Show: HARDBALL Date: June 1, 2016 Guest: Ashley Parker, Barney Frank, Jeff Weaver, Mark Penn, Heidi Przybyla, Luciana Lopez, Josh Marshall, Nick Confessore
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Hillary flunks Donald on Trump U.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews up in New York.
Well, Hillary Clinton hit hard at Donald Trump today in some of her strongest language yet. Responding to newly unsealed documents in the civil case brought by some former Trump University students, Clinton called the Republican nominee to be a "fraud" who took advantage of vulnerable Americans. And that`s her line of attack.
Meanwhile, Trump shows no sign of toning down his own combative rhetoric against Hillary Clinton, President Obama, the media and some other Republicans. He has also targeted the judge in the case against Trump University, hitting him in campaign rallies and interviews as someone he says is biased against him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: The judge has been very unfair, has not done a good job. He`s been a very bad judge. He`s been very unfair. And I will win the Trump University case. I already am, as far as I`m concerned.
I have a judge who is a hater of Donald Trump, a hater! He`s a hater! His name is Gonzalo Curiel. I`m getting railroaded by a legal system that, frankly, they should be ashamed! The judge, who happens to be, we believe, Mexican, which is great -- I think that`s fine...
I think the judge has been extremely hostile to me. I think it has to do with perhaps the fact I`m very, very strong on the border, very, very strong on the border, and he has been extremely hostile to me. We have a very hostile judge. Now, he is Hispanic, I believe. And he is a very hostile judge to me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, the judge was born in Indiana. He is of Mexican descent. A question you have to ask is, Why is Trump getting into this schoolyard fight now, and all these fights, once he`s got the nomination all wrapped up? He`s won this nomination fight. Why is he getting into all these fights?
Robert Costa is a national political reporter for "The Washington Post" and an MSNBC political analyst, Eugene Robinson is a columnist, for "The Washington Post," as well as an MSNBC political analyst, and Ashley Parker is a reporter for "The New York Times." She was at yesterday`s fiery Trump press conference.
Ashley, thank you for joining us. How do you account for the fiery nature of his assaults right now, given the fact he can walk right into the nomination in Cleveland? It`s done.
ASHLEY PARKER, "NEW YORK TIMES": Yes, I think he is either incapable or unwilling to sort of exercise impulse control and rein in that instinct he has, which is to take every slight personally and respond to it. If you talk to his aides, they also say that he wants to send the message, whether it`s to Democrats or Republicans, the media, that if you hit him, he`s going to hit you back 10 times as hard. And he`s not going to relent, even though he`s sort of been (ph) locked up the nomination.
MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you about -- Robert, let me ask you about this thing about the judge. He has a Spanish name. He jumped on it. I mean, it seems to me, based on no evidence, he`s throwing the book at the guy, to the judge, saying he`s somehow concocting some biased judgment of me based on the fact, simply -- and all Trump seems to know -- he doesn`t know what country his parents or great-grandparents, whoever, came from. He doesn`t seem to want that information. The only information he had is he has a Hispanic-sounding name.
And I just wonder, does this represent Trump`s thinking -- Trump`s thinking, or is this sort of working the ref? It doesn`t seem like a smart way to work the ref, to trash some guy and saying he`s already biased against me because of ethic reasons, doesn`t like my politics.
ROBERT COSTA, "WASHINGTON POST," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: For Trump, the personal is the political. He blends everything that goes on with his business projects, his different ventures here at home and abroad, and he puts them at the fore of his campaign. He`s not running on an ideological project. He`s not a party man. It`s the Trump brand at the center, and so when it gets thrown off and if something becomes controversial, he feels compelled -- this is who he is -- to defend it.
MATTHEWS: But isn`t it -- Gene, isn`t it -- well, you know the answer to this one because I read your columns. Isn`t this dangerous to do this broadside on the guy`s name and to make an immediate assumption he`s biased against me because he doesn`t want my wall built, so therefore, he`s bringing the case against me on the university?
EUGENE ROBINSON, "WASHINGTON POST," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. Number one, it`s crazy to go after the judge who has your interests in his hands, basically. The case is pending.
MATTHEWS: Yes. And he says he`s going to win the case.
ROBINSON: That`s not a -- that`s not a rational thing to do. The second thing is, it more than strongly suggests, I say it indicates this animus toward Hispanics that he already has a rap for, he`s already demonstrated, but -- and now he`s just underlining. I mean, if there was any way to drive his numbers among Hispanics even lower than they likely will be or would have been, it would be this, just by saying, The guy`s against me because he`s a Mexican. You know...
MATTHEWS: Well, he doesn`t know whether the guy comes from Barcelona. He has no idea...
ROBINSON: The guy comes from Indiana. So what`s he have against Hoosiers?
MATTHEWS: OK. Anyway, yesterday Trump punched at reporters at a press conference. He called the purpose of the press conference to detail his charitable contributions to veterans` groups. Trump didn`t like the tough questions about commitments he made back in January at that fund-raiser for the troops. Let`s watch him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The press should be ashamed of themselves.
Excuse me. Excuse me. I`ve watched you on television. You`re a real beauty.
I`m not looking for credit. But what I don`t want is when I raise millions of dollars, have people say, like this sleazy guy right over here from ABC -- he`s a sleaze in my book.
QUESTION: Why am I...
TRUMP: You`re a sleaze because you -- you know the facts and you know the facts well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, since wrapping up the nomination last month, Trump has been on steady attack mode. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Oh, look, he`s a president who`s done a horrible job. Everybody understands that.
I see this lowlife tonight. You know, I see this lowlife. And I will never say this, but she screams! It drives me crazy!
She`s married to man who was the worst abuser of women in the history of politics!
