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Hardball With Chris Matthews, Transcript 10/3/2016

Guests: Laura Bassett, John Feehery, Susan Page, Kellyanne Conway, Michelle Bernard, David Fahrenthold

Show: HARDBALL Date: October 3, 2016 Guest: Laura Bassett, John Feehery, Susan Page, Kellyanne Conway, Michelle Bernard, David Fahrenthold

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: The tax man cometh.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

You know those old Polaroid photographs, you`d shoot the photo, then and as you shook the paper, you`d see the picture slowly come into view before you? Is that what we`re seeing with Donald Trump?

Day after day, the real man reveals more and more of himself. We watch him on stage or read his tweets and hear what he says on Fox, and gradually, the picture comes into focus. It hasn`t happened all at once. His people get him to use the teleprompter so he won`t speak what he really thinks off the cuff. But he does it anyway, whacking away at Hillary as a crazy, criminal, whatever. He can`t be stopped from gradually, relentlessly being Donald Trump.

We have the popular image of Trump, the successful real estate developer, for example, who celebrates his wealth and business acumen, the man who ran casinos, luxury hotels, and even an airline. But then you have the other Trump, the one that emerges from reporting like this weekend`s bombshell "New York Times" story.

That`s the Trump that according to "The Times," declared a $916 million loss on his 1995 income tax returns, a tax deduction so substantial, it could have allowed him to legally avoid paying any federal income taxes for up to 18 years.

Well, the Trump camp has neither denied nor confirmed the reporting. Surrogates like Chris Christie and Rudy Giuliani, in fact, spent the weekend saying the story shows their candidate is actually a "genius" -- that`s the word used -- for successfully navigating and avoiding the tax code.

Well, today on the trail, Hillary Clinton took a swing at her opponent. His name is Trump. Let`s watch her.


HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: In the debate, he said it was smart to avoid paying taxes. Yesterday, his campaign was bragging it makes him a genius. Here`s my question. What kind of genius loses $1 billion in a single year?


CLINTON: This is Trump to a T. He`s taken corporate excess and made a business model out of it. He abuses his power, games the system, puts his own interests ahead of the country`s. It`s Trump first and everyone else last.


MATTHEWS: She`s rolling up the score! Trump defended his business success at a rally out in Colorado today. Let`s watch it.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I understand the tax laws better than almost anyone, which is why I am one who can truly fix them.

As a businessman and real estate developer, I have legally used the tax laws to my benefit.

Honestly, I have brilliantly -- I have brilliantly used those laws.

The news media is now obsessed with an alleged tax filing from the 1990s...


TRUMP: ... at the end of one of the most brutal economic downturns in our country`s history.

I was able to use the tax laws of this country and my business acumen to dig out of the real estate mess.

I reached within myself and delivered for my company, employees, my family, and the communities where my properties existed, and I really delivered.


MATTHEWS: Meanwhile, Trump the campaigner are also continued to come into focus this weekend. While advisers and supporters like Newt Gingrich and Marsha Blackburn have publicly pleaded with Trump to stay on message, Trump went spectacularly off script on Saturday night. He mocked Hillary Clinton for her illness, her state of mind and her marriage. Let`s watch him.


TRUMP: She`s supposed to fight all of these different things, and she can`t make it 15 feet to her car. Give me a break! Give me a break!


TRUMP: She`s got bad temperament. She`s got -- she could be crazy. She could actually be crazy. She should be in prison, let me tell you. She should be in prison.


TRUMP: Hillary Clinton`s only loyalty is to her financial contributors and to herself. I don`t even think she`s loyal to Bill, you want to know the truth.


TRUMP: And really, folks, really, why should she be, right? Why should she be?


MATTHEWS: Wow. And for more on the real Donald Trump, I`m joined now by NBC`s Hallie Jackson in Richmond, Virginia -- she`s right at the VP debate site for tomorrow night -- "USA Today`s Washington bureau chief Susan Page, she`s with us, and HuffingtonPost, of course, global editorial director Howard Fineman, also an MSNBC political analyst.

Hallie, you`re on the site right now, but let`s talk about Donald Trump this weekend. Was there an effort to get him to talk along the lines that he could win the election? Now, I`ve been saying this myself. He had a winning message for weeks. The polling we`ve got tonight to show you shows that he`s blown it. He`s blown away the role that he had, a lead in this campaign. He`s now down behind her, a switch of about 5 points on average. That`s -- that can be lethal in a campaign at this point, a month out from the election.

Why doesn`t he talk about the issues that got him to where he is, jobs, illegal immigration, stupid wars? Why is he talking about Machado and talking everything else that will never get him a single vote?

HALLIE JACKSON, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Right, and Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton and all of these questions. He seems to be unable to help himself at times, Chris, when you look at what happened Saturday night, and I think there was evidence of this today.

His campaign wants him to be talking about jobs and about the economy and about national security. I had an adviser, somebody close to the campaign, say to me today, I wish I didn`t have to go out and talk about these issues. I will because the media is picking up on it, but I would rather be talking about, you know, national security and some of these issues that have put Trump where he is.

The problem is, he cannot help going back after Hillary Clinton when he feels attacked. That is what you saw Saturday night in the sound bite that you played from his rally in PA. Today, he tried to get back on message. And let it be noted that on Saturday, too, his campaign had a script that he was supposed to be delivering that night, and we saw again and again him veer off that script. Rather than looking at the prompter, he riffed.

Today, he was at that national security forum. He was talking with veterans, trying to get back on message. But with Trump, we have seen it rarely sticks.

