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Hardball With Chris Matthews, Transcript, 6/17/2016

Guests: John Feehery, Sen. Bob Casey, Ken Vogel, Jay Newton-Small, Paul Singer, Ezra Edelman, Joshua DuBois, Todd Rutherford

Show: HARDBALL Date: June 17, 2016 Guest: John Feehery, Sen. Bob Casey, Ken Vogel, Jay Newton-Small, Paul Singer, Ezra Edelman, Joshua DuBois, Todd Rutherford

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Conscience of a conservative.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

Donald Trump ends the week down in the polls, outmatched in fund-raising and coming under intense criticism from a number of Republican leaders for comments he has made since the shooting in Orlando. Speaker Paul Ryan told my colleague, Chuck Todd, Republicans should vote their conscience, and he called the 2016 matchup "a very strange situation."

Well, still the Republican nominee to be isn`t changing his tune. Today, he tweeted, "People very unhappy with crooked Hillary and Obama on jobs and safety. Biggest trade deficit in many years. More attacks will follow Orlando."

Well, last night, Trump stuck by his controversial call to ban Muslim immigration.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: We`re allowing thousands and thousands of people to come into our country from countries that are terrorists countries!

And what`s happening is a percentage of the people coming in -- and I`ve been pretty good at this stuff. I`ve been a good prognosticator. I also said keep the oil. I said a lot of good things. I mean, I`ve been pretty good at this stuff, OK?


MATTHEWS: For the past five days, Trump has made tough insinuations about the president, defended a blanket ban on Muslims, as I said, and suggested Muslim Americans know about terrorists in their communities but won`t or aren`t turning them in.


TRUMP: We`re led by a man that either is -- is -- is not tough, not smart, or he`s got something else in mind. And the something else in mind -- you know, people can`t believe it!

Muslims are the ones that see what`s going on. The Muslims are the ones that have to report them. And if they don`t report them, then there have be consequences to them.

We`re taking in thousands of people into our country. We have no idea where they come from. We have no idea who the hell they are.

I`m getting thousands of letters and tweets that I was right about the whole situation. I mean, I`ve been right about a lot of things, frankly.


MATTHEWS: Well, Trump`s talk has alienated many Republicans. The former governor of Oklahoma, for example, Frank Keating, told "The New York Times" today, "Frequently, Mr. Trump`s tone is hysterical, and there`s simply no reason for that. Leaders, whether they`re governors or presidents, need to make sure they don`t create a bloodlust hysteria." That`s Frank Keating talking.

David Corn is Washington bureau chief for "Mother Jones" and an MSNBC political analyst. NBC`s Hallie Jackson is covering the Republican campaign. And John Feehery is Republican strategist.

Hallie, you`re out there again, and I want to ask you about Trump. He seems to be going back to what worked for him in the beginning, to talk about the Muslim ban. It`s almost like going back to square one.

Does that mean they don`t have plan for a larger effort to win 65 million votes this November, after winning the 13 million in the primaries?

HALLIE JACKSON, NBC CORRESPONDENT: So I think he never left square one, Chris. He`s always been on square one. He`s always had this plan. It worked for him in the primaries. The thinking from Trump seems to be, Why change it now? The question is, Do they have plan to try to go after Hillary Clinton in a more focused way, the way that a number of Republican operatives would like them to see?

The campaign does. When you talk to people inside the campaign, they have a clear way that they plan to after Hillary Clinton, that they plan to make the turn to the general election. But what you hear again and again is it`s Donald Trump`s show. He is the one who ultimately will decide what to do.

You are seeing him, for example, get more comfortable, I`m told, reading from a teleprompter, figuring out how to make those speeches happen in a way that is comfortable for him when they are scripted. The rallies, however, like the one here tonight -- it`s a different story.

MATTHEWS: Well, let me try something by you because you`re a student of this, as we all are. And I`m thinking, Trump came into this race with a good hunch. He knew the country was upset about all kinds of things, especially trade. He knew the average working family felt they were getting hurt by foreign trade and by China especially because everything`s coming from China. We`re not sending anything anywhere else in the world. He had a lot of good hunches. (INAUDIBLE) ugly in some cases, but he did make sense politically.

But that life experience -- he hasn`t been having a life experience the last year. His experience of the last year is as a candidate. He`s living the life experience of a politician, which is isolated and it`s hermetic. It`s inside. You don`t grasp onto those hunches, those life experiences which give you a reason for running in the first place.

In other words, he came in with a lot of gas in his tank. He hasn`t been able to refuel for a year because he`s surrounded by us. He`s not surrounded by regular people. He`s not learning things about life attitudes, about immigration, about -- immigration, about trade, about all kinds of things, about the wars we get stuck into.

He seemed to have hunches. Is he not getting any hunches off the trail because he`s in this hermetically sealed non-real world of politics?

JACKSON: And he`s literally actually in a bubble, as well.


MATTHEWS: That`s exactly what I`m talking about.

JACKSON: No, but you know what I`m saying? Like, even when he comes to these rallies, he`s not necessarily interacting with the people the way that you would during the primary season, when he really didn`t even get much of chance to do that because he got Secret Service protection so early. So he does shake hands on the rope lines, but you`re right, in that that`s a very different experience from what he is living.