Hillary Clinton has somebody -- did you ever hear of Pocahontas? It`s Pocahontas, Elizabeth Warren.
But I won`t talk about Jeb Bush. I will not say -- I will not say he`s low energy. I will not say it.
Poor Mitt Romney. Poor Mitt. He choked like a dog. You ever see in athletics? He`s a choker!
Kristol`s the one that`s -- he`s the last one. Don`t forget, he said Trump will never run. The guy`s not a smart person.
QUESTION: You said you`re committed to party unity. Why not?
QUESTION: What about Susana Martinez, the governor of New Mexico? What about her? Why -- why take that fight on?
TRUMP: She was not nice. And I was fine, just a little bit of a jab. But she wasn`t nice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: OK, Ashley Parker -- I haven`t had you on so many times before, but I am stunned by the fact you`re the straight press, the main bar (ph) press, you write the A-1 stories, and -- like Robert Costa does. And you`re covering this guy objectively, and you got to be objective right (ph) for (ph) the race.
What`s his -- what`s his situation? I was trying to think it through. I always look at rationality. If you`re a business guy like him, you can deal with business press in a very different kind of way. OK, "Business Week," you wrote a bad piece on me, you ain`t getting in for six months. OK, "Fortune" magazine, forget about it.
But the political press surrounds you like a firing squad and he doesn`t like it!
PARKER: I think that`s...
MATTHEWS: He fires back!
PARKER: Yes. I think that`s exactly right. And what was striking to me about that press conference yesterday is that he`s now the Republican nominee for president, and he just seems sort of ill-prepared and resentful of the sort of scrutiny that comes with being a nominee or even a candidate from a major national party.
MATTHEWS: Not defending him for a second, but isn`t there right now a period -- an interregnum right now where the reporters and the editors are using this time to do research, and there`s a lot of enterprising reporting going on against this guy right now, right? I`m reading the papers -- every three -- all the major three papers, the big ones, "The New York Times," "Wall Street Journal," "The Post." Everybody`s got an enterprise piece now about Trump. So it`s really hitting him hard.
PARKER: I think...
MATTHEWS: He doesn`t like it.
PARKER: Sure. I think that`s true. I think there`s people working on enterprise about Trump. I think there`s people working on enterprise about Hillary Clinton. And this is sort of what happens.
MATTHEWS: This week seems to be Trump`s week.
PARKER: I mean, I think it`s sort of a question of when the story pops. But you know, when you run for president, you get good weeks...
MATTHEWS: Oh, I (INAUDIBLE)
PARKER: ... and you get bad weeks.
MATTHEWS: Robert, you`ve been covering -- is that what`s getting to him, the fact that now there`s a period of time now -- you don`t to cover the weekly primaries and caucuses -- there`s time for reporters of your caliber and Ashley`s to sit down and do the study on this guy, and they`re coming up with stuff like Trump University that`s driving this guy crazy? He`s not used to this kind of scrutiny.
COSTA: He`s not. He grew up in the business culture, real estate world, as you said, "Fortune" magazine, these kind of publications. Now it`s every day. And he`s loved it. He`s ridden it for months. At the same time, this is now a general election campaign. This is national as it gets. It`s a spot like he`s never seen, even though he`s a celebrity.
MATTHEWS: And your newspapers are not exactly like "Success" magazine. They don`t come out with the purpose, How can we shine up some CEO, right, Robert?
COSTA: You look at...
MATTHEWS: It`s not their purpose in life to shine up CEOs and say how great it is that we have rich people in this country.
COSTA: Not at all.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, Gene, your thoughts about this. Why do you think he`s squirming now with anger?
MATTHEWS: I mean, he`s shooting in every direction. It`s one thing to attack Hillary. He`s going to run against her. It`s one thing to attack everybody, but to go after the judge, to go after the whole front row -- with the exception of Major Garrett and Hallie Jackson, he hit everybody in the first row the other day.
ROBINSON: You know, he did. Look, I think, in part, it`s the scrutiny. He`s not used to this kind of scrutiny, this degree of scrutiny, and also, in part, this is the way he got here, right, by attacking everybody.
MATTHEWS: Trash talk.
ROBINSON: He had a whole field of 17 Republicans to attack, and he attacked them all and he beat them all. And so I think this is, in part, to the extent that it`s thought through at all, he thinks this is the way he`s going to win. It`s by being Trump.
MATTHEWS: Well, I`m not sure that media`s going to -- (INAUDIBLE) the old thing about you`re fighting with somebody with a barrel of ink. The old argument still applies.
ROBINSON: It sure does.
MATTHEWS: Yesterday, the judge in that lawsuit brought by some former students at Trump University unsealed hundreds of pages of documents in the case. And sales people, according to these documents, were told to focus on people`s sentiments. According to the documents, you don`t sell products, benefits or solutions, you sell feelings. And if they complain - - this is about the buyer -- about the price, remind them that Trump is the best.
Well, that sounds all right. Sales people would suggest that students pay for the course on credit, borrow from their retirement accounts or use their savings. Well, according to one document, We teach the technique of using OPM -- other people`s money. Well, a lot of people do that. One former sales manager testified, I believe that Trump University was a fraudulent scheme and that it preyed upon the elderly and uneducated to separate them from their money.
Well, lawyers for Trump challenged that testimony. Trump himself has argued the complaints come from a small percentage of former students. He said the majority offered positive reviews, and the Trump campaign has released a video in which some students say they were satisfied.
Well, today, Hillary Clinton called Trump -- well, you wouldn`t be surprised she`s calling him a fraud. Let`s watch her.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), FMR. SEC. OF STATE, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Trump and his employees took advantage of vulnerable Americans, encouraging them to max out their credit cards, empty their retirement savings, destroy their financial futures, all while making promises they knew were false from the beginning.
