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Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 10/31/2016

Guests: Susan Page, Kellyanne Conway, Claire McCaskill, Larry Sabato, Celinda Lake, Kurt Eichenwald

Show: HARDBALL Date: October 31, 2016 Guest: Susan Page, Kellyanne Conway, Claire McCaskill, Larry Sabato, Celinda Lake, Kurt Eichenwald

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Halloween politics.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

Fallout from FBI director James Comey`s bombshell announcement last week reverberated on the campaign trail today. On Friday, Comey told Congress that the FBI had learned of new e-mails that appear to be pertinent -- appear to be pertinent -- to the investigation into Clinton`s use of a private server.

Today, Donald Trump praised Comey for his guts. Hillary Clinton called the decision to go public this close to an election "pretty strange." NBC News reports that since Sunday night, FBI officials had been going through the e-mails, which belonged to a top Clinton aide, Huma Abedin. The e-mails were found on a computer belonging to her estranged husband, Anthony Weiner.

Two former attorneys general, Eric Holder and Alberto Gonzales, criticized Comey. Eric Holder wrote, "I am deeply concerned about FBI Director James B. Comey`s decision to write a vague letter to Congress about e-mails potentially connected to a matter of public and political interest. That decision was incorrect. It violated long-standing Justice Department policies and tradition, and it ran counter to guidance that I put in place four years ago laying out the proper way to conduct investigations during an election season," close quote.

Anyway, Alberto Gonzales had this to say earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALBERTO GONZALES, FMR. ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES: I didn`t understand it. I didn`t understand what he was saying, what he was trying to say. I didn`t understand the purpose of the letter.

To me, it was very inconsistent with the protocols that presently exist at the Department of Justice. You typically do not comment on investigations, on ongoing investigations, and of course, that protocol was breached this past summer, when Director Comey gave that press conference talking about the investigation.

I really worry that in this particular instance, the FBI director has made an error in judgment in terms of releasing this kind of letter, which really says nothing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, also today, NBC News reported that the FBI has been conducting a preliminary inquiry into Paul Manafort, of course, Donald Trump`s former campaign manager, for his business ties overseas. It`s called an inquiry, not a full-blown criminal investigation. Manafort said he never had dealings with Vladimir Putin`s government and said he was aware of no investigation into the matter.

Anyway, late today also, Tim Kaine knocked Comey over a CNBC report that the FBI director didn`t want to name Russia as meddling in the U.S. election, according to a former senior law enforcement official who spoke to NBC News. Comey felt an announcement would have been, as interfering in a U.S. election, might violate Justice Department guidelines.

We are putting it all together here. Joining me right now with the latest is NBC News justice correspondent Pete Williams.

What a day, too much news, but a lot to figure out, but you`re the guy. Do we have any evidence -- just to clear the air left, right and center for all our viewers right now, does the report that came out Friday evidence any indication that Hillary Clinton is guilty of anything besides what everybody else may have thought generally before, any evidence of criminal misbehavior by her because of this report?

PETE WILLIAMS, NBC CORRESPONDENT: No, and it couldn`t have because at the time the director wrote the letter, the FBI had not analyzed the e-mails on the laptop computer belonging to Weiner because they didn`t have the legal authority to look at them in detail. Now, they got that on Sunday night, and for the last 24 hours or so, they have been going through these e- mails.

But we don`t know what the results of that are yet. They had hoped, Chris, that they could perhaps say something in the next day or so. There was some optimism about that Sunday and this morning, but that`s fading a little bit, but no one is for sure -- is sure how long it`s going to take. But we just don`t know that they have found anything new in this collection of e-mails, and that`s the critical question.

MATTHEWS: Well, since the process is now public that they`re looking through the 650,000 e-mails to try to isolate those that would have been sent during her term as secretary of state...

WILLIAMS: Right.

MATTHEWS: I assume there would be a way of quickly getting down to the subset of those important documents. Since that`s a doable job, it`s the task at hand, could we have by the end of the week a progress report that says, So far, we`ve found nothing troubling or nothing criminal, or something like that that contains the possible consequences of this report last Friday?

WILLIAMS: Yes. I think the answer to that is yes, if they`re done. That`s the question. That`s the FBI`s goal is to do what you just said, to say what they can say. The Justice Department fully concurs. They sent a letter today to members of Congress who had written to Comey and to the attorney general on Friday, and they said now that they`re committed to moving as expeditiously as possible.

MATTHEWS: And we have no idea whether that would mean a success by Friday, for example, the last big news window before the election.

