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Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 5/19/2016

Guests: David Weigel, April Ryan, David Drucker, Lesley Stahl, Tara Maller, Susan Page, Anne Gearan, Christopher Dickey

Show: HARDBALL Date: May 19, 2016 Guest: David Weigel, April Ryan, David Drucker, Lesley Stahl, Tara Maller, Susan Page, Anne Gearan, Christopher Dickey

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: The leading suspect, terrorism.

And this is HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

We`re following the latest on Egyptair flight 204, (sic) which crashed into the Mediterranean Sea last night with 66 passengers and crew on board. And here`s what we know at this hour.

A U.S. intelligence senior official tells NBC News there is strong indication that an explosion blew the plane apart. That`s based on infrared sensors of the area. Egypt`s civil aviation minister has told reporters this was more likely a terror attack than some sort of mechanical failure.

Meanwhile, officials in Greece gave some insight into what happened. They say shortly after the plane entered Egyptian air space, it swerved sharply and then lost altitude.

Well, today both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton blamed the crash on terrorism. Donald Trump tweeted this morning, quote, "Looks like yet another terrorist attack. Airplane departed from Paris. When will we get tough, smart and vigilant? Great hate and sickness."

And we will get the latest on the investigation in a minute, but Donald Trump is on stage right now with New Jersey governor Chris Christie. It`s a fund-raiser to help pay off the governor`s campaign debt.

Let`s listen to Trump.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: ... my friends are here tonight. We`re all in the construction industry.


TRUMP: Governor Christie contributed more to the pension system than any other governor in New Jersey state history, right?


TRUMP: Governor Christie brought the insolvent -- and this was important - - the insolvent New Jersey unemployment insurance trust fund back to solvency. And I will tell you it was done in at least two years ahead of schedule. So that`s a pretty good track record. And that`s just a few of the things, all right?


TRUMP: That`s just a few. So we`ve had an interesting time. And you know it all started. And Chris was out there and I was out there. And I have to say one of the more interesting parts was -- I was watching the debate because I had one debate that I really enjoyed because I was watching. And I like Marco very much. But Marco was over here, Chris was over here, and I was standing there.


TRUMP: And I watched it happen! No, I watched it happen, and it was -- I mean...

MATTHEWS: Here is what we`re going to do. We`re going to go in and out and see if he talks about terrorism, and then we`ll go to him. Right now, this is political stuff we`re going to skip right now.

Anyway, let`s get to the latest on that investigation into what happened with Egyptair flight 804.

MSNBC`s Craig Melvin is in Charles de Gaulle airport right now in Paris. He`s our first guy on the ground, Craig, the feeling over there is what, wonder or suspicion? How would you describe it?

CRAIG MELVIN, NBC CORRESPONDENT: I would describe it as a bit of both, Chris Matthews. Sixty-six people were on board, as you said. At this point, they are still calling this a search and rescue effort. But you`ve got to wonder how much longer that`s going to be the case as this thing drags on.

I just heard you mention what our intelligence in America is saying with regards to imaging, the infrared imaging. At this point, imaging tells us that there was a sort of explosion. Was it a technical problem that caused the explosion, or was it something far more sinister than that? Was there a person that managed to smuggle a bomb on board this Egyptair flight?

I can tell you that right behind me here at Charles de Gaulle International, there are roughly 87,000 employees -- 87,000 employees. Right now, we`re told that the records of some of those folks are being scoured. They are looking for any type of connection, who had access to that plane.

We can also tell you that before that plane left from here in Paris headed to Cairo -- before that, it took a trip to Tunisia just yesterday, and as you know, northern Africa has become a hotbed for terrorism. That`s been the case for a number of years now. So folks are looking at who had access to the plane there.

Egyptair, of course, an airline that has been roundly criticized for much of the past year. Back in October, of course, there was the bomb that was smuggled aboard the plane. More than 200 people died, around October 31st of last year. That was a flight that originated in Egypt.

So lots of questions, Chris. But right now, we`re just a few hours into the investigation, so a number of officials have said this is obviously going to be something that takes a fair amount of time. But at this point, all indications point to terrorism.

MATTHEWS: Craig Melvin, right on the ground there for us, thank you so much.

Let`s move on right now to some of the experts. We`ve also got joining us right now chief NBC News chief global correspondent Pete (sic) Neely. Here he is now with a report from him on what`s going on there.

BILL NEELY, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Chris. I`m at Cairo airport, where the families of the Egyptians on board have been all day, looking for answers, mourning their possible loss and deep in grief.

They are at the very center of this. It was an Egyptian plane, most of the dead Egyptian, and it crashed, it fell into the sea in Egyptian waters.

Whatever happened on that plane happened very quickly because there was no distress call. And whenever a plane falls from the sky as this one did, twisting and plummeting very quickly without a mayday call, it does raise the specter of terrorism. Normally, the Egyptians are very circumspect on this. They don`t say very much. But today, the Egyptian prime minister made the point of saying they weren`t ruling anything out as a cause, including terrorism. And indeed, the transport minister here at the aviation ministry said terrorism was a more likely explanation for the missing plane than mechanical failure. But

as I said, it`s early days yet. We`ve had no claim of responsibility from ISIS here. And remember, they were responsible for the downing of that Russian Metrojet airliner, killing all on board, and they boasted about it very quickly after the airliner went missing and said that they had used explosives in a soda can. So far, no claim of responsibility, no proof that this was a bomb.

