updated 5/8/2015 10:45:50 AM ET 2015-05-08T14:45:50

Date: May 7, 2015
Guest: Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee, Jason Pugh, Stephen Cannella, Betsy
Woodruff, Steve McMahon


Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

Did Tom Brady give that order for soft balls? Did he? Did he
purposely get the Patriot equipment guys to sneak off to the bathroom to
deflate those game balls before the American Football League championship?
And if so, if it`s found to be true, what`s the NFL going to do about it?

Brady himself is going to speak tonight in this hour up at Salem State
University. Steve Kornacki is there, ready to report.

about a half an hour away, although I got to tell you, I think you can
probably see behind me -- we`re outside -- the O`Keefe Center is the
basketball arena up here at Salem State University, about a half an hour
outside Boston. You can see that line behind me. It is a line right now
that`s several thousand people deep. It is slowly -- and I mean slowly --
moving in towards this -- towards this gym. So I don`t know if they`re
going to get this thing started at 7:30 or not.

But when it does start, Tom Brady is going to be sitting down with Jim
Gray, Jim Gray the sportscaster. This is a long-scheduled event. There
was a lot of speculation after that report came out yesterday that Brady
might cancel this event, that it might be closed to the press.

The compromise that came out was Tom Brady will still do the event.
The press will be allowed inside, cameras can roll for the first 10
minutes. So we don`t know exactly what`s going to be said in those 10
minutes. Will Jim Gray ask him a question? Will he ask him follow-up
questions about that report? Will he put him on the spot at all?

Probably worth keeping in mind Jim Gray has a relationship, a
broadcast relationship with Tom Brady. They do a radio show together
during the season. So not clear how much he`s going to want to be prying
on this. But it`s hard to believe he`s not going to ask him at least
something about it.

Can say that Brady arrived here about an hour-and-a-half ago. There
was a loud noise overhead. It was a helicopter. He landed in a field...


KORNACKI: ... next to the gymnasium here and made his way inside.

MATTHEWS: My hunch, Steve, and I think it follows yours, we`re going
to find out from Brady, at least in some way, whether he`s guilty or not by
his standards. We`ll see.

Steve Kornacki, we`ll be back to you with more on "deflate-gate" in
the minutes ahead when this happens. By the way, we`re going to bring you
Tom Brady`s remarks, as I said, live when they happen, we think around
7:30, which will be on camera right here.

Now to ISIS. Two weeks before the "Draw Mohammed" event in Garland,
Texas, federal officials warned local police that ISIS supporters were
calling for retaliation on Twitter. The two shooters there, Nadir Soofi
and Elton Simpson, traveled from Phoenix, Arizona, to Garland, Texas, to
heed those calls late Sunday night. Both were killed by a policeman --

NBC News reports today that FBI director James Comey said they knew at
the FBI that Simpson was interested in that event, but had no reason to
believe he intended to attack there. Comey also said he believes the FBI
acted appropriately.

While the investigation is far from complete at the FBI, the events of
Sunday down there have spurred new debate about the potential for more
ISIS-inspired lone wolf attacks here in this country.

In a Senate hearing on terrorist recruitment today, Senator Ron
Johnson of Wisconsin said there`s a perception problem when it comes to how
much the U.S. government actually knows about the threat from within the

Here he is.


SEN. RON JOHNSON (R), WISCONSIN: Because of the revelations of Edward
Snowden, there seems to be a perception in America that the federal
government knows all and we have perfect knowledge and we know exactly
who`s on line and we know exactly who`s on these sites and is becoming
radicalized. And the members of those communities were actually very
surprised that we had no idea.


MATTHEWS: Well, this week, ISIS supporters boasted that the group has
a number of members in 15 different states around the country. Of course,
they named five of those states, Virginia, Maryland, Illinois, California
and Michigan.

I`m joined right now by Democratic U.S. congresswoman Sheila Jackson-
Lee of Texas, who sits on the House Committee on Homeland Security, as well
as MSNBC terrorism analyst Evan Kohlmann.

Congresswoman, how big a threat is ISIS when it blasts out these
decrees that their sleeper cells, even if they don`t know who they are,
should attack?

REP. SHEILA JACKSON-LEE (D), TEXAS: Well, Chris, I don`t want them,
ISIS, to think they`re bigger than they are, but they are serious and we
should not take them lightly, particularly here in the United States, when
we have just discovered that there`s no need to have one-to-one personal
recruiting, and it has been done, where individuals have been radicalized
by people who are in the United States.

But the social media is an enormous phenomenon. And we`re seeing that
it is a major recruiter, as evidenced by the two perpetrators, either one
feeding off the other, but certainly one spending a lot of time on social
media. And we in the Homeland Security Committee on the House side have
already had a hearing. I know the Senate had their hearing today. And it
has been recognized as a very serious problem.

And I would offer to say that all of our law enforcement, in this
instance, the FBI, the domestic national security effort here in the United
States, has to take this very, very seriously.

MATTHEWS: How do you know -- and you`ve been a law person for -- a
lawmaker for years, and how in law enforcement could you possibly know that
some guy, this guy, Mr. Simpson, an American guy, who`s become a convert to
Islam, and then after that at some point, becomes a zealot, an Islamist, if
you will, a potential terrorist, a supporter of terrorism -- how can you
know what`s going on in the mind of someone, an American, a free American,
who decides they like this cause, which is an anti-American?

How can a free country actually keep an eye and a nose on what`s going
on in these situations, which are so personal?

JACKSON-LEE: Yes, the perfect question, Chris, and you`re absolutely
right. We have to use new tools. As you well know, the court of appeals
in New York just indicated that bundling of phone records of Americans was
illegal, unconstitutional. And we`ve got to fix that in Congress.

But what I think has to happen is, just as we participated in the
White House summit on countering violent extremism, we have to use the
tools of engagement, the tools of getting to know the Muslim community,
getting to know the imams -- we have to get them talking. We have to work
with law enforcement.

And then, of course, we have to be more astute about social media.
And might I say, the FBI does a great job, but they had some understanding
that Simpson, even though he looked as if he might be harmless -- they did
know that he was on social media, he seemed to be engaged. And frankly,
sometimes, we`ve got to go the extra mile.