MATTHEWS: I just wonder, of all the things you can use against Hillary Clinton in a legitimate debate -- you can make all kinds of attacks, I`m sure everything`s fair these days -- but calling her crazy is nutty itself. Nobody thinks Hillary Clinton is crazy. She`s one of the most sound minds around. You may not like the mind, but it is sound as hell.

Anyway, let`s look at those brand-new national poll...


MATTHEWS: Go ahead, Hallie.

JACKSON: (INAUDIBLE) Chris, I remember talking to you two months ago about something very similar to this. Donald Trump takes the attacks against him, and oftentimes, he turns those exact same attacks around on whoever is hitting him. So when Hillary Clinton and her campaign comes out and calls him unhinged, for him...

MATTHEWS: I get it.

JACKSON: ... he turns around and calls her crazy. This fits the pattern that he has, you know, delivered on for the last six months.

MATTHEWS: We used to use that when we were 5 years old, that tactic. It was "So`s your old man"...


MATTHEWS: ... at 5 years old, we`d do that.

Anyway, let`s take a look at the brand-new national polls out today which tell you that Trump`s been off message. He`s not winning. According to a new CNN/ORC poll, Trump leads -- Clinton leads Trump by 5 points nationally. Look at these numbers, 47 to 42. Now, this is important. That`s 5 points. Last month, Trump was ahead by 2 points in the same poll. That`s a shift of 7.

In the new "New York Times" poll, CBS poll, together, Clinton leads by 4 points, 45 to 41. Last month, the two were tied. So we`re seeing roughly a 5-point shift.

I want to go to Howard Fineman Here. Howard, you`re seeing -- even I remember (INAUDIBLE) you and I have watched these campaigns. A 5-point shift is a big deal.

HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST GLOBAL EDITORIAL DIR., MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: It is a huge deal, especially this late, and supposedly with an electorate that`s mostly locked in.


FINEMAN: The last week that he`s had is the worst political week I can remember any national politician ever having. I`m surprised that he`s even at 40 percent. I`m surprised...

MATTHEWS: That shows you...


FINEMAN: ... packed it up and gone home. And that`s because there is a strong constituency that`s going to reach out to him, regardless, as an agent of change.

MATTHEWS: I agree. I agree.

FINEMAN: And we know who those people are. However, he has not expanded a -- he`s back to the core that he was at a while ago, when he -- and he blew an opportunity this last week, starting with the debate, continuing through today, to expand that base.

MATTHEWS: Susan, if he wins the election -- and it`s still possible -- the headlines in your paper, on the front page of "USA Today," are not going to be he won because he won the battle of Machado. It`s going to be because he was able to exploit a perfect storm of anger over illegal immigration, bad trade deals that cost us lots and lots of manufacturing jobs, and stupid wars. You can write the headline now if he wins, but he`s not even writing the headline himself.

And by the way, another point of politics. At this point in the campaign, the average person is paying attention. Six months ago, when he was saying a lot of this stuff, a very small percentage were watching. He doesn`t seem to know that he has the potential to go out on that debate platform or any one of these rallies and speak to a huge audience and change a lot of minds with what he said in the beginning.

He doesn`t seem to know that it`s the big circus now. It`s not the little sideshow anymore.

SUSAN PAGE, "USA TODAY": Because the landscape is there for a change candidate...



MATTHEWS: Thank you. I agree with you. It is not a year for "steady as she goes."

PAGE: In fact, that`s the problem that Hillary Clinton has. This is a year for change, for fresh blood, for shaking things up. But he goes too far. He -- he...

MATTHEWS: Well, what`s Machado, Ms. Machado, Alicia got to do -- his bad treatment of somebody 20 years ago. I mean, it was bad. It`s objectively bad. He treated a little person, a person without any power, badly. You apologize, you move on. You say, That wasn`t a good moment for me. You know, I`m sometimes get in a rush. I`m under pressure like everybody else, and this beauty contest stuff is a business like everything else. There are ways you can answer it without prostrating yourself on the ground.

PAGE: Right. And...

MATTHEWS: But you have some dignity (INAUDIBLE)

PAGE: ... you can also say, I`ve changed my views on things. People change their views on things like gay marriage and explain it and people can accept it. People don`t expect you to be set and perfect forever and ever.

FINEMAN: He`s unwilling to do it, Chris. He`s just personally unwilling to be told.

MATTHEWS: Well, sometimes, you have to stoop to conquer. Anyway, I mentioned Trump`s surrogates fanned out across the country, all the networks across the country, over the weekend to defend the candidate from the "Times" story about his not paying taxes, or not -- well, getting a tax break of almost a billion dollars back in `95.

Their message -- this is insane -- Trump`s a genius. Let`s watch.


RUDY GIULIANI (R), FMR. NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: Our response is he`s a genius. I mean, the reality is...


GIULIANI: Absolute genius.

It`s a perfectly legal application of the tax code, and he would have been a fool to not take advantage of it.

GIULIANI: Great men have big failures...


GIULIANI: ... and then they take those failures and they turn them into great results. I`d rather have a genius like Donald Trump running this country than someone like Hillary Clinton.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-NJ), FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There`s no one who`s shown nor genius in their way to maneuver around the tax code, as he rightfully used the laws to do that.

This is a guy who, when lots of businesses went out of business in the early 1990s, he fought and clawed back to build another fortune, to create tens of thousands of more jobs. And this is actually a very, very good story for Donald Trump.


MATTHEWS: You know, Hallie and everybody else, when you sit down and do your taxes, if they`re not too complicated to do yourself at some point, but most people do -- some people use the short form. People look for deductions. They really do. The husband and wife usually, if they`re a couple, sit there and sweat it out and they try to be honest.

