Iraq war and he thinks Putin`s a good guy.

So I just can`t go there. I respect people who can`t. And to Donald Trump, congratulations. You did a hell of a thing. You beat me and everybody else. And I just really believe that the Republican Party has been conned here and this guy is not a reliable conservative Republican.


MATTHEWS: How are you supposed to avoid capture? Just a question for Trump here.


MATTHEWS: Your plane is -- you`ve (INAUDIBLE) haven`t you (INAUDIBLE) Your plane is shot down. You manage to bail out. You right go down into a local pool, a little pond in the middle of Hanoi. How do you -- how are you supposed to...

ROBINSON: How are you going to get out of that, right?


MATTHEWS: ... all swim out to get you and beat the hell out of you. How do you escape that (INAUDIBLE)

ROBINSON: It`s ridiculous. But you`re dealing with facts. And you know, Trump doesn`t -- you know, you heard Lindsey Graham, and the interest thing about that, of course, is Lindsey Graham could never support a candidate who is in favor of the degree of disengagement from the Middle East, from other trouble spots around the world. It raises the question of, what are the neocons going to do? What are -- what are the real hawks in the Republican Party going to do because...

MATTHEWS: I`m wondering about the op-ed pages of all the neocon writers out there, all these conservative guys...


MATTHEWS: ... who are very hawkish, and Trump is the least likely to be hawkish...

BRABENDER: There`s a different...


MATTHEWS: ... Hillary has hawkish tendencies.

ROBINSON: Well, no, she`s got real cred among...


MATTHEWS: And also, the military guys like her.

NEWTON-SMALL: They love her.

MATTHEWS: Gates and those guys like her. They really do.

NEWTON-SMALL: Lindsey Graham and John McCain used to go on CODELs with her all the time and talk about how great she was.

MATTHEWS: Remember those drinking contests?



MATTHEWS: Long day (ph) ago. Only yesterday, that one. Anyway, thank you, Gene Robinson. Thank you, Jay Newton-Small and John Brabender.

Coming up, Hillary Clinton wants to turn to Donald Trump, but she`s got two distractions hanging over her head. First, the FBI is still -- well, it`s begun interviewing her top aides about the private e-mail server. And even though she has a clear path to the nomination on numbers, she hasn`t put Bernie Sanders away yet. That`s clear. He`s poised for a big winning streak, by the way, in the coming primaries all the way perhaps to California.

Plus, the 2016 election -- we`ve got -- never seen anything like it. So how do you teach this stuff to college kids? I really wanted to know about (INAUDIBLE) We`re talking to two top college professors about what they`re telling their students about what has been going on in this crazy election year. Does it fit the textbooks? Apparently not.

And the first 2016 battleground map, Clinton and the Democrats start off the general election campaign, the Democrats, with a sizable advantage over Donald Trump. We`re going to look at states, where this race will be decided.

Finally, "Let Me Finish" with "The Good Wife" or the good nighting (ph) this Sunday night of "The Good Wife."

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Well, as we head closer to a Hillary Clinton versus Donald Trump general election matchup, the focus is turning, of course, to the 2016 electoral map. According to a new NBC News Battleground map, Trump and the Republicans have to play catchup with Clinton and the Democrats.

Here are the states that are likely or leaning Democrat right now. If you add them all up, the Democrats would start with 253 electoral votes. And here are the states that are likely or leading Republican. It`s a total of 190 electoral votes. And finally, the tossup states add up to 95 electoral votes.

Well, the Democrats can surpass the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency by simply winning Florida or Ohio or both Colorado and Virginia. That`s, of course, if the Democrats get all the expected and leaner states.

We`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. The nomination of Donald Trump has some on Wall Street and in the establishment wing of the Republican Party nervous. Hillary Clinton thinks she can get them on board with her.