And indeed, if you were to think about the motivations of a bomber in Paris, say, why would they choose to ignore an American plane, a Western plane at Charles de Gaulle airport and instead bomb an Egyptian airliner? As ever, Chris, lots of unanswered questions. Back to you.

MATTHEWS: OK, NBC`s Bill Neely (INAUDIBLE) in Cairo.

NBC`s Kerry sanders is here in Washington with more on the investigation itself. Kerry, thanks for joining us. I can think of a reason why you go after Egypt, because the whole goal of ISIS and the Islamist terrorist movement is to try to knock off these moderate pro-Western Arab governments, and you want to destabilize the economy of Egypt. If this is terrorism, it would have an economic purpose, if it is.

KERRY SANDERS, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, yes, there`s really strong indication that this is terrorism, although you can`t conclude that at this point because there are so many pieces of the puzzles there yet to come together. But Chris, I think you`re onto something there.

You know, at this point, we already have one false lead in terms of thinking that they`d found the debris, and it turns out they did not find the debris. The goal, of course, is to find not only the debris field, but to find what`s called the black box. It`s actually orange. It`s a flight data recorder and another one that is a cockpit voice recorder.

The data recorder gets thousands of pieces of ongoing telemetry, how the engines are running, the temperatures, everything. So it can determine, up until the plane fails, whether it was a mechanical problem or whether perhaps it was something else.

And then the cockpit voice recorder, which is important, is it`s recording the conversations in the cockpit. So if somebody broke into the cockpit, this would have picked up the sounds of somebody in there making a threat or the pilot and co-pilot talking, not when they`re transmitting back to first the Greek authorities and then the Egyptian authorities at the air traffic control, but just their conversations.

But this has a pinger on it and it pings out a sound for about 30 days. The water there where it`s gone down in the water, as you go down up to two miles in this area where we believe the plane may have gone down, the temperature of the water drops into the upper 30s, which means the battery in here is not as strong as it would be if this was, say, on land. On land, the pinger might last up to 90 days.

Now, this is primarily an overseas operation between the Greeks, the Egyptians and the French trying to find this. But the United States is helping. A P-3 Orion, which is a Navy ship or Navy aircraft, has taken off from Sicily during the daylight hours, flying, trying to look down. And it drops down little sono-buoys. They`re like little parachutes that come down. They hit the water, and then they sort of get a look at possibly spotting some debris. When the sun comes back up, a P-3 Orion will again take off and see if they can see something in the area.

Now, finally, if they do find something -- let`s say if they find the debris field and they want to find this black box and it`s two miles down, how could they do that? Well, there is the technology and it`s been successful before. It`s an ROV, a remotely operated vehicle. You can see one here. This is a system that goes down autonomously and it goes down -- what we`re looking at right now is something that maps with sidescan radar and actually looks -- sidescan sonar and looks at the debris field. And then they put the ROV down, and the ROV can then maybe find it, and not only find it, but an arm can go out, retrieve it and bring it to the surface.


SANDERS: But Chris, you know, these are a lot of pieces of the puzzle of what they could do, but you know, as you think about it, MH-370 -- they`re still looking for that information on that one from two years ago.

MATTHEWS: Wow. Kerry Sanders, great reporting.

I`m joined right now by Malcolm Nancy, NBC News terrorism analyst and the director of Terror Asymmetrics Project, and former CIA military analyst Tara Maller.

Tara, let me ask you about my suppositions here. Doing it over water, people tell me that slows down the investigation. If you went to create terrorism, which is to create fright and almost inexplicable terror, you say, Let`s make it three or four days or two weeks or a month when they don`t know how this plane went down or even if it was terrorism.

Second, the insult to Egypt, which depends on tourism from Europe and here, so much, in fact, that is its product, kill the tourism in Egypt, like they did when they killed the plane coming out of Sharm el Sheikh on the way to Moscow, I mean, to Russian tourists.

TARA MALLER, COUNTER EXTREMISM PROJECT: You`re absolutely right. There were also Westerners on the plane, so it could have been a multi-hit, hitting French passengers. There were Egyptians on the plane.

The one thing that is strange -- and I agree with everything you said -- that they haven`t claimed it yet. I I`d be interested to see in the next 24 to 48 hours if there`s a claim issued.

Groups like to claim these attacks. These are high-profile, media- attention-grabbing...


MALLER: ... attacks. They use it for propaganda. They take video footage of the planning of these attacks, and they try to use this to motivate people to join the cause, and they use this material on line to recruit people.

So I`d be curious if there`s a claim that happens from ISIS or an ISIS affiliate or an al Qaeda affiliate, to be honest, either in -- you know, they mentioned northern Africa. The plane was there. There are al Qaeda affiliates there, as well.

MATTHEWS: Malcolm, what do you see when you look at this, as of the information available now? What do you see?