WILLIAMS: Right. No way to tell.

MATTHEWS: OK, great reporting. Thank you, Pete Williams.

WILLIAMS: You bet.

MATTHEWS: I know you`re going to be leaning over their shoulders like a helicopter mom for the next week!

WILLIAMS: That`s right!

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you, sir.

WILLIAMS: You bet.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, since Friday, Donald Trump has spent plenty of time talking about the news. Let`s watch him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: The FBI would never have reopened this case at this time unless it were a most egregious criminal offense. Hillary set up an illegal server for the obvious purpose of shielding her criminal conduct from public disclosure and exposure.

We all know about Hillary`s mounting legal troubles that she`s brought onto herself with her willful and deliberate criminal misconduct.

This is the biggest scandal since Watergate. Hillary is the one who broke the law over and over and over again. We can be sure that what is in those e-mails is absolutely devastating!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s bring in Kellyanne Conway. She`s, of course, campaign manager. Kellyanne, thank you so much. I`ve known you forever, but let`s get to the problem tonight.

Does Donald Trump know anything beyond what he heard from the director of the FBI on Friday? Has he any independent information about the criminality, if there is such criminality, by the secretary of state -- former secretary of state? Does he have anything beyond Comey?

KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: No. No, we do not. But I was completely confounded that Hillary Clinton today at a rally said, Why in the world would the FBI do this investigation, interfere with the election, if they have no evidence? And she knows that`s a misstatement. I know she and her staff are very fond of the 5th Amendment, but they ought to get a refresher on the 4th Amendment.

You know, Chris, you can`t get a search warrant without some kind of evidence. And that`s what we have here. It`s not like Huma Abedin...

MATTHEWS: What is the evidence?

CONWAY: Well, we don`t know! The FBI...

MATTHEWS: You say there`s evidence. How do you know there`s evidence?

CONWAY: Chris...

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: You can`t get a search warrant -- excuse me -- you cannot get a search warrant under the 4th Amendment without showing some kind of evidence that justifies you to get a search warrant. Everyone knows that. If the Clinton people really want to know, if they claim they want to know, then ask Comey to reveal the moving (ph) affidavit. Ask him to reveal the search warrant.

MATTHEWS: But the investigation of Hillary Clinton`s possible misuse or mishandling of classified information is an ongoing investigation. Hasn`t that investigation got authority to continue and to get the necessary warrants to complete it? Why would it have to show criminal information -- since the investigation has never really been called off, it`s continuing, why would it need evidence of criminality to continue?

That`s what I don`t get. It isn`t a brand-new investigation, it`s an ongoing investigation. Why would it require evidence or probable cause of criminality at this point to proceed?

CONWAY: To retrieve somebody`s laptop who failed -- who actually...

MATTHEWS: Well, they have the laptop.

CONWAY: ... violated the law and failed to turn it over -- pardon?

MATTHEWS: They have the laptop. They`ve been investigating it with regard to the sexting by -- alleged sexting by the former congressman. But they have now...

CONWAY: Alleged? We`ve all seen his pictures.

MATTHEWS: ... this additional warrant to show it. I don`t think that requires evidence or probable cause of criminality because it`s an ongoing investigation.

CONWAY: And Chris, I don`t think anybody...

MATTHEWS: That`s what I think is a good point. Do you have a response to that?

CONWAY: Yes, no, well, my point`s good, too, that you wouldn`t under the 4th Amendment to be able to get all these search warrants without further evidence.

I read the same reports that you read, and the reports I read over the weekend claimed that when perhaps FBI agents started reading through these e-mails, closed them up, and said, There`s something there.

MATTHEWS: OK.

CONWAY: Or I guess people who are investigating Anthony Weiner`s pedophilia closed it up and said, There`s something there.

But listen, to the electorate, it doesn`t matter, and you know it. Those undecided voters are decided about one big thing. They don`t want to vote for Hillary Clinton. If they did, they would take the person they`ve known for decades and say...

MATTHEWS: OK.

CONWAY: ... I think your experience is the right kind of experience, I think you represent the right kind of change, I can look past your serial lying of many decades. And you know darn well they`re hesitant and reluctant to vote for her.

This is going to hurt her in the polls continually. We`re within 1 point in the ABC/"Washington Post" poll. We were 12 points down last week. The statewide polls are tightening.

MATTHEWS: OK...

CONWAY: We`re going to win your home state of Pennsylvania.

