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Hardball With Chris Matthews, Transcript, 6/20/2016

Guests: Nina Turner, Yamiche Alcindor, Evan Siegfried, Caitlin Huey-Burns, John Brabender, Barbara Boxer; Ann Kirkpatrick

Show: HARDBALL Date: June 20, 2016 Guest: Nina Turner, Yamiche Alcindor, Evan Siegfried, Caitlin Huey-Burns, John Brabender, Barbara Boxer; Ann Kirkpatrick

JOY REID, HOST: Lewandowski, you`re fired.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening, everyone. I`m Joy Reid, in tonight for Chris Matthews.

With four weeks to go to the Republican convention, there`s been a big shakeup in the Trump campaign. Campaign manager Corey Lewandowski was shown the door -- literally. More on that in a moment.

The news comes as Trump is slipping in the polls, badly behind in fund- raising and under pressure for failing to curb his habit of making controversial comments, particularly in the last several weeks. One campaign insider told NBC the move was meant to signal to Republicans that Trump understands things haven`t been working and that changes are needed.

According to NBC`s Katy Tur, Lewandowski was notified by phone and was escorted from Trump Tower by security. Trump`s son, Donald Trump, Jr., said that was just how things are done.


DONALD TRUMP, JR., DONALD TRUMP`S SON: There`s protocols that are in place. I don`t care if you`re an intern, I don`t care if you`re this. When those things happen, that`s what happens.


REID: Lewandowski has been with Trump from the start of the campaign. Trump stood by him earlier in the year when he was accused of physically assaulting a female reporter.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I know it`d be very easy for me to discard people. I don`t discard people. I stay with people. That`s why I stay with this country. That`s why I stay with a lot of people that are treated unfairly, and that`s one of the reasons I`m the front-runner by a lot.


REID: According to Bloomberg, Trump advisers huddled today to discuss a political strategy shift as he looks to move beyond recent missteps.

This afternoon, Lewandowski told MSNBC he was honored to be a part of the campaign.


COREY LEWANDOWSKI, FMR. TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: I had a great conversation with Mr. Trump. And I can tell you this. It`s been a privilege for me to serve the last 19 (sic) months on this campaign, a campaign that no one gave us any credit on being successful, and I have a small part of that. And I can tell you I have no regrets. It`s been an honor. And I respect Mr. Trump. I respect him moreso than any other person who`s ever entered this race, and I can tell you that I will do everything possible through me and my friends and my family to ensure that Donald Trump is the next president of the United States.


REID: In a sign of just how unusual the Trump campaign is, one of Trump`s top advisers, Michael Caputo, responded to the news of Lewandowski`s firing with glee. He wrote on Twitter just minutes after the news broke, "Ding dong, the witch is dead." Late today, Caputo resigned his position on the campaign, saying he regretted sending out that tweet.

Meanwhile, there`s also new evidence of ow much ground Trump has to make up. A Monmouth University poll released today shows Hillary Clinton leading Trump by 7 points among registered voters nationwide, 47 to 40. In swing states, Clinton leads by 8 points, 47 to 39 percent. Can Trump make up that ground?

NBC`s Katy Tur is outside Trump Tower in New York. John Brabender is a Republican strategist. And Howard Fineman is global editorial director of the HuffingtonPost and an MSNBC political analyst .

And Katy, I want you to walk us through this extraordinary day of events. Give us a little bit of a tick-tock of how the Lewandowski firing went down.

KATY TUR, NBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m told Lewandowski was blindsided by this, Joy. He was texting with reporters this morning, unaware that this was going to happen. I`m also told that the RNC was given notice before Lewandowski was told.

I am told that he was alerted of news in person this morning around 9:30 AM, and then he had a phone conversation with Donald Trump, which was described as amicable. He was also escorted from the premises here at Trump Tower by security, Donald Trump, Jr., telling me that is just standard protocol for anybody that has been fired from their organization or from the campaign.

Why did this happen, Joy? Well, we`ve been hearing issues with Corey Lewandowski now for almost the entirety of the campaign, certainly coming to a head in the past few months. According to sources both inside and outside the campaign and close to the candidate, they say Corey Lewandowski did not get along with his colleagues, that he was trying to undercut them and block staffing. He was trying to consolidate power and block information getting to Donald Trump that he did not agree with.

When Paul Manafort was brought on board, he felt threatened by this, according to sources, and that`s when he tried to undercut Manafort`s influence. He also, according to multiple sources again, did not get along with people at the RNC. He was problematic. He has a loose, hot temper.

He wasn`t necessarily clear in his messaging. Often, Paul Manafort would make a decision, and then Corey Lewandowski would go against that decision. It wasn`t clear who was really in charge of the campaign.

The kids were also not on his side. They`ve been trying to convince their dad for months that Lewandowski was not right to helm the campaign, that they needed somebody with more experience, somebody who knew how to run a presidential campaign, somebody who was a little bit steadier, somebody who could give Donald Trump the advice and the strategy he needed.