That said, what you see from Donald Trump is him drawing on the life experiences from prior to his time...


JACKSON: ... in politics. It`s an interesting -- I don`t know. It`s a good thought experiment to have, Chris. I mean, it`s a good way to think about it, this idea that he is...

MATTHEWS: I`m trying to think about it.

JACKSON: ... sort of in this bubble for the last year.

MATTHEWS: I do think -- I think (INAUDIBLE) nothing to do with left, right, middle politics. When you`re in -- it`s like William L. Shirer wrote all those great books about the rise of the -- the minute he went on television as a commenter, he stopped writing anything interesting anymore because his experience was simply talking about past experiences.


MATTHEWS: If Trump is not living the life of a builder -- you know, sitting in the back room, BS-ing with other builders, learning about life, arguing with labor guys, doing this -- all this stuff, his experience lately is just talking about Donald Trump -- it`s not that interesting.

CORN: Well, I think he`s in an echo chamber...


CORN: ... in which he`s...


CORN: I mean, he had 13, 14 million people respond positively, but he can`t get out of that echo chamber, so he`s sticking to it. And really, that echo chamber -- there`s one organizing principle about Donald Trump, and that`s Donald Trump.


CORN: So look what happened with Orlando. Literally, the first words out of his mouth were, It`s about me. I was right. Look at me. Everybody`s sending me letters. I`m great. See, I`m...

MATTHEWS: And I predicted more terrorism. Therefore, there`s more terrorism.

CORN: You know, I hate...

MATTHEWS: Therefore, it`s about me.

CORN: I hate to be crass about this horrific tragedy, which we`ve been talking about all week, but here was a chance, an opportunity to demonstrate some degree of leadership that might go beyond his usual bullying and arrogance and say, It`s a sad day for America, and here`s what I would do...


CORN: ... to try to prevent this. Instead, he attacked Hillary, and he said, I`m great. And I think that...

MATTHEWS: There`s one thing here where there`s a wrinkle here, guys, where he seems to be doing something a little bit inordinate, which is always a good sign for him.

This week, Donald Trump seemed to break from party Republican orthodoxy on the gun issue. He tweeted, "I will be meeting with the NRA, who has endorsed me, about not allowing people on the terrorist watch list or the no fly list to buy guns."

John Feehery, at some point, you have to decide on priorities. You know, you sort of you triage politically. You go, Well, this week, I think, in this month, people are going to be talking about Orlando and they`re more angry about terrorism than they are about gun rights, generally speaking. They may be more concerned about terrorism than the usual prejudices about sexuality, in fact.

I think that`s smart politics. Trump seems to be glimmering here (ph) to know that people are more worried about terrorism than they were about absolutism on the 2nd Amendment. Do you think he`s showing signs of life there or not?

JOHN FEEHERY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I do. I mean, let`s face it, keeping guns out of the hands of the terrorists is very politically popular and probably smart for Trump to talk about that. If he can cut a deal with the NRA, I think that`s smart politics for him to do that.

The problem is, when he`s going into a convention, if he alienates the NRA, he will be isolated, and that could be very dangerous for him politically.

The other factor is, you talk about him being in a bubble, his biggest problem is he`s isolated. He doesn`t have any support amongst any other Republicans.


FEEHERY: And he gets out there and just talks himself and he has no support from any of a -- any kind of an echo chamber whatsoever, he has no support from the other Republican leaders in the country, and that`s his fault because he just kind of ad libs all the time. And that can be very tough for any kind of politician.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, in an interview that will air this Sunday on "MEET THE PRESS," Speaker Paul Ryan said Republicans should feel free to vote their conscience when it comes to Trump. Let`s watch.


CHUCK TODD, MODERATOR, "MEET THE PRESS": You think it is that members in the House Republican conference, Follow your conscience? If you don`t want to support him, don`t do it.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Oh, absolutely. The last thing I would do is tell anybody to do something that`s contrary to their conscience. Of course I wouldn`t do that.

Look, believe me, Chuck, I get this. This is a very strange situation. It`s a very unique nominee. But I feel, as a responsibility institutionally as the Speaker of the House that I should not be leading some chasm in the middle of our party because you and I know what that will do. That will definitely knock us out of White House.


MATTHEWS: You know, I`m interested in the use of the vocabulary, guys, "chasm." You don`t lead a chasm.


MATTHEWS: I mean, a chasm`s like a big ravine or something, you know, up in -- up in New England (INAUDIBLE) Ausable Chasm (INAUDIBLE)

David, what`s he trying to do politically there? He`s trying not -- he`s like...

CORN: Oh, he`s on a tightrope without a net! I mean...

MATTHEWS: I think he`s a flagpole sitter because he`s up there and (INAUDIBLE) to sit this out.

CORN: Take a step back. This is -- the highest-ranking member of the Republican Party can`t say in good faith, You should support this guy. We should support our nominee. If you don`t want to support him -- I realize that you might think he`s crazy or a bigot or an extremist, so I`m OK with that. I don`t think in modern American politics -- have you ever had an occasion where leaders of one`s nominee`s own party calls him a racist and a bigot, which Mark Kirk did.