According to a report in Politico, Hillary Clinton supporters are trying to pick up support from top donors to the Bush family. Quote, "Top targets for the Clinton team include people like Woody Johnson, Jeb Bush`s finance chair and the owner of the New York Jets."

Well, the report said that one person close to Clinton said reporters of the former secretary of state drew up a list of Wall Street donors who supported Jeb Bush and other unsuccessful Republican candidates months ago, but wanted to wait until Trump locked down the nomination before beginning to make the calls.

And today, President Obama said it`s not just Republican officials who have a choice to make, but Republican voters do, as well.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Republican women, voters are going to have to decide, Is that the guy I feel comfortable with in representing me and what I care about?


MATTHEWS: And "The New York Times" also reports, quote, "The Clinton campaign expects to assemble, quote, `Republicans for Hillary,` a Republicans for Hillary group, and Mrs. Clinton has, from her days in the Senate and as secretary of state, cultivated strong relationships with prominent Republicans and their top staff people."

Anyway, will Clinton`s play to woo the Republicans over to her side work? Kristen Welker`s an NBC News correspondent covering the Clinton campaign, and Joy Reid`s the national correspondent for us and host of a new weekend show on MSNBC. And Willie Brown, of course, is the former mayor of San Francisco, who supports Hillary Clinton.

Mayor Brown, it`s great to have you back on the show. So let`s talk turkey. Big money guys -- we used to call them fat cats -- what would be their tenet (ph) -- what would be the reasons why they would cross the aisle and go with Hillary against Trump?

WILLIE BROWN (D), FMR. SAN FRANCISCO MAYOR: Ordinarily, Chris, people like that normally hinge their bets anyway. All she`s doing is giving them the opportunity to do it openly.

MATTHEWS: Wow! So they would hedge their bets, meaning secret handshakes or what? What do you mean by hedge their bets? Give a little money to the other side?

BROWN: Well, they donate to both sides. That`s what American business people do. They`ve always done it that way, and they will do it again.

The difference, however, is this time, I think Donald Trump will get all of the money, all of that money that the guy who put together the program for the independent expenditures would formerly (ph) do. And I think they`ll do that on behalf of Trump.

I think Hillary Clinton and our candidate will get her fair share. But Trump will get equal, if not more.

MATTHEWS: OK, let me go to Kristen Welker. What`s your reporting on that in terms of Hillary`s success at crossing the aisle with the tin cup, if you will.

KRISTEN WELKER, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, we know that that is part of her strategy, Chris, but another key part of her strategy -- she`s been campaigning off the fact that there`s a long list of Republicans who say publicly they`re not going to support Donald Trump.

Now, I think it would be tough to win some of those folks over, at least to have them say publicly that they would support her. But we know that they`re going to try aggressively.

And then I think this really works into her strategy in a state like Pennsylvania and Ohio, where you have suburban Republican women, Reagan Democrats who are going to be so critical to the Democrats holding onto those key battleground states.

MATTHEWS: I know. Well, let me -- let me go -- bring that question to Joy. And here`s the question. Aren`t you stunned with Sheldon Adelson, the casino baron out there in Vegas, and of course, of Macao, where I think he makes most of his money now with LB (ph) Sands (ph) -- he`s supporting Trump. Now, Trump is not a big supporter of Middle East hawkishness, as Adelson tends to support. I mean, that was just stunning to me, for a guy that wouldn`t back anybody in the primary all of a sudden now coming out for Trump.

So to make Mayor Brown`s point, the money is largely -- maybe will end up with Trump. We`ll see. What do you think? What do you know?

JOY REID, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know -- well, Shelley Adelson, of course, is a two-issue voter, on the issues of Israel and casinos, something that I think he shares a sympatico relationship with Donald Trump on. And I think that Donald Trump, who was reportedly prepped by his son to give that AIPAC speech that was very hawkish, very Likudnik -- I think he won Sheldon Adelson over.