This is just more evidence that Donald Trump himself is a fraud. He is trying to scam America the way he scammed all those people at Trump U.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Let me go to Gene because you write an opinion column, (INAUDIBLE) start with you. Is this smart for Hillary to basically feed off yesterday`s attacks on Trump? That`s what she`s doing.
ROBINSON: Well, I -- yes, I mean...
MATTHEWS: She`s using yesterday`s news each day to hit him the next day.
ROBINSON: Right because that`s the speed at which Trump is going to move, right? He`s very much of the moment. I think it is smart for her to be of the moment.
And I also think that the Clinton campaign clearly sees this as a promising theme against Trump, that he is -- that he is a fraud, that he is inherently fraudulent, that he`s not all he claims to be. He`s not as rich as he claims to be. He`s not -- he`s not honest. This Trump University thing wasn`t a real university. All his -- despite all the grandiosity, there`s nothing there.
Now, that`ll be a theme, I think, of the Clinton campaign. And it`s potentially an effective one because his image that he tries to establish is of a successful billionaire.
MATTHEWS: Yes, I know.
ROBINSON: Right? And so if you undermine that, you know, what`s left?
MATTHEWS: Well, Ashley, here`s a question. Do you think Trump (INAUDIBLE) on your reporting, and then I`ll get to Robert, is able to counter by, OK, you want to talk about my turf, let me show you the buildings I put up. Let me show you what I`ve done in my life. What have you ever done, Hillary? What have you ever built? What have you ever done? What job have you ever created? Go ahead, talk about my business success.
Isn`t that inviting him? I know it`s a bad week for him. I think he`s in a slump. But if he starts inviting her, his opponents and their ad writers into his territory -- Let`s talk abut my business success. Yes, I`ll fight that one.
PARKER: That`s certainly a compelling argument he could make. I mean, this was sort of the line of attack that was made against Mitt Romney in 2012...
PARKER: ... sort of the Bain vulture capitalism, and it -- and it was devastating for Mitt Romney. But Mitt Romney never owned his wealth. Donald Trump is sort of proud of his success...
PARKER: ... proud of his wealth. And (INAUDIBLE) I think that would be an effective way for him to counter back. But first they have to even make this attack stick, which they haven`t necessarily done.
MATTHEWS: You mean about the fraud of the university?
MATTHEWS: Robert, your thoughts. Can he counterattack here? Can he say (INAUDIBLE) thanks for fighting on my turf? I`ve always thought it`s dangerous to get into somebody else`s business affairs because they always know it more than you know it, no matter who you are, how...
COSTA: And Ashley`s spot on. I mean, Trump owns his wealth. This is who he is. He loves self-promotion, loves to promote his brand and his businesses. He`d rather talk about that than policy. And so if you`re going to go at him as a political opponent, like Secretary Clinton, you should expect a fight because this loves to fight and loves to promote. So that`s what I would expect to see in response.
MATTHEWS: And I think what killed, by the way, Mitt Romney wasn`t Bain (INAUDIBLE) chop shop stuff didn`t look good because it cost people jobs.
PARKER: Didn`t help.
MATTHEWS: But the 47 percent still brought him down. He had a bartender he didn`t want as an enemy, and he got one...
MATTHEWS: You have to make friends with the bartenders whenever you do an event because somebody`s got a tape running!
Anyway, thank you, Robert Costa. Thank you, Gene Robinson. And most importantly, thank you, Ashley Parker, for being right here.
Coming up -- Bernie Sanders plans to fight all the way into the Democratic convention. He`s at war now with some of the biggest liberal icons in the Democratic Party, including former U.S. congressman Barney Frank. Tonight, Barney Frank faces off with Sanders`s campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, right here on HARDBALL.
Plus, what`s Hillary Clinton`s best strategy for victory? Long-time Clinton strategist and pollster Mark Penn says she needs to build up her own positive leadership qualities and not focus on tearing down Donald Trump. We`ll go inside the Clinton playbook tonight.
And you`ll want to stick around for the HARDBALL roundtable tonight. They`re coming here to tell us three things about the presidential race you might not know, including how the "Never say die" attitude of the Sanders campaign comes straight from the top.
Finally, "Let Me Finish" by paying tribute to an outlying (ph) hero of the equality movement.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Well, President Obama took some swipes at Donald Trump and his economic policies today. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In today`s economy, we can`t put up walls around America. We`re not going to round up 11 million people.
We`re going to transform our politics so that they`re actually responsive to working families and are actually growing the middle class. And we`ve got to stop pitting working Americans against each other.
The Republican nominee for president`s tax plan would give the top 1 tenth of 1 percent -- not top 1 percent, top 1 tenth of 1 percent, a bigger tax cut than the 120 million American households at the bottom! It would explode our deficit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: He`s flying high. And we`ll be right back after this.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Throughout his campaign, Senator Sanders has not shied from attacking prominent Democrats, including liberal lions like Senator Barbara Boxer of California, and more recently Governor Jerry Brown, who endorsed Hillary Clinton yesterday.
Sanders reacted to that news on KCBS radio, dismissing Brown as a member of the Democratic establishment.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will tell you that in every state that we have gone into, we have taken on the entire Democratic establishment, whether the governors or senators, with one exception in Oregon. So it is not surprising to me that, you know, we will have other Democratic establishment supporting Hillary Clinton.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, the Sanders campaign is also going after former U.S. congressman Barney Frank of Massachusetts, asking the DNC last week to remove Frank as co-chair of the convention Rules Committee. The challenge (ph) reads, quote, "The campaign has justifiable significant doubts in light of his past and present comments about whether Mr. Frank is capable of respecting Sanders supporters and what he has call their `dumb` and `unrealistic` viewpoints."