MALCOLM NANCE, MSNBC TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, I can -- very early on, I assessed that this was obviously, or we had indications that it was an explosive device which was placed on the aircraft.

Unlike most people, I have a very hard time believing that this was a device -- if it is a device, it`s very speculative now -- that was placed on in Paris. I think most likely, during the maintenance phase in Cairo, it would be much easier to get the device onto an aircraft. It could fly its leg off to Eritrea, Tunisia to Paris, and the mate up with its bomber, who would have to manually detonate it at attitude.

Very strange that they waited -- you know, I mean, you could sit and watch on the flight map as you`re flying, but they waited until they went over from Athens control to Alexandria control and wanted to detonate it in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea closer to Egypt. That`s very unique.

MATTHEWS: Do you have the same thinking I do, that that was to insult Egypt, to make sure they got the mailing address right, that, We`re out to get you guys, or was it to make it harder to get the information for a while so we could spread fear?

NANCE: Well, absolutely, but I think both. I think Egyptian fingerprints are all over this. If this was actually a device that was planted in Paris, that was plotted in Europe, you wouldn`t not go to Charles de Gaulle on a one-time strike -- because this is never going to happen again, really -- the security measures are going to be put in place.

You wouldn`t waste that weapons system by just putting it on an Egyptair airliner with 66 passengers unless you had access to that aircraft early on. You would go and try to do the Pan Am flight 103 routine, where you put it on a U.S. airliner to blow up over the Atlantic Ocean, or a large European carrier with 200 or 300 passengers on it.

So I believe that this has something to do with Egypt`s politics. Certainly, there`s an ISIS affiliate group there. And there`s also al Qaeda affiliates. And they wanted to make sure this plane went down as it was approaching Egypt, or it was just the easiest way to get that weapons system detonated.

MATTHEWS: I`ve heard the phrase for hours this afternoon watching this develop, "inside job" because, you know, as Malcolm said, you know, you are checked by the equivalent of TSA when you get on the plane. You can`t carry a bomb through the -- through the -- through the checker. You can`t just -- Here`s my bomb. There`s no way you`re going to sneak it through, probably.

So it has to get on some other way, through the people putting food on the plane, people gassing up the plane, people cleaning the plane. And Tunis and Asmara, Eritrea, are the other stops in the hours before...

MALLER: Exactly. So the plane had had multiple stops. But I wouldn`t fully rule out the possibility that it could have been out of France. I`m not saying that that`s likely, per se, but France does have the highest amount of foreign fighters going into Iraq and Syria. It has the highest population that`s been radicalized...

MATTHEWS: Could it be a worker?

MALLER: It could be somebody on the inside. I mean, what intelligence officials are going to be looking at, in addition to the passenger list and putting that against the terror watch list...


MATTHEWS: It just hit me. This is the kind of thing, Malcolm, that really stuns us civilians here. Why would they be checking the passenger list at this point against the terror list? Why wouldn`t that be done before takeoff?

NANCE: Well, I`m sure it is done at a cursory level, you know, as they go through the flight manifest to make sure that people who are on their list of suspected personnel don`t get into Europe or don`t come into Egypt from Europe.

However, here we`re talking about clean skin agents. We`re talking about people who may not have had any previous association with terrorism...


NANCE: ... but which may have a circuitous route to that, where they may have had a relative who was put in prison or who may have been part of the Sinai, you know, ISIS groups there. So now they`re going to do a deep dive into the background of those passenger and the crew, which is probably likely where we`re going to find the fault (ph) in this mission.

MATTHEWS: Have you also thought back to the Egyptair co-pilot who committed suicide over -- coming out of New York?

MALLER: Have I what?

MATTHEWS: Have you thought about that case, too?

MALLER: Yes, there have been multiple cases -- I mean...

MATTHEWS: And the Egyptian government still denies it was a suicide case.

MALLER: But that`s what`s interesting in this case. The Egyptian government came out pretty early suspecting this was terrorism. That`s not actually what they usually do. And U.S. intelligence came out pretty early saying that it`s likely to be a bomb on board.

That suggests to me there might be some additional evidence that there was, in fact, a bomb, whether that`s from imagery they have or some other, you know, intelligence that they have behind the scenes.

But again, it`s too early to say until we see exactly what they`re looking at on the intelligence side.

MATTHEWS: So when are we going to know what happened?

MALLER: I give it, you know, a week or so to see if there`s a claim made and to look at the passenger list, the crew list. And if they recover the wreckage, that will...


MATTHEWS: I have to tell you, one of the greatest trips, if you can afford it -- we did it once in our life -- was to go to Egypt. And if this kills tourism at one of the amazing tourist spots in the world, if you go see the pyramids and everything and -- and the Valley of Kings -- if that kills that tourism over there, their greatest prize, it`s going to really hurt Egypt. And it`s (INAUDIBLE) everybody who doesn`t get the chance to go there, and they`re not going feel like going there right now.

Anyway, thank you, Malcolm Nance, and thank you, Tara Maller.

Coming up -- much more to come on the crash of Egyptair flight 804, including the political reaction here at home, which you can tell is going to be heated. Donald Trump took to Twitter early today to say it looked like terrorism. Hillary Clinton today saying Trump`s unqualified to be president, but she has also pointed to terrorism here.