But he`s one guy. And Chris, I would look to -- to build a little bit on what Kristen was saying -- let`s look to a state like Florida. I`ve been talking with folks that are (INAUDIBLE) particularly Hispanic Republicans in Florida, people like your Carlos Corbelo (ph), people like Ileana Ros- Lehtinen.

I think that that is where you could see a real break from Trump, in a state like that where some of these members of Congress actually do have Hispanic constituents. They`re going to be in a really tough position, and it`s going to be anathema to them to come out in favor of Donald Trump.

And while a lot of these Republicans may not publicly come out and support her because they don`t want to alienate the hard-right part of their own base, I think what you`re going to see is a lot of elected Republicans down ballot stand down and walk away from Donald Trump. Let whatever happens at the top of the ticket happen, and try to protect their own seats and try to protect the House and Senate majority.

I think that`s where a lot of money is going to go and I think that`s where a lot of the energy of elected officials is going to go.

MATTHEWS: You know, the hard part, if your name`s on the ballot, is to not encourage every member of your party to support you and everybody else on that ballot. It`s just hard. You know that.

Anyway, the month of May, of course, on the other side of the problem for Hillary is giving Bernie Sanders little reason to quit the Democratic contest. She`s still got him to contend with. He`s still out there causing trouble for the Clinton campaign, a major headache, you might say, when they`d like to focus, of course, on Trump. After a big win in Indiana last week, Sanders is poised to do well next Tuesday in West Virginia. And Kentucky and Oregon are holding their primaries the following week.

So yesterday, Sanders told NPR`s Steve Inskeep (ph) that, quote, he`s going to stay in "until the last vote is counted." And that will be in the primary here in Washington, D.C., on June 14th, halfway through June.

Well, the Associated Press reported today that, quote, "Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders threatened a floor fight subsequent to that over rules and platform planks at the party`s summer convention in Philadelphia, and on Friday, warning the Democratic National Committee not to stack the convention`s standing committees with supporters of Hillary."

Anyway, that`s what`s going on right now.

Back to Kristen -- back to Mayor Brown. You`ve been through these conventions. And the fight over the platform isn`t always getting a lot of attention. This year, it`s going to get a lot, an awful lot.

BROWN: It will get quite a bit of attention, Chris, but Hillary Clinton`s campaign must absolutely stay away from those engagements with the Sanders people and with the Sanders supporters.

She has to be in a position where she remains the potential candidate for president, not the candidate for chairmanship of the Democratic Party, not the candidate for the fringe element within the party for certain kinds of things. She`s got to stay above that fray.

MATTHEWS: How does she do it if Bernie wants certain things in there, like free state college tuition? How does she -- he puts that in there. It`s very attractive. It`s not -- it`s sort of hard to get it financed by the Senate Finance Committee with 60 votes, as I`ve said relentlessly, but it`s a very attractive feature.

How does she keep something like that out, free college tuition for state universities?

BROWN: It is a real attractive feature. There`s no question about it. But she has to have her own view on whether or not we should have free education from the time you enter nursing school until the time you finish law school or until the time you get out of medical school. Those are issues that she can intelligently discuss and lose nothing from the Bernie supporters. She may not have them out there saying, Rah, rah, rah, but they will only vote for her under those circumstances with you. Focus primary attention on practical ways to get there.

MATTHEWS: One more point tonight before we end this segment. Officials familiar with the investigation into Hillary Clinton`s private e-mail server confirmed yesterday that some of Clinton`s top aides, including Huma Abedin, have been interviewed by the FBI within the last few months.

On Tuesday, my colleague Andrea Mitchell asked Clinton if she or her representatives have been contacted by the FBI about her testifying. And here`s what she said.


ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Have you been contacted or your representatives been contacted by the FBI to set up an interview?


MITCHELL: No contact there?


MITCHELL: Any indication that your private server was hacked by foreign hackers?

CLINTON: No, not at all.