Well, the DNC rejected the challenge. The letter also indicated that the campaign would be willing to take the issue to the floor of the convention, if necessary.
Well, this comes as a new NBC News Marist poll out today shows a tight race out in California. Clinton leads Sanders by just 2 percentage points, 49 to 47 -- obviously in the margin of error.
I`m joined right now by Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver and by U.S. -- former U.S. Congressman Barney Frank of Massachusetts, who supports Hillary Clinton.
Thank you, Jeff, for joining us.
JEFF WEAVER, BERNIE SANDERS CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Happy to be here.
MATTHEWS: Are you guys still trying to get -- remove Congressman Frank as chair of the rules committee of the convention?
WEAVER: Well, look, Congressman Frank has been a very hostile and aggressive attack surrogate for the secretary.
And I think, going into the convention, it would do everybody a lot of good to have people who, while they may be Clinton supporters, have played a less divisive role, not only insulting the senator, saying he hasn`t accomplished anything in 25 years, calling him a McCarthyite, but also insulting really what at this points represents 45 percent of the Democratic Party.
I think a lot of people don`t have confidence that somebody who is willing to dismiss that large a segment of the rank and file can be a fair adjudicator.
Congressman Frank, what do you think about this call that has been apparently rejected by the committee?
BARNEY FRANK (D), FORMER MASSACHUSETTS CONGRESSMAN: Well, first of all, let me start on a conciliatory note. I was very happy to hear Mr. Weaver say 45 percent of the Democratic Party, conceding that Hillary Clinton represents 55 percent, because I think it`s very important for people to understand that Hillary Clinton is very likely to win the nomination, not by any trickery or slight of hand, but because she`s been supported by a majority.
Secondly, yes, I have been critical of Senator Sanders. I`m somewhat surprised to hear a Sanders representative complain about divisive rhetoric. It seems to me that both he and I, Senator Sanders and I, have been very willing to speak out and be critical of other people.
I don`t think a one-sided objection to tough rhetoric is relevant. The next thing I would say is, this letter claimed that I had this longtime opposition to Senator Sanders. They quoted something I said in `91, which I did say, back at a time when he was still claiming that, as an independent, he would be sort of equidistant from the Democratic and Republican parties.
And I`m glad he`s now understood that was wrong. But, in fact, they forget -- maybe Senator Sanders forgot to tell them -- that, in the earlier part of this century, as a senior member of the Banking Committee, at Senator Sanders` request, I went to Burlington to have a fund-raiser for him.
And, frankly, as a senior member of the Banking Committee, sometimes, when I did fund-raisers, a bank or two showed up. So, I hope, for the sake of Senator Sanders` purity, they can scrub that and see, maybe they need to give some money back.
Finally, the role of the rules committee is a very, very small one. It has nothing to do with any of the issues that will decide who gets to be the nominee. What it does is enforce the parliamentary procedure. As a member of the House, as a chairman of a committee, one of my hobbies is parliamentary procedure. And that`s why I was asked to do that.
Let me just make this point. Under the rules, Senator Sanders and his group will be able to issue, make amendments to the platform. I intend to enforce their right to do that. Senator Sanders will get nominated. He will make a speech. My role is to make sure that all of those rights that Senator Sanders has under the rules at the Democratic Convention are fully honored.
WEAVER: Even if the policies are dumb and unrealistic, I`m sure.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about the whole -- I do understand why, I think, from the outside, why Senator Sanders is making this a fight to the end, because he deserves to. He`s raised the money. He`s got the kids and the crowds. He`s got a lot of things going for him.
I understand. Why quit when you`re ahead? You also have the doubtful question about e-mails and what that might do outside the factor here, outside the campaign by both sides. All that is up in the air.
But here`s what I don`t get, the simple dynamics of this. According to your candidate, he says he wants to wait until the superdelegates actually cast their votes. Well, they don`t actually cast their votes until you cast the votes on the Wednesday of the convention. How does he get a speaking gig Monday or Tuesday night, at the sufferance of the probable nominee, if he hasn`t conceded the election until he loses on Wednesday?
This is what I don`t get. Is your candidate going to fight this thing until the actual roll call? And if so, how do you get a concessionary speech -- speaking -- prime-time speaking opportunity Monday or Tuesday night, if the roll call is not until Wednesday? Explain how that works.
WEAVER: Well, all of this will have to be debated.
MATTHEWS: No, no, how does it work logically? If you`re still running against Hillary Clinton, why should the convention give you a speaking opportunity to speak against the probable nominee Monday or Tuesday night?
WEAVER: Why should -- it`s not about giving. It`s about over 10 million people who supported Senator Sanders, about 2.5 million small donors in this country.
MATTHEWS: So, you will ask for a speaking opportunity on Monday or Tuesday night while you`re still running on Wednesday night? That`s all I`m asking. Is that the way it looks right now?
WEAVER: Of course Senator Sanders should have a prominent speaking role at the convention. That would be ludicrous.
MATTHEWS: Even though he`s still a candidate going into Wednesday?
WEAVER: Especially he`s a candidate going into Wednesday.
MATTHEWS: Well, then it`s a campaign speech at the convention.
MATTHEWS: He`s running as a candidate on Monday or Tuesday night in prime time against Hillary Clinton. Now, should she get a prime-time speaking gig too to match it if she`s still...
WEAVER: Sure. We will work this all out, Chris. We can work it out. Everybody is grown up here.
WEAVER: Everybody`s a grownup here.
MATTHEWS: You`re going to get a prime-time speaking opportunity Monday or Tuesday night, and you`re still going to demand a fight on the roll call on Wednesday night. I don`t understand how that works.