Whether that means additional resources -- and Congress is going to
have to look at how much money we give to the FBI...


JACKSON-LEE: ... with recognizing America`s civil liberties, and to
the intelligence-gathering apparatus of this nation, again, being very
concerned about our civil liberties, to be able to document by a number of
entities, again, engaging with the Muslim community in this instance,
having people feel comfortable to talk to us, sensitizing law enforcement
that they can be astute, and yes, being able to track people on social
media in the appropriate way because if this gentleman had continued to be
followed by the FBI, who said they had him in their eyesight...


JACKSON-LEE: ... then they didn`t think he was too much trouble, and
they just dropped him to a certain extent. We`re going to find out now
that we have to be a little bit more astute in doing this, using new tools.

MATTHEWS: OK. Let me go to Evan Kohlmann, who`s an expert on this.
And we respect so much what you know about this, as well as the members of
the Homeland Security Committee.

Let me ask you about -- like Mrs. Jackson -- let me ask you this
question. What happens when somebody like Pamela Geller decides that they
want to do what they do, to prove that we have free speech in this country,
in a way that insults 1.6 billion people in the world, they could cause
something like she`s going down there -- here`s your chance to draw a
cartoon of Mohammed, the Prophet, make fun of him.

It`s a free country, and as I said, it`s a free country for everybody
to think what they want, to say what they want. There she is. We see the
very provocative picture there for (ph) her (ph). She goes out and does
that. She`s endangering her own life, of course, and I guess that`s her


MATTHEWS: And -- but, also there`s a chance that somewhere in
Pakistan, you could have, you know, mosques overrun, Catholic churches
overrun, Protestant churches overrun because somebody makes this kind of
statement down in Dallas, Texas, or near Dallas.

How do we live in a world of sleeper cells going to war with people
who are provocateurs, fairly and legally provocateurs? This is going to be
quite a show the rest of our lives, isn`t it.

KOHLMANN: Yes, look, she has the right to do this. But let`s be
clear this is not even an issue of Pakistan. I work directly with the FBI.
I`ve testified as an expert witness in 33 different cases, most of which
involve homegrown extremists.

And I can tell you with absolute certainty that there are homegrown
extremists here in the United States that are looking at this stuff. And
it`s radicalizing them, it`s -- that along with al Qaeda propaganda because
if you look -- Anwar al Awlaki, one of the most prominent American
recruiters for al Qaeda -- his message to American Muslims is that America
is at war with Islam. America will never accept Islam.


KOHLMANN: Obviously, that`s not correct, but that`s exactly the
message that Pamela Geller is putting out. And every time she gets on TV
with that message, every time someone defends her, even defends her from a
principled standpoint, they give life to that idea. They make that idea
seem real. And that`s exactly what we see.

And this is not the first time that someone, a homegrown extremist,
has looked to target someone like Geller for exactly this reason. And I
would say to Geller, Look, you have the right to do this. But you also
have a responsibility. Freedom of speech is a very serious right, and it
comes with a responsibility. You have a responsibility to act in a way
that is restrained...


KOHLMANN: ... and according to fact. And simply yelling at someone
and saying terribly nasty things at someone -- look, and then to complain
about the fact that someone reacts violently to that, to me, that`s like
lighting the Reichstag on fire and then complaining your fingers got

You cannot infringe upon someone else`s freedom of expression, you
cannot infringe upon someone else`s freedom of speech and then claim it is
you who is the victim. It does not work that way.

No one has the right to commit acts of violence in the name of faith.
No one has the right to commit acts of violence because someone says
something offensive. But people that exercise the freedom of speech also
have a responsibility to understand that words have meaning and that they
can cause harm.


KOHLMANN: And that`s why we have libel laws. That`s why we have
defamation laws. And that`s why we have hate crime laws. And I would
suggest that what Pamela Geller is doing comes in some cases quite close to
what is normally defined as a hate crime. And if you...

MATTHEWS: Well, here she is. Let her speak for herself here, Evan.
Let`s let (ph) her a chance. Here`s Pamela Geller explaining why she does
what she does and her right to do it.


PAMELA GELLER, PAMELAGELLER.COM: Others would say that I was
endangering others. That`s like saying that the rape victim is guilty
because she wore a short skirt. I will not abridge my freedom so as not to
offend savages. This is freedom of speech.


MATTHEWS: And conservative commentator Rich Lowry came to her defense
-- Geller`s defense -- today, writing in Politico that, quote, "It is no
more legitimate to shoot someone for drawing Mohammed than it is to shoot a
girl for going to school or a Coptic or a Shia for his or her faith.
Expecting apologies from these victims would be almost as perverse as
expecting one from Pamela Geller. A free society can`t let the parameters
of its speech be set by murderous extremists."

I think she`s (sic) talking past the issue. Congresswoman, the
president of the United State -- and you can criticize him or not, I don`t
but some do -- for making a point of never saying "Islamist terrorism." He
really makes an effort. He leans over backwards not to -- to make sure
that nobody gets the idea we`re at war with Islam, even to the point of
saying that terrorism, which is obviously so often associated with Islamic
extremists, is from that basis and that background.

And then in the free world we live in, people see this Pamela Geller
insulting Islam. They see a guy urinating, if you will, on a Quran
somewhere. And they get the idea that here in America, we look down on
their religion. We desecrate their religion.

And people that only have their religion -- they`re poor people in
parts of the world -- that`s what they believe, and that`s their world --
they see us literally at war with them, the way we are seen.

What can we do in a free society to stop this escalating war of words
and symbols?

JACKSON-LEE: Chris, you`re absolutely right. The president is right
in his approach, and that`s what I was saying. Obviously, the hate speech
that came out of Garland, Texas, is almost like crying "Fire" in a crowded
theater. And however, it is protected by the 1st Amendment.

But it`s not the government. It`s not the government who is debasing
the Quran. And so I believe it is important for the government to be
represented by the president`s words, the members of Congress, who should
be tempered in their remarks. And that`s why the president also does not
use "radical Islam." He uses "countering violent extremism."