MATTHEWS: Well, John -- John, usually, when they say there`s a conscience vote on the Hill, it means, like, the leadership`s not going to nail you down and force you to vote with the party. But that`s a strange thing for the leader of the party to say about the presidential election. I`ve never heard a leader of a party say, You don`t have to vote Republican in this presidential election because this guy`s too distasteful to voter for.

I mean, what kind of a statement is that?

FEEHERY: Well, in many ways, people have to vote their conscience, no matter what. And it`s not like...


FEEHERY: ... you know, browbeat these people to vote for Donald Trump. It`s not like they`re the closest of friends.

But there is kind of a thing here where the Republican Party does have to unify. Otherwise, it`s going to be a complete disaster. Either they unify with Trump or they find somebody else at the convention and stick them in there. The problem for the party is if they don`t unify behind Trump, it`s going to be a bloodbath for Republicans all over the place.

MATTHEWS: And by the way, just to see how bad things are, George W. Bush now sees himself as a kingmaker. He`s -- apparently, he was so far declined -- had so far declined to endorse Donald Trump, but NBC News has confirmed now that the former president who got us into the Iraq war is getting involved in several Senate races.

Imagine being so bad off with the voters, you need George W. to come in to help you. "The New York Times" first reported the effort is aimed at supporting vulnerable Republican senators.

Quote, "In the weeks since Mr. Trump emerged as the party`s presumptive presidential nominee, Mr. Bush has headlined fund-raisers for two Republican senators and made plans to help three more. Friends say that the former president is deeply bothered by Mr. Trump`s campaign message, especially his derogatory remarks about Muslims and immigrants."

Hallie, this is so strange. One of the reasons Barack Obama was elected president was George W. Bush.


MATTHEWS: The people thought the Iraq war was a disaster. We were led into it by ideologues and we were led in by bad information, purposely bad, fed to the American people, especially by Dick Cheney. And there we have W back, who was sort of the guy who was -- what would you call him, the doofus of the whole thing. (INAUDIBLE) didn`t give (ph) him the brains of the whole thing. They just said he was dragged in it himself by Cheney. This guy is now being seen as a lifesaver.

Now, let me ask -- I`ll get to John, who knows more about this, in a minute. But imagine W -- can you see W out on the campaign trail, or is he only good in the back room with the fat cats?

JACKSON: I think he`s getting out in the back rooms. I`m not sure how effective he`ll be on the campaign trail. He may be with some Republicans. I mean, you look at where he went out, obviously, at the end of his presidency, his favorability ratings, and you look at where it is now.

But I think it goes to show that that amount of time is truly a political eternity, and how much it illustrates (INAUDIBLE) how much has changed since then that you`ve George W. Bush, the former president, out helping people like Rob Portman, helping people like Kelly Ayotte.

And when you look at Donald Trump`s response to this, his message to GOP leaders is literally, Chris, Sit down and be quiet. I will do this alone.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, you know him...

JACKSON: He`s not moderating his message.

MATTHEWS: You`re responsible for him, aren`t you, Hallie? Didn`t you make this guy who he is today? You`re not laughing.

JACKSON: Donald Trump? Yes. I -- no, I...


MATTHEWS: I am telling you, you can write this book. You have had to deal with him at close range. We have not. We watch him on TV. We interview him occasionally.

JACKSON: I take notes.

MATTHEWS: You are always with this guy. And I think, lately, he has ran (sic) out of hunch. And that for him is trouble because I think he is a brilliant stand-up guy in terms of synapses that come to him. Whatever you like or dislike about them, they come to him. Nothing new has been coming to this guy for many weeks now. It`s old stuff.

Anyway, David Corn, thank you. Hallie Jackson, thank you.

JACKSON: But he...

MATTHEWS: Go ahead, your thought quickly. Go ahead, Hallie.

JACKSON: (INAUDIBLE) but here`s what breaks through what (ph) we`re (ph) talking about this, Chris, and I think that there is something that breaks through, which we`re calling a bubble, just hermetically sealed chamber that he lives in.

And that is when it reaches a critical mass, like it did, I have to tell you, after the Judge Curiel comments, when you have people like Newt Gingrich, people that are his allies, speaking out. That is what gets through to Donald Trump, and that is where you saw a shift in his message. After that, he said, I`m just not going to talk about it anymore. So there is a point that things get through to him, that he gets outside of that echo chamber, but it has to sort of build and build and build.

MATTHEWS: Yes, to penetrate. Anyway, thank you. There`s a guy waving from that line behind you there. Hallie Jackson, have a nice weekend. You, too, John Feehery.

Coming up, nearly one week after the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, that was Orlando, and one year after the deadly massacre at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, a year ago, will lawmakers on Capitol Hill finally get tough or get at least interested in gun safety laws? Democrats have forced votes, but Republicans are still not willing to act.

And with Trump at record high unfavorability and Clinton not far behind, could 2016 be the year an independent third party candidate makes a mark on the presidential election?

Plus, three things you might not know about the general election campaign. The HARDBALL roundtable will be here tonight to tell me something I don`t know.

Finally, the incredible documentary series "O.J.: Made in America" is shining a bright light on the Simpson murder case. The filmmaker behind the series is with us tonight.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Well, it looks like the path is clearing for Senator Marco Rubio to run for reelection. Today, U.S. Congressman David Jolly of Florida dropped his bid for the Senate, opening space for Rubio to get in the race. Rubio wasn`t planning to run for reelection because he ran for president instead, but after getting bounced from the White House race after losing Florida back in March, Rubio`s been reconsidering his political future.