Corey Lewandowski`s model this entire time had been "Let Trump be Trump," and it had worked for him. They won the primaries, and part of the reason I`m told Donald Trump did not let him go sooner was that they were winning. There was no reason to fix something that wasn`t broken.

But now the past few weeks, Donald Trump has been slipping in polls. He`s being outspent $23 million to zero in battleground states by Hillary Clinton. And he`s facing a mutiny within the Republican Party. Now was the time to change things up.

I`m also told that Ivanka had a big say in this, that she had not been pleased with Lewandowski for some time, even before he was accused of assaulting a reporter back in March. Today was the day, though, they finally got their message through to their father, and today was the day that he saw that it was a problem, as well, and that he needed to make a change before this campaign sputtered even more.

REID: Katy, one more quick question to you because you talked there about the -- you know, the Trump children, who`ve been all over the news cycle today as being influential over their father. But we know at the end of the day, candidates make these decisions about their own campaigns.

Do you get a sense from your reporting and from talking to folks in the campaign -- do they think that the problem was the campaign apparatus and Corey Lewandowski not doing a good job, or they at all believe that the problem might actually be the candidate?

TUR: Well, it`s mixed. There are those who say that the campaign itself was problematic and that Corey blocked anyone from getting Donald Trump`s ear and from advising him to back off things.

I have from my previous reporting been told by multiple sources that that is not necessarily true. Donors, campaign staff, aides, family members, party sources, party leaders have all told Donald Trump on numerous occasions that certain rhetoric went too far, specifically when it came to the Judge Curiel comments.

But ultimately, you saw Donald Trump continue on with that. That is because Donald Trump is very much his own best adviser. He claims that he listens to his gut more than anything else, and that`s why you`re seeing that.

But there is hope -- there is hope among the party and there`s hope among the children, there`s hope among campaign aides who are still left that Paul Manafort, who`s now going to be in charge of the campaign, I`m told, will be able to better have Trump`s ear, that he`ll be able to positively influence him on rhetoric in a way that Corey Lewandowski did not.

There is hope about this, Joy, "hope" being the operative word. Remember, Donald Trump has been problematic with his own words in the past, and there is little trust right now between many members of the Republican Party that he`s actually going to change. They`ve long talked about this pivot. They say that they`re going to believe it when they see it.

REID: Yes. Indeed. Well, yesterday, to that very point, Donald Trump said that it`s "common sense," quote, unquote, to consider profiling Muslims in America.


TRUMP: I think profiling is something that we`re going to have to start thinking about as a country. I hate the concept of profiling, but we have to start using common sense and we have to use -- you know, we have to use our heads.


REID: Trump also suggested that if the people in the club last week in Orlando were armed, things might have turned out differently.


TRUMP: If some of those wonderful people had guns strapped right here, right to their waist or right to their ankle, and this son of a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) comes out and starts shooting, and one of the people in that room happened to have it and goes, Boom, boom, you know what? That would have been a beautiful, beautiful sight, folks!


REID: So that seemed to go too far even for NRA leaders Wayne LaPierre and Chris Cox. Let`s watch.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump has suggested concealed carry in a nightclub where people are drinking?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t think you should have firearms where people are drinking.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No one thinks that people should go in a nightclub drinking and carrying firearms. That`s -- that defies common sense. It also defies the law.


REID: Trump clarified his remarks in a tweet this morning. Quote, "When I said that if within the Orlando club, you had people with guns, I was obviously talking about additional guards or employees." Uh-huh.

John Brabender, obviously, he was not. He was talking about this beautiful scene he thought would unfold if the people in the club could have, while drinking and on the dance floor, gone Rambo and somehow stopped that shooter. Is that a Corey Lewandowski problem, or is that a Donald Trump problem?

JOHN BRABENDER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I think that a lot of that probably is a Donald Trump problem, probably unfair to put that onto Corey. However, I do think this. I do think they had to make the change today not because of Corey, but they have a lot of nervous Republicans, particularly big donors, who are looking for some type of signal that things are going to change.

Obviously, the family did an intervention over the weekend. Donald Trump had been dating two different campaign managers for months now, and he didn`t to get serious with one of them, Paul Manafort, and get rid of Corey.

You know, it`s not fair to blame it on Corey, but the campaign had to make some changes, and they go to make more changes in the coming weeks.

REID: But you know, Howard, I think this begs the question. Is this an attempt to put somebody into the White House who -- I suppose they`re assuming that Paul Manafort will manage to keep him from doing things that disturb and terrify and rattle the entire country for what, four years? Is that the idea, that they can patch him together to make him president and then patch him together for four years in the office?

HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST GLOBAL EDITORIAL DIR., MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think at this point, the people around Donald Trump are hoping they can keep him quiet for a day or two. I mean, they would consider that a victory.