JACKSON-LEE: And all of our voices need to be raised against hate
speech and begin to talk that we`re in a collective family that goes
against violent extremism, the kind of extremism that takes actions against
Christians in countries around the world, the extremism that takes Muslims
of different sects and kills them.

And so we must stand for the idea to protect the right to free speech,
but that we do not condone or do we agree with that kind of ugly speech.

KOHLMANN: What about the August 2012...


JACKSON-LEE: So again, Chris, I say to you...

KOHLMANN: What about the August 2012 shooting at the Sikh temple in
Wisconsin? Six people were murdered by a white supremacist who killed
these people because they were exercising their freedom of religion. In
January of 2011...

JACKSON-LEE: And we were just with the Sikhs...


KOHLMANN: ... setting off a bomb, targeting a Martin Luther King
rally in Spokane. That could have easily been the next Boston Marathon

JACKSON-LEE: Absolutely.

KOHLMANN: The people who carried those out were white men...


KOHLMANN: ... white supremacists. And there`s no excuse for lumping
all these people together and saying it`s an Islamic problem. It`s a
problem of political violence. These people are innocent. It does not
matter whether the perpetrator is brown or whether the victim is brown.
Either way, it`s unacceptable. And to say that this is only...

JACKSON-LEE: Well, we should not condone hate speech, absolutely.

KOHLMANN: Yes and...


MATTHEWS: I think we agree. Congresswoman, I agree with you
completely, and also with Evan. I think we live in a fragile -- it is an
increasingly fragile world that we live in of freedom, true freedom, 1st
Amendment freedom, which around the world isn`t quite understood.

They don`t understand, as you point out, Congresswoman, that the
president can speak beautifully about our refusal to let this become a
religious war, and yet when they hear the noise and the craziness from
Texas and from other parts of the country, they don`t want to hear it the
way we put it out.

Anyway, thank you. U.S. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee and Evan

JACKSON-LEE: Thank you. It doesn`t represent America at all. Thank

MATTHEWS: And I think the trouble is, a lot of people like this

Coming up, "deflate-gate." Do you accept the NFL`s report that the
New England Patriots likely deflated game balls on their way to the Super
Bowl this year? The question now is how should they be punished? Should
they get off with a fine, or should the star quarterback, Tom Brady, the
Super Bowl MVP be suspended?

And later this hour, we`re expecting to hear from Brady himself in his
first public appearance since the "deflate-gate" report came out, and we
will bring you that live as it happens, him speaking for the first time.

Plus, Chris Christie is up in New Hampshire. He can`t escape the
splash of the George Washington Bridge scandal and those indictments back
home in Jersey.

Finally, "Let Me Finish" with why games need to be played by the
numbers and by the rules.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Well, David Cameron may well keep his job as British prime
minister. That`s according to exit polling from the elections today in
Great Britain. Cameron and his Conservative Party have been battling Ed
Miliband and the Labour Party in what has become one of the closest
elections in Britain in recent memory.

Polls closed about two hours ago, but we likely won`t have final
results until tomorrow afternoon.

We`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. We`re standing by right now to
hear from New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. He`s speaking a day
after a report commissioned by the NFL found he probably was aware of an
effort to deflate team balls before last January`s AFC championship game.

Brady`s one of the biggest stars in football, obviously, and
considered one of the best quarterbacks in the history of the sport.

The Wells report, it`s called, found, quote, "it is more probable than
not that New England Patriots personnel participated in violations of the
playing rules. And, quote, "It is more probable than not that Tom Brady
was at least generally aware of the inappropriate activities." Well,
that`s lawyerly talk for he probably did it.

The report found that the team`s head coach, Bill Belichick, and its
senior management had no knowledge of what happened. Patriots CEO Robert
Kraft said yesterday he was, quote, "disappointed," close quote, by the
findings, which he said lacked any incontrovertible evidence of the team`s
guilt. Well, that was a fallback position.

The question now, what punishment, if any, will Brady get? Jason Pugh
is a sports reporter right here for WRC here in Washington, in this
building. And Stephen Cannella is assistant managing editor for "Sports
Illustrated." Thank you, gentlemen.

First of all, is this report conclusive, pretty much conclusive?

JASON PUGH, WRC: Yes, it pretty much is.

I think the NFL, the punishment handed down by the NFL is going to be
swift. I think it`s going to come from the next two weeks or so. I do
think Tom Brady will be suspended, if not multiple games, at least one
game, for this upcoming NFL season, because of Deflategate.

MATTHEWS: Does he have to admit this at some point or can he play, I
didn`t do it, and still get punished?

PUGH: Well, he`s still going to get punished no matter if he plays
the I didn`t do it card or I had no clue what happened.


PUGH: He said that all along.

MATTHEWS: The thing is, he`s been saying all along, I have no idea, I
have no idea, I have no idea.

PUGH: Yes.

And he didn`t participate in this investigation, didn`t hand over his
cell phone or his e-mail records. And that was his choice. But I think,
no matter what, no matter what card he plays, he`s going to be punished.

MATTHEWS: So he didn`t help with the evidence.



MATTHEWS: Let me go to Stephen on that, that question of how do you
put it together, the question of guilt, the question of what role he played
in the process of whether he was trying to exonerate himself or he didn`t
bother? He`s basically doing a nolo contendere here or what?

his chance to be cooperative with Roger Goodell and with the Wells report
and he blew it. He also blew it with the national media.

Right -- a couple of days before the Super Bowl, he was adamant that
he had nothing to do with this, he had absolutely no knowledge. It seems,
if we believe what`s in this report, it seems that`s not true. I think the
time for lenience for Tom Brady in the eyes of Roger Goodell and Troy
Vincent, who`s the executive vice president of the NFL, who`s in charge of
player discipline, I think the time for lenience in their eyes is long

And I think the fact that Brady was uncooperative, was -- blatantly
did not tell the truth, as far as they`re concerned, and also the fact that
the Patriots are repeat offenders in terms of crossing Goodell`s office in
terms of cheating -- we all remember the Spygate scandal from 2007.

MATTHEWS: Yes, we sure do. Arlen Specter was after that baby. He
wanted the Senate involved in that.