It`s never happened before. Just explain what it looks like.
WEAVER: Well, you know, Chris, there`s a lot of things that have never happened before. That`s the whole point of this campaign.
There`s a lot going on in this country that shouldn`t be going on that we need to change. That`s what Bernie Sanders is about. Just because it`s the convention doesn`t mean -- I mean the convention in the usual way of things -- doesn`t mean that`s the way it has to happen this time.
We`re going have a discussion, of course.
Mr. Frank, Congressman, how do you see that happening in the rules? How do you allow someone to come in and speak Monday or Tuesday night, a candidate for -- a candidate, an active candidate? Do they get a speaking opportunity in prime time Monday or Tuesday night, Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders? How does that work?
FRANK: Well, it could be. Well, it could be worked.
Chris, look, I hope this will be -- as I said, I think Senator Sanders has all these rights. I will say this. And I am one who has never said he should drop out. Of course he should continue to run. I just wish he could not be that unfair comment that Lyndon Johnson made about Gerald Ford.
It was very unfair, that he couldn`t walk and chew gum at the same time. And, as you know, he didn`t really say walk. And I would hope that Senator Sanders could continue to make the case why she should be the nominee, while not ignoring Donald Trump.
One of the things Mr. Weaver said that did trouble me was, well, at one point, we`re only focused on June 14. We`re not focused on what happens after.
Well, we do know there`s an election. And, yes, things you say now will have an impact later. I don`t understand why Senator Sanders cannot vigorously continue his candidacy and his theme, but also spend as much time on Donald Trump, given that by the time the Washington, D.C., primary is over in two weeks, it will be clear that Hillary Clinton has a significant majority of the pledged delegates, reflecting her significant majority of the votes.
And given that, working out -- if Senator Sanders speaks while he`s still technically a candidate, even though it`s clear he is going to lose, I don`t see any problem with that.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you, Jeff.
MATTHEWS: Go ahead. Go ahead. Go ahead.
WEAVER: Obviously, if Mr. Frank thinks that Bernie Sanders has not criticized Trump, he`s obviously not one of the over 1.2 million people who have attended a Bernie Sanders rally.
MATTHEWS: Well, that`s true. He hasn`t.
FRANK: Well, no, but I read -- I see the ads, for instance. I haven`t seen any of the ads being critical of Trump. I didn`t say he never criticized him.
WEAVER: I think you should read the media accounts, Mr. Frank.
FRANK: I`m sorry. I think you should not interrupt me. Let`s all be civil.
I think the fact that...
MATTHEWS: One at a time. (CROSSTALK)
FRANK: Why the chip?
The fact is that, overwhelmingly, Senator Sanders has focused more on Donald Trump. Hillary Clinton has been doing both. And I think that is unfortunate. And, by the way, Senator Sanders says -- and, of course, that`s the case -- given the things that have motivated him, of course he`s going to want to see Donald Trump defeated if he`s not the nominee, as I believe he won`t be.
But I think waiting until the very end is a mistake. And, yes, he has made a couple of comments about Donald Trump. The last thing I saw of him being critical of Trump was that Trump wouldn`t him.
But it`s clearly the case that much more than Hillary Clinton Bernie Sanders has focused on the intra-Democratic issues, and not on the critical case for all the values that we share as people who are participating in this process of defeating Donald Trump.
MATTHEWS: Jeff, one last question.
Why do you think Trump is holding out his tax returns? Everybody says he is going to be under tremendous pressure if he`s -- he`s going to be the nominee obviously. Going into November against either candidate, either your candidate or the other one, Hillary Clinton, he`s under incredible pressure to release his tax returns.
He refuges to do it. He keeps saying I`m under audit, which nobody believes. Why do you think he`s not doing that?
WEAVER: I don`t know. There`s been a lot of speculation, obviously.
Maybe he doesn`t make as much as he says he makes. Or maybe he pays a much lower tax rate than people think he would -- otherwise should pay. There`s obviously something he`s trying to conceal. And he ought to release his tax returns.
MATTHEWS: There`s something he`s trying to conceal.
So, why is your candidates not releasing his tax returns? What is he trying to conceal?
WEAVER: Well, he did release some of his tax returns.
MATTHEWS: One year. One year. He`s been in public life for 20-some years.
WEAVER: And he`s got House and Senate ethics reports dating back for forever.
MATTHEWS: Yes, but why not his tax returns? You just said that Trump is hiding something by not releasing his tax returns.
What is your candidate hiding?
WEAVER: Well, my candidate is not hiding anything.
MATTHEWS: Well, why doesn`t he release his tax returns? He`s released one year, `14. That`s it.
WEAVER: He has released some.
MATTHEWS: One year.
WEAVER: And he has House and Senate ethics reports.
MATTHEWS: You just said a minute ago that the fact that a politician who is running for president is not releasing his tax returns has something to hide.
WEAVER: Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. You asked about Donald Trump, Chris.
MATTHEWS: OK. I asked you, why wouldn`t he release his tax returns?
WEAVER: You didn`t say any politician. This is not a hypothetical. You said, why is Donald Trump not revealing his tax returns?
MATTHEWS: Fine. Fine. Fine.
You said that Donald Trump would not release tax returns because he was obviously trying to hide something. What is Senator Sanders hiding?
WEAVER: He`s hiding nothing.
And I think if you talk to anybody in the media who saw those tax returns for 2014, everybody thought there was going to be some big thing in there. You know what there was in there was? Zero.
MATTHEWS: I`m just asking you the question, live question right now.
You just went after Trump for not releasing his returns. Why doesn`t your guy do it?
WEAVER: Yes, because Trump -- look, because Trump is a flimflam artist and a fraud. I think we have seen that with his university.