MATTHEWS: OK -- well, if you do, you might win the presidential election, I agree with that. That`s a big if.

Let me ask you about this "egregious" -- I`ve been watching the candidate, Mr. Trump, on this. He`s not just saying some evidence to justify investigation or probable cause. He`s accusing her of egregious criminal behavior. His charges are almost -- he said it`s worse than Watergate. It sounds like it`s impeachable already.

What evidence does he have that she`s committed crimes that are impeachable, already, before she`s even elected, if she`s elected? What`s impeachable that she`s done?

CONWAY: He didn`t say she was impeachable.

MATTHEWS: He said it`s worse than Watergate! He said it`s worse than Watergate!

CONWAY: And it is. Perhaps it is. We don`t know that yet, but we know that...

MATTHEWS: He does. He says it is.

CONWAY: ... the cloud of corruption follows the Clintons -- well, you know what, Chris? He`s not under investigation, let alone two of them by the FBI in the same year. So let`s keep our eye on the ball here. Who`s...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I`m just wondering if the charges are not...

CONWAY: Why are -- hold on!

MATTHEWS: ... incredible at this point.

CONWAY: Why are we having this conversation in the first place? Chris, why are we having this conversation in the first place? She set up a home...

MATTHEWS: Because the FBI has issued a report that it`s continuing an investigation.

CONWAY: No.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Go ahead.

CONWAY: No. This is her fault. She set up a home-brewed private server that she was not allowed to have.

MATTHEWS: OK.

CONWAY: She was lying from the beginning about it. She did it to hide e- mails. She BleachBitted 33,000 e-mails to hope that they would be permanently deleted. 17,000 others never got turned over.

I mean, come on! This woman lies about lying, and now we have another investigation to see if her lying about lying perhaps is on somebody else`s laptop in an unrelated investigation because her closest adviser, the woman she calls her surrogate daughter, for God`s sake, is married to a guy who`s sexting pictures of his private parts to a 15-year-old girl in North Carolina!

MATTHEWS: You`re not blaming...

CONWAY: I mean, how is it Donald Trump...

MATTHEWS: ... Huma for that. Please.

CONWAY: How is it Donald Trump`s fault?

MATTHEWS: How can you blame the two women for the behavior of the men...

CONWAY: I didn`t!

MATTHEWS: ... or the male in this case?

CONWAY: Chris, I didn`t blame them. Hold on. And you know it. I didn`t blame them for the behavior of their husbands. In this case, I`m telling you why we`re having this conversation. You`re saying it`s because of Donald Trump. I`m telling you Donald Trump didn`t...

MATTHEWS: OK.

CONWAY: ... text pictures of himself, didn`t set up a private server as the secretary of state. He didn`t break with protocol. He didn`t use his State Department as a concierge for foreign donations.

MATTHEWS: OK.

CONWAY: I mean, this is all on her!

MATTHEWS: OK, let me ask you, before we toilet paper both houses completely -- and you`re doing a great job of it, Kellyanne -- let me ask you about Paul Manafort.

NBC is reporting tonight -- NBC News is reporting tonight that the FBI has begun what they call a preliminary inquiry, not a full-scale criminal investigation, of Paul Manafort`s relations with foreign interests. Your thoughts. Is this the reason that he left the campaign? How`s that for a hard question?

CONWAY: No, well -- no, Mr. Manafort and the campaign severed ties in August. And I saw that same NBC News report that you`re speaking of and I saw Paul Manafort quoted in there. He said there is no investigation that he knows of and he think it`s a complete distraction.

MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you.

CONWAY: That`s all I know.

MATTHEWS: Kellyanne, you`re always welcome on the show. Your candidate is especially welcome. You can bring him along next time.

CONWAY: You got it.

MATTHEWS: We`ll talk later on the phone. As always, thank you, Kellyanne Conway...

CONWAY: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: ... campaign manager for Donald Trump.

Anyway, Hillary Clinton seemed to question the motives of James Comey today. She`s getting very tough on the FBI director. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: It took a lot of guts. I really disagreed with him. I was not his fan. But I`ll tell you what. What he did, he brought back his reputation. He brought it back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Let`s go right now to Senator Claire McCaskill, Democrat of Missouri and Hillary Clinton supporter, and a former attorney general of that state.

You know the law. You know how these prosecutions work. What did you make of Comey`s announcement on Friday, Senator?

SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D), MISSOURI: Well, technically, I wasn`t the attorney general, Chris. I was elected prosecutor in Kansas City and an assistant prosecutor for a number of years, spent a lot of time prosecuting cases in the courtroom.