Trump`s holding a campaign event, as I said, in New Jersey there (ph). We`re going to keep doing a peek-a-boo into what he`s doing. If he says anything important or newsworthy, we`re going to get to it. He hit back, of course, against Clinton, and we`re going to hear that in a minute.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Well, as we continue our coverage of Egyptair flight 20 -- 804, we also continue to watch that event in New Jersey, where Donald Trump is now fund-raising for his ally, Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey. We`ve got more polling, by the way, on the presidential race, as once again, the issue of terrorism is front and center in the campaign.

And we`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

We`re, of course, following the developing news tonight about EgyptAir Flight 804, which went down over the Mediterranean early this morning.

Also tonight, Donald Trump is holding a fund-raising rally, kind of a hybrid event in New Jersey, to help Governor Chris Christie retire Christie`s campaign debt.

Well, Christie, who, as a candidate, called for a more hawkish approach to fighting terrorism, endorsed Trump this February. Anyway, tonight`s fund- raiser comes after Trump tweeted early today his reaction to the news of the EgyptAir tragedy, writing -- quote -- "Looks like yet another terrorist attack. Airplane departed from Paris. When will we get tough, smart, and vigilant? Great hate and sickness!"

Anyway, Trump posted the tweet at 6:30 this morning, hours before Egyptian officials cited terrorism as a possible cause of the plane`s disappearance.

Anyway, a new national poll, catch this, by CBS and "The New York Times" this evening shows Hillary Clinton leading Trump by six points, 47-41, nationwide, six points. It comes on the heels of a FOX News poll which is very reliable, which shows, by the way, a three-point lead for Clinton -- I`m sorry -- three-point lead Trump over Clinton, 45-42.

So put them together, make your own stew, they`re very close.

Now Clinton is challenging Trump`s credentials when it comes to fighting terrorism. In an interview on CNN today, Secretary Clinton laid out her case as to why he, Trump, is not qualified to be president.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN: Do you think that Donald Trump is qualified to be president?


And I think, in this past week, whether it`s attacking Great Britain, praising the leader of North Korea, a despotic dictator who has nuclear weapons, whether it is saying pull out of NATO, let other countries have nuclear weapons, the kinds of positions he is stating and the consequences of those positions and even the consequences of his statements are not just offensive to people. They are potentially dangerous.


MATTHEWS: Well, just moments ago at his event in New Jersey, Trump hit back at Secretary Clinton. Here he goes.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Bernie Sanders said that Hillary really isn`t -- essentially not fit to be president. She is not qualified to be president.

You know why? He said because she suffers from bad judgment. So, today, she made the statement. You know, she won`t use the term radical Islamic terrorism. You understand that.


TRUMP: She won`t use it. She refuses. You know why she won`t? Because her president won`t use it. That is why.

And I`m saying to myself -- and it`s a terrible thing, and he essentially should not be running for office. He doesn`t have the right to run for office. And I`m saying to myself, what just happened about 12 hours ago? A plane got blown out of the sky. And if any think -- if anybody thinks it was not blown out of the sky, you`re 100 percent wrong, folks, OK? You`re 100 percent wrong.


MATTHEWS: This is the heart of the campaign, right here, I think.

Susan Page is Washington bureau chief for "USA Today." Michael Steele was chair of the Republican National Committee and he is an MSNBC political analyst. And Anne Gearan is national politics correspondent for "The Washington Post."

Susan -- everybody, take this. Either it`s intuition on the part of Trump, which is fair in politics. Intuition is important. He says he hunched it out that the odds are overwhelming that this is terrorism, from all the effects here we`re seeing, all the information available.

The attack on him is he is not prepared to make these kind of decisions, which is a fresh attack from Hillary Clinton. They must have written this a few days ago, but it`s coming out today. Either it`s intuition on his part, which should be valued to some extent, or it`s irresponsible to make the claim before any of the information really got jelled, to say this is terrorism, and, by the way, it`s Islamic terrorism, basically.

SUSAN PAGE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "USA TODAY": So it would be for Donald Trump to have done this everybody had not come to this conclusion by the end of the day. Right?

MATTHEWS: But was it a hunch? Was it a guess?


PAGE: Well, I`m sure it was a guess. He didn`t have inside information about the nature of the attack.


PAGE: And Hillary Clinton was out there pretty quick in the morning saying that it was apparently an act of terrorism.

But, yes, you know what? He`s not only got instincts, but he has got the guts to just say it out loud without any hesitation, even though you don`t know for sure whether it`s true. Even tonight, we don`t know for sure whether it is true, although it certainly looks that way.

MATTHEWS: But, Anne, this is part of thing that I call shooting the moon. He knows his odds are naturally he will lose, so he has to shake this thing up and do things most candidates would consider less than calculated risks.

They`re uncalculated risks, and he is willing to do them because he knows he has got to beat somebody who has all the cards.


And I disagree only slightly with my esteemed colleague Susan. I don`t think it would have redounded that badly on him if it turned out -- if it still turns out to be wrong.


MATTHEWS: It would go to the other way, though. If somebody said this is not terrorism, and it turned out to be terrorism, they would look the fool.