MATTHEWS: Kristen, what`s the strategy of -- well, maybe she hasn`t been contacted. Let`s assume the full truth there, she`s not hedging, and I assume that. What`s the -- what is in there in terms of denying that the FBI is up to this? I mean, you hear from some of her surrogates -- I heard from one the other day on this show that FBI`s not even investigating. Well, obviously, something`s going on with all those investigators, dozens of them working on the server issue.

Why do they keep denying that that`s happening?

WELKER: Well, look, I mean, obviously, they`re trying to calm jittery Democrats and to make the point that they think, ultimately, this FBI investigation is going to show that there was no wrongdoing...

MATTHEWS: It better!

WELKER: ... on the part of Secretary Clinton...

MATTHEWS: They have to bet on that!

WELKER: Well, right. And here`s the interesting thing, Chris, that I want to point out. What we`re seeing is this investigation coming to its end. They have interviewed some of her top aides. We believe they`re going to be reaching out to her in the near future. That could be as early as within the next few weeks.

And once she`s interviewed, then that`s going to be the end of this process if they do, in fact, determine that there was no wrongdoing. If they don`t, that`s a whole different story.

And then the question becomes, how do Republicans continue to use that. Donald Trump has been very insistent, by the way, that he`s going to, that he`s not backing off of that argument. But the Clinton campaign really eager to put this to rest, and I think that`s why you keep hearing her make that point -- I haven`t been contacted yet, but it hasn`t been hacked. They want to calm those jittery Democrats who are worried this is going to make her vulnerable in the general.

MATTHEWS: I get it. Thank you so much, Kristen Welker reporting, Joy Reid, of course, and Mayor Brown. Thank you for coming back.

Up next -- how do you teach a phenomenon like Donald Trump in a classroom? What`s -- how do you teach the -- we`re going to talk to two of the top political science professors out there and learn from them what they`re telling their students about the country`s most surprising and unprecedented, I`d say, presidential campaign.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.




JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: Graduating class, I got to tell you, you really do look spectacular. I want you to just look around you, classmates of every race, religion, gender, shape, size, 85 countries represented and dozens of languages spoken. You are the most diverse class in Northeastern`s history. In other words, you`re Donald Trump`s worst nightmare.



MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. That was, of course, Secretary of State John Kerry today at a commencement address at Northeastern University up in Boston.

So for those who haven`t yet graduated, what are they learning about this year`s presidential election? And more importantly, how do you teach politics in this age where Trump and Sanders are such a phenomenon? It really has been a year unlike any in memory.

Well, joining me right now is Lanhee Chen, the director of domestic policy studies at Stanford. He`s also a former adviser to Marco Rubio and a former policy director for Mitt Romney. Professor, thank you. And once again, Larry Sabato is director of the Center for Politics at the great University of Virginia.

So Lanhee Chen -- are you -- are you guys both professors so I can call you Professor? I hope so.

So let`s start with Mr. Chen, Professor Chen. What -- what do you tell -- when you teach all the history of how parties -- you work your way up in the party, you get to be a senator or governor, then you get to be on the list of potential candidates, and then your ambition really gets to you and you say, I`m going for the big one. That`s the way it normally runs.

Donald Trump, where`s he? How`d he get there? What do you say to kids about how it works, students?

LANHEE CHEN, DOMESTIC POLICY STUDIES STANFORD UNIVERSITY: You know, Chris, this is unlike any other election that we`ve ever seen. In that sense, it is a little bit of a challenge because people want to know, Is this a lasting change? Is what we`re seeing the new normal in American politics?

You know, we have to remind them that there have been points in American history when you`ve had populists, like William Jennings Bryan, that have run, when you have various people that have tried to push various agendas.

But at the end of the day, I tend to see this more as an aberration, and that`s kind of how I approach it. And I think students are inclined to believe that, particularly since most of my students at least want Bernie Sanders to be president.