CANNELLA: Exactly.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you, guys, in all seriousness, this guy, the
equipment manager, or one the equipment managers, goes into a bathroom,
apparently, to be blunt about it, a one-toilet bathroom, but with 24

I mean, that`s sight is so funny. The guy squeezes it or he got 24
footballs into the toilet. He didn`t go to the bathroom. He went to the
bathroom to do something with these 24 -- nobody walks into a bathroom with
24 footballs. And the whole thing is a ludicrous -- it`s like a "Saturday
Night Live" picture.

But he did it because the quarterback needed to have had a better grip
on the ball, and especially in cold weather. Now, we have got two balls
here we`re going to bring out later in the show in our roundtable. And we
have tried these by every producer here, men and women both, and everybody
agrees there`s a difference in the grip.

The 10.5 pressure and 20 -- and 12.5 is a big difference. You can get
your thumb into one. You can`t -- you can get a good grip on that ball.
So, if every quarterback had played by this lower pressure, would they have
done better? Is this a better deal? Is this like a wider strike zone for
a pitcher? Is this just a fact?

PUGH: You can make that -- you can make that case. Or here`s the
thing. We know it provided a competitive advantage.

MATTHEWS: Do you buy the fact that it makes a significant difference
in the game?

PUGH: Yes, it makes a difference, it makes a difference in a game,
especially bad weather, raining, cold weather. It makes a difference.


MATTHEWS: A softer football is easier to throw?

PUGH: Yes, absolutely, easier to throw, easier to catch, easier not
to fumble. Yes, it makes a big difference.

MATTHEWS: And let me go with Stephen on that, because every time you
play football on a cold day, and it`s really inflated, it hurts to catch it
sometimes. It`s a hard thing to catch. Your thoughts?

CANNELLA: Sure. I`m not going to say that that`s the reason the
Patriots won the Super Bowl or even that they beat the Colts in the AFC
Championship Game.

MATTHEWS: Well, they killed the Colts.

CANNELLA: Right. They could have been playing with basketballs and I
think the Patriots would have won that game without any problem.

I think what is important here is, this is a preference of Brady.
He`s an extremely competitive athlete and he`s an extremely competitive
quarterback. We have always known that about him. Every great athlete, I
don`t care what sport you`re talking about. I don`t care what the
equipment is. They`re looking for every little edge and every little way
they can bend the rules to their advantage.

Even if this was just sort of a mental edge for Tom Brady, where he`s
-- that`s where he`s comfortable gripping the ball, that`s going to help
him mentally maybe throw a better pass. I don`t think we can say this is
the reason the Patriots have won four Super Bowls with Tom Brady and Bill
Belichick there.


CANNELLA: If this is an example, I think it`s -- you talk about it
being a "Saturday Night Live" sketch, that`s exactly what it is.

This is really -- when you come right down to it, it`s very silly and
I don`t think it`s had any impact on any game.


CANNELLA: As always, though, it`s the cover-up, not the crime.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you. I watch baseball games, which aren`t as
exciting as football games, I admit, but how many times have you seen some
umpire grab a ball, look at it, and see it`s nicked up and throws it away
and puts in a new ball?

Somebody decided a long time ago the condition of the ball, whatever
the sport is, is important.

PUGH: It`s absolutely important. And you know what? Even if it`s a
little advantage, a minor advantage that Tom Brady is getting from
inflating these footballs or deflating these footballs, he is the face of
the NFL.

Besides Peyton Manning, the casual football fans know Tom Brady.


MATTHEWS: OK. Let me challenge Stephen on this, because you agree
with me.

If it`s no big deal, why`d he do it? And if it is no big deal, why
would he pay -- passing presents to these guys in the locker room, the guy
who went into the bathroom? Why all these gifts and all these little
chachkas, these little giveaways to keep the guy who makes one-zillionth
what he makes happy? Why that if it doesn`t matter to Tom Brady that he
gets a softer football?

CANNELLA: I think it does matter to Tom Brady.

I think he`s made it very clear that matters to him. And you listen
to those Keystone Cops conversations between these two equipment guys
talking about what Brady likes and what he doesn`t and they`re getting very
angry at being pushed by him, I think it does make a difference to him.

Do I think Tom Brady would still be a great quarterback with properly
inflated footballs? I do. I think he probably would get used to it and I
think he would learn to throw those balls.

I think what really matters here and why this has become a big deal is
not so much whether it`s to help Tom Brady throw for 300 or 400 yards in a
game. It`s what Roger Goodell`s biggest concern is, which is the integrity
of the game and that`s what it gets to.


MATTHEWS: What do you think he is going to do? Will he get tough and
take him out for six games or something? I don`t know the amount. We have
had guys beating up their girlfriends and there`s been terrible stuff that
we have we have seen off the field. This is on-the-field stuff. What do
you see as appropriate here?

What do you see?


CANNELLA: I see at least -- at least two games, possibly as much as
four. This is the other area where Roger Goodell has sort of boxed himself
in a corner for his lack of discipline for far more serious transgressions
by many NFL players. He would seem kind of silly if he came out of the box
with six games for something like this.

But I think given the media furor, given the way Brady was not
cooperative with the investigation, given the way he basically lied to
Goodell`s face in the process of the investigation, I think he has got to
give him at least two games, possibly as much as four.

MATTHEWS: This is a terrible question. I hate it, but I`m going to
throw it at you, Jason. How do you compare a guy who decks his wife in a
an elevator, decks her, like, throws a punch...

PUGH: You can`t. You can`t.

MATTHEWS: .. and this, and this, which is about the game?

That`s about life and justice and human relations.

PUGH: Yes, absolutely. Well, here`s the thing.

The casual football fans, hard-core football fans, when the integrity
of the game is questioned, you put the entire league at risk. Fans that
are watching, they want to know that every team and every player is on an
even playing field. And when this happens, you know what? It`s a big
deal. It happened during the Super Bowl or right after the -- before the
Super Bowl. It`s a big deal...


MATTHEWS: I would argue that all sports, all sports are about
numbers. That`s how we keep score, that`s how we keep the rules, strike
zones, everything, everything, how much time you have to throw a pitch,

You start messing with numbers, you`re messing with the game itself.

Anyway, Tom Brady`s agent, Donald Yee, blasted the report yesterday,
today, and said -- suggested the conclusions were delivered for the benefit
of the NFL. That`s always playing the underdog.