Now, they`ll take the breaks that are thrown at them, but they generally go, You know, let`s be straight on this and we`re going to go to bed tonight feeling good about ourselves. We`re going to do this honestly.

And those people who do that go, I`m getting screwed, I`m paying a very high percentage, I don`t make that much money, if you add together payroll tax and income tax and all the other taxes, property taxes. And they go, I`m being honest, at least. I`ll live with that. I`m an honest guy, an honest woman.

Then they see Trump, Mr. Wonderful, taking tax breaks for a billion dollars. They go, I`m a chump. I`m a chump because the big shot there with the big gold building and the beautiful wife showing off, that guy is bragging about being -- let me get this right again, dear -- a genius. That`s what the guy has to say to his wife. I guess I`m not a genius, dear, because we didn`t get any money back this year after paying our taxes. I guess I should study how to be a genius.

It`s insane, the politics of this! Forget morality. Why are they putting these guys out on the road to say he`s a genius when he`s playing defense?

JACKSON: So a couple of points. One, because that, I am told, is coming from Donald Trump himself. I`m told by a source familiar with this process, with this thinking process, that Trump does believe that this tax issue is going to be overall net neutral for him, that it is not actually going to hurt him with voters because, Chris, of the flip side of what you are talking about, that it is potentially relatable that somebody would look for tax loopholes and tax deductions because a lot of those folks, mom and dad at home or whatever, filling out their W-2s, going to H&R Block, are looking for deductions that would help them ultimately save money.

What you are seeing from Donald Trump surrogates and what you are seeing from Donald Trump himself today at his two stops in Colorado is the portrayal of Donald Trump as the ultimate success story, somebody who did maybe lose nearly a billion dollars in a single year in the mid-`90s, but who went on to have, in his view, success, you know, 10, 15, 20 years later. That is how Trump is hoping to frame and spin this.

Now, there is a sense, potentially, starting to bubble up with people close to the campaign that what if there is more? What if there are more tax numbers that come out, tax releases that come out? How does Donald Trump then handle that narrative? But at the moment, Trump -- again, from what I`m hearing -- doesn`t see this as harmful to his campaign.

MATTHEWS: I just did the math. You have to work -- most people would have to work 2,000 years to make this kind of money...

FINEMAN: I know. I know...

MATTHEWS: ... 2,000 years...


MATTHEWS: ... even get near his tax break!

FINEMAN: Well, former senator Bill Bradley of New Jersey, who worked with Trump on some of this stuff, told me the other day, said the story of Donald Trump is he became addicted to tax losses. He became addicted -- that his business became the manipulation of the tax code...

MATTHEWS: Depreciation.

FINEMAN: ... yes -- not the actual construction of buildings. And what Trump did was continue to use the tax breaks to then turn the business into one of branding and fame and not construction of buildings.

MATTHEWS: Do you understand that? It`s in the paper today.

FINEMAN: And one thing that it`s done is reinforce the question about why he doesn`t release his tax returns, which...

MATTHEWS: I think we know!

FINEMAN: Eight out of ten Americans say they think he ought to, it would be the right thing to do. And so it`s underscored the fact that he hasn`t done that. It raises questions about his -- about how well he ran that business, and also just about the general fairness about not paying...

MATTHEWS: OK, guess who has to defend all this stuff tomorrow night? Mike Pence...


MATTHEWS: ... all this stuff he doesn`t know anything about, guys.

FINEMAN: The real import of this to me is when Donald Trump gets backed into a corner, he reacts with 3:00 AM Tweets. The big potential damage, in a way is not even just this story itself. It`s if in the debate next week, that he`s in...


FINEMAN: ... the town hall on Sunday, if he`s backed into a corner, who knows what he says in front of those people in that town hall.

MATTHEWS: Yes. And town halls are not a great place to talk about somebody else`s sex life.


FINEMAN: We`ll see if he listens.

MATTHEWS: Town halls are essentially anti-squeamish. They do not like conversations about infidelity and stuff like that. Even though whatever (ph) they think when they`re in the back room or the guys are in the locker room talking, they don`t like it out in public because it affects their lives, too.

FINEMAN: I agree with Hallie it`s the ultimate test of whether he can discipline himself. You`ll see that on Sunday.

MATTHEWS: We`ve had a few of those tests already.


FINEMAN: We already had a few, and he failed them all. Maybe he`ll pass this one.

MATTHEWS: He`s still a billionaire. Anyway, thank you -- he`s going to end up rich. Anyway, thank you, Hallie Jackson. Thank you, Susan Page. You have a good assignment there, Hallie. And thank you, Howard Fineman, as always.

Coming up -- Donald Trump continues to struggle with women voters, whether he`s interrupting his opponent, which he`s done -- I`ve done that, too -- or criticizing the weight of a former Miss Universe, Trump`s got a serious gender gap, don`t you think? And now a new report from the Associated Press sure is not going to help him with women voters. We`ll get the reaction to that from Trump`s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway. She`s coming.

Plus, more bad news for Trump. The New York attorney general, a Democrat - - you know, he has his own reasons for doing this -- has served a "cease and desist" order against the Trump Foundation, meaning the foundation can no longer solicit money in the state of New York.

Well, the power of parody on "Saturday night live" continues at its greatest Saturday night. Let`s watch a bit.


ALEC BALDWIN, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE": My microphone is broken.


BALDWIN: She broke it with Obama. She and Obama stole my microphone. They took it to Kenya!


BALDWIN: They took my microphone to Kenya, and they broke it and now it`s broken!


BALDWIN: And do you hear that? It`s picking up somebody sniffing here. I think it`s her sniffs. She`s been sniffing all night. Testing. Testing...