MATTHEWS: So more like Huey Long or Townsend (ph) or Coglin (ph), more like those guys in the `30s than what you think is coming again? What do you make of it, Larry? Professor?

LARRY SABATO, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: Well, you know, Chris, I think it`s good, for one thing, that we`re getting throw away some of our yellowed notes, you know, those pieces of paper...


MATTHEWS: Yellowed, with an "ed" at the end of them.

SABATO: Yes, those yellowed notes, you know, 20, 30 years of lecturing the same thing.

But you know, like Lanhee, my students, about 70 percent of them are for Bernie Sanders. And I`ve done a little survey. You know what his average support in all the caucuses and primaries combined has been among those 18 to 29? 71 percent.


SABATO: So I think -- you know, this is everywhere, and frankly, they`re telling me more than I`m telling them. I`m learning from them because they`re so engaged in this election, Chris. It`s just like 2008. They`re really into it.

MATTHEWS: Not knocking it, of course, but I`d like to go to UVA for free. Isn`t that what Bernie is saying? You`re going to one of the great state universities like Michigan or Berkeley, and you get to do it for not spending a dime!

By the way, does that cover room and board, too? I mean, this guy has -- I think he`s nailed something, like the draft was back in the `60s, the catch (ph) to the heart of the student experience, right? Isn`t that one of his successes?

CHEN: Yes, no question about it.

SABATO: They mention free college.


MATTHEWS: ... Professor Chen. Go ahead, Professor Chen.

CHEN: Yes, no, no, I mean, no question about it. Look, I mean, this is an issue that`s front and center for students every day. They`re thinking about what their costs are. They`re thinking about how much more student debt they might have to take on to afford educations, particularly at some of the top institutions in the country. And Bernie Sanders has struck a chord. There`s no question about it.

And I think the other interesting element of this is not just the fact that they like Sanders, but they seem to really dislike Hillary Clinton. There is a little bit of a time warp going on here, I think...


MATTHEWS: Explain that -- because I`m not familiar -- tell me why students in the 18 to 22 era of life would have a pronounced attitude towards Hillary.

CHEN: Well, I think they see her as candidate of the past. I think they see her as not in line or in step with their concerns. And you know, they just don`t think that she`s very hip, at the end of the day.

And it might just be the case, Chris, frankly, that she`s not talking about free tuition everywhere she goes, and maybe that`s as simple as it is.


CHEN: ... don`t take to her.

MATTHEWS: I think she`s a centrist Democrat (INAUDIBLE) Democrat. Bernie calls himself and self-styles himself a democratic socialist. That word "socialist" I think we all know during the cold war would have been hard to sell. In fact, the president kidded about -- using the word "comrade" the other night at the dinner.

But let`s talk about what a student -- if a student`s only experience with capitalism, you know, borrowing, lending, making money off borrowed money - - if his only or her only experience with that is as that of a debtor and maybe earning up to over $100,000 in debt by the time they get out of school or professional school, they don`t see capitalism in the same positive light.

Or how would you explain the wording? Why is socialism now very acceptable, particularly to young Democrats?

SABATO: I don`t think, Chris, that it`s -- that it`s acceptable or that they`re attracted to it. It`s just that Bernie is new wave. He`s so old wave, he`s new wave to them. And they`re attracted to that.

But let me say something for Hillary Clinton here. I do have students, and many of them are young women, who do like the idea and have hoped that one day, they would see -- one day soon, they would see a woman president.

Now, it hasn`t taken the way I thought it might. You know, once, those sorts of gender perspectives would have been dominant, particularly among women students, but that really isn`t true. Yet I see it there, and I think probably it will flower in the fall. You will have a lot more...

MATTHEWS: Did you see...

SABATO: ... of that with Clinton as the nominee.

MATTHEWS: I mean, you`re a male and you`re -- but you`ve been around enough know these patterns of history. Did you notice it more, say, in the `80s or `70s or -- did you sense there was more overt vocal feminism, if you will, among the student class when you talked politics? Or is...