Quote: "The Wells report, with all due respect, is a significant and
terrible disappointment. Its omission of key facts and lines of inquiry
suggest the investigators reached a conclusion first and then determined
so-called facts later. This report contains significant and tragic flaws
and it is common knowledge in the legal industry that reports like this
generally are written for the benefit of the purchaser."

Stephen, he`s arguing, the lawyer, defending, of course, the
quarterback, that this is all home cooking, this was done by the NFL to
make the NFL look good and to stick it to the Patriots` equipment managers
and the quarterback.

CANNELLA: Well, he might have a point.

This is a report purchased by NFL. This is a report that I think
Roger Goodell really felt like he has to come down hard, because he and
Patriots owner Roger Kraft have a long and well-known to be cozy
relationship. Roger Kraft came to Goodell`s defense last year when Goodell
was really taking a lot of heat for his handling of the Ray Rice case.
Kraft was right there to defend him at first.

I think Goodell really felt like he had to come up with a report that
was going to be hard on the Patriots and also at least give the appearance
of independence to sort of save some of his own credibility, which has
really been taking a large hit over the last two years.

I think what`s led to this is not just the Patriots` past, you know,
history of cheating and Spygate and Tom Brady`s lack of cooperation in this
case. This has a lot to do with the way Roger Goodell has handled a lot of
the controversies he`s faced over the last few years, many of them dealing
with far more serious transgressions, as you point out, than, you know, the
air pressure in the ball.


CANNELLA: I think Goodell, this is an indication to me that he`s got
a tenuous grasp on control of this league and he`s really trying very, very
hard to show he`s running a tight ship, when he seems to be selectively
running a tight ship.

MATTHEWS: Well, maybe we`re all idealistic and maybe we`re all 8-
year-old kids when it comes to sports, but we live in a world now with
Lance Armstrong and Barry Bonds and A-Rod, and one of these
disillusionments after another. They`re not the Black Sox, where they
threw the World Series. It`s not like that, but it`s bad, because we do
count on fairness and we count on the big leagues to be really fair.
That`s the deal.

Competitors go out and try to win by the rules, and rules matter.

Anyway, Jason Pugh, thank you so much for joining us.

Stephen Cannella, I guess we disagree, Stephen.

CANNELLA: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Up next -- that`s what HARDBALL`s about. It`s not
softball, like in the NFL.

We`re expecting to hear from New England Patriots quarterback Tom
Brady in just a few minutes. It will be Brady`s first public comments, as
I said, since the NFL found the Patriots were likely deflating game balls
on the way to the Super Bowl this year, in violation of league rules.

And when we come back, Chris Christie heads to New Hampshire, where
his numbers have themselves drastically deflated, I might say. He of
course had something to say about Tom Brady. Of course he`s on Brady`s
side. They`re in the same situation. Think about it. Will no one rid me
of this meddlesome priest? Will no one do what I want done, whether it`s
bridges or footballs?

Anyway, the roundtable joins us when we come back. And this is
HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

We`re now awaiting the New England Patriots quarterback, Tom Brady
himself, for his first comments since the NFL`s Deflategate report

And as we wait, we`re getting a look at the first batch of
presidential polls following last week`s indictments on the George
Washington Bridge conspiracy. The initial damage appears catastrophic for
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Christie was the front-runner last
summer in the New Hampshire primary race, with polling close to 20 percent.
He`s now down to 3, 3 percent. He`s dropped to 10th place. He`s behind --
excuse me, Donald -- you -- he`s behind Donald Trump.

Christie, by the way, barely registers in new polling out in Iowa.
Meanwhile, he made his first stop in New Hampshire today. Following the
indictments, he was asked about those plummeting poll numbers and the
bridge charges. Let`s watch him.


QUESTION: Is there some indication that you need to do something to
turn things around?

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: No, I don`t think there`s any
indication at all. I think the poll you`re talking about said -- 5 percent
of the people in the poll said they had made up their mind. So, I`m more
than happy to work on the other 95 percent. We will be just fine.

QUESTION: How can Americans trust that a Christie White House
wouldn`t end up facing indictments?

CHRISTIE: It`s such a silly question, I`m not even going to answer



MATTHEWS: That`s good. It`s such a silly question.

Anyway, as I said, Governor Christie had something to say about Tom
Brady. Here`s the New Jersey governor standing behind the New England
quarterback. Here he goes.


CHRISTIE: Listen, I think this has been so -- I think this has been
so overcovered. I have to tell you the truth. I think this has been so
overcovered. The Wells report came out, doesn`t seem all that conclusive
to me.

In the end, I quite frankly think that to have this story be leading
the national news, with all the other things that are going on in the
world, is really kind of silly. You know, people in public life wind up
becoming targets for various reasons.

No, I don`t think it tarnishes Tom Brady`s -- Tom Brady`s legacy. I
don`t think it tarnishes Bill Belichick`s legacy, and I don`t think it
tarnishes Roger Kraft`s legacy. I can`t think of one way I can actually
relate to Tom Brady.


MATTHEWS: Anyway, the roundtable tonight, Michael Steele was RNC
chair, of course. Betsy Woodruff is a political reporter with The Daily
Beast -- I love that name -- and Steve McMahon is a Democratic strategist.

All of you, by the way, later in the program, we`re going to get to
the big test. I`m going to ask all of you, all three of you, to tell me
which one`s regulation and which one isn`t. It is very discernible. We
have been doing it. Every producer here has been right about this. So, it
does matter.

Let me ask about Chris Christie. Is he just whistling past the
graveyard here?


MATTHEWS: And why is he backing Brady? Is this like anybody accused
of anything is innocent now because we`re the defendants` team now?

MCMAHON: That`s exactly what he`s doing. He`s trying to do this
victim thing, and I don`t think it`s going to be very appealing to voters
and I don`t think it`s going to work very well.

If you look at him, he`s at 3 percent in the polls. He`s behind the
Donald, as you suggest.


MCMAHON: And, normally, you know, if you`re at 3 percent and you have
room to grow, that`s not a bad place to be, but if you`re at 3 percent and
you were formerly at 25 percent or 20 percent or the front-runner, usually,
it`s almost over.