MATTHEWS: Alec Baldwin and Kate McKinnon, what a duo. "SNL`s" impressions (ph) (INAUDIBLE) candidates (INAUDIBLE) of course. Remember Tina Fey`s Sarah Palin? What will Alec Baldwin do to Donald Trump?

Finally, my "election diary" for tonight, October 3rd, on the eve of the vice presidential debate.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Well, you saw the national polls a moment ago. We`ve got also a big round of battleground state polling taken since last Monday`s debate. For that, we check the HARDBALL "Scoreboard."

According to new polling from Quinnipiac, Hillary Clinton now has a 5-point lead over Donald Trump in Florida. That`s a big development. It`s Clinton 46, Trump 41, with Gary Johnson down at 5. The race in Florida was tied, by the way, in the last Quinnipiac poll, so (INAUDIBLE) matters.

Next to North Carolina, where the poll now has Clinton up by 3. It`s Clinton 46, Trump 43 and Johnson at 7. That`s roughly where the race was in the previous poll.

In Pennsylvania, Clinton leads by 4, 45 to 41, again, not much change since the last Quinnipiac. Next to Ohio, is Donald Trump still holding his 5- point lead, 47 to 42. He was up 4 points in the previous poll. Now to Virginia, where a new poll from Christopher Newport University has Clinton up by 7 points. It`s Clinton 42, Trump 35, with Johnson getting up to 12. Clinton`s 7-point lead is in line with RealClearPolitics average of all the polls and 1 point higher than last week`s poll.

He needs to get Virginia, Trump does. He needs Pennsylvania, took, and he`s not getting it.

And one more poll to tell you about, Colorado, where a new Monmouth poll has Clinton up by 11, Clinton 49, Trump at 38. And recent polling in Colorado has been neck and neck. But an earlier Monmouth poll from July had Clinton up by 13. So it`s a back-and-forth out there.

We`ll be right back.



DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: She can`t make it 15 feet to her car. Give me a break.


TRUMP: Give me a break.


TRUMP: Give me a break!

She`s home resting right now. She`s getting ready for her next speech, which is going to be about 15 minutes, and it`s going to be in two or three days.



Donald Trump continued his attacks on his opponent`s stamina Saturday night, delivering a mocking impression of Hillary Clinton, who last month had trouble, as we all know, getting to her car during her bout with pneumonia.

Well, throughout this campaign, we have seen Trump, when challenged by women in a professional setting, has responded publicly with crude or personal attacks.

First, it was his comments about -- about Megyn Kelly, then his remarks about Carly Fiorina`s face. And now it`s his recent criticism of Hillary Clinton`s stamina and even her look. Let`s watch.


QUESTION: You have even said she doesn`t look presidential.

TRUMP: I really do believe that.

QUESTION: But what do you mean by that?

TRUMP: Well, I just don`t think she has a presidential look. And you need a presidential look.


MATTHEWS: Well, now an Associated Press report says there are claims that Trump -- Trump behaved similarly towards women off-camera on the set of "The Apprentice."

For instance, Trump called for female contestants to wear shorter dresses that also showed more cleavage. Others said they only had professional -- only had professional experiences with Trump. So, there`s people on both sides in the argument, largely against, of course. That`s why they wrote the piece.

Anyway, the Trump campaign denied the allegations in a statement. "These outlandish, unsubstantiated and totally false claims, fabricated by publicity-hungry, opportunistic, disgruntled former employees have no merit whatsoever."

Meanwhile, "The New York Times" reported yesterday Hillary Clinton engaged passively or directly in efforts to discredit her husband`s accusers -- quote -- "Privately, she embraced the Clinton campaign`s aggressive strategy of counterattack. Women who claimed to have had sexual encounters with Mr. Clinton would become targets of digging and discrediting, tactics that women`s rights advocates frequently denounce."

I`m joined right now by Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway.

Put it all together, Kellyanne.


I loved "The New York Times" article. I thought it was terrific, because basically it said that Hillary Clinton went to blame and shame the women who had sex, consensual sex, with her husband over a number of years.

We all -- well, not all of us, but those who don`t remember can go Google it, her on "60 Minutes" in 1992, standing -- sitting by her husband, plaintively nodding her head in silence while he lied to the country about not having an affair with Gennifer Flowers, only to discover the very next day there were tapes confirming that affair, audiotapes.

And what was Hillary Clinton`s first instinct? It wasn`t to be angry at her husband, according to this "New York Times" report. It was to blame the woman and dig up dirt on her. And I commend this "New York Times" story for everybody, because it shows how Hillary Clinton reacts when people around her, in this case her husband, have done something to wrong her.

She goes right after the innocent people.


CONWAY: And I think it`s very important, because even Gloria Allred is quoted in this "New York Times" article, someone who was a Clinton delegate to the convention, Chris, somebody you and I both know and I`m sure respect mightily, she says, listen, it`s terrible that you would try to dig up a woman`s sexual past and hire a private investigator.

And then she goes on to say, I don`t think Hillary should have done that, but, hey, I like her position on abortion.

MATTHEWS: I saw that, yes.

CONWAY: This is how she treated those women.

MATTHEWS: Well, she just said she liked her generally. Yes, Gloria Allred said she liked her generally.

Let me ask you about the Associated Press story that ran today attacking, with all kinds of comments, not all on one side, some defending Donald Trump, about his behavior as head of "Apprentice," and his backstage behavior matching some of his rough behavior lately.

What do you make of that kind of set of charges? Do you think it was all a put-up job by the other side, or what do you think?