And here`s what I was taught as a prosecutor. The facts are your friend when you`re seeking justice. And until you know the facts, keep your mouth shut. And what happened here is Comey opened his mouth when he didn`t know what the facts were.

It is clear they have no idea what these e-mails are. But yet breaking every protocol and precedent -- and you know, when you have Chuck Grassley, the Republican chairman of the Judiciary Committee, writing a letter today, saying you`re not being fair to Secretary Clinton...

MATTHEWS: OK.

MCCASKILL: That is verbiage right out of Chuck Grassley`s letter.

MATTHEWS: Well, we don`t know...

(CROSSTALK)

MCCASKILL: ... sense of the outrage.

MATTHEWS: We`re shooting in the dark here because the FBI has announced that they`re looking into -- well, they`re going to look into these e- mails. The reporting has said that. And the question, of course, is whether they have metadata, did they know where these e-mails were coming from. If they knew where the emails were coming from, that they knew they were coming from the former secretary of state at the time she was secretary of state to Huma Abedin and somehow found their ways onto Anthony Weiner`s phone or desktop or -- I guess it was his laptop. If that all happened, isn`t that stuff -- evidence they should be looking at? Shouldn`t they be looking at that evidence?

MCCASKILL: It`s fine they`re looking at the evidence. But the point is...

MATTHEWS: OK, well, they`re just reporting that that`s what they`re doing.

MCCASKILL: But the point is, he should not be telling anyone about an investigation in the context...

MATTHEWS: They can`t do it without a warrant, apparently.

MCCASKILL: ... of 11 days from the election. Well, it doesn`t matter...

MATTHEWS: They needed a warrant to do that.

MCCASKILL: They didn`t have to get a warrant, but they did get a warrant and -- you know, because they probably could have worked out a way to get permission, although it`s a little tricky because it was on Weiner`s computer.

But the point is, Chris, that when he wrote the letter, he had no facts. And he`s got the resources to tell us what`s in those e-mails. He`s got over 13,000 FBI agents and a budget of over almost $9 billion and...

MATTHEWS: OK. What do you want him to do now? What do you want now?

MCCASKILL: I want him...

MATTHEWS: Because you have leverage now.

MCCASKILL: I want him...

MATTHEWS: You can`t have him stop what he did on Friday. Do you want him to report by the end of the week or the next 24 hours or 48 hours evidence...

MCCASKILL: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: If there`s no evidence of criminality, say so.

MCCASKILL: Absolutely. All hands on deck. All hands on deck because I think when you look at the breadth and depth of investigation they conducted, dozens and dozens and dozens of FBI agents, and Comey said it wasn`t even close in terms of there being any criminal conduct and that all of the people who investigated the crime agreed...

MATTHEWS: Yes.

CONWAY: ... there was no criminal conduct...

MATTHEWS: Well, why would he do this?

MCCASKILL: ... that took a year! And they looked at a lot more e-mails than they looked at -- that are supposedly...

MATTHEWS: Well, what -- OK...

MCCASKILL: ... relevant on this computer.

MATTHEWS: Senator, I have a great respect for you and I have for a long time. But here`s a simple question. When you think about who`s the enemy of your party here, who`s the enemy of Hillary Clinton, trying to hurt her campaign -- and I think that`s the implication here -- is it the Republican Party led by Jason Chaffetz over in the House, is it the RNC, is it the candidate, Trump, or is it the institution of the FBI, which is probably pro-prosecution -- they`re probably conservative men and women over there, mostly men. It`s the FBI! As I said on Friday night, it`s not the Peace Corps. They have an attitude about who they think are bad guys.

So my question is, what is driving the FBI director? Why did Comey do this, according to your thinking?

MCCASKILL: I think he probably tried too hard to do more than what the FBI ever does. In the summer, when he, you know, did the press conference trying to somehow appease the people -- because the facts didn`t support a criminal charge, so he somehow wanted to make them feel better. And then once he started going down that road, he had a hard time figuring out how to stop going down that road. So I think this is his error in judgment. It is his mistake.

But let me be very clear about who the problem is here. The problem is a man running for president that we don`t want our children...

MATTHEWS: OK.

MCCASKILL: ... to want to be a role model. It is a man running for president who brags about grabbing women`s genitals and calls them pigs and dogs. It`s a man running for president who has no transparency, has stiffed contractors, lied in lawsuits, committed fraud, and by the way, has never laid out a real plan on how he can change anything to make things better for American families.