We`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. The 15-hour filibuster waged by Senate Democrats prompted Republicans to schedule votes on four gun control or gun safety measures this coming Monday. Meanwhile, the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump, says Hillary Clinton will abolish the 2nd Amendment.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Her plan is to disarm law-abiding Americans, abolishing the 2nd Amendment and leaving only the bad guys and terrorists with guns! She wants to take away Americans` guns and then admit the very people who want to slaughter us. Let them come into the country. We don`t have guns. Let them come in. Let them have all the fun they want.


MATTHEWS: Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania joins us now. Senator Casey, is this the time we`re finally going to get safety measure on guns, something that protects us from terrorists?

SEN. BOB CASEY (D), PENNSYLVANIA: Well, Chris, I sure hope so. We`re going to have an opportunity this week to, as you mentioned, vote or four measures. But it`ll really be two issues for those four measures, one a background bill that will finally close all the loopholes on the background check issue. I hope that would be the subject of consensus. I hope Republicans will join us in that.

And the second one would be a rather new approach which speaks more to the Orlando problem, where we had the FBI engaging with this individual, but they didn`t have enough evidence that rose to the level that they could use for an arrest.

It gives the Justice Department more authority than they do under law now to be able to prevent an individual who`s a known or suspected terrorist and that they believe or have a reasonable belief will use a firearm in connection with terrorism. If it meets that two-part test, you can deny them the firearm. And I think that`s the right thing to do, not only to prevent an Orlando-type circumstance, but others as well.


Let me ask you about the usual attitude of Pennsylvania about guns, which is pro-Second Amendment rights. We all understand that. You have understood that. We have all understood it growing up.

The question is, at what point does that right, that Second Amendment right, help terrorists? In other words, people that not even -- in most cases on this watch list, this terrorist no-fly list aren`t even Americans. Why would a gun owner want to protect the rights -- they`re not even questionable -- it`s questionable whether they are even rights of somebody who is not here a as citizen who is poised, perceived as a threat to this country. Why would you want to protect their rights to buy a gun?

I wonder about that.

CASEY: It makes no sense. It`s as simple as can be.

If you`re too dangerous to get on an airplane, you should be too dangerous to have a firearm. And I hope this is the week that we can finally make progress on that issue as well. Chris, I think, ultimately, we have to take a series of votes.

We should be taking a series of votes, certainly not all this coming week, but over the next couple of weeks and months, to at least put people on record and show the American people that we have a sense of urgency about this problem that leads to 33,000 people being killed every year, and have the same sense of urgency that we did after 9/11, where the country said we`re no longer going to allow a terrorist to get on an airplane and fly a plane into a building and kill thousands of Americans.

We did that. Now, we haven`t eliminated all terrorism, but we have taken that problem off the table. We need the same sense of urgency on gun violence, which is killing 33,000 Americans.

And in between these major events that get all the coverage, kids in big cities across the country are being slaughtered every day of the week.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Well said.

Thank you so much, Senator Robert Casey, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania.

Well, today marks the one-year anniversary when a gunman opened fire at a historic black church in Charleston, killing nine people.

The daughter of one of the victims spoke on Capitol Hill this week, along with Senate Democrats urging action on gun violence prevention. Let`s watch.


REV. SHARON RISHER, DAUGHTER OF CHARLESTON VICTIM: I struggled to answer why, why my loved ones and so many other people have been killed.

Along with so many Americans, I was baffled at how the shooter was able to get his hands on a gun and how we live in a country filled with so much hatred.



President Obama delivered the eulogy for Reverend Clementa C. Pinckney, a victim of the mass shooting at Emanuel AME Church last June. And the president broke out and sang "Amazing Grace."

Here he is.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES (singing): Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.


MATTHEWS: Well, he hit the notes, didn`t he?

Representative Todd Rutherford is a South Carolina state legislator. And Joshua DuBois is former spiritual adviser to President Obama and headed the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

First of all, I have got to start with Joshua, because I read your book every day, every morning. I start with you book.


MATTHEWS: What is -- because it`s a great way to start the day. It gives you a spiritual reading every day.

Let me ask you about this. Are we -- there`s so much going on. Hell is just all over our country right now. It`s about race, it`s about sexuality, it`s about Islamic vs. Islamism, I should say, radical Islamism in some cases, or it`s alluded to at least against Christianity and Judaism and against gay people. There`s so much hatred flying around right now, in addition to the old racial stuff we have grown up, Chris.

DUBOIS: There is, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Your thoughts.

DUBOIS: There is.

We have got both policy problems, but we also have heart problems in this country right now, my friend. We have become callous. We have forgotten what it`s like for our hearts to break for other people who are mourning across the country from different groups that are not like us.

And we have got to remember what it means to empathize, my friend. If we can`t wrap our minds around the pain of a mother or father who lost their son or daughter in a nightclub in Orlando or a black family who is still mourning a year later after what happened in Charleston, then we`re never going to fix this.