CONWAY: Look, "The Apprentice" was one of the most successful shows in its day. And it generated many opportunities, including, if not especially, for women who participated.

I mean, Omarosa is one of our best surrogates, most ardent supporters of Donald Trump. She obviously was there the first or second season, I believe. And I think some folks just -- there`s publicity to get. There are scores to settle if they didn`t win.

But I was especially -- I was especially excited to see the number of people who came forward and said, this was a wonderful experience for them, when they were on "The Apprentice."


CONWAY: And, look, I can take you upstairs here in Trump Tower, Chris, any day of the week and introduce you to people, women who have worked for Donald Trump for years, if not decades, who have nothing but great things to say about him as a boss.


MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s talk about what we see.

Why was he making fun of Hillary Clinton physically this weekend?

CONWAY: Have you heard what she says about him in a given day? Did you watch her in that debate?

MATTHEWS: No, but why does he call her -- well, he calls her crazy, a criminal. "Lock her" up is the song, the big slogan out there.

Why does he make fun of her physically, that she had -- everybody knows she had pneumonia, and she had a -- she basically collapsed. Why do you make of somebody who collapsed because of a sickness? Why is that funny?

CONWAY: Well, first of all, when she collapsed on 9/11, and her campaign lied about it for a number of hours, including to...


MATTHEWS: And that justifies...

CONWAY: No, he said nothing. He said nothing that whole day. He was completely quiet.

And since then, she`s done nothing but attack him. That aspirational, uplifting, optimistic campaign her campaign promised, yes, that`s gone.


CONWAY: And all they do is attack Donald Trump.

Their entire campaign is about Donald Trump. He talks about issues. They talk about him. So, if he wants to go out there and talk about her fitness for office, whether it`s -- whether it`s her record as secretary of state, her unremarkable record as -- record as senator, or her stamina, then he`s welcome to do that.

Why is he -- why is he supposed to be the victim who just rolls over every time she and her surrogates attack him?

MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s talk about the big story this weekend, which is taxes.

"The New York Times" basically reported -- they got somebody who walked into there with -- apparently with an address of Trump Tower. I have no idea who the source was, this tipster, put it in the mailbox of this reporter of "The Times."

She put it in the paper, which basically Trump got a $900,000 -- or $900 million tax loss in 1995, which apparently can be spread among a number of years to his advantage.

Taking a tax loss like this, what does it do to his image as a guy watching out for the regular guy out there, regular person? How`s it match up with that image?


So, Donald Trump is the art of the comeback. He wrote a whole book about it. Most people couldn`t absorb a loss like that and reinvest it over the years, take those losses, carry them forward that the tax code allows you to do.

No one, including "The New York Times," denies that it`s all legal. Donald Trump has spent hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes over the years, federal payroll taxes, state, city, and local taxes, excise, property, real estate.

And so he`s -- let`s not forget that he`s paid hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes. I verified that number with his accountants and his lawyers, Chris.

And on this one, very few people were betting on New York a lot, and he did. He bet on New York, the job creation, the community revitalization. And this is the American entrepreneurial story. The tax code allows you to carry forward these losses.

"The New York Times" in no way says that he did not pay taxes for 18 years. It says that this loss could have allowed him not to pay taxes. He may not have. Nobody knows that for sure

MATTHEWS: Fair enough. I`m talking politics here. You`re talking a defense of it.

But let me ask you this. He has made statements attacking Americans who don`t pay taxes, some people poor or aren`t making income to pay taxes, others who are making money on the hedge -- hedge fund operators, and they`re not paying taxes.

He has made that wrong. He has said it`s wrong not to pay taxes, per se. Well, why isn`t he wrong?

CONWAY: He`s paid hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes.

MATTHEWS: If it`s wrong per se not to pay taxes -- no, when he says -- well, that year, do you think he paid in `95? Do you think he paid any taxes with a $900 million tax loss?

CONWAY: I think that`s why you have a couple of pieces of paper from one year 21 years ago, because there were years, I`m sure, where he was very profitable.


MATTHEWS: Well, we could have more, Kellyanne. We could have more papers, if he`d release them.

CONWAY: And paid an awful lot in taxes.

MATTHEWS: Well, the only reason that little bit of paper that you just minimized is because somebody basically outed him, at least on one return.

And the question you have to ask yourself is, if a little bit of information is bad for the guy, maybe a lot of information is better, but public isn`t going to think that, unless you show the paper. They`re going to think it`s worse.

CONWAY: Sure, but, Chris -- but, as you said in your earlier segment, not everyone`s going to think that`s bad. A lot of people will think, this is what entrepreneurs do. They carry forward those losses over time, and that`s what -- that`s what the tax code allows you to do.

I also want to say, this guy has built things his whole life, buildings, projects, public works, projects, careers, opportunities. Hillary Clinton has destroyed -- what job has she ever created? What does she know about job creation?

It`s just remarkable. Look, let`s give the guy his due as a successful businessman who`s hired thousands of people over the years, thousands of women over the years. He`s evaluated some of them to the highest positions in his corporation and certainly his campaign.

MATTHEWS: Kellyanne, thank you.

CONWAY: Thank you, Chris.

MATTHEWS: I think he should refocus on the things that got him this far. Dance with the one that brung you, illegal immigration, bad trade deals that cost us...


CONWAY: Job patriotism.


MATTHEWS: And stupid wars. Talk. It`s a perfect storm. Get back to that.

Forget Machado. That`s a loss. Move on. There`s a tax loss. Move on.

CONWAY: Great advice.

MATTHEWS: I`m joined right now -- but thanks so much. Thanks so much, Kellyanne.