GEARAN: Absolutely. Absolutely.

But he is doing exactly what he has been doing all along and he has profited by it at every turn.

PAGE: It reinforces the idea that he is such a strong leader that he can make these declarations without actual -- any information.



I mean, he got out there this morning, 6:30, tweeted that out there, because he knew that is what people, when they got up this morning, that`s what they are immediately going to think, because Islamic terrorism is real for them.

And because -- that`s why tonight he`s sitting there, and she won`t even use the term. She won`t even call it what it is. That is not leadership, folks. I laid it this morning. I took the risk and called it what it was.

And people appreciate that. And I really think that is a space that he is going to try to occupy throughout this campaign. And it`s going to be interesting to see how hard Hillary Clinton is going to be able to hit him with that and have it really...


MATTHEWS: How long does your luck run, though, Michael?

STEELE: That`s a good one.

MATTHEWS: It is shooting the moon. You`re really hoping that you can keep doing it. You have to keep doing it.


STEELE: Chris, we`re a year into his doing that. We`re a year into his shooting for the moon, and so far the moon has got a lot of holes.


MATTHEWS: Here comes Hillary Clinton.

Hillary Clinton has a new line on him, which may work. A lot of producers here think it will work today. Secretary Clinton now says that Trump is being used as a terrorist recruiter because of his Muslim ban. Let`s watch. She`s also saying he`s dangerous, a new phrase, trying to make him into Barry Goldwater of the 21st century.

Here it is, her new line of attack.


CLINTON: When you say we`re going to bar all Muslims, you are sending a message to the Muslim world, and you`re also sending a message to the terrorists, because we now do have evidence, we have seen how Donald Trump is being used to essentially be a recruiter for more people to join the cause of terrorism.


MATTHEWS: Well, the Trump campaign, of course, reacted to that tonight in a statement -- quote -- "The fact that Hillary Clinton thinks the temporary Muslim ban, what she calls the Muslim ban, promotes terrorism proves Bernie Sanders was correct when he said she is not qualified to be president."

Anne, this is going to go on from that second -- what the first Tuesday after the second Monday of November. We now know how the calendar works. But it is her -- every time I see Hillary Clinton -- and I know how good a lawyer she must have been. And she is very good at getting evidence together, getting a good team together, and arraying an argument.

It`s almost like a fixed army. And there she is running against this guy that is doing it like this. He`s playing the craps table. He is -- and she is using very -- what kind of a president do we want in the 21st century? A deliberative president, equipped with a good briefing and smart people around her, or a guy out there on the street corner just doing it instinctively? What do we want?

GEARAN: There are actually a lot of -- there are a lot of Hillary Clinton supporters now who are saying just that. You know what? This is a clarifying moment.

We have somebody who shoots from the hip, who says whatever comes into his head, and so far that is working for him. And we have someone who is deliberative and iterative and this, plus this, plus this, plus this, so which one do you want?

They`re not going to try to make her in any way into that. And, I mean, who knows? I can`t answer your question of which one do we want.


MATTHEWS: In debates, I think she has got the advantage, because she will be pretty prepared.

GEARAN: If she can get her argument out. Right?


STEELE: That`s going to be his ace in the hole.


GEARAN: He can just zing in and say whatever he wants.

MATTHEWS: He will come up with something wild and crazy, but the moderators will keep it pretty much to the inside the...


STEELE: To the extent that they can.

MATTHEWS: This is an asymmetric battle here. They are not the same competitors.

GEARAN: Well, and there`s a creativity gap, too, right?

STEELE: Exactly. Exactly.

GEARAN: He can -- whatever he wants.


MATTHEWS: She wouldn`t go for stand-up comic. That wouldn`t be one of her strengths.

But she is very good when she is ready. I have seen her in these 11 hours of taking on Republicans in the House committee on Benghazi, and she just flipped -- one after another, she knocked one after another off. It was like...


PAGE: And it`s not like it`s -- she is not George McGovern. She`s not even Barack Obama running against a more hawkish, more muscular Republican.

She is more hawkish than Donald Trump when you get down to actual policies. That gives her an ability I think to respond on these issues that she wouldn`t have if you had kind of the traditional Democrat vs. Republican.


MATTHEWS: Oh, no, I agree with that. I agree.

I think Trump is inexplicable hawk vs. dove, because, as everybody says, one day, he will say let`s mow them down, the next day, I`m not getting involved with that crap. He is either a guy avoiding trouble or the guy looking for trouble.

STEELE: Yes, but because she`s coming off more of a neocon than the GOP nominee...

MATTHEWS: That`s true.

STEELE: ... that becomes a little bit of a problem for her with Bernie still very much in this fight for the remainder of this program, folks.

MATTHEWS: I agree.

STEELE: So progressives are out there listening to her talk about the way she is talking, thinking, really?

MATTHEWS: So Charles Krauthammer, and the rest of those guys, Bill Kristol, wait until Bernie is out of the fight before you endorse Hillary Clinton. Right? That would be advisable, right?


MATTHEWS: Anyway, I think Eliot Cohen, some of the more moderate hawks, will be moving in there for Hillary.

Anyway, thank you, Susan Page.