MATTHEWS: No, flimflam is when you don`t adjust yourself to the question I just asked. Why doesn`t your guy release the returns? You didn`t answer.
WEAVER: I think that he will.
MATTHEWS: Oh, he will?
WEAVER: Sure. He said he will.
MATTHEWS: Senator Sanders will release his tax returns during the course of this campaign?
WEAVER: He said he would.
MATTHEWS: Before the convention?
WEAVER: He said he would, yes.
MATTHEWS: Well, can you give me a date?
WEAVER: I will be happy to get you a date, Chris.
MATTHEWS: OK. Then we`re making news.
Thank you, Jeff Weaver. You have cleared this thing up. We have learned something.
WEAVER: As always. As always.
MATTHEWS: Thank you.
Congressman Frank, thank you, as always, for coming on.
Up next, course correction? Should the Hillary Clinton campaign play up her positives and lay off the Trump bashing? We have got her former chief strategist coming here with advice for the Democratic front-runner.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger. Here`s what`s happening.
According to NBC`s Pete Williams, a former State Department I.T. specialist who set up the private e-mail server in Hillary Clinton`s home plans to take the Fifth during a deposition set for June 6. The aide has already been granted immunity in a separate FBI investigation.
Two people are dead in an apparent murder/suicide at a UCLA engineering lab. The shooting sent the campus into lockdown for several hours.
And a ship has picked up signals believed to be from the black boxes of EgyptAir Flight 804. The plane disappeared from radar on May 19 -- back to HARDBALL.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is just more evidence that Donald Trump, himself, is a fraud. He is trying to scam America the way he scammed all those people at Trump U.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Welcome back to behind.
That was Hillary Clinton of course going on the attack against Donald Trump today.
But her former chief strategist says Clinton should stop tearing down Trump and focus on a positive message that drives up her favorable numbers.
Mark Penn tells Politico: "From her point of view, establishing positives is far more important to winning. Why spend so much energy attacking Trump? What difference does it make, when he`s over 57 percent negative and she has a lot of leadership qualities that have gone unsung? It`s like beating a dead horse."
Anyway, voters have high unfavorable views of both Trump and Secretary Clinton. The latest poll from Quinnipiac University shows Clinton with a 57 unfavorability rating and Trump at 59 percent.
Mark Penn is the former chief strategist to Hillary Clinton`s 2008 campaign. And Heidi Przybyla is political reporter for "USA Today."
Mark, thank you for joining in. Heidi, as always.
How do you shift in an atmosphere where the press has really sort of got a crossfire going against Trump on his university and everything? Now everybody`s doing enterprise reporting, as I said, against him. Why isn`t it smart for Hillary to just plow on, Mark?
MARK PENN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I think she`s got to have a mix here.
Take today`s story about Trump University. Look, push off and say, look, his idea of a university is something that people are bankrupted by. My idea of a university is something that people get an education and that we get universal pre-K and universal education through the first three years of college.
Imagine that sound bite. She`s got to balance here between the negative, because after all, Trump is universally disliked. And raising her positives. I think if she raises her positives by five points, this race will be a runaway.
MATTHEWS: Heidi, can Hillary go improve her image? I don`t know. The funny thing was all time she is secretary of state, her numbers were going up.
HEIDI PRZYBYLA, "USA TODAY": Right.
MATTHEWS: What did she do differently that`s changed it into a negative situation for her?
PRZYBYLA: Well, first of all, Chris, those numbers coming down were inevitably going to come down over the summer as she became a candidate. And that was among Republicans who decided when she was secretary of state that she was OK and inevitably coming down.
But she has a big problem today both on likability and favorability -- or on favorability and trustworthiness. I honestly think that the e-mail I.G. report and everything that is going to on with the e-mails is unfortunately baking into the cake, the trustworthy numbers which would take a long time to change.
But I do think she can do something about the likability numbers. And I talked to her campaign today. They`re doing a number of things, they feel, to address that situation. But like Mark said, it`s a two-pronged approach.
On a news day when you have something coming out as explosive as these documents being unsealed about these former Trump University students and even teachers making the allegations that they`re making, she`s got to go on the offensive.
Democrats also want a fighter and that has been part of her slogan as well, fighting for you. She`s got to show that she has that fight.
MATTHEWS: Mark, it`s unusual because you`re one of the most respected guys around. I`m warming you up now for what I`m going to do to you now.
Why do you have to come on television to tell Hillary what to do? Can`t you get on the phone with her?
PENN: Sure. But that`s not the issue.
MATTHEWS: That is the answer. You want to help her, you do a better job. Why don`t you just tell her?
PRZYBYLA: You asked him to come on.
PENN: I think that the issue is, look, I think we have got to stop Trump. And the question is, do you stop Trump by thumping Trump or do you stop Trump by taking two or three issues, whether they be education or infrastructure, and pushing them along really strongly?
MATTHEWS: Let`s talk an example. Bill Clinton was impeached and then he survived. He didn`t get convicted by the Senate. We all know that.
And all through that managed -- he was taking a hit from the media, including me. Everybody was hitting him all through that year. He still had 60-some percent popularity and favorability. How was he able to keep everyone jolly about him even when the evidence came in that he wasn`t telling the truth, he did have that situation with the intern, former intern, and all the time his numbers are going -- is that simply a function of good economics and how can Hillary learn from her husband, if that is a way of doing that?
How did he stay so flying high during the worst storm of crap any president has been through in modern history and he comes out looking like a good guy to most people?
PENN: I lived through that for a year.
MATTHEWS: I know you did.
PENN: And the answer was an issue a day.
We went back on campaign footing. And we said, look, I`m not here today to talk about this. What I`m here today to do is talk about education. And every day, he kept the public focused that he was doing his job and he was doing a great job as president.