Right now, we have got Michelle Bernard, president of the Bernard Center for Women and columnist for the "U.S. News & World Report."

Thank you, Michelle.

Kellyanne knows what she`s up against here, the behavior towards women, towards Hillary, who is the first woman candidate, I think, is very much deleterious to Trump`s efforts to get women in the burbs, which is who he is aiming for.

MICHELLE BERNARD, FOUNDER, BERNARD CENTER FOR WOMEN, POLITICS AND POLICY: Well, to get women anywhere, whether we`re talking about red state feminists or blue state feminists.

Everyone -- women are going to look at all of the statements that Donald Trump has made, not just about Hillary Clinton, but about women over his lifetime. And it`s troubling. People ask, what do -- what -- who`s the best candidate for women and what do women want? Women do not want to elect a child in chief. We`re not looking to provide...

MATTHEWS: Do you think that`s the image he has?

BERNARD: Well, no, that absolutely is the image he has.

I can see his chief of staff, if he were to be elected, walking in and saying, Mr. Trump, is your train running too high or is it running too low? We don`t want a president who can`t regulate. His temperament is completely wrong.

And with respect to what Kellyanne was saying in terms of Mrs. Clinton and her husband`s affairs in the past, I think it shows her humanity. She was not in a position of power over any of these women, as Donald Trump has been year after year. We don`t have...


MATTHEWS: But you wouldn`t justify her trying to silence these women, would you? BERNARD: No, I wouldn`t justify her silencing these women, but what I would say is that, for any woman who has dealt with a husband and indiscretions in the past, that feel that Donald Trump is putting her on trial for staying in her marriage and trying to find a way to discredit women or figure out things about the women...


MATTHEWS: And he says she`s not loyal to Bill Clinton. I don`t know what that means, unless he`s talking about NAFTA. I don`t think he`s talking about NAFTA.


BERNARD: I don`t know what he means, but I think he should tread carefully. He`s been married three times. Women are very interested in the issues.

MATTHEWS: You`re talking about Trump was married three times.

BERNARD: Trump has been married three times, and two of his wives appear to be much, much younger than him.

There have been stories about him going out with his first wife and having dinner with the father.


MATTHEWS: This is the troubling area. But go ahead.


BERNARD: No, well, it is a troubling area.

But if you want to get into a woman`s head and think about what we`re thinking when we`re going to the ballot box, it`s not just fiscal discipline and issues of the economy and national security and child care and all of the issues that men care about, which are just as important to women.

Women want to know that there is a person in the White House that sees the humanity in both men and women. And you have to seriously ask yourself, if a candidate looks at a woman and says, "It would be a pretty picture to see you on your knees," is that somebody who cares about the humanity of women?

I don`t think so.

MATTHEWS: You have made it clear.


MATTHEWS: I think men -- good guys would also agree with you.


MATTHEWS: But, anyway, thank you, Michelle Bernard.

Up next: Trump`s rough patch continues, as the attorney general for the state of New York clamps down on the Trump Foundation. They`re going after that. That`s ahead.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

With only five weeks left until Election Day, Donald Trump is hoping to turn his campaign around with a swing through Colorado today, but his message was steered off-course when earlier today it was reported that the office of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who`s a Democrat supporting Hillary Clinton, ordered the Donald J. Trump Foundation to stop fund-raising in New York state because it`s not properly registered.

Specifically, a cease and desist letter found that the Trump Foundation was engaged in solicitation or fund-raising activities in New York state in 2016, is not and was not registered.

The action comes in the wake of a report by "The Washington Post" that found that the Trump Foundation lacks the certification required for charities that solicit money.

When asked about the letter, Trump campaign press secretary HOPE HICKS issued the following statement: "While we remain very concerned about the political motives behind A.G. Schneiderman`s investigation, the Trump Foundation nevertheless intends to cooperate fully with the investigation, because this is an ongoing legal matter. The Trump Foundation will not comment further at this time."

For more on this story, I`m joined by the guy who wrote the piece, David Fahrenthold of "The Washington Post."

David, this -- you`re behind this whole thing. You came up with the investigation.

This crime -- you know what bugs me? These guys now just break the rules, pay the fine, and move on. It`s become the cost of doing business. Now, they now will have to pay a fine, apparently, right, something like that? Is that what they will face, the Trump people, for not registering?

DAVID FAHRENTHOLD, "THE WASHINGTON POST": The most painful part of it for them is going to be that they have to submit to financial audits of the Trump Foundation going back years, all the years in which they were supposed to be licensed to raise money and they were not. That`s going to be the hard part.

They will have to bring in auditors to really look in Donald Trump`s foundation`s books, which hasn`t happened ever, I don`t think.

MATTHEWS: Why does "The Washington Post" have to tell the New York state government how to operate? How come they didn`t know that Donald Trump has a foundation and he`s never bothered to register it?

FAHRENTHOLD: They were investigating him.

I don`t know what -- they hadn`t come across this part of it yet. I actually was talking to a law professor for another story. And she said, look, look at this these four letters on the Trump Foundation`s Web site, on the New York charity site.

MATTHEWS: OK. Here`s the dirt I see. Why is the foundation making payments to Pam Bondi, the attorney general in Florida, when she decides not to investigate Trump U?


FAHRENTHOLD: So, the Trump Foundation...

MATTHEWS: Isn`t that a little, a little smelly?

FAHRENTHOLD: Certainly. That`s one of the things they`re looking into.

The Trump people say it was all just an oversight. But the Trump Foundation made an illegal political gift to a group supporting Pam Bondi in 2013, just at the time her office was considering launching an investigation into Trump University.