MATTHEWS: You know, there`s an interesting parallel between these two
cases, the bridge, which is about traffic cones. Remember how he made a
joke. Yes, I was the one out there with the traffic cones, putting them
out there, because it`s about like Becket, the thing about -- well, will no
one rid me of this meddlesome priest?

The word goes out somewhere in Christie`s head or in the culture of
that office that everybody, Wildstein, everybody, they`re all -- Baroni --
they`re al involved in moving the traffic cones to screw some mayor who
wasn`t playing ball. They somehow got this culture in the head that
Christie had nothing to do with.

Somehow, these guys working in the equipment room, and the Patriots
get the idea that Tom Brady likes it to exactly 10.6 point, you know,
whatever it is, pressure, pounds per pressure, and they want it just that
right. They know exactly. They get gifts, in fact, from somebody to do



MATTHEWS: Of course he`s got to defend anybody who was a Wizard of Oz

Let me -- you first. I`m sorry, but let me do this in order.

BETSY WOODRUFF, THE DAILY BEAST: Look, rule of threes. If I was a
wealthy New England white guy, I would be extremely concerned right now.

We have got bad news for Chris Christie, bad news for Tom Brady. If I
was Michael Bloomberg, I would be throwing salt over my shoulder and
looking both ways before I crossed the street.

MATTHEWS: Why? How is Bloomberg in this?

WOODRUFF: Just rule of threes, right? Bad things happen, it`s always
three people.


MATTHEWS: Bloomberg, my God. You don`t work for the Bloomberg
Report, do you?

WOODRUFF: No. Just -- I`m saying, you got to be careful.


STEELE: Look, I understand why all the noise about Christie and all
of that.

I think, at the end of the day, let`s see what happens if he gets --
when he gets in and how that then shakes and shapes the numbers. I think
right now, standing on the sidelines with all this other stuff...


MATTHEWS: But we have got trials coming.


MATTHEWS: ... trial date.

STEELE: But he`s not on trial.


MATTHEWS: Nixon wasn`t on trial either, but Haldeman and...


MATTHEWS: ... went down, and John Dean. When you have everybody
around you involved in this sleaze...


MCMAHON: ... chairman stuff.


MCMAHON: Every candidate`s a great candidate.

STEELE: Every candidate is a great candidate.

MCMAHON: He was on the sidelines a year ago and he was the front-
runner, first place.

Now he`s on the sidelines, and he`s actually -- I`m not even sure he`s
in the stadium anymore at 3 percent. The air is coming out of the Christie

STEELE: The air -- I`m not going to deny that. Look, I`m just
saying, given the nature of how these things flow and how they turn out,
look, Hillary Clinton is not trusted, yet she`s beating folks in the poll.

MATTHEWS: She`s 99 percent trusted in the Democratic Party, where
she`s competing right now. That`s pretty good.

WOODRUFF: Well, against Lincoln Chafee.


MATTHEWS: Trusted.

STEELE: I just think that, you know, the piling on, we will see where
it goes. We will see where he gets in, Chris.


STEELE: I know...

MATTHEWS: I think he`s deflated.


STEELE: I`m not saying he`s not deflated.


MCMAHON: Deflated, there you go.

MATTHEWS: I don`t think -- you go around once -- he`s been around
once. When we bring you back in a moment, come back and watch Tom Brady`s

They`re coming here live. The NFL`s Deflategate report came out
yesterday. Brady`s coming out today, tonight, soon, any minute.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.



The New England quarterback Tom Brady is about to make his first
public comments since the NFL`s deflategate report came out yesterday. It
pointed out that the Patriots likely deflated footballs on their way to the
super bowl and that Brady himself was aware.

Anyway, MSNBC`s Steve Kornacki is up in Salem State University in
Massachusetts, where the lines are long outside the event.

Steve, is this going to happen? What`s happening? Is there a delay
of game going on?

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC: Yes, there is a delay. It was supposed to
start at 7:30. There were 3,000, 4,000 people in the line snaking all
across this parking lot. It`s making its way in, but not everybody is in
right now. There are still hundreds of people out here. So, obviously,
this would explain the delay.

But we found one of the people who`s in the line, got him standing
next to me. This is Brad. He`s from Beverly, right around here. Notice
the number 12. This is Tom Brady`s number. You see a lot of people
walking around here with number 12.

And so, Brad, I just got to ask you. I mean, you`re here tonight,
this is your guy. This report says he probably knew there was cheating
going on. What do you think when you hear that?

BRAD: Honestly, like, who knows? If O.J. Simpson got away with
murder, Brady`s going to get away with this.

KORNACKI: Do you think he cheated?

BRAD: You know, I don`t think he did, but if he did, honestly, like,
I feel like it`s something that he shouldn`t even have been able to do.
That, like, if the refs were touching the footballs and handling them, that
they should have --

KORNACKI: You`re putting this on the refs. The refs could touch the
ball in the football game and they couldn`t see it?

BRAD: I`m putting it on the refs. And also, during that game, I saw
them switch out a football, and, you know, during the game, they switched
out a football. So --

KORNACKI: What do you say to the people who said, hey, they had
spygate a few years ago, Patriots stopped winning Super Bowls after this.
Now, you`ve got this. They couldn`t win a Super Bowl without either
deflating the footballs or doing spygate?

BRAD: See, I don`t believe that that. They`re still a great team and
I think they`re still the team to beat. They`re fantastic.



KORNACKI: Standing by him, Chris. That`s a true fan.

MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you. We`re waiting for the real news from
Kornacki and from Tom Brady.

You know what Winston Churchill said, it was the best argument against
democracy, a five-minute conversation with the average voter. I hate to be
derogatory, but that was useless stuff. Absolutely useless.

Anyway, I want you to do something useful now. I`ve got two balls,
I`ve got the regulation one that`s 12.6, and the one that`s not in
regulation was made for use by Tom Brady.

Tell them apart. Which one is which? You first, Michael.


MATTHEWS: Which one`s regulation?

STEELE: This one I think is.

MATTHEWS: Yes, you`re right. Come on.



STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: This is live television, ladies
and gentlemen.

WOODRUFF: I`m not seeing it.