And, yes, that kept his ratings all the time above 50 percent, because the minute you fall below 50 percent, everybody piles on. And that`s the mission I think that she`s got to emphasize. Getting above 50 is a critical mission, and she will wipe Trump out.
MATTHEWS: I think that`s part the ability of Bill Clinton, Heidi, to compartmentalize his very being. He was able to give speeches on health care and stuff like that with all the storm raging around him.
Most people who have had a little problem with the media, been in the media like me or anything else, his ability to just -- to absorb that and to somehow fly high, can Hillary do that, just be happy no matter how many shots are coming against you?
PENN: That`s the hardest thing.
PRZYBYLA: I guess that`s to be seen.
But I think part of the strategy is fighting Donald Trump on those qualities of temperament, regardless of what she is able to do. She can continue to try and drive down his numbers, because I actually disagree a little bit with Mark on making this an issues campaign.
I don`t think this is an issues campaign for a number of reasons, including that Donald Trump can box her out to the right. He can box her out to the left. He`s been all over the place on a number of issues. And on some of the key issues that matter to her base, like trade, he`s really kind of more of a populist.
PRZYBYLA: So, what you see is the campaign is kind of framing this around the temperament issue and do you want someone like this, you know, having the nuclear codes and kind of do you want him to be -- do you see someone like this being the commander in chief.
MATTHEWS: Yeah, I think the dangerous thing does work. He is dangerous but I tell you, I think, Trump even when he makes mistakes, he`s still leading the agenda. I think Mark read about that. If everyday, Hillary just cleans up or for the other guy the next day is simply follows his agenda. There`s not a lot of dream there. There`s not a lot of hope.
Anyway, thank you, Mark and I thank you Heidi Przybyla. It`s a great argument.
Up next, the HARDBALL Roundtable is coming here with a look at Bernie Sanders and what`s behind his ongoing attacks against the Democratic Party, people like Barbara Boxer and Jerry Brown. He`s hitting everybody, Barney Frank.
HARDBALL, the place for politics, is coming back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. We just heard Sanders campaign manager, Jeff Weaver early in the show hitting Democrats and vowing that his candidate will fight on into the convention in Philadelphia despite the odds.
So in a recent post in Talking Points Memo, founder and editor, Josh Marshall, wrote about who`s behind the campaigns attacking never say die behavior saying, "It comes from the top. For months I`d written and written that Sanders campaign manager, Jeff Weaver was the key driver of toxicity in the Democratic primary race. But now I realize I had that wrong. This should have been obvious to me. The tone and tenor of a campaign always come from the top."
That`s Josh Marshall and he`s here on the HARDBALL Roundtable along with Luciana Lopez, political correspondent for Reuters and Nick Confessore, political writer for "The New York Times".
So, Josh, explain this thing about this. I do believe in the basic theme, I think it was Mike Dukakis who said the fish rots from the top.
JOSH MARSHALL, TALKING POINTS MEMO: Yup, yup.
MATHEWS: OK. Explain to me why you get this sort of truculence coming out of a, I think, it is from the Sanders campaign, maybe just never say die, how do you describe it?
MARSHALL: You know, I think it`s a mix of sort of an insurgent mentality and a lot of denial and I think some of it`s from the candidate, some of it`s from the supporters. There`s always a synergy going on there. But when I wrote that post it was after talking to a lot of people, fairly high level people in the Sanders campaign and getting a sense of what it was like on the inside.
And as I said, I mean, kind of it should have been obvious to me, I mean, a campaign is really defined by the candidate. But from what I heard, you know, Sanders has a bit of a temper, right? And he has bit of a -- he can be kind of recalcitrant and that can be a good thing if you`re sort of fighting the establishment. But, you know, that has -- that plays out a certain way in a primary.
MATTHEWS: Part of this is PR. I mean, he submits a message, he transmits a message to his supporters out in California, especially right now and he can still win this thing even though the numbers aren`t there, even though out of just the numbers you win through primaries and caucuses, legitimately, could argue from his point of view. Hillary`s way ahead. It`s not about the superdelegates. He can win now, the superdelagates tilt in direction to him against how the primary voters voted.
LUCIANA LOPEZ, REUTERS POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it`s not tilt in direction of him but just sort of fall off a cliff in direction of him. That`s really the only way .
MATTHEWS: But it is what he`s selling.
LOPEZ: It is. But here`s the thing, he could still affect a lot of change in the Democratic Party. There`s still a lot he can do. But if he throws in the towel now and he says, "OK, Hillary, you`ve got it .
MATTHEWS: When does he throw it in? Before the convention?
LOPEZ: I mean, certainly he throws in before California. I mean, what he`s been saying all along is everyone should have their say, everyone should have the chance to, you know, weigh in on this.
MATTHEWS: OK. Well, he`s doing more than just doing that. He wants to throw out Barney Frank, he`s the head of the rules committee. He`s making a lot of -- taking a lot of shots at Barbara Boxer and Jerry Brown. I mean, this is a fighting man here now.
NICHOLAS CONFESSORE, "THE NEW YORK TIMES" POLITICAL WRITER: Well, look, he`s going after some of the platform committee people, the rules committee people. Barney Frank was on your show saying that all he does is handle the rules on the floor. But that`s really a really big deal if you`re Barney Frank, I`m sorry, Bernie Sanders and you want come in and force some changes on the platform, force some votes on things. I don`t think any one can tell Bernie Sanders he shouldn`t go to the convention and fight for those things he believes in and the Clinton people certainly haven`t said that.
MATTHEWS: You think he should have to become a Democrat under the rules, join the party?
CONFESSORE: It`s not my party, so.