Paul Manafort`s background is advising all manner of egomaniacs all over the world, the Marcos family, Jonas Savimbi, strongmen in the Ukraine, et cetera. I guess the theory is that Paul, who mixes that background with some knowledge, deep knowledge of Republican Party mechanics, can be the guy to do it.

But you asked the right question. If it`s constantly a matter of trying to tie Donald Trump down, you know, like in a Jonathan Swift story of "Gulliver`s Travels," you know, I don`t know how that`s really going to work.

I think this is a victory internally for Paul Manafort and his crew. They`re generally older, more seasoned, more knowledgeable. They do know the Republican Party. But I think what was happening here, as John said, Republican leaders in Congress, Republican donors, Republican governors and senators, corporate leaders, people who have a long-term investment in the Republican Party were saying, This guy is definitely going to wreck the entire party unless somebody gets a handle on him, not necessarily to win the election, but just to keep this election cycle from being a holocaust for Republicans. And that`s what the concern is.

And I think even the inner Trump circle, meaning Donald Trump in his own mind, realizing that -- realized that he was heading into Cleveland, which is still a month away -- and a month is a lifetime in politics -- with the real danger of a rebellion at the convention of some kind. Improbable as it sounds, if Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan decided they wanted to pull the plug on him, they would try it.

REID: Well, and it just brings -- you know, before we go back to the convention, John Brabender, this begs the question once again -- if this -- the idea that the party is so destabilized by the idea of Donald Trump being able to get through November, well, what if -- what if he messes around and wins? What are they going to do for four years? I mean, I don`t know that there`s evidence that Paul Manafort was able to change the fundamental behavior of Mobutu Sese Seko or Ferdinand Marcos, right?

BRABENDER: Well, I want to...

REID: Is the idea that he would somehow evolve from November until January of next year?

BRABENDER: I want to be clear on this. First of all, it would be a mistake to think that Republicans think that Donald Trump cannot win. They think that he`s had some bad weeks. The bigger problem, quite frankly, is his campaign was totally developed to win primary elections, particularly early primary elections. The problem is he has no general election organization in place.

I was up at Trump Towers just a couple weeks ago, just dropped in just to say hello because I know some of the people there. It looked like a challenger race for Congress, not a presidential race. That`s because they were billed as a PR machine to win the nomination, which worked, but it`s put them in a tough situation now. They have got to move quickly to change things, and I think they`re trying to do that.

REID: Yes, and I guess if he wins that Paul Manafort will just seize his phone for four years. That should work out nicely.


REID: Katy Tur, John Brabender and Howard Fineman, thank you very much.

FINEMAN: Thank you, Joy.

REID: And coming up -- thank you. Chilling new details from inside the Pulse nightclub as the deadly terror attack was under way. We`ve got the latest on that.

Plus, challenging John McCain. The Arizona senator took plenty of heat for saying President Obama was directly responsible for the Orlando attack. McCain walked it back, but not before his Senate challenger, Ann Kirkpatrick, pounced. Tonight, Congressman Kirkpatrick is coming here to HARDBALL.

And later, a tale of two Clevelands. The city is ecstatic over the Cavaliers winning the NBA title, but at the same time, there`s a lot of nervousness about next month`s Republican convention in Cleveland. And the list of top Republicans and corporate sponsors who are skipping Trump`s party keeps growing.

Finally, the HARDBALL roundtable is here to tell me something about the presidential race that I don`t know.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


REID: The city of Cleveland, Ohio, will host Donald Trump at his convention next month, but today residents welcomed their hometown hero, Lebron James, and the victorious Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Cavs last night ended a half century of drought for Cleveland sports fans, capping an historic comeback from a 3-1 deficit to beat the Golden State Warriors 93 to 89 in game 7 of the NBA finals and fulfilling a promise by King James to deliver a championship to the city.

It had been 52 years since the city saw one, back when the Browns won the NFL title in 1964 before the NFL even called it the Super Bowl.

But could the Cavs` win also be good news for Hillary Clinton? Take a look at this. Since the NBA began in 1950, each year a Democrat won the presidency, the Eastern Conference team had won the finals.

We`ll be right back.


REID: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Within the last hour, the U.S. Senate voted on four versions of gun control proposals, and all four failed. A Democratic proposal for "No fly, no buy" if you`re on the terrorism watch list, a Republican proposal that says the attorney general could delay the purchases of guns and arrest terror suspects, also a Democratic proposal to expand universal background checks and close the gun show loophole and a Republican version which would improve the background check system.

And joining me now fresh off the floor of the U.S. Senate is California senator Barbara Boxer. So Senator Boxer, if we cannot pass gun reform in the wake of Sandy Hook and 26 little kids and their teachers getting slaughtered, can`t do anything after Charleston when people are killed in church, and now we can`t even get Republicans to sign on board when there`s a terrorism-related attack, do you have any hope that gun reform can ever pass the United States Senate?

SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA: I always have hope. That`s why you have elections. But if I`m a voter, I want to know how my senator voted. We saw today that 90 percent of the Democrats voted two common sense reforms, Joy. One basically said if the attorney general suspects you`re a terrorist, you can`t get a gun. Then you get due process, if you want to argue with it.

And the other one, which is tighten the background checks if you bought on line or at a gun show. So these two measures supported by my colleagues, 90 percent of them, written by Dianne Feinstein and Chris Murphy -- they`re supported by 75, 85, 90 percent of the American people. What is going on? Remember, we had San Bernardino, where we had also a lone wolf person who was inspired by ISIS. This situation is outrageous.

And I just want to mention this to you. You know, when I came into politics, it was long before you were probably even maybe born -- I`m not sure -- but it was a long time ago, and we had something called the Vietnam War.

And over the 10-year period, we lost 60,000 beautiful soldiers there. And this country over that 10-year period was divided and arguing and fighting. We lost 4,000 beautiful soldiers in Iraq over 10 years, and the same thing. But we lose 300,000 people over 10 years to gun violence, and it`s a ho- hummer. And it`s gotten to the point where people need to make this a voting issue.

REID: Yes.

And, Senator, we just put up a statistic that, at this point, according to a Pew poll, even 57 percent of Americans favor returning to an assault weapons ban, to say nothing of the stats you talked about, about the overwhelming support for things like background checks.


REID: What do your colleagues on the other side of the aisle, how do they explain to you why they won`t vote even to keep somebody on a terrorism watch list getting their hands on high-powered rifles, high-powered weapons of war, essentially?

BOXER: My own opinion is, they just listen to the National Rifle Association and they parrot those reasons, which are, it goes too far, there`s no due process, this is bad.

It has nothing to do with the issue at hand. And then they write some little phony response of a bill that does nothing. So let`s be clear what`s happened. It`s not even the NRA members. They support these commonsense measures. It`s the board. And I have to think they are owned and operated by the gun manufacturers.

They just want everyone to be armed. That`s their vision of what makes a great America. And I have to tell you, if you look around the world, Joy, I held up an incredible graphic. We are -- we don`t compare to any other industrialized nation on how many people are killed every year.

In California, where we have commonsense controls, we have seen gun violence go down by more than 50 percent. Is it perfect? No. In Connecticut, where they took action, gun violence went down by 40 percent. Is it perfect? No.

But we know we can`t stop everything, but we can stop some of this outrage. And we`re only 100 senators. And, tonight, we had a chance to prove that we stood for something, protecting our people. And we walked away.

And it -- you know, I have been here a long time, and it breaks my heart, because I was here when we voted in the assault weapons ban, Senator Feinstein`s bill, in the `90s. It lasted for 10 years. Then it expired.

REID: Yes, indeed.

Well, thank you very much, Senator.

BOXER: Thanks.

REID: We really appreciate you continuing -- your continuing advocacy on this issue. Senator Barbara Boxer, thank you.

BOXER: Thanks.

REID: And, today, the FBI released a transcript of phone calls between the man who committed the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history and a 911 dispatcher and police negotiators.

The gunman, Omar Mateen, paused from his killing spree inside the Pulse nightclub to call 911, identify himself to police dispatchers and confess to his crime. In calls to a crisis negotiation team, Mateen identifies himself as an Islamic soldier and said America should stop bombing Syria and Iraq and that that was he was quote "out here right now."

When a negotiator asked the shooter what he had done, Mateen said -- quote -- "No, you already know what I did."

The gunman also falsely warned that there were explosives in a car outside the nightclub.

And joining me now is NBC justice correspondent Pete Williams.

Pete, two questions. Number one, why do you suppose there was such a lengthy amount of time? The thing that striking me at least about this timeline, the number of hours that passed between the initiation of the first 911 calls and the resolution. Why -- is there anything in this transcript that lets you know why it took so long?


This is the most detail we have had. It`s really an extraordinary amount of detail for this far along into an investigation, because the police never have given us much on what they were doing during that time.

So, we know that the 911 call was made, but we learned today that he talked three times to members of the Orlando Police Department for a total of 28 minutes. They were in essence crisis negotiators. It doesn`t seem to be much negotiation that was going on.

But you referenced some of this. He said at one point that he was wearing an explosive vest -- quote -- "like the ones they have in France."

He also said there were explosives in his van, and then later on, some of the folks inside the club told the police that they had heard him saying that he was going to put explosive vests on four people inside the nightclub.

Now, there never were any explosives found, but that`s one of the reasons police moved more slowly. We also learned some of the things they were doing during this time. They, for example, pulled an air conditioner unit out of the wall. And that allowed people to -- additional people to get out.

And, finally, we learned that, as they were preparing to go in, they say no additional shots were fired, that all the shots that were fired that killed the victims were at the beginning, and then the police shooting of Mateen at the very end, those three hours later.

REID: Yes. And very quickly, Pete, does it say anything to you that there don`t seem to be any at least overt mentions of an anti-gay motive in the shooting, at least not in the transcript?