We have got to learn how to have our hearts break again and connect with the pain of other people. That`s got to be the first thing, and no amount of tinkering around the edges of policy is going to fix this, until we fix our human hearts.

MATTHEWS: Yes. That`s a good point.

Representative Rutherford, thank you, sir.

This whole thing, when a gay club, a nightclub, where a lot of people from different traditional cultures would have a negative attitude toward a place like that even existing, find themselves sympathizing with the people there as Americans and as human beings, fellow Christians in most cases, they look at them and they go, my God, that`s us getting hit there.

There`s a -- there`s such a swirling question about what is us, what is they. It`s something else. And a black church gets hit and black men get shot by police. And this is a very bad time in terms of trying to find the us. Your thoughts, sir.


And it seems to continue to get worse. I can tell you, in South Carolina and around the world, as we watched the Charleston massacre last year, most people looked at that situation and they said, where was God?


RUTHERFORD: That these nine people -- 12 people, actually, sat in a church, prayed with this young man, and then he opened fire on them and slaughtered them right there, and they wondered, where was God?

But to know Senator Pinckney, to know his life, to watch his work, it almost seemed like he was a martyr, that God sent him here to do more. And in doing more, South Carolina took down the Confederate Flag, Which for many years, for all of my life almost, acted as this Death Star, this gravity field drawing crazies and drawing bigots to the statehouse to protest and protest and to show their Confederate Flags and their hatred for other people.

That now is gone in South Carolina. We have made steps here. We have many more to go. But around the world, we have got to figure out why people are so mad and why they want to take so many lives.

MATTHEWS: It seems, Joshua, like we`re only getting cured by fire. You know what I mean? When we get hit, we get a terrorist -- we`re not even sure what kind of hybrid motive there is behind this fellow.

How much hybridism can we handle sometimes? Is it his psychological condition? Was he of a certain sexuality he didn`t like or didn`t like other people with it? It had something to do with Islam or maybe a little bit to do with him, people killing, who are white killing black. That`s unfortunately something we`re not shocked by. We know the happens. It`s been in our past.

And yet we keep thinking only by burning it do we say, wait a minute, does it take this, as the representative said, to get the flag down? Does it take this to have people show sympathy for gay people? You know what I mean?


DUBOIS: I would hope not.

And here is the thing, though, Chris. As you know, there are a lot of good, decent people in this country. The problem is, they happen to be the quietest people out there.

There are a lot of folks who operate with civility and they love their neighbor. But those aren`t the ones that we see on Twitter; those aren`t the ones that we see in our political debates. We need an active, aggressive civility. We need people of good will to have some moral courage and speak out against these divisive voices whenever they see them, whether they see them online or whether they see them in their community.

Somebody knew Dylann Roof before he went into Mother Emanuel. Somebody could have pulled that kid to the side and confronted him about his white supremacist ideology. But they don`t do it.

We need people who are willing to take that moral step, whether it`s with a possible terrorist in Florida or a possible terrorist in South Carolina. When you see racism, when you see homophobia, good people have got to start speaking out, from Capitol Hill to communities around the country.

MATTHEWS: Yes. We`re all God`s children. How about repeating that every day of our lives? We`re all God`s children.

Thank you, Reverend.

DUBOIS: That`s right. That`s right.

MATTHEWS: Thank you. Thank you, state Representative Todd Rutherford. Thank you for joining us.

And, Joshua, for the book. I, every morning, greet you before you know it that morning.

DUBOIS: Thank you, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you.

Up next, Trump`s at war with his party. Bernie is not conceding or endorsing Hillary. Could 2016 be ripe for a -- here it comes -- I`m not thrilled with the idea -- a third-party presidential campaign? We have had them before. They have been disruptive, but one may well be on its way.

The HARDBALL roundtable is coming here next. And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger. Here`s what`s happening.

Disney is adding fences and signs warning about alligators and snakes at Walt Disney World resort beaches. The move follows a deadly alligator attack on a 2-year-old.

The gunman who killed 49 people in an Orlando nightclub sent text messages to his wife during the attack. She repeatedly tried to call him on his cell phone.

And the flight data recorder has been retrieved from the wreckage of EgyptAir Flight 804. The other black box was pulled from the Mediterranean Sea yesterday -- back to HARDBALL.

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

At the tail end of a another topsy-turvy week for Donald Trump, many Republicans have made no secret of their quest for someone, anyone different to vote for. But is that someone Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson? There he is.

In a hypothetical matchup among Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Gary Johnson, Johnson is getting 9 percent of support from the public, 9 percent. But here are the two numbers that really matter, 15 and 50. Johnson needs to get 15 percent of public support in order to participate in the fall debates, and 50 is the number of state ballots where his name will have to appear.

With disaffected conservatives searching for a Trump alternative, the Libertarian Party has a built-in advantage. He told "USA Today" that -- quote -- "I understand that any third name, because of the disconnect or the polarization of Clinton and Trump, any third name would be registering. But anybody is not on the ballot in all 50 states."

Johnson is a former two-term Republican governor of New Mexico. In the 2012 presidential election, he pulled in more than one million votes or 0.99 percent of the popular vote. This year, he enlisted help of former Republican Governor of Massachusetts Bill Weld, who he selected as his V.P. nominee.