MATTHEWS: No, I`m just wondering what the rules say. Don`t the rules say anything about being a Democrat? I hate the harp (ph) this, but it .
MATTHEWS: He says he will become a Democrat after this election. And that means if he runs again for the Senate, he will run as a Democrat. I don`t believe that yet. I don`t think that`s .
MARSHALL: I`m not sure I believe but .
MATTHEW: I think he`s an independent.
MARSHALL: I think the real issue here is it`s not how long he stays in the race, it is that he`s -- he has, for the last couple of months, been basing his campaign less and less on social Democratic policies that he supports and more and more on this idea that he is been robbed.
MATTHEWS: OK. So that is so third world. That is what happens in all the developing countries. If you lose an election it was stolen from you and if you win, you arrest the person you beat. I mean, like you know, Trump talks like that .
MATTHEWS: . has their own problems. But no, you know what I mean, it`s like it can`t be fair if I lose. There must be something wrong, if I -- I was robbed.
LOPEZ: And one thing, that`s a problem with his narrative, if he loses he was robbed and if he wins, it`s OK .
MATTHEWS: That`s what I mean. Does anybody believe now he`s going to say I lost fair and square? Hillary beat me fair and square? Does anybody expect that?
CONFESSORE: But (inaudible) a little bit in recent days, he said the rules were the rules. We knew what the rules we`re going in. So, I`ve seen him try to temper it a bit. I would say, I went back and look at some of the things that Clinton and our team were saying in 2008 at the very tail end, (inaudible) back then too, whites won`t vote for him .
CONFESSORE: . it`s a slap in face for him to have a rally on the day .
CONFESSORE: You know, she then came back and I think worked pretty hard .
MATTHEWS: I know, well, she gave one of the great positive .
CONFESSORE: And when Sanders .
MATTHEWS: . speeches ever given at that convention. Remember? That was one hell of a speech. I don`t know if Bernie`s going to do that. Barney might.
Anyway, the Roundtable sticking with us. Up next, these three will tell me something I don`t know. This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Some fun numbers in a new Quinnipiac poll today they asked who would you rather have come to your aid when you have a personal crisis, Clinton or Trump? 47% said Hillary Clinton come to our aid, 41 percent less said Donald Trump.
And another one, who would you rather invite to your backyard barbecue? No surprise here, 47 percent chose Trump, 39 percent Clinton. Interesting.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: We`re back with the HARDBALL Roundtable. Josh, tell me something I don`t know.
MARSHALL: Well, we have a piece coming out tomorrow. One of the things in there is that, you know, Trump is rallying against the law firm that`s hitting the California over Trump University or the guy, the lead attorney for the plaintiffs is the same guy who handled the Duke Cunningham case back a decade ago. So, this guy has experience, you know, really handing it to big buffoons. So, you know .
MATTHEW: This guy is going after Duke Cunningham and now he`s going after Trump.
MARSHALL: Yeah. Yeah.
LOPEZ: Look, for Hillary Clinton to double down on Asian American Pacific Islander voters in California. right now .
MATTHEWS: What`s the percent of the Democratic vote out there, this Asian American?
LOPEZ: Well, I mean, API groups are saying that it could be 10 percent or even higher and Hillary Clinton has done a fair bit of API events more so than other candidate. And she`s consistently courted this group. And they`re the fastest growing ethnic group in United States. Some people say they`re kind of where Latinos and Hispanics were like maybe 10 years ago, a little bit under the radar, the kind of gathering and consolidating their electoral power.
LOPEZ: And so, she`s looking to court those voters now.
MATTHEWS: They`re about 4 percent nationally, but lot more out there. Anyway, Nick.
CONFESSORE: My fact is also about that Trump lawsuit. It turns out according to a piece on lawnews.com, the same law firm that is helping sue or do the class action lawsuit is part of the Hillary Clinton speaking fee network. The firm has paid Bill and Hillary Clinton $675,000 in speaking fees and is now organizing a class action against Donald Trump. I`m sure it`s a coincidence.
MATTHEWS: And we know a lot about that. Anyway, thank you, Josh Marshall, Luciana Lopez and Nick Confessore.
When we return, let me finish by paying tribute to an outlying hero of the equality movement.
You`re watching "Hardaball", the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight by paying tribute to an outlying hero of the equality movement, Barry Goldwater, Mr. Conservative, to defense on the right once famously said that politics has no business in the bedroom, was one way he argues in his great new book "We the People". You might think back to that declaration by the man who had been the 1964 Republican presidential candidate. That`s right.
If you want to trace the evolution of human rights from the time of the founding policies in the present, they recognize them, gay rights reserving mark in that long line of progress to Goldwater. Goldwater loudly advocated for equal rights for gays arguing that they arise from his conservative reverence for the constitution and its guarantees of personal liberty.
A pilot had served in World War II, he denounced the military`s "Don`t ask, don`t tell" policy. "You don`t need to be straight to die for you`re country, you just need to shoot straight," he say. "You don`t have to agree with it," Goldwater told a reporter. "Politics has no business in the bed room. And that goes for pursuit of a military, the corporate world or even the White House." Well, that was Goldwater speaking.
In 1993, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the protections for equal rights should apply to all Americans, including gays and has struck down DOMA, teh Defense of Marriage Act. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote (ph) it would be a deprivation of the liberty promised by the original founding fathers and would undermine the idea of a nation of law that promises equal rights to all.
I`m not surprised to see Dr. King, Justice Thurgood Marshal, Eleanor Roosevelt, the Kennedy`s mother, progresses in a book of modern day figures which shaped the founding father`s vision of what America is today. The author of "We the People" deserves special credit for placing the name of Barry Goldwater prominently on the list.
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.
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