MATTHEWS: OK, go ahead. Tell me which one is regulation. Which
one`s strong enough, has enough pressure in it to play by the rules and
which one`s cheating.

WOODRUFF: Oh, man. This is hard. This one is regulation.

MATTHEWS: Let me see. Yes. Come here.

MCMAHON: Do we even have to play this game anymore?

MATTHEWS: No, no, I just want to let everybody know, there`s a big
difference here, why Brady did this. Why Brady did this. It`s not a joke.

MATTHEWS: One`s a lot easier to grab. Squeeze the Charmin (ph) here,
you can tell.

MCMAHON: Oh, geez, come on, really?

MATTHEWS: Tell which one is regulation.

MCMAHON: This one is regulation.

MATTHEWS: Oh, give me, give one. Which one`s regulation?

MCMAHON: That one.

MATTHEWS: Yes! All three are right. So, it`s a big deal.

MCMAHON: It is a big deal. You can tell the difference.

MATTHEWS: This one is harder to grip and that`s easier to grip.

MCMAHON: You can throw this one a hundred miles.

WOODRUFF: If I can tell the difference as the least athletic person
on the planet. Tom Brady, who handles footballs all day, every single day,
could definitely tell.

MATTHEWS: I`m struck with the idea that this guy, who probably
doesn`t make a lot of money, equipment manager, the assistant to the
equipment manager, has to go into a bathroom on a game day, has to sneak
into a bathroom, lock the door with 24 footballs so this big shot super
star married to a supermodel gets to look like a hero with more assurance
than he would otherwise.

And, you know, Steve Kornacki came on and said he would win anyway.
Yes, but he did it this way.

STEELE: That`s the key thing. He did it a certain way. And you laid
it out, look, you`ve got the spy scandal a few years ago, you`ve got this.
You`ve got this --

MATTHEWS: Say it ain`t so, Joe.

STEELE: About this team, that these guys can`t win without cheating.
And yes, it does have an impact on legacy. I hate to disagree with Steve
on that.

MCMAHON: You know, Major League Baseball has it right. All these
guys who took steroids or who bet on baseball --

STEELE: Enhancement.

MCMAHON: Or whatever record they might have had, it has an asterisk
next to it. I think it`s time for Tom Brady to get out the asterisk,
because if he`s been doing this -- if he was caught doing this this season,
likely it is, it wasn`t his first time. I mean, people who break the law,
people who cheat, people who do this, it`s not their first time.

MATTHEWS: Anybody who thinks this is a pain butt, I had the same
attitude during Watergate. Watergate, I`ll tell you what was bad about
Watergate, supposing they had gotten away with it. Supposing just
corruption and corruption and cheating and wiretapping, it would have
gotten worse and worse and worse.

So you catch it and a lot of guys get hurt by it, but it would have
been worse if they had gotten away with it. Brady`s going to take a hit
for this. He may get a couple-game suspension for this. Better that he
got caught, because if he hadn`t got caught, it would have been going on
and on, somebody else would be doing it, they`ll all be doing it, and we`ll
find ourself with professional wrestling. So, you got a sport that is
completely denigrated by cheating.

Everybody knows wrestling`s a joke. But it was once taken seriously.


MATTHEWS: Until it became a joke. And this can happen. My father
used to say about fights, I don`t know how many fights have been fixed.
But some of them were, damn it, and that`s not good for any sport to be

WOODRUFF: If the NFL has any standards at all, they have to suspend
him, at least four games, if they have any standards.

MCMAHON: And if they want to stop cheaters. I mean, you have to send

MATTHEWS: We`re going to keep waiting for Tom Brady to come clean or
do something. He`s going to say something, we`ll see.

Anyway, the roundtable is staying with us as we wait for Brady to say
something honest.

Up next, new calls for nullification by some of the Republicans who
are running for president. They say, just ignore the Supreme Court. Isn`t
this like the days before the civil war? Just ignore it.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: The U.S. Senate today overwhelmingly passed the Iran
Nuclear Agreement Review Act, which requires President Obama to submit any
final nuclear deal with Iran to Congress before being able to waive or
suspend congressional sanctions against the Islamic republic.

The vote was -- catch this -- 98-1. The only vote against the bill
came from Tom Cotton of Arkansas, who has been doing everything he can to
scare off and deal with Iran. The bill now goes to the House, where
Speaker John Boehner says it will pass.

By the way, Tom Cotton should be called Bates Motel. He just scares
people away.

We`ll be right back after this.


MATTHEWS: Sitting around waiting for Tom Brady to come clean on this
thing, or say something. It`s supposed to be just minutes away. It`s, of
course, as I said, the first time the New England Patriots quarterback will
be speaking publicly since the NFL`s deflategate report came out yesterday.
We will, of course, bring you the Brady`s comments when it comes out.

By the way, Republican presidential candidates are starting to aim
their attacks on the Supreme Court, ahead of the decision on gay marriage
which is expected just next month in June. Last month, in Iowa, Texas
Senator Ted Cruz denounced gay marriage saying, "If the court" -- that`s
the Supreme Court -- "tries to this, it will be rampant judicial activism.
It will be lawlessness. It will be fundamentally illegitimate." He`s
talking about the Supreme Court.

Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee criticized politicians who have
surrendered their views on gay marriage to the Supreme Court. Here he is.


the foundation of religious liberty by criminalizing Christianity and
demanding we abandon biblical principles of natural marriage. Many of our
politicians have surrendered to the false god of judicial supremacy. My
friend, the Supreme Court is not the Supreme Being. And they cannot
overturn the laws of nature or of nature`s god.


MATTHEWS: And Ben Carson said the president can choose to simply
ignore the high court. Here`s the doctor.


BEN CARSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The president is required to,
you know, carry out the laws of the land. The laws of the land come from
the legislative branch. So, if the legislative branch creates a law or
changes a law, the executive branch has responsibility to carry it out. It
doesn`t say that they have the responsibility to carry out a judicial law.



MATTHEWS: This goes back to Marbury versus Madison, the very
beginnings of our administration, right of the Supreme Court for judicial
review. The Constitution is what the Supreme Court decides it is after
deliberation. They`re saying we can ignore that. Well, then, what is the
Constitution? What is if it`s not decided by the Supreme Court?