CHEN: Go ahead.

MATTHEWS: Professor Chen, go ahead. Just -- either one of you. Just tell me what -- has there been a pattern there because I agree it`s been muted now, at least for the time, and I don`t -- what`s going on?

CHEN: Well, you know, I -- I mean, I -- I wasn`t teaching in the `70s and `80s, but my sense largely is that in some ways, people feel like there`s a new set of issues they want to talk about. You know, a lot of people, a lot of the young women I teach, feel that they have an established role certainly in campus leadership. They see many female role models in national politics. They`re moving to other issues now...


CHEN: ... and those are the issues I think that resonate with them, like free tuition, for example.

MATTHEWS: And we`ll have you guys back. Thanks so much, Lanhee Chen at Stanford and Larry Sabato at UVA.

Anyway, Donald Trump is set to receive a national intelligence briefing after becoming his party`s official nominee. But he`s already boasting about his foreign policy chops. Well, the HARDBALL roundtable`s coming here next.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.



CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC ANCHOR: Where would we drop a nuclear weapon in the Middle East?

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let me explain, let me explain. Somebody hits with ISIS, you wouldn`t fight back?

MATTHEWS: No, to drop a nuclear weapon into a community of people --

TRUMP: First of all, you don`t want to say take everything off the table.

MATTHEWS: No, just nuclear.

TRUMP: You`re a bad negotiator if you do.

MATTHEWS: Just nuclear.

TRUMP: Look, nuclear should be off the table, but would there be a time when it could be used? Possibly.


MATTHEWS: Anyway, welcome back to HARDBALL. That was Donald Trump at our town hall in March, saying he`d consider using a nuclear weapon in the Middle East against ISIS. Consider, he wouldn`t take it off the table.

I also pressed Trump when using nuclear weapons at a potential conflict in Europe.


TRUMP: I would never take any of my cards off the table.

MATTHEWS: How about Europe?

TRUMP: I`m not going to take it off the table.

MATTHEWS: You might use it in Europe?

TRUMP: No, I don`t think so.

MATTHEWS: Why don`t you say it? I`ll never use a nuclear weapon in Europe.

TRUMP: I`m not talking any cards off the table. I`m not going to use nukes, but I`m not taking any cards off the table.


MATTHEWS: Once Trump`s declared the Republican nominee at this summer`s convention in Cleveland, he`ll receive classified briefings from U.S. intelligence officials, just like every major party presidential nominee since Eisenhower took on Adlai Stevenson back in `52.

In Trump`s case, perhaps the briefings can be abbreviated.

He`s already described himself as well-versed on the subject of Russia. Here`s a little bit of fun here.


TRUMP: I know Russia well. I had major event in Russia two or three years ago. A Miss Universe contest, which was a big, big, incredible event.


MATTHEWS: I`m joined right now with the HARDBALL roundtable, Charlie Savage, he`s "New York Times" reporter and author of "Power Wars: Inside Obama`s Post-9/11 Presidency"; April Ryan is with American Urban Radio Network; and David Ignatius of "The Washington Post".

David, you know all the world of espionage and intelligence world better than anybody I know. And when Trump gets the briefings, what will they be like. He`s very impulsive and speaks with tremendous alive synapses. He goes from thoughts to thoughts. I`m guilty of the same thing.

How does he deal with this intel -- how do you keep stuff secret once you know it? I always wonder how it works.

DAVID IGNATIUS, THE WASHINGTON POST: That`s interesting about Trump. He tends to blur different sources of information. He will remember something he thought he saw on TV.

MATTHEWS: "National Enquirer".

IGNATIUS: Something he read on Twitter, and it all gets blurred together, and I think that`s one of the things that would worry an intelligence briefer. I am certain that the briefings they will give the two candidates after they`re nominated will be identical. And I`m also certain they will be fairly limited.