WILLIAMS: Well, that`s been a poser all along.

We learned today that, as the FBI has gone through his electronic devices, looked at his communication history, they have never found gay dating apps on his phone. They find no sign that he ever used Web sites to hook up with men, although he was trying to get dates with women. And they can`t confirm -- there`s no hard evidence that he was ever in that nightclub before, even though people in Orlando have said they saw him there.

The FBI has yet to find any proof of that, credit card receipts, locational information using his cell phone, for example. They are still looking into that, but that whole aspect of it remains a mystery at this point.

REID: Indeed.

Well, thank you very much. Very interesting. Pete Williams, really appreciate it.

WILLIAMS: You bet.

REID: Thank you.

And coming up: John McCain has represented Arizona since 1982, but this fall, he may face his toughest challenge yet. McCain`s opponent, Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick, makes her case when we come back.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


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

Dangerous heat continues to bake portions of the Southwestern U.S. Parts of California and Arizona have seen temperatures sore past 120 degrees.

Several wildfires are burning across the region, including the Dog Head wildfire in New Mexico. It`s only 9 percent contained.

And mourners gathered at a wake for 2-year-old Lane Graves in Elkhorn, Nebraska. The little boy was dragged into a lagoon by an alligator at a Walt Disney World resort -- back to HARDBALL.

REID: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Senator John McCain is in a tough reelection fight in Arizona. While we expect new numbers tomorrow, the most recent polling shows McCain and his Democratic, U.S. Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick, tied at 42 percent each. That`s according to a Rocky Mountain poll from back in April.

Last Thursday, Senator McCain accused President Obama of being directly responsible for the terrorism attack in Orlando.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Barack Obama is directly responsible for it, because, when he pulled everybody out of Iraq, al Qaeda went to Syria, became ISIS, and ISIS is what it is today thanks to Barack Obama`s failures, utter failures by pulling everybody out of Iraq, thinking that conflicts end just because you leave.

So, the responsibility for it lies with President Barack Obama and his failed policies.

QUESTION: How do you say he`s directly responsible.

MCCAIN: Directly responsible, because he pulled everybody out of Iraq. And I predicted at the time that ISIS would go unchecked and there would be attacks on the United States of America. It`s a matter of record.

So, he is directly responsible.


REID: Later that day, McCain put out a statement trying to clarify, saying -- quote -- "I misspoke. I did not mean to imply that the president was personally responsible. I was referring to the president`s national security decisions, not the president himself."

The Huffington Post response McCain`s comment turned into a fund-raising bonanza for his opponent, Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick, who joins me now.

So, Congresswoman Kirkpatrick, thank you for being here.

Tell me how that comment by McCain, which sort of reflects his stay in Iraq forever kind of war hawk stance, how is that playing with your constituents?

REP. ANN KIRKPATRICK (D), ARIZONA: Well, Joy, I will tell you, like most Americans, I was shocked that he said that.

And I think most people are shocked. You were probably shocked when you heard him say that. And, look, these terrible, tragic mass shootings have to stop. We have to do something.

And you just reported that there were bills on the floor of the Senate today they couldn`t pass. And, look, people want commonsense solutions. And I will tell you, I was born and raised on the Apache Nation in Arizona. And I grew up with guns. My dad taught me to hunt. But like most gun owners, we have to do something to stop these mass shootings.

REID: You know, John McCain had a tough reelect six years ago he managed to get through it. And he`s been very durable. He`s been around since 1928. Despite the tightness in the polls, what is your strategy to actually defeat him in November?

KIRKPATRICK: Arizonans want new leadership, because they want someone who will put our state first over partisan politics.

And that`s something that John McCain seems to have forgotten in his 33 years here in Washington. And the voters are mad. So I`m all over the state of Arizona. I`m listening to their concerns. They would like commonsense gun legislation passed by Congress.

REID: Now, in addition to the gun issue, I want to talk a little bit about Hispanic voters in your state. It`s a state that has a large and growing Hispanic population. John McCain has expressed a lot of anxiety in the wake of Donald Trump`s comments about Judge Curiel, that he could have a problem there.

But John McCain right now, you look at that poll right there in the last polling back in April, he was leading you among Hispanic voters 50-37. What do you think that`s about? And what is your strategy to turn that around?

KIRKPATRICK: I was just down at the border in Nogales.

And I do a lot of Latino roundtables with the businesspeople. And, look, here is what they tell me. They said, look, Trump`s personal to us. We do billions of dollars in trade with Mexico. A wall at the border is bad for business. But deporting 12 million people, that`s personal to them.

REID: And Donald Trump -- I mean, I`m sorry, John McCain actually does have a primary opponent who is a Trump supporter. She`s very much for building the wall.

So, do you expect John McCain to go further to the right before he gets a chance at that general election, and do you think that would help you?

KIRKPATRICK: I don`t know what to expect from him. But I will tell you that I`m focused on my race, focused on putting Arizona first, learning and listening about Arizonans` concerns.