Joining me right now for tonight`s roundtable, Ken Vogel, chief investigative reporter for Politico, Jay Newton-Small, Washington correspondent for "TIME" magazine, and Paul Singer, Washington correspondent for "USA Today," a great group to talk about.

Let`s talk about the weight of this. What is the significance of Gary Johnson in this election to the ultimate outcome in the Electoral College, as you see it now?

KEN VOGEL, POLITICO: He`s another choice. He`s on the ballot in all 50 states. To that extent, he has an advantage. In a race where you have two candidates who are deeply unpopular and have very high negatives, there are going to be people who are going to be looking for a third option regardless of who that person is.

Now, that said, I don`t think for a lot of these Republicans for whom Donald Trump is not an option, that Gary Johnson is necessarily one who they are going to look to favorably. He has neither the temperament, which is the thing that all the people, all the Republicans say is a problem with Donald Trump, nor does he have the ideological consistency with the fundamental tenets of the Republican Party on which these Republicans see Donald Trump as diverging on noninterventionism.

MATTHEWS: Yes. He says he`s not going to use weed for -- he hasn`t used weed for seven weeks. I just think this is an odd thing for a presidential candidate, not that I`m an ultimate enemy of that drug.

But it does seem like -- he said: I have been off booze for a long time, but I`m going to quit weed now. I have done it for seven weeks.

It just seems like a minimal thing to say. He`s going to be the chair -- what do you call it -- the commander in chief of U.S. forces around the world and he promises not to be high. I just think that was strange.

JAY NEWTON-SMALL, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, "TIME": I went to his presidential announcement when he ran for president in 2011.

It was on the step of the capitol in Concord, New Hampshire. And he did it at 4:20 on 4/20, because that`s the call sign for marijuana possession for police officers across the nation. So, it`s been a really central part of his platform for...

MATTHEWS: What do you mean a call sign for...

NEWTON-SMALL: So, if you get called up on a 420, as a police officer, that means that you`re arresting somebody for possession of marijuana.


So, he`s into the culture.

NEWTON-SMALL: No, it`s a central part of his base. Right? The Libertarians believe that there should not be drug regulation in the United States, that we should be all adults about it.

And this is what makes him so appealing to young voters, right? Millennials who don`t love Hillary Clinton, don`t love Donald Trump, they might actually turn out to vote for Gary Johnson because of things like this. Right? They love the idea of 420 and smoking pot and not a lot of regulation.

MATTHEWS: He may be outdoing old Bernie Sanders on the let`s go European number.


MATTHEWS: Because that sounds more European than us.

PAUL SINGER, "USA TODAY": You would expect the Libertarians to draw from the Republicans, but of course some of Gary Johnson`s positions are going to anathema to the Republicans.


SINGER: He`s very open on gay marriage. He`s opposed to deporting immigrants. And the fact of the matter is...

KEN VOGEL: Noninterventionist.


MATTHEWS: Can we all agree the main off-ramp is -- this is for Republicans? They don`t want to vote for Trump, because they don`t think he`s even enough.

SINGER: But all that really matters of course is, can he swing a state? One or two states might be enough. Does he get 5 percentage points in New Mexico, where he`s from?

MATTHEWS: Thank you.


SINGER: Does he get 5 percentage points in Colorado?

MATTHEWS: That`s the way I look at all this stuff. In the end, Michael Bloomberg was talking about running. I kept thinking, OK, what states does he affect? Because it`s not a popular vote, right?

It all comes down to which states can you turn, like the most ignominious example was Ralph Nader, a man I always respected and still respect. But that electoral result down there gave it eventually through the Supreme Court to Bush, because of 93,000 votes in that state for people on the center-left or left, it was probably left, who voted for Ralph Nader, folks that would have gone to Al Gore.


VOGEL: So, let`s take Paul`s scenario and then look at states where Gary Johnson could have appeal that could be swing states.

MATTHEWS: Name them.


VOGEL: New Mexico maybe, Arizona maybe, Colorado, certainly, where marijuana is a big deal.

Those are like real possibilities. That said, you look at the polls, 9 percent, that`s not going to do it. He needs to get on the debate stage. He needs to crack 15 percent.

MATTHEWS: OK. What are his chances of getting up six more points and getting on that debate stage, getting to 15?

SINGER: I don`t think he`s got a chance, particularly because I think there still will be other people entering this race. There are other people.

MATTHEWS: Who`s the fourth-party candidate probably?


MATTHEWS: Jill Stein on the left.

VOGEL: Jill Stein is the Green Party.

MATTHEWS: What`s the name of her party? Green Party. That`s correct.

SINGER: But there`s also still a never Trump movement that`s trying to get on the ballot to save a space for some white horse candidate who they think is going to ride in. I`m not telling you who it is, because I don`t know. But neither do they.


MATTHEWS: We don`t have a poor loser law nationally. You could have lost the Republican fight and still run in the general as a fourth-party candidate in this case.

SINGER: Right. That`s correct.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, the roundtable is sticking with us.

And up next, these three will tell me something I don`t know. And they`re already doing that.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.


CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC ANCHOR: We`re back this Friday night with the HARDBALL roundtable.

Ken, tell me something I don`t know.