MATTHEWS: If he`s that bad -- and I`ve heard this critique and I sometimes share it. If he`s that bad, how could he possibly beat the former secretary of state next Tuesday?

MCCASKILL: Well...

MATTHEWS: How could he possibly win if he`s what you describe?

MCCASKILL: First of all...

MATTHEWS: How could he possibly beat her...

MCCASKILL: ... I don`t believe...

MATTHEWS: ... a very qualified candidate?

MCCASKILL: I don`t believe he can. But Hillary Clinton has a problem, and that is she wears the scars of decades of public service, and those scars were delivered by a Republican attack machine...

MATTHEWS: OK.

MCCASKILL: ... that has chainsaws for hands. And time after time, they have come after her. And I think the American people need to take a deep breath and look and see what a fighter she is. It doesn`t matter...

MATTHEWS: OK.

MCCASKILL: ... if the FBI has done something outrageous or whether there`s another accusation that is without merit. She keeps fighting, and she will, for America`s families and I believe she`ll win next Tuesday and be a great president.

MATTHEWS: OK. Thanks so much, Claire McCaskill. By the way, I do think he`s going to carry Missouri, but I`m not going to ask you to comment on that.

What`s coming up next -- the polls are showing eight days out, and how`s Friday`s news from the FBI changing the shape of this race? We`re going to look at the polls, take a really good look at the polls and see what has changed, if anything, since Friday in these three days. Anyway, the polling has shown wide swings over the past week. We`ll take a look, a hard look at those numbers right coming up next after the commercial.

Plus, Donald Trump has seized on the Clinton e-mail story throughout his campaign, going as far as to say that Secretary Clinton, to her face, that she`d be in jail if he were the president. I don`t think that helps Trump.

Anyway, now a new report shows Trump`s companies have defied court orders and regularly destroyed, hidden documents, including e-mails. We`ve got the reporter who broke that story tonight. There it is on the cover of "Newsweek."

And the three things about the presidential campaign you might not know as Trump and Clinton make their closing arguments to the juries. That would be us.

Finally, my "election diary" for tonight, October 31st, Halloween -- that`s tonight -- as the campaign enters its final week.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Well, we`ve got a tight race now in the deep red state of Utah. And for that, we check the HARDBALL "Scoreboard."

Take a look at the new poll from "The Salt Lake Tribune" -- a great newspaper, by the way. Donald Trump is getting 32 percent of the Utah vote -- 32 for Trump. Evan McMullin -- he`s close behind at 30, and Hillary`s at 24.

I think McMullin can win that one. A win for McMullin in Utah keeps Trump from winning 6 electoral votes, making his road to 270 a bit narrower, don`t you think, because Utah`s supposed to be Republican.

We`ll be right back.

Donald Trump is getting 32 percent of the Utah vote, 32 for Trump. Evan McMullin, he is close behind at 30. And Hillary`s at 24.

I think McMullin can win that one. A win for McMullin in Utah keeps Trump from winning six electoral votes, making his road to 270 a bit narrower, don`t you think, because Utah is supposed to be Republican.

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Donald Trump`s supporters are hoping the FBI`s announcement on Friday has the potential to swing the race to him and before voters go to the polls a week from tomorrow.

But polls out today show that James Comey`s decision does not appear to have had a big effect on voters, not at least -- at least not yet. Let me say it right.

On a new online poll by NBC News, it shows the race virtually unchanged since last week. Clinton has actually gained a point and now leads by six, with 47-41 being the national matchup, according to us. All the other polls are different.

A Politico Morning Consult poll taken, for example, entirely after Comey`s announcement shows Clinton maintaining just a three-point lead nationally, which is the same as her margin also before the FBI`s investigation came out.

And an online poll of 12 battleground states by CBS News and the YouGov further shows that voters are split along party lines over Comey`s announcement.

But among independent voters -- I found this very interesting -- 26 percent say the news makes them less likely to vote for Clinton, and that figure matches up to exactly with those identifying themselves as Republican. So, independents and Republicans look at this news from Friday the same way.

This comes as Donald Trump this week targets blue states, including Michigan, Wisconsin, New Mexico, in an obvious attempt to open, widen his path to victory in the Electoral College.

I`m joined now by the great Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics down at UVA, as well as Democratic pollster Celinda Lake.

But this is not, really, I don`t think, a -- as I told Celinda, Larry, a partisan discussion. I want to know what you think you see in the numbers.