And, look, one of the other issues, big issue for Arizonans, is the fact that he not only supports Trump, but thinks Trump should fill the Supreme Court vacancy.

REID: Yes.

KIRKPATRICK: He came out right away and said, no, no, no, don`t fill. We`re not going to do our job in the Senate. We`re not going to fill that seat until Trump becomes president.

REID: Right. Yes.

KIRKPATRICK: And that`s wildly unpopular in Arizona.

REID: Yes. All right. Well, Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick, good luck, and thank you very much.

KIRKPATRICK: Thank you, Joy. Thanks so much.

REID: All right.

And coming up, Bernie Sanders returns to the Senate. He`s still not giving up his presidential campaign, but the Secret Service detail that comes with it is costing taxpayers -- a look at what Bernie wants and whether he will get it next.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.


REID: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Today, the self-described Democratic socialist Bernie Sanders cast his first vote in five months. He voted for two of the Democratic amendments supporting gun control that ultimately failed.

Accompanying him, a cadre of Secret Service agents that have not left his side since February, which, according to "The Washington Post," is costing nearly $40,000 a day.

And when asked if he would dismiss the detail before the convention, he didn`t respond.

While Hillary Clinton was declared the presumptive nominee nearly three weeks ago, Senator Sanders refuses to bow out, but at what cost? Aides say that Sanders is focused on trying to parlay his power into concrete changes to the party`s platform.

Not so fast, says the Congressional Black Caucus, which fired off a terse letter to both the Clinton and Sanders campaigns, objecting to two of Sanders` primary proposals, abolishing superdelegates and opening up the primary process.

Here`s what G.K. Butterfield, chairman of the CBC, wrote -- quote -- "The Democratic Party benefits from the current system of unpledged delegates to the national convention by virtue of rules that allow House members, members of the House and Senate, to be seated as a delegate without the burdensome necessity of competing against constituents."

And for more, I`m joined by Sanders supporter from state Senator from Ohio Nina Turner, and Perry Bacon Jr., senior political reporter at NBC News.

Let`s dispense with the Secret Service story first.

Nina Turner, do you -- do you -- what do you say to those who have been criticizing the senator for keeping his detail?

NINA TURNER (D), FORMER OHIO STATE SENATOR: I mean, it`s a Trojan horse, Joy, I think.

I mean, he`s keeping to his word. He said, let everybody vote, and then that he`s going all the way to the convention. And that`s exactly what he`s doing.

We all know that those details are given to a presidential candidate, you know, to protect safety, you know, and for other reasons. So, I think that is much to do about nothing and I will -- you know, I question who is making a big deal of this.

REID: Yes, you know, it`s not the Secret Service wouldn`t be -- you know, they are being paid anyway. They are already costing many millions of dollars.

Perry Bacon, Jr., let`s talk more about I think what the more important question is, which is whether or not Bernie Sanders still has leverage going into the convention. I talked to a lot of people who said his point of maximum leverage was before California when it wasn`t clear who`s going to win that state and that his leverage diminished significantly since then.

What do you think of that?

PERRY BACON, JR., NBC NEWS SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: I think that`s true. As he leverages higher, maybe earlier in the primary process as well when - - and to be fair to him, he`s already moved Hillary Clinton certain ways. She`s been more opposed to TPP than before he ran. She moved to have a $15 minimum wage instead of $12 minimum wage.

So, I think he already exercised a lot of leverage and now, we`re getting to the point where I think he`ll be pushed more to endorse her and I`m not sure how much more in terms of this party platform fight he can move her. She has now won the nomination.

REID: Yes, you know, to that point, Nina, on superdelegates specifically, the Congressional Black Caucus really came out swinging against the idea of getting rid of superdelegates and the CBC and J.K. Butterfield and all, saying it essentially would disenfranchise African-American elected leaders by making them have to essentially run for delegate against their own constituents, what do you make of that?

TURNER: I did read that leader, Joy, and I`m a little perplexed myself, especially the CBC who represents a group of people, African-American folks who have been victims of a rigged system in this country for generations, that they would not even want to have the conversation about whether or not our party should look at them. Their letter said they don`t want to entertain that as a possibility, but it is a very real concern and I know they pointed out a concern by a few, but I wouldn`t call millions and millions of voters a few people.

The bottom line is this, is that we should be working to try to change a system to make it better and, Joy, you know, I had an opportunity to talk to some high level folks who actually worked on Reverend Jesse Jackson`s campaign back in the `80s, and people may not remember, but the reverend had a problem with superdelegates as well. We had some very real concerns about the superdelegates.

So, we should at least have the conversation but the way the letter was written is that the CBC has just closed off any conversation about that whatsoever, and I don`t think that`s fair.

REID: And, you know, very quickly over to you, Perry, on this question of what Sanders might negotiate, does he risk negotiating too much on process and not about substantive platform items that could be about policy?