It`s great to speculate, but -- about that stuff. It is going to be interesting to see whether the hot hand turns out to be a consistent hand, and that is Trump, because he shoots -- he`s a gunner, as they say in basketball. How about that game last night?

STEELE: It was awesome.

MATTHEWS: It was awesome. Steph Curry, I have never seen anything like it in my life.

Anyway, Susan Page, thank you, Michael Steele, Anne Gearan.

See, we have other lives.

When we come back, new information on our top story, the crash of EgyptAir 804.

Back with more after this.


MATTHEWS: We have more information now on the investigation into what happened with EgyptAir Air Flight 804 last night.

Anyway, the plane took off from France`s Charles de Gaulle Airport shortly after 5:00 Eastern time last night. It never made it to its destination of Cairo. You`re looking at the map there.

Christopher Dickey is the world news editor for The Daily Beast. He lives in Paris and has years of experience covering the Middle East. He`s with us now from New York.

Christopher, thank you so much.

Just from your wide-ranging instincts and capital of information, tell us what it looks like to you at this point.

CHRISTOPHER DICKEY, THE DAILY BEAST: Well, I think the best theory I have heard is actually very similar to what Malcolm Nance was talking about earlier.

I was talking to some French counterterrorism experts earlier today. And if it was a terrorist event -- it`s still a very big if, notwithstanding what Donald Trump has to say about it -- if it was a terrorist event, the most likely scenario is probably that the bomb was put on before it got to Paris, and was detonated by someone on the plane who boarded in Paris, but who has a clean skin, didn`t have anything to implicate him as a terrorist.

That probably is the most likely scenario for a terrorist event.


How do they -- you talk about clean skin, meaning someone who has not been put on a list, because they haven`t done something wrong. But in a world where you have people working at Tunis Airport, you have Asmara in Eritrea, you have people, all these different locations where the plane stopped and they get refueled, they get refitted with food and everything else and cleaned out maybe in some cases, plenty of opportunity to drop something in a corner somewhere, how can you possibly check out all the various people who come from those areas and make sure they are not -- they have not been radicalized as of a week ago or a month ago?

DICKEY: Look, you can`t.

If there is a chance that the bomb was put on in Paris, you have to remember that there are 86,000 employees at Charles de Gaulle Airport. And you can`t be sure that all of them are absolutely hostile to jihad. In fact, you can`t be sure that some of them are not radical jihadis. They may not be wearing beards and thobes, but they may sympathize with radical jihad.


DICKEY: They may be like some of the people we saw in the Paris attacks in November.

So, you can`t be sure of that. Obviously, you interview people. You do screening tests of various kinds. You try probably to put in police informers who will give you some idea. But 86,000 people, that is a lot to police.

MATTHEWS: I was just thinking back over the patterns.

Every time -- I`m sure you have done it many times as an expert in these world affairs issues, that you try to find some sort of plan, sort of trend line. And you look back at EgyptAir, what happened in `99, where someone - - the co-pilot just locked the door of the cockpit and said his prayers and then put the plane into the Atlantic Ocean, killing everyone, including himself.

The Egyptian government never accepted that as a suicide or terrorism. And then, of course, what happened on the plane from Sharm el-Sheikh headed them the Sinai out to the former Soviet Union to Moscow, another plane that was clearly a terrorist strike.

And you go, is this a concerted effort to bring down the economy, the government, the society of a relatively moderate country -- or moderately led country like Egypt? Is this what this is all about?

DICKEY: Well, I think this clearly targets Egypt and its tourist industry. That was certainly what the Sharm el-Sheikh bombing was supposed to do.

You used to have thousands and thousands of Russians coming to Egypt. Now basically you don`t have Russians coming to Egypt. The whole tourist industry has been dying in Egypt. A good friend of mine is a very senior guy in that industry.

He is here in New York, right now, was coming here yesterday to try and promote tourism, and then, of course, it was a disaster last night. Obviously, it targets that. But I think one of the interesting things about this bombing is that it is so Egyptian.

It is an EgyptAir flight. It`s not a full flight. Obviously, Egypt is a target. But if we were really talking about ISIS, if we were talking about them going for a big score, this would not have been a big score.


DICKEY: Also, what is interesting is that the Egyptians have acknowledged very quickly that this probably was terrorism.

And Nancy Youssef, one of the Daily Beast writers, who is of Egyptian background, has written a very interesting piece, saying much more than any of these other incidents, this one really affected Egyptians. There may have only 30 Egyptians on board as passengers, but everybody in Egypt feels like they knew those people in one way or another.

And the government is responding very differently as a result.

MATTHEWS: Well, for whatever reason, Christopher, I have grown up rooting for that country, with all its problems. I love Egypt. I have been over there a few times when I was in the Peace Corps and later with my family.

I think the greatest trip -- I said that a few moments ago. The greatest trip we were ever on as a family was that Nile trip. And now to have that basically unreachable by most people now -- anyway, maybe it will get cheaper. I don`t know what is going to go on, but it`s a terrible, terrible, terrible situation over there.

Thank you so much, Christopher Dickey, for joining us tonight.