MCMAHON: As you just pointed out in 1803 Marbury versus Madison. And
it`s obvious that the good neurosurgeon went to medical school, and not law
school or he would know that. But what`s appealing is that Ted Cruz, who
was a Supreme Court clerk, the first Hispanic clerk for the chief justice -

MATTHEWS: You know, a Harvard law grad.

MCMAHON: And he`s suggesting that the institution that he worked for,
that he wrote for, that he served is somehow --

MATTHEWS: Is this going to meddle with the Republican Party`s
integrity to have people -- they`re on the loose end of the party. Let me
ask you. You`re in the party. What about the party platform? Going to
write into the platform, we don`t agree with the speak court, it doesn`t

STEELE: I just think this is -- it`s purely ugly. I mean, to hear
potential presidential, you know, candidates out there saying that they`re
going -- if elected, they would ignore what the Supreme Court decides is
constitutional, well, as an executive, you don`t get to make that decision.

This is the same group that was screaming about Barack Obama making
those extrajudicial decisions about what laws he would or would not accept.

But here`s another point -- so, you`re upset because you`re trying to
conflate religion, your moral code and your religious views into public
policy. Isn`t that Sharia law? Isn`t that something that folks --

MCMAHON: Oh, he`s good, isn`t he?

MATTHEWS: Pretty good.

STEELE: -- that this idea that no religious state should trump the
laws that are made by the state?

MCMAHON: You`re right.

STEELE: So, I think we need to be very smart and very careful here as
candidates for office, especially the presidency when you start talking
about I`m not going to uphold the Constitution. You`re standing and
swearing in, my friend.

MATTHEWS: And I think people like me, Roman Catholics, we support the
teaching - moral teaching of the authority --

STEELE: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: -- of our church and we still argue about what the law
should be, you know? I think you can live in a world like that, it`s
called American.

WOODRUFF: Yes, no kidding. And I think -- I think, also, it`s
interesting how critical so many Republicans are being of just the way the
Supreme Court works. We`ve got a handful of Republican 2016 candidates
coming out in favor of term limits. That would be a radical shift to the
way that we handle how the Supreme Court interprets the law.

MATTHEWS: You know, if you get in the question of just -- I`m just
wanting the politics of this thing, the crazy talk we`re getting. We`re
getting used on this program here every night to hear almost anything from
the hard right, the hard right.

And somewhere along the line, somebody like Bush, or Scott Walker, and
Rubio is going to have to come along and clean up the mess and say, yes,
they talked about it the primaries and pre-primaries, but that`s not what
our party stands for. We believe in government by law.

STEELE: Exactly.

MATTHEWS: We accept the U.S. Constitution as discerned by the Supreme
Court. We`re grown-ups. That was just crazy talk.

MCMAHON: Well, that`s exactly the way some of the more responsible
Republican candidates feel. But it`s interesting they don`t say it now. I
mean, Jeb Bush avoids controversial forums. He doesn`t want to get dragged
into this.

You know, if you`re in a campaign and somebody is a racist, it`s your
obligation as a candidate to call them out and not to just --

MATTHEWS: How about not saying, challenging people who say the United
States Army is not invading Texas, and by the way, the president was not
born in Kenya, and when guys like Boehner who I don`t dislike personally
refuses to say that the president is a citizen of the United States,
legitimately elected president of the United States and anybody who
disagrees with that is not really being an American.

But he doesn`t because he says things like, I can`t tell people how to
think. You`re only a leader.

STEELE: You can`t tell people how to think, but you can show them how
to lead, and I think that that is what is critical right now for whoever
will emerge as the nominee of the Republican Party is to have that Sister
Soulja moment with the party, which has to happen where you say, you know
what, I understand, but this is leadership.

MATTHEWS: You should be chairman of the Republican committee.

STEELE: This is where we need to go.

MATTHEWS: You should be chairman of the Republican --

MCMAHON: But the reason he`s not --

MATTHEWS: Well, there`s a lot of reasons he`s not.


MCMAHON: Because the party has been taken over by the voices that
frankly are the unreasonable voices and there aren`t enough people -- you
know, John Boehner to his credit occasionally does stand up and say, look,
we`re not going to do it that way. He did it on impeachment when the crazy
right was talking about impeaching the president again.

But there aren`t enough voices out there doing it and aren`t enough
leaders or candidates for president who are standing up to the nut balls
and it`s defining the Republican Party and making it more difficult for
them to win.

WOODRUFF: On the other hand, there will be big surprises. For
instance, we talk about the Texas invasion, you know, military takeover

MATTHEWS: Yesterday. It`s really down there.

WOODRUFF: Rick Perry called them out. Rick Perry said --

MATTHEWS: Isn`t it great when we have to rely on Rick Perry for an IQ
test? Anyway, thank you.

WOODRUFF: Look, there`s going to be surprises.

MATTHEWS: No, thank you. Well said, Betsy. Betsy Woodruff, thank
you for joining us. Steve McMahon, as always. Michael Steele, who should
be leader of the Republican Party, which would probably kill him ever
getting that job.

We continue, by way, to wait for Tom Brady. But let me finish tonight
with this.

Games are played by rules. Without rules, no game makes sense. Think
about it.

And the numbers matter many games. You might say a game makes no
sense without them. Who won? The team with the higher numbers. Who`s the
best quarterback? The guy with the best offense.

Numbers, numbers, numbers. The NFL rules say football must be pumped
up to 12.5 pounds, not 10.5. Say it doesn`t matter, then why the rule?

Say it doesn`t matter? You try. You get a grip on the regular
pressure and compare it with a ball at the lower pressure. The rule-
breaking football is easier to grip, especially in freezing weather.
That`s a fact. We`ve proved it here.

The guy he used the rule-breaking softer football is breaking the
rules. He`s cheating.

Think it doesn`t matter? Then you don`t know anything about sports.
Just check the sports page any day of the week. Check the results. It`s
all numbers.

Numbers are how we keep score, how we decide who wins, who loses. And
here in this case, who`s cheating?

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

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now. By the way, coverage of
Tom Brady`s comments are coming up.


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