MATTHEWS: And that was an accident?

FAHRENTHOLD: They say it was an accident.

MATTHEWS: Who told them it was an accident? How long -- someone else had to tell them, right?


MATTHEWS: See? It`s called rolling disclosure. They tell you the truth when they have to.

Thank you, David Fahrenthold. You`re working on that Pulitzer.

Up next, the power of -- you probably have one.

The power of "SNL." How can Alec Baldwin`s impersonation for Donald Trump affect this race? The roundtable is coming here next.

And you`re watching HARDBALL -- there he is -- look at that -- the place for politics.



As we`ve been talking about, Donald Trump had a rough few days following "The New York Times" story that he could have avoided nearly two decades paying taxes. "The Associated Press" story that prompted Trump demeaned women, on the set of his show, "The Apprentice." And today`s news that the New York attorney general has ordered a cease and desist order to the Donald J. Trump Foundation after the report that the charity lacked the proper authorization to seek public donation.

Anyway, Trump`s had a rough couple of days, we all agree on. On "Saturday Night Live," he was mocked by the premiere of "SNL," which parodied last week`s presidential debate with the stars Alec Baldwin playing Trump. Here it goes.


KATE MCKINNON AS HILLARY CLINTON: This man is clearly unfit to be commander in chief.


MCKINNON: He is a bully.

BALDWIN: Shut up.

MCKINNON: He started the birther movement.

BALDWIN: You did.

MCKINNON: He says climate change is a hoax invented by China.

BALDWIN: It`s pronounced "ji-na" (ph).

MCKINNON: He hasn`t released his tax returns, which means he`s either not that rich --


MCKINNON: Not that charitable --


MCKINNON: Or he`s never paid taxes in his life.

BALDWIN: Wronger.


MATTHEWS: It turns out to be true, actually, I guess.

Let`s bring in the HARDBALL roundtable, Eugene Robinson is a Pulitzer Prize-winning opinion writer with "The Washington Post", Laura Bassett covers politics for "The Washington Post", and John Feehery is a Republican strategist.

I got to get to you, John, first on this baby. Do you think, do you know inside, if this is causing any kind of freeze up of the campaign? Or is it just a bad week?

JOHN FEEHERY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, you know, Trump has bad weeks and then he has good weeks and he has bad weeks, and you know, this is another one. The polls haven`t seemed to move that much. I think there`s --

MATTHEWS: Well, five points on average.

FEEHERY: Well, a little ebbing and flowing, but not too bad. The fact is that the Hill is panicked about it. The question is, is the campaign panicked? And can they do anything about Trump and his behavior?

He has his own game plan in his own head, doing his own thing. We`ll see if it works.

MATTHEWS: Well, what about these battleground states. If you look at the states that are going to matter, I think we`ve all been looking at the same stuff.

Looking at these, basically, Colorado now. Let`s look. They`re showing they`re moving in Hillary`s direction. A Monmouth University poll shows Clinton with an 11-point lead out in Colorado. Quinnipiac shows Trump leading by five in Ohio. But Clinton leads by five in Florida. By four in Pennsylvania, is up by three in North Carolina.

A Bloomberg poll also has Clinton up in North Carolina, but only by one. So, the states that are going to probably decide this, I always tell people, a firewall against Trump is Pennsylvania and Virginia. He`s not going to get `em, and without `em, he can`t win.

What do you think is going on?

LAURA BASSETT, THE WASHINGTON POST: I mean, I think I would much rather be Hillary Clinton right now than Donald Trump. It`s five weeks until the election and the swing voters are starting to turn against him. He had a really bad debate performance --

MATTHEWS: Is it women?

BASSETT: I think women are turning against him. Suburban moms didn`t appreciate the things he had about Alicia Machado and the things he said about Hillary Clinton`s physical appearance. And I think independent voters are turned off by the idea that he`s actually not as great as a businessman as he says he is. He lost almost $1 billion in a year --

MATTHEWS: Yes, but he got it back. He`s got a lot -- I do not understand why people of regular income argue about a guy who`s got, in the billions, in the billions --


MATTHEWS: It`s a lot of money!


MATTHEWS: He`s rich!

ROBINSON: You know, in my opinion, I actually think --

MATTHEWS: Beyond belief rich.

ROBINSON: From this awful, you know, week as horrible as it is, right? That are really bad for him are, number one, the idea that he doesn`t pay federal taxes. That -- I think that resonates the people. They were talking about it in my barbershop today. And when they talk about it in the barbershop, I think it resonates with people.

MATTHEWS: People who do pay taxes.

ROBINSON: And as Laura said, the way he treats women, I think that, you know, time after time, example after example, I think it sort of seeps in. And I think it keeps those suburban women that he needs, in the suburbs of Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. and Cleveland and all -- and these places, from giving Trump a chance.

MATTHEWS: Laura, you`re the one woman here, I`ve got to get the answer from you. There`s new women and old school women. My mom was pretty old school, you know, dad was the boss -- she made all the decisions, but he thought he was the boss, you know? They put up a lot of crap, they had to stay at home, raise the kids, do everything, keep the checkbook, do everything, and yet they get pushed around a bit.

And that`s the older woman, 60, 70 years old. How are they going to react? The younger woman is more professionally inclined, sees more opportunities than her parents did. Give me a look at both of them.

BASSETT: I think no matter what age the woman you are, no matter whether you`re a professional or stay-at-home mom, Donald Trump has said something to insult you. When he was married back in the `90s to Ivanka (ph) Trump, he shamed her personal appearance after she gave birth, he said he wasn`t attracted to her anymore.