BACON: I think he does. On this issue of the superdelegates, I think he might have a stronger case for it. I was surprised with the CBC letter in part because superdelegates are more white and more male as a group than the Democratic electorate overall. So, I was surprised that the independent issue he`s talking about, that`s a hard one. A lot of people in the Democratic Party want the Democratic voters to vote for the primary in part because they are worried about getting a Donald Trump or a Bernie Sanders leader who the party on all issues if you don`t have the primaries that are more closed.

So, that issue he`s probably not going to win. The superdelegates issue will be discussed and he has more leverage on.

REID: Yes. And, Nina Turner, lastly, do you plan to endorse Senator Hillary Clinton and what would it take to get your endorsement of her?

TURNER: Joy, I`m going all the way. I mean, this is not just about rhetoric. I want to see real action. I`m going all the way with Senator Sanders to the convention unless I want you to ask me that question after the convention.

REID: All right. And I definitely will.

Thank you very much, Nina Turner and Perry Bacon, Jr. Appreciate it.

Coming up, the city of Cleveland are celebrating the big win by the Cavs. But some aren`t so excited about Donald Trump`s convention there next month. The roundtable is coming here next.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


REID: You can play HARDBALL all week long online. Follow the show on Twitter and Instagram and like us on Facebook. You`ll get exclusive access to show videos, behind-the-scene photos, and top analysis of the race for 2016. We will be right back.


REID: And we are back.

Just hours after the Cavaliers clenched the NBA title last night, crews began construction at Cleveland`s Quicken Loans arena to prepare for the Republican Convention, where Donald Trump will receive his party`s nomination next month.

While Donald Trump has promised that the convention will have a showbiz feel, he`s had a difficult time attracting Republican political stars for speaking roles. As columnist Frank Bruni pointed out in "The New York Times", "In the year, Trump Republicans are racing for the exits, it`s as if the Emerald City suddenly turned into Chernobyl."

One congressional staffer even predicted, it is going to resemble a funeral for a relative everyone hates.

Many Republicans, including four former presidential nominees, have said they plan to skip the convention entirely. In other troubling move, tech giant Apple joined the growing list of companies that have decided not to sponsor the week-long event, alongside iconic brands like Coca-Cola and Ford.

Convention planners are also considering alternative proposals that include featuring non-political speakers or even using Trump on every night of the convention.

I`m joined now by the roundtable. Yamiche Alcindor is a reporter with "The New York Times", Evan Siegfried is a Republican strategist and former campaign aid to Rudy Giuliani, and Caitlin Huey-Burns is a reporter for "Real Clear Politics".

All right. I`ll throw this to the panel and I come to you first on this, Caitlin.

The Republican Party is now losing sponsors. There is a prospect of a convention that doesn`t have the typical signage of a convention. What is the party planning to do about that?

CAITLIN HUEY-BURNS, REAL CLEAR POLITICS: Well, that`s a good question. They are talking about party unity. The convention is conventionally, traditionally served as a platform for that. But this is very much going to be a Donald Trump show as we know so far. The nominee always runs the convention, but they are usually really in sync with the party apparatus and operation at this point.

Donald Trump is not. So, there are lots of question marks to left as to how this is actually going to go.

REID: And, Evan, does it matter that you doesn`t have the previous president of the United States, his dad, the previous president of the United States, the governor of Florida, Jeb Bush, that you don`t have like the sort of seminal families of the Republican world? I mean, George W. Bush wasn`t at Mitt Romney`s convention either, right? In the end, does it substantively matter?

EVAN SIEGFRIED, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: We don`t have not only the marquee names. We don`t have the mid level names. Essentially, we have the jayvee squad of the jayvee squad coming out to speak to Republican delegates.

And who really wants to be there? Donald Trump himself is very toxic. So, if I`m a sitting member of Congress or the Senate, why do I even want to be associated with him? Because he`s polling so terribly among every key demographic, any candidate needs to win an election.

REID: I mean, that`s a really important point, Yamiche, because you saw at the last convention, at the Romney convention in 2012, this real effort to highlight the diversity in the Republican Party. The Republican Party has made a lot of their -- South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley made a lot -- Tim Scott made a lot of sort of their change, to the point where it was almost kind of comical, the way they were sort of corralling all the people of color on the convention floor.

If you have a candidate whose main selling point is he`s hurting party so much with Hispanics, he`s hurting the part so much with women, how does the party even plan to put that together? Would do kind of politicians even show up, those kind of politicians?

YAMICHE ALCINDOR, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, some of the people you mentioned, including Governor Nikki Haley, she`s saying, I`m not going to be there. I think it`s going to be hard for them to put together this kind of all-star -- he`s talked about this idea that it`s going to be the jayvee team.

The interesting thing about this, though, when I talk to some voters, they don`t care about these kind of establishment figures. Obviously, we`re talking about the convention. You want to put on a big show. But part of it is the convention`s going to be a reflection of Donald Trump.