DICKEY: Thank you, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Up next, the other big political story of the day. Hillary Clinton says she will be the Democratic nominee. She just says it as a definite fact. She is calling on Bernie Sanders to help unite the party, even though he is still campaigning like heck right now.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.


CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC ANCHOR: Well, we continue to follow events in the crash of EgyptAir, the Flight 804, of course.

But let`s go now to NBC`s Hallie Jackson. She`s at a fundraiser, a sort of hybrid event. It was both a rally and fundraiser, never heard of one of those, that Donald Trump just wrapped.

Hallie, what -- give us the sense, the attitude of that event, and the news?

HALLIE JACKSON, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: If you didn`t know it was a fundraiser for Governor Chris Christie, Chris, you would have thought it was another Trump rally and had that feel and had same vibe. Christie came out and introduced Trump, talking about him, just like he would in a campaign event, and came out and delivered basically the stump speech, with a few additions, including for example, a litany of accomplishments for Chris Christie right off the top.

But the real news comes about his comments on Egypt Air, the plane crash. You know Donald Trump tweeted about that this morning. Now, he is adding to those comments. He was talking about the remarks made by Hillary Clinton in which she said he was not qualified for office. And he said he is thinking to himself what happened 12 hours ago? He said, quote, "a plane got blown out of the sky, and if anything, if anybody thinks it was not blown out of the sky, you`re 100 percent wrong, folks? OK?

That`s a quote from Donald Trump about the situation that happened that happened obviously overnight with that EgyptAir crash, Chris. And one of the first comments we`ve heard publicly from Trump, a reminder that this is his first public remarks. These are his first public remarks, since May 7th, when we last saw him out holding a rally.

I would point out one other piece of news coming from tonight`s event, that is when he discussed the list of the Supreme Court pick, who he would like to pick if you were to end up in the White House, who his nominees to the Supreme Court would. He had 11 names on that list, and Chris, Donald Trump said tonight he expects to be adding to that list of names soon. So, if you thought that was a definitive or exhaustive list of names, think again.

MATTHEWS: Well, he`s keeping on the offense, that`s for sure. Hallie Jackson, thanks for the reporting on the Trump event in Jersey.

We`re going to get back right now -- we`ll be right back in a moment.


MATTHEWS: Well, there is more big political news today when Hillary Clinton said -- catch this -- she said it, unequivocally, "I will be the nominee of the Democratic Party", nowhere messing from her. She calls for Bernie Sanders to unite behind her now.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: So you get into the general election if you`re the nomine for you party?

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will be the nominee for my party, Chris. That is already done, in effect. There is no way that I won`t be.

CUOMO: Bernie Sanders is saying he is going to fight all the way through the convention. It`s different.

CLINTON: Well, he has to do his part to unify. He said the other day that he will do everything possible to defeat Donald Trump. He said he`d work seven days a week. I take him at his word.



Anyway, David Weigel is a reporter for "The Washington Post". April Ryan, of course, is White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks, and David Drucker is with "The Washington Examiner".

Quickly, we`ve got to run through this. This seems to be an asymmetric battle. But let`s talk about the burbs around Philadelphia, which I really do think if you just go to Pennsylvania and score that for the next six months, you`re going to know who is going to win. Trump does what? How is he doing, according to your reporting, among the suburban moderate Republicans?

DAVID WEIGEL, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, the Democrats already knew he was doing better than they would like in Pennsylvania, but what worried them from the primary and since the primary, is that there are moderate Republicans they thought would be screaming and running from Trump, and they`re not. And, frankly, because I think in part Trump doesn`t care about social issues, as seen by the Supreme Court list, he does what seems popular.

Because he`s not an ideologue like the guys they think vote against like Santorum, he is playing with people that have given up on Republicans for those reasons. They like the businessman quality. They like what we call straight talk, yes.

MATTHEWS: April, your thoughts about this?

APRIL RYAN, AMERICAN URBAN RADIO NETWORK: He is playing the general election game right now. One thing we know that in the Philadelphia area, they have had problems with manufacturing, like many other urban cities have. And he is talking about he is not for this trade deal. He is not for trade.

But then he is also talking the Democratic speak. He`s talking about raising the minimum wage. So, he is pulling in people, real people who have real needs.

MATTHEWS: That is why Bernie Sanders is so mad. He says he is taking away all the working people.

DAVID DRUCKER, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Look, I think one of the reasons people are so surprised is they forget that Trump`s primary victory, his nomination victory, was fuelled in part on moderate Republicans and liberal Republican base.

MATTHEWS: I saw that. He won the moderates and liberals.

DRUCKER: Right. So, you look at Trump and you listen to his tone and you think to yourself right winger and you see the Tea Party support that he has and the conservative support, but really, the reason he won he is getting the 2012 Romney vote. So it`s really not surprising that the moderate Republicans in PA are supporting him.

The question is, are there more of them in the general election than there were in the primary or not?

MATTHEWS: I think they`re different people than they were four years ago.

RYAN: Yes.

MATTHEWS: I think people are much more upset with the status quo and the establishment.

They don`t like the way things have been going. Look at every MSNBC poll. One direction, 60 percent something, we`re going in the wrong direction. That`s high.