BASSETT: He fat-shamed Kim Kardashian, he shamed Heidi Klum, he takes Miss Universe and says she`s gained too much weight. I mean, no matter --

MATTHEWS: Why is he free from this standard?

BASSETT: Why is he -- oh, exactly.


MATTHEWS: All I see is this gigantic tie.

ROBINSON: Keep in mind, by the way, that women in their 60s now are boomers. They`re baby boomers. They`re not women who would be in their 90s or whatever --

MATTHEWS: You`re updating me rather than -- you`re cruelly updating me here, Gene.

ROBINSON: I`m so sorry.

MATTHEWS: You`re so right. Women in their 70s and 80s would be old school.


MATTHEWS: I met a woman in a doctor`s office, 97 the other day. There`s a lot of women in that grade.


FEEHERY: And if women are fed up with the political system and want to change, they`re going to vote for Trump or if they`re going to vote for somebody else. If they want the status quo, if they like the fact that Hillary is the first female president --

MATTHEWS: Suppose they don`t like the status quo, but don`t like Trump`s behavior?

FEEHERY: I think that`s the big quandary they`re in and trying to go both ways. And Trump has to figure this out, because if he doesn`t, he`s going to lose his election.

MATTHEWS: OK, let`s talk about the veterans thing. He made his shot today. Explain it, though, Laura. I mean, he said, basically, that some people get PTSD and some don`t, same conditions as a battlefield.

BASSETT: Yes, he was talking about veterans suicide and he was saying they`ve seen some really terrible things and some veterans can`t handle it. I think that a lot of people interpreted that as a really mean comment, as him saying that they`re --

MATTHEWS: Joe Biden did.

BASSETT: Right. As him saying they`re weak, for --

MATTHEWS: Was that the right thing for a guy running for commander in chief to say, that some guys can`t hack PTSD --

BASSETT: I didn`t take it that way. I didn`t think that it was --


FEEHERY: Well, listen, I think he`s going to still have the veterans vote. They all strong support him. The guy he talks to.

MATTHEWS: Even though this?


FEEHERY: I think he`s --

MATTHEWS: Gene, last word. Is this going to hurt him? Because he made that shot about John McCain not being a hero. There`s a pattern here.

ROBINSON: It`s not going to help him.

MATTHEWS: He`s not a warrior. He wasn`t there.

ROBINSON: It`s not going to get him any new votes.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Anyway, the roundtable is sticking with us.

And up next, these three will tell me something I don`t know. We`ll be right back. This is the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Well, tomorrow night, stick with MSNBC for complete coverage of the vice presidential debate tomorrow night. At 7:00 p.m. Eastern, join me for a special edition of HARDBALL live from Longwood University in Virginia. Then, at 8:00 Eastern, I`ll join Brian Williams and Rachel Maddow for full team coverage.

Tim Kaine and Mike Pence take the stage at 9:00 for the debate and we`ll have full post-debate coverage and analysis throughout the night here on MSNBC.

We`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: We`re back with the HARDBALL roundtable right now.

And, Eugene, tell me something I don`t know.

ROBINSON: So, "The New York Times" got the Trump tax return in the reporter`s mailbox today. There was a virtual traffic jam at "The Washington Post" mailroom. First, people had to find it and then go through it. Nobody goes through the snail mail anymore. Unfortunately, nothing was found that I know of.

MATTHEWS: This is bilateral. OK.

BASSETT: Huff Post has a new tool --

MATTHEWS: Unilateral.

BASSETT: -- an election forecast machine that sort of eats all of the national and local polls and fits them out into a prediction. And it predicted today that as of now, Trump has a 16 percent chance of winning.

MATTHEWS: What`s Hillary`s? Eighty-four?

BASSETT: Yes, 84. Good math.

FEEHERY: My upset special. Todd Young beats Evan Bayh, who`s been effectively portrayed as a Washington lobbyist by the Young campaign and all the outside money. So --

MATTHEWS: Even money?

FEEHERY: Even money. I`d give an edge to Todd Young.

MATTHEWS: I love that guy`s name. Todd Young. What a great name for a newcomer.

Thank you, Eugene Robinson. Thank you, Laura Bassett and Feehery.

It`s heating up. Cantor is the guy that puts the gun together.

Anyway, when we return, my election diary for tonight, October 3rd, on the eve of the vice presidential debate.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Election diary, Monday, October 3rd, 2016.

The campaign continues on agenda set by Hillary Clinton and followed by Donald Trump. That course is directed toward winning women, especially those more conservative married women living in the suburbs, voters who could elect either of the two major candidates. If they go for Trump, the state of Pennsylvania, for example, is within reach. If not, his goose is cooked.

It`s remarkable to see how effective Hillary Clinton has been the past week in undermining Trump with his powerful swing electorate. She`s singly responsible for bringing the experience of Alicia Machado, the former beauty queen to the presidential conversation. Because she`s done it, Trump has been pulled off his position. Every since the debate, the man who should be talking bad job-killing trade deals, uncontrolled immigration and stupid Mideast wars has been contorting himself, trying to defend himself against the accounts given by Ms. Machado.

Well, thanks to a mysterious tipster, Trump now also finds himself defending himself for being a beneficiary of a near billion dollar tax loss. Instead of talking about his success in building, he`s drawn into an interminable discussion of why he spent so much effort getting out of taxes and why that makes him, to use his word, smart.

Well, to win, a candidate needs to focus on his or her issues. Trump has a bit more than a month now to get that done.

And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.



HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Here`s my question, what kind of genius loses a billion dollars in a single year?

HAYES: An October surprise for the ages.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I understand the tax laws better than almost everyone, which is why I am one who can truly fix them.