So, if he wants to pull out his reality star people, if we`re going to see someone like Mike Tyson come out and say, here`s the celebrity that really is backing me, here are the people that are really -- that really matter, and here`s the people that American people matter -- matter to the American people. This is going to be really interesting.

I think also to point out, if you`re going to have Donald Trump speaking every single night, we know from covering Donald Trump that that could really kind of open him up to a lot of issues. So, if he says one thing on Monday night that could be controversial, is that going to dominate the media coverage of the convention for the entire time?

So, I think the other thing Republicans are thinking about is, let`s fill these spots because the last thing we want to do is have Donald Trump say something really toxic and then we have to talk about that the next four days.

REID: I think one of the points that Yamiche makes is really important, Caitlin, that this has been a revolt from the bottom up in the Republican Party. It hasn`t been about the elites. The elites are the ones trying to come up with the never Trump plan for the convention.

If you basically have a convention with Gary Busey, and Mike Tyson, a couple celebrities who like Donald Trump, doesn`t that kind of solidify him with the people who like him in the first place?

HUEY-BURNS: Oh, sure. I think this has been a big part of his appeal, that he`s just basically not dealing with the establishment, not going the route of traditional candidates, traditional nominees. That`s certainly appealing to his base.

But it`s also -- there`s going to be some missed opportunities then in terms of the convention. It as time to really showcase and get voters excited. This is traditionally a time that they`re starting to tune in. This is obviously a different cycle.

But if Trump speaks every night, he does manage to make news, as you said. And that will keep people coming back. So, that`s certainly what he has in mind in terms of the ratings.

REID: But, one of the other issues is sort of what the other thing these conventions are for, the Clinton campaign and its allies, they`ve already spent $23 million on television advertising. The Trump team has yet to spend a single dollar. The goal of the Clinton camp is to define Trump as being unfit for office before he can respond.

Here`s the latest from the super PAC Priorities USA which backs Clinton.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who are you consulting with consistently so that you`re ready on day one?

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I`m speaking with myself, number one.

Here`s the Trump theory on war. I`m really good at war. I love war in a certain way.

Including with nukes, yes. Including with nukes.

I want to be unpredictable. I`m not going to tell you right now what I`m going to do.

I know more about ISIS than the generals do, believe me.


REID: Evan, this points out the problem that the convention is not just a party for Trump`s core supporters, it`s also a commercial, it`s a way to introduce him nationally to the country. If it`s just sort of the B team and a few celebrities and Hillary Clinton is doing that, then how much of a hole does that put the Republican Party in?

SIEGRIED: Well, listen, the convention is an opportunity for the Republican Party to highlight our agenda where we can provide economic and educational opportunity for Americans. And we can`t do that when we`re just talking about Donald Trump and whether or not he said something completely crazy or what his policies that don`t even fit in the conservative platform are.

And what you can also see based upon him not going up in the air with ads is a real problem that his campaign is having in that he doesn`t have the money. On Saturday, his campaign sent out an e-mail to all supporters asking for an emergency fund-raising deadline of $100,000. In the modern day, what presidential candidate has ever begged for $100,000? That was absolutely pathetic.

REID: I thought he was rich enough to self-fund, laughing at the idea of fund-raising.

All right. The roundtable is staying with us.

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

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.


REID: All right. We`re back with the HARDBALL roundtable.

Yamiche, tell me something I don`t know.

ALCINDOR: Something that you don`t know is that while Bernie Sanders, everybody`s calling for Bernie Sanders to leave the race, some of the actual staffers that work for him are also really feeling like they`re being held hostage because they want new jobs, they`re kind of avoiding people asking them for new jobs, telling them they want new jobs, because they want to seem loyal. That`s really an issue there that people aren`t talking about, they`re talking about kind of his party, the party unity issue.

But there are also people that are like, I need a job tomorrow, when this is actually going to happen?

REID: Wow. That`s amazing.

Evan, what do I not know?

SIEGFRIED: There are pro-gay and pro-marriage equality Republican groups that are taking Donald Trump`s words last week about how he`d be great for the gay community and begging him to put his money where his mouth is and change the campaign -- change the Republican Party`s platform in Cleveland for marriage equality.

REID: That`s if they can get it together and have a normal convention.

All right. Caitlin?

HUEY-BURNS: Donald Trump is meeting with hundreds of evangelical leaders tomorrow in New York. This is a big deal, because a lot of these people while we see in the polls and in the primaries, evangelicals were supportive of Donald Trump, they`re not so sure he`s their candidate. I talked to one person who said they`re really looking to see what his responses are, especially on Supreme Court issues and the like, and are not sure if they`re going to support him.

REID: The last time he met with a group of black evangelicals they came out, he was asking for endorsement, is there any chance of that?

HUEY-BURNS: There`s not, not yet. But could be. We`ll see.

REID: All right. Yamiche Alcindor, Evan Siegfried, Caitlin Huey-Burns -- thank you very much.

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

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.