KEN VOGEL, POLITICO: Koch brothers have come out --

MATTHEWS: Oh, God. It`s Friday night. You`re going to have a good weekend.

VOGEL: Said that Donald Trump is an anathema to their values of fiscal strength, fiscal conservatism, and they`re not going to support him. However, my sources told me a top Koch operative met with Trump, Donald Trump`s campaign manager Cory Lewandowski, who used to work in the Koch brothers network, this week in Trump Tower to have a conversation about issues.

That said, it was a short conversation, it may have just been perfunctory. Nonetheless, it`s another example that shows that Donald Trump, if he could just sort of give these Republicans, or these conservatives, so --

MATTHEWS: But only one are lower taxes and less regulation on gas and oil. It`s all self-interest for the Koch brothers.

VOGEL: Well, I don`t know necessarily about that. But that said --

MATTHEWS: One of the grander ideals of the Koch brothers.

VOGEL: You know, the criminal justice reform. They have, in fact, funded drug reform efforts. It`s a traditional sort of libertarian thing.

MATTHEWS: So they`re good guys?

VOGEL: In fact, many -- I`m not saying they`re good guys or bad guys, I`m just saying that their interests don`t necessarily aligned with --

MATTHEWS: How about Sheldon Adelson? Do you have anything good to say for him?

VOGEL: Sheldon Adelson to the best of my knowledge, has not backed Donald Trump. But Donald Trump is going out to Nevada. So --

MATTHEWS: That`s embarrassing for everybody.

Go ahead.

JAY NEWTON-SMALL, TIME MAGAZINE: Mine has to do with the Charleston anniversary. I spent two months in Charleston, reporting, writing our cover story on it. And I want to say that the two survivors, Holly Shepard (ph) and Phylicia Sanders (ph), as Todd Rutherford was saying earlier on the show, they want to do something good with their lives after this. And so, Holly --

MATTHEWS: They were praying in the church at the time?

NEWTON-SMALL: They were, they were there at bible study.

And so, Holly believes that God saved her because she`s going to save Dylann Storm Roof`s soul. She`s going to -- she wants to pray with him. She`s been asking to go see him. She wants to help bring him back to God.

And, Phylicia, who lost her son and her aunt in the shooting, she is attending a white church, a bible study at white church every Wednesday and she has for the last nine months because she wants to mend the rift between the races and do exactly the opposite of what the shooter intended. They`re doing really amazing things a year later.

PAUL SINGER, USA TODAY: The Congressional Prayer Caucus has lost its profit. The nonprofit organization that runs out of the capitol building with taxpayer dollars lost -- Randy Forbes, the congressman from Virginia, who lost a primary, we`ll need somebody else to run the Congressional Prayer Caucus.

MATTHEWS: Yes. You say that sarcastically.

SINGER: I don`t.

MATTHEWS: Yes, you do.

SINGER: Not in the least.

MATTHEWS: Ken Vogel, Jay Newton-Small, and Paul Singer. I have mixed views on all that stuff.

Coming up, it`s an American saga about sports, American race, of course, violence and crime. The filmmaker behind the incredible documentary series "O.J.: Made in America" is joining me next.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Donald Trump can finally start getting ready for the Republican convention. That`s because LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers played their last game of the year last night at Quicken Loans Arena, where the Republican convention will take place. The Cavs won forcing a game seven in the NBA finals, and will head to Oakland Sunday, for the deciding matchup against the defending champion, Golden State Warriors.

And that means Trump and the RNC can start getting the arena all ready for the Republican convention, which begins July 18th.

And we`ll be right back.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: O.J. went to USC in 1967. So he`s plucked out of the black community, out of black consciousness, and he`s submerged in an all- white university. And I say this and I don`t say it facetiously, but, he is seduced by white society.


MATTHEWS: Wow. We`re back.

That was a scene from the new ESPN documentary series on O.J. Simpson entitled "O.J.: Made in America." It`s an in-depth picture of this country deals with race, celebrity and justice altogether. As an athlete, Simpson`s rise -- quick rise to fame allowed him to transcend racial boundaries. However, the film showcased the many ways Simpson effectively shed his cultural identity as a black man, even as the fight for civil rights was well underway.

Well, the ultimate irony of the story, as we all know, as depicted in the film, while Simpson wanted little to do with the African-American community during his rise, his eventual acquittal in 1995 hinged on his racial identity. Here`s a clip that shows how Simpson`s defense team built sympathy for him in a scene that takes place just before the jury was shown the interior of Simpson`s mansion.

Let`s take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you would walk up the grand staircase, there was a large wall with pictures of the family, pictures of friends, pictures of O.J.`s career. The problem was, the overwhelming majority of pictures were of Caucasian friends and colleagues of his. We had an African-American jury and we wanted to make sure that the home setting would reflect the themes that we wanted to reflect.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We took all of his white friends down, put all of his black people up, pictures he probably had never seen before. Because that`s what we were told the jury would identify with. We made him blacker.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was a Norman Rockwell lithograph that we took from Johnny`s office and we put that picture at the very top of the stairs.


MATTHEWS: Unbelievable. Well, in episode four of the five-part series premieres tonight on ESPN. I`m joined right now by the director of this film, "O.J.: Made in America", Ezra Edelman.

Ezra, thank you so much for this.