The word that was out this week at Charlie Savage`s piece and Jim Clapper`s comments last week, the director of national intelligence, they made clear that these are going to be initially broad, non-operational briefings. I think they`ll be careful because Trump is an unknown quantity never really work with classified information in his life.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Did they ever tell Kennedy about the Bay of Pigs in `60s?

IGNATIUS: Exactly what Kennedy was told after he became president-elect is -- the truth is he began to learn, but he didn`t know the full truth. And by time he wanted to back out, he couldn`t.

MATTHEWS: You know, in journalism, we all know about the rules about deep background and deep background means you know it but you have no idea how you know it, but it doesn`t mean off the record. So, if Trump gets something on deep background, he henceforth knows it. It`s in his head.

I`ve always wonder, once you brief a guy or woman running for president, a woman running for president, how do they not know what they know?

APRIL RYAN, AMERICAN URBAN RADIO NETWORK: Well, when you hear it on deep background, you may know what you know, but someone else corroborates and you can throw it onto that person.

MATTHEWS: Or you can reconstruct the story.

RYAN: Exactly.

MATTHEWS: Which is not exactly honest. But go ahead.

RYAN: Right. But here`s the problem --

MATTHEWS: Is that your rule?

RYAN: Oh, Chris -- no.


MATTHEWS: If you got it on background. I`m sorry, go ahead. You can find source.

RYAN: Right, right, right. If someone -- let`s say if someone at the White House gives you something on deep, deep, deep background as they like to say, and you get it corroborated from someone else and that person says you can use that. But let me says this one --

MATTHEWS: So, what about you get a briefing from the national security people, from the director of national security, or you get from the CIA itself, what do you do with that?

RYAN: What do you do with that? You have to really be quiet, because for Donald Trump, he`s going to have to learn how to hold it together, because he runs the risk of losing the security clearance and also from I`m hearing from my security persons personnel, intelligence personnel, they`re tell me that it`s also a matter of national security and it could also go to the Department of Justice if there is a problem.

MATTHEWS: I don`t want to presume that.

But ago ahead, Charles, but your thinking.

RYAN: That`s what I`ve heard.

MATTHEWS: This is an interesting topic because you`re spraying the guy or woman tremendous information.

CHARLIE SAVAGE, THE NEW YORK TIMES: This is a good opportunity for your viewers sort of correct some misinformation that`s been out there. There`s been a sort of panic the last 48 hours especially on the left.

And some of that has been driven by reporting that suggests that Trump is going to get regular briefings, kind of like the president gets. He`s going to know all this operational stuff, all the covert stuff that`s happening right now. That`s a wild exaggeration.

What happen -- I`ve talked to a couple of senior intelligence people who have done this in the past, yesterday, to figure it out. And they said that after the conventions, what happens is there`s a one time briefing for the nominee for president and vice president of each party. They`re offered a one time briefing about the world and it could last three or four hours, if that`s what it takes. Maybe it gets broken up if they don`t have much block of a time. But that`s it. They`re not getting an ongoing --

MATTHEWS: They can take notes.

SAVAGE: They don`t get told sources and methods. They don`t get told about covert stuff. Once you`re elected, the president-elect does start to get that kind of thing. But the notion that that Trump is going to be told all this.

MATTHEWS: Is the left worried about this?


SAVAGE: -- panic about it.

RYAN: Well, I talked to people who worked in the Romney camp working with the Romney intelligence briefing, and they said, you know, this is going to what`s happening now when we transition into the actual nominees. What happens is that yes, they may get the same briefings and it may be more than just that one briefing you`re talking about.

But what happens is that they -- the briefings may come out identical at the beginning but it depends upon the depth of the questions, how many questions the person asked. It could be a little bit deeper.

MATTHEWS: You understand it, right? I`ve heard that. So, you ask good questions, you get pretty good answers.