Anyway, David Weigel, April Ryan and David Drucker.

When we return, the latest on the investigation into the crash of that EgyptAir jetliner. HARDBALL back after this.



JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: The FBI, as you would expect, is working with our partners around the world to try and gain a better understanding of what happened. We, in the national security business and law enforcement business, have tried to make the world very small. So, when something like this happens, we talk to each other and share information and that process is going on right now.


MATTHEWS: Well, that`s FBI Director James Comey on the investigation into the crash of EgyptAir 804 and what security officials are doing here.

Let`s get to the latest now from NBC News justice correspondent Pete Williams -- Pete.

PETE WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, and, Chris, the FBI director also said this afternoon, that was an appearance in Chicago, that the U.S. has no evidence of what happened, no evidence that anyone has claimed credit here. So, there is still no indication of what happened.

Now, the military satellites did not pick up any kind of blast or heat signature that would suggest an explosion but we`re told by other intelligence officials that there were indications of a potential explosion around the time the plane disappeared. What the cause of that, if in fact there was one, of course, you couldn`t tell from that intelligence.

So, officially, we`ve been hearing the same thing from American officials all day. They simply don`t know what happened that cause that plane to crash. They can`t say whether it was an act of terrorism. They haven`t ruled anything in or out, and a lot is going to depend on finding the parts. And, of course, those all important flight data recorders, Chris.

MATTHEWS: But it`s about two miles deep there, isn`t it, in the Mediterranean? Is that going to be hard finding expedition there to discover it?

WILLIAMS: No. They say that the depth of Mediterranean is not going to be a show stopper in terms of recovering those black boxes.

MATTHEWS: OK. Well, great. NBC`s Pete Williams, thanks for reporting.

When we return, we lost an icon of television journalism today. Morley Safer died at the age -- there he is -- of 84. Longtime "60 Minutes" colleague Lesley Stahl is going to join us next to talk about.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: We`re back.

For over 45 years, legendary correspondent Morley Safer reported for "60 Minutes" on the issues that defined American life. And today, Safer died just a week after retiring. He was 84.

Well, Safer`s legendary work as a correspondent in Vietnam during the 1960s revealed the true and often ghastly realities of that war. His reporting was crediting with beginning to drive a public opinion against the Johnson administration`s policies in Southeast Asia.

I`m joined right now by Safer`s long time colleague at "60 Minutes", Lesley Stahl.

It`s so great to have you on, even at this time. Her new book is "Becoming Grandma: The Joys and Science of the New Grandparenting".

Well, this is like fiddler on the roof tonight, Lesley. Sunrise, sunset, we`re talking about the loss of your pal and how you`re getting to be an accomplished grandmother.

LESLEY STAHL, 60 MINUTES: Both at the same time.

MATTHEWS: So, let`s talk about Morley Safer. What I like, I know him, I believe in schmaltz, more than most people know I do, I loved the stuff he did that was softer. I know he did the Vietnam hard reporting from the field. It was a real combat, of course.

I love the stuff he did with Jackie Gleason, I mean, playing pool. The great one.

STAHL: Me, too. Well, Morley was the king of quirkiness. He was a brilliant, gorgeous writer as everybody knows. His writing was infused with great wit. He was droll, you know?

He was debonair. The body of work was extraordinary, because as you said, it started with him as a war correspondent and a very brave one. He came under fire. He was in a helicopter that crashed.

But when you do think of Morley`s pieces, you think of the off beat ones. As you said, he played pool with Jackie Gleason. There he is with Meryl Streep.

My favorite is the one he did about how the people of Finland loved to tango. It was just hilariously funny. Look with him with his women. He always kind of flirted with the women. Look at that.

MATTHEWS: He was one of the incredible faces that wouldn`t have made it in some sort of modeling audition but, God, he is fascinating to look at, the amount of movement in that face when he would talk.

He also made people, he respected people. I saw the interview he did with Alec Baldwin, tough questions about parenting and, yet, it didn`t seem to bother Alec Baldwin, who was touchy. It was interesting.

STAHL: Well, you don`t know, they`re under the cameras and the lights but Morley did have a kind face and a kind way about him. It has been a bad time at 60 minutes with Bob Simon and Mike. Bt Morley -- Morley worked until the very last minute, basically. He basically retired a week ago.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about your book. I really want to know what you think about being a grandma.

STAHL: It`s the best thing in the world. You know, I interviewed Morley for the book and he told me that his only regret in life is that he didn`t have his daughter early enough. He waited too long because now he said he was too old to ever know the story of his grandchildren.


STAHL: And I get that. I get that.

MATTHEWS: But you are appreciating that and writing about it.

STAHL: I wrote about it and I interviewed him. I interviewed Bob Simon for the book.

MATTHEWS: Yes, we lost him, too.

STAHL: Are you a grandfather?

MATTHEWS: We have two, Brandon and Julia. We`ll talk about that, maybe this summer.

Anyway, Lesley, I`ve always been a big Lesley Stahl fan.

STAHL: And I`m a Chris fan, right down the line.

MATTHEWS: Well, thank you. We like that.

Thank you so much.

STAHL: Sure.

MATTHEWS: That is HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.