Celinda, first, looking at all the numbers, we had such a bombshell. I`m sure the ratings for this and all the other programs went through the roof on Friday night, because when the FBI director, who had been the favorite of the Democrats and had said there`s nothing there just in July, comes out and says, oh, well, there`s something there, we don`t know what it is, all of a sudden, it`s bombshell.

(LAUGHTER)

CELINDA LAKE, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: Well, yes, I think voters have no idea of what to make of it.

And I would say three things. First of all, over a quarter of the voters have voted already. So -- and then the undecided vote is down to 5 or 6 percent. And, as you said, a quarter of independents and Republicans both think this is something major.

What I think is the major news, three-quarters of Republicans say, I don`t care. It`s -- I have already made up my mind.

MATTHEWS: Is the cake baked?

LAKE: The cake is baked, unless there`s something revealed.

And it`s not revealing that you`re looking at 650,000 e-mails that you have no idea what the content is and no suspicion that there`s anything in there.

MATTHEWS: You know, Larry, I`m looking at the most caked -- the most baked cake, which is the African-American vote, which is so solidly Democratic, and has been for decades now since the `60s, I mean, solidly, about 90 percent.

They`re not even interested in this story. They have already made up their mind. They`re Democrats to the bone. They`re going to vote for Hillary, and that`s it. And Hispanic voters, on the other hand, are looking at this seriously along the lines of whatever they`re concerned about. They are concerned about this much more so, 3-1, I noticed, than African-American votes.

Your thoughts?

LARRY SABATO, DIRECTOR, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA CENTER FOR POLITICS: Well, I think Latinos are pretty solidly in the Democratic camp.

In fact, what`s been quite amazing is that Clinton has been at the same level as Obama finished in 2012, which was higher than in 2008, among Latinos.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

SABATO: I don`t think they will flake away because of this.

But, Chris, you know, it`s not so much, in my mind, at least, a question of whether Clinton still wins. I think she does, unless it`s Dewey defeats Truman again, and every single poll is wrong. And back then, you only had three polls. So, this is hundreds of polls.

What I think is of concern to Democrats, legitimately, is that, as Clinton`s percentage of the popular vote goes down, as maybe she loses some of the really close battlegrounds, if this story continues, you`re going to have Democrats who might have won Senate seats and might have won House seats not win. It`s the Comey effect.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Is that Lee Atwater`s picture behind you there, Larry?

(LAUGHTER)

SABATO: It is. He gave that to me years ago.

MATTHEWS: OK. No, I`m knocking it, but he was the guy who infamously, notoriously said he was going to make Willie Horton, the guy who got charged with rape and everything after he got out on his pardon or whatever, his furlough, he said, I`m going to make him Dukakis` running mate.

LAKE: Yes. Yes.

MATTHEWS: I`m amazed they haven`t made Anthony Weiner Hillary`s running mate at this point with FBI wanted posters up for both of them.

(CROSSTALK)

SABATO: Give them time. Give them time. They got a week.

(CROSSTALK)

LAKE: Well, you said the right thing earlier on. And I thought it was amazing the man had to say it. What, are we blaming the women for the men? Come on.

MATTHEWS: Well, I know. It`s not Huma`s fault that the man...

LAKE: A lot of women have married the wrong guy. OK?

MATTHEWS: He wasn`t sexting her.

LAKE: Right, unfortunately.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, the FBI`s announcement Friday could further threaten Democratic chances of retaking control of the Senate.

A new Monmouth poll out today shows that Republican candidate -- look at this in Indiana, fascinating -- Todd Young, boy, that`s a great name for a newcomer, has overcome Evan Bayh`s former six-point lead in Indiana`s Senate race. The candidates are now tied 45 all.

In Florida, yesterday`s NBC News/"Wall Street Journal"/Marist poll shows Marco Rubio widening his lead over Patrick Murphy. He`s up by eight.

A couple things here. People feel like they have given the guy a whooping, like they gave Marco Rubio in the presidential primary. OK, they can let him back in the house. He`s had his whooping. I see that.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: But what is this thing about -- and I have also noticed another pattern. You show any lack of interest in being a senator, like you leave for a while and come back, whether you`re Bob Kerrey or you`re Fritz Mondale, they don`t put you back in.

LAKE: Yes.

MATTHEWS: They just don`t let you back in.

LAKE: It`s really interesting, because they think also your interest was about higher ambition, not about us. So, what about us? We want somebody totally focused completely on us.

MATTHEWS: Who wants the job.