IGNATIUS: I think the briefers will respond to the questions. I think it will be a one time, one off phenomenon. The interesting thing to ask yourself is, what happens the day after a Donald Trump victory, if he should win? At that point he`s told the crown jewels. He`s told the greatest secrets the United States government has as a president-elect must be.

Now, that`s the moment that people should think, what would that be like? The interesting thing about Donald Trump is he doesn`t have a good filter in terms of information. You watch President Obama, and he`ll pause a moment in answering a question. Part of that is thinking, what can I say of the vast amount that I know? Trump doesn`t have that.

MATTHEWS: The first thing I`ll tell them is Rafael Cruz had nothing to do with killing Jack Kennedy.

Anyway, the roundtable is staying with us.

And up next, these three will tell me something I don`t know.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Well, today`s jobs report showed a slowing in the economy. Here it comes, the economy added only 160,000 jobs in April. That`s down from the 200,000-plus jobs we`ve been seen in many recent months. Well, the unemployment rate remained at an even 5 percent.

This afternoon, markets closed higher with the Dow posting a nearly 80- point gain.

We`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: We`re back with the HARDBALL roundtable.

Charlie, tell me something I don`t know.

SAVAGE: Really interesting lawsuit filed this week by a 28-year-old Army captain deployed to the Middle East to fight ISIS. He`s suing Obama saying the war is illegal so his orders to fight it are illegal. The reason it would be illegal he argues is Congress hasn`t authorized it.

MATTHEWS: That`s it. They don`t want to authorize the war, yes. That made sense. RYAN: Well, the RNC says within the next three weeks we`re going to find out if Donald Trump is trying to expand his tent with black women. They say in 2012, they lost black women, 97 percent to 3 percent, and in Hispanics, 81 percent to 19 percent. And Reince Priebus had to come out with a growth and opportunity report because of that loss. Isn`t that something?

MATTHEWS: Are people feeling the allure of Trump yet?

RYAN: I`m starting to hear Trump talk about women, we`ll see.

MATTHEWS: Yes, we`ll see.


IGNATIUS: Israeli officials tell me in late April, Syrian President Bashar al Assad used the chemical weapon sarin, the chemical weapon he agreed to give up entirely in 2013 against ISIS fighters east of Damascus.

MATTHEWS: He`s lied and kept the weapons.

IGNATIUS: So, he`s clearly kept some weapons.

MATTHEWS: Thank you, Charlie Savage. Thank you, April Ryan. Thank you, David Ignatius.

When we return, let me finish with the good nighting this Sunday night of "The Good Wife."

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with a serious bit of culture.

"The Good Wife" has been on seven years and I`ve never missed it. It`s a television drama about grown-ups, about a woman whose politician husband betrayed her with prostitutes, about women professionals battling it out with male rivals and each other. It`s about old romances and how they stick around, especially when the old flame after so many years shows up.

Yes, that one`s happened before. Of all the gin joints and towns and all the world, she walks into mine. In the case of "The Good Wife", it`s the he who shows up and it`s not Rick`s Cafe in wartime Casablanca but a contemporary law firm in the downtown Chicago skyline.

But there`s something fresh and crackling about a drama with characters you can`t help caring about. My favorite Eli Gold played by Alan Cumming is the hardball political consultant with a heart, who cares deep down soulfully about his candidate and his candidate`s wife, and most of all, that they somehow stay together.

And a wife, of course, certainly not always good in a moral sense, who struggles between the person she was taught to be and who God actually made her -- a mother with a kid about to fly off with what threatens to be the wrong spouse, a husband she cannot find in mind or heart to forgive, a lost love lost forever, a profession she needs more than she thought she`d need anything because in the end, what this great TV series like that other one, "Mad Men," is all about is finding your work, honoring it, loving it, because in the end, it`s what keeps you at it -- yes, keeps you at it as long as you live even if you never find out what that "it" is.

And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. And remember to honor your mother this Sunday.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.