This manipulation of the jury reminds me of what happened in the old Jimmy Hoffa case, when they brought Joe Lewis in to shake hands with him. Everybody knew, we thought the life of O.J. Simpson, we thought, we all figured it all out. We got into that courtroom and didn`t know anything was going to happen.

I was covering it, that whole year. I covered it every night for two hours. And when that jury came back, I thought they would come back fast. And when they did come back fast, I said, conviction, for sure. I was blown away, as so many people were.

Tell us about how you went into this and what you were able to do here, to each us, what we should have learned what had happened?

EZRA EDELMAN, DIRECTOR, "O.J.: MADE IN AMERICA": What`s interesting about everything you`re saying, thus far, in terms of the irony of the case, it seems to have been forgotten, as far as what we`re really dealing with as far as who O.J. was, as a man before that trial in 1994, I think we in the last 20 years, especially, have, you know, as a culture, dismissed him as a monster. And I think one of the goals of this story is to show him in all his human glory and his celebrity. And have you be seduced by him once again to understand why people were so shocked in 1994, when we heard that he was accused of these murders.

But also, when you take, you know, a chance to look at everything that was out there, even at the time, to realize why we shouldn`t have been shocked. Because all these things were right in front of us the whole time and people ignored it. Whether it`s his history of abuse with Nicole, his friends around him, the LAPD. And these are things that still to this day get overlooked.

On the other hand, for me, this was really a chance to delve into the history of a city, of a police department, of a community that moved black community, the migration to L.A., looking for a better life, and a arriving in a city where they realize that conditions were not equal, as they hoped $28 it would be. That was one of the things I got. That`s what I was interested in.

MATTHEWS: You know, we all know, even white people know, I think we`ve begun to learn how black people are treated by police, in some cases, not always, but some cases. And what we found out in the case thanks to covering it every night is that O.J. was sort of a favorite of the L.A. police. He wasn`t treated like an African-American guy, he was treated like a celebrity.

They would go over and hang around his swimming pool and suck up to him basically. And in the course of the trial, he was made a victim of the Los Angeles police, like other African-Americans. But he wasn`t treated like other African-Americans at all. He was treated like a big shot. Someone they wanted to suck up to. Treated like a big guy.

EDELMAN: In many ways, O.J. saw it from the get-go, from his time as USC, if you want to say he wanted to transcend his race, distance himself from his race, what have you, but what he wanted to be more than anything else from the time he was a kid was famous. And he achieved that.

And once he gained that level of fame, he did exist in rarefied air. And that meant he got special treatment. And you know -- so, that`s just a fact.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about something that maybe you can`t even get to as a filmmaker. And I love the way you`re doing this on so many levels like "Citizen Kane," you`re looking at it from so many prisons. By the way, I think it may be on that level.

Let me ask you about him. You hear about people that commit a crime once in their life, a horrible crime, and never do it again and never would do it again. If he did do it, what drove him to do this butchering of his wife and that guy, and Goldman?

This horrific -- he never did this to anybody else in his life. He never did anything like it to anybody else? What happened? Do we know?

EDELMAN: I mean, that`s the million-dollar question. And I don`t know if I`m the person in this forum to offer an explanation. I really think if you watch the first three hours of this film, there`s three hours of the film before we even get to the murders in 1994.

And what we`re trying to do with that is to really show an evolution of a character, of what happens when you go through, you know, the world and you have that many gifts. You know, a gift for running the football. He`s that charming, he`s that talented. He`s that beautiful.

And he seduced people to the point where once you go through the world like that and you are given everything that you want, at every minute, of every day, I think what you see, there`s a sense of entitlement that set in, a need for control that set in. Even if you want to explain the -- if you try to parse the relationship of him and Nicole, you know, he met Nicole when she was 18 years old, just out of high school.

MATTHEWS: Yes, he said, she`s mine. I own her. I own her.

EDELMAN: More or less. But I really don`t want to offer any psychological evaluations beyond what we try to do in the film.

MATTHEWS: Where was Arnold Palmer? You know, for years, we watched him in those Hertz commercials, they were like best buddies.

EDELMAN: O.J. was best buddies with everybody.

MATTHEWS: But where was Arnold Palmer in the courtroom? He never showed up as a character witness. Never. Never even talked to.

EDELMAN: Yes, but you`re asking about Arnold Palmer, you can ask about 100 or 200 people that oracle was chummy with over the years. Be it in the broadcast booth or commercial sets. Yes, there are plenty of people in theory that would have been there to testify for him.

Having said that, I think you find a lot of people like Arnold Palmer, they weren`t exactly going to show up in the middle of the trial of the century to testify for O.J.

MATTHEWS: I thought he was funny in "Naked Gun 2 1/2." And then there was something bizarre going on with him. He`s not a great actor or something. You always see this in retrospect, but something`s bugging this guy. He wasn`t quite there.

Anyway, thank you. Congratulations. I know people are talking about this at "Citizen Kane" levels. That`s something.

EDELMAN: Thanks, Chris. Thanks for having me.

MATTHEWS: Congratulations. Ezra Edelman, thank you. Be sure to catch episodes 4 and 5 tonight and tomorrow on ESPN.

HARDBALL back after this.


MATTHEWS: That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.