LAKE: Right. It`s not about us.

MATTHEWS: Larry, that`s so interesting. They say they want people to lust after office.

LAKE: They don`t.

MATTHEWS: But they really want you to show complete appetite for the office you`re seeking. And if you show anything like, I think I will lobby for a while or do something else or take a break, Larry, it`s tough to come back. You can`t come home again, as Thomas Wolfe once wrote, to the Senate.

SABATO: No, that`s true, although Evan Bayh was in a beautiful position in the summer. He shocked the Republicans by coming back in, and he had $9 million leftover in his campaign account.

He`s beloved in Indiana. His problem is, he didn`t keep up his ties to Indiana during the six years he was away. He was a lobbyist. And, also, look, because Pence was put on the ticket, and because Indiana is normally a Republican state anyway, Trump is doing relatively well there.

And you can bury somebody in coattails. Obviously, Clinton and the Democrats hope that she buries some Republicans, and I think she will, in some deeply blue states.

MATTHEWS: That`s a hell of a mixed metaphor, bury somebody in coattails.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: But we`re going to go with that tonight, Larry. Thank you.

SABATO: Sorry. Sorry, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Two guys did come back, heroes of mine in different ways, Barry Goldwater and Hubert Humphrey. Both went back to their states and were beloved for the rest of their careers.

LAKE: Yes. Yes.

MATTHEWS: Thank you, Larry Sabato.

They never lost their roots.

Celinda Lake, thank you.

LAKE: Thank you very much.

MATTHEWS: Let me take it back.

Up next: new details from "Newsweek"`s cover story this week about Donald Trump`s, his own missing e-mails. How`s that for a turnaround? His e- mails that he scratched off the public list. Anyway, "Newsweek" reports his companies have regularly destroyed or hidden documents, often defying court orders to do so -- to keep them, actually.

That`s next.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Never in history have we seen such a cover-up as this, one that includes the total destruction of 33,000 e-mails.

Hillary bleached and deleted 33,000 e-mails.

She bleached and deleted 33,000 e-mails after a congressional subpoena.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: He hangs on to that word bleached like a life preserver. He loves the word bleached.

Anyway, welcome back to HARDBALL.

That was Donald Trump attacking, of course, Hillary Clinton for deleting 33,000 e-mails from her personal server. It`s a frequent and popular line of attack for the GOP candidate, on the campaign trail. We have all heard it.

But, this week, "Newsweek" magazine reported that Trump`s own e-mail troubles, according to the "Newsweek" article, are in order to delay -- were used in order to delay court cases. Trump companies have -- quote -- "over the course of decades systemically destroyed or hidden thousands of e-mails, digital records, and paper documents demanded in official proceedings, often in defiance of court orders."

For more on this, I`m joined by the author of the article, Kurt Eichenwald, senior writer for "Newsweek."

So, Kurt, this is, of course, ironic, because he`s been blasting away on her on the e-mails. Fair enough. But now he`s done it?

KURT EICHENWALD, "NEWSWEEK": He`s done it, and in...

MATTHEWS: Against court orders, criminally?

EICHENWALD: Against court orders.

He has been, in case after case, delaying production of documents and e- mails that were being demanded. And then, when they finally get around, they say, oh, we deleted them. Oh, they`re gone.

In fact, they actually said for a couple of years that a server that people were trying to get ahold of didn`t exist. And they said it under oath. And then, when they turned around, eventually, when they got -- when other information turned up, they said, oh, yes, the server exists. There are no e-mails on it anymore.

MATTHEWS: Well, you know, I guest most people want to know whether he`s an honest businessman or not. Is he?

EICHENWALD: No.

MATTHEWS: Explain.

EICHENWALD: Donald Trump has been engaged forever in pushing things too far, in rule-breaking, in...

MATTHEWS: Is he a deadbeat?

EICHENWALD: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Most people know what that is. Somebody you do business with -- first of all, you cut somebody`s lawn, and they don`t pay you, or they don`t -- you`re a newspaper boy -- I have been there -- and they hide on Friday when you come around to collect.

I mean, some people are deadbeats. And they find a way of keeping a little more money in their pocket by not paying their bills. Is he one of them at the big time?

(CROSSTALK)

EICHENWALD: Absolutely.

But this is a guy who, you know, he got $140 million loan from Deutsche Bank, the only bank that will still give him money. Interest rate -- interest payment comes up, he says, I`m not paying it. And they have to go to court in order for him to pay the money.

MATTHEWS: So, that`s his cash management technique? Don`t pay your bills. Do it until they sue you. And then slow-walk them when they sue you for documents.

EICHENWALD: And destroy the documents while you`re slow-walking them.

They just shredded them. They just -- and this was not just in civil litigation. This was also when the federal government was going after him.

MATTHEWS: Well, how does he get vendors if he has a reputation like this? Why do people say, I will put the ceiling on for you, or I will do the flooring, or I will do the whatever, the wallpapering, whatever, if you know he`s not going to pay you?

EICHENWALD: Because he`s Donald Trump, and people will always give him the benefit of the doubt.

Plus, until now, you know, who actually was hearing all of this?

MATTHEWS: But what about...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: He`s got a campaign guy, Fabrizio, who I have known forever. He`s a famous Republican pollster. He owes them $750,000. Well?

EICHENWALD: Yes, he ain`t going to see that.

MATTHEWS: He ain`t going to see -- he isn`t going to see that? No.

(LAUGHTER)

EICHENWALD: I mean, this is this is his way of working, you know, is that...

MATTHEWS: The people -- be honest with me, because people are only going to get one shot at your piece here. And congratulations on this kind of enterprising work.

Did people talk to you like we`re talking here about him, that, when you bumped into people, they said, oh, you got to know this guy`s M.O.?

EICHENWALD: I actually have known Donald Trump since 1987.

I was covering him back when I was covering the financial world. And he had that reputation then. He has a reputation...

MATTHEWS: People will bad-mouth him?

EICHENWALD: People bad-mouth him all the time, reckless, irresponsible, doesn`t play by the rules. And...

MATTHEWS: Well, they`re afraid of him, then, because you`re the one reporting. They`re not.

Thank you, Kurt Eichenwald. Great enterprise reporting, and timely.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Up next...

EICHENWALD: I was surprised.

MATTHEWS: People love irony, and they love get-even stuff where there`s back-and-forth.

Anyway, HARDBALL roundtable will be here with everything you need to know about what`s happening on the campaign trail today. We got some heavyweights joining us. Kurt Eichenwald was one of them.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC ANCHOR: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton both went on offense today -- have they ever been off it? -- as the Democratic nominee weathers a new cloud of controversy for having her use of a private email server.

Here`s Donald Trump today on the campaign trail, out in Michigan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have to give the FBI credit. That was so bad, what happened, originally. And it took guts for Director Comey to make the move that he made in light of the kind of opposition that he had with their trying to protect her, from criminal prosecution.

What he did, he brought back his reputation. He brought it back. He`s got to hang tough, because there`s a lot of people want him to do the wrong thing.

This is the biggest scandal since Watergate. Hillary wants to blame everyone else for her mounting legal troubles, but she has brought all of this on herself.

Six hundred and fifty thousand. You know what I call that? That`s the mother lode.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Meanwhile, Secretary Clinton took on the FBI for announcing the investigation into the e-mails. The new ones, just days before Election Day.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Why in the world the FBI would decide to jump into an election with no evidence of any wrongdoing, with just days to go? That`s a good question. And first of all, for those of you who are concerned about my using personal e-mail, I understand, and as I`ve said, I`m not making excuses. I`ve said it was a mistake and I regret it. And now, they apparently want to look at e-mails of one of my staffers and by all means, they should look at them. And I am sure they will reach the same conclusion they did when they looked at my e-mails for the last year. There is no case here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, the latest "Washington Post"/ABC News poll shows that 59 percent of registered voters have an unfavorable impression of both Trump and Clinton. Her dead even, like the Redskins and the Bengals, dead even.

Anyway, for more on the scorched-earth tactics in this race, let`s take a look at our HARDBALL roundtable -- Howard Fineman, a familiar guy here, global editorial director of "The Huffington Post," Susan Page, Washington bureau chief with "USA Today", and Jonathan Capehart, opinion writer for "The Washington Post". We`ve got heavyweights here, heavyweights.

You know, I think it`s kind of dismal they have a 59 percent dead even negative. That`s high. That`s not a happy -- it`s Halloweenish, but it`s not happy for Christmas is coming --

HOWARD FINEMAN, THE HUFFINGTON POST: It`s appropriate for Halloween, and I don`t think there`s anybody who studies politics who`s covered it the way we have for a long time for heavyweights. We`ve never seen a presidential campaign this negative, this sort of lacking in the lift of a driving --

MATTHEWS: Yes!

FINEMAN: No talk of the future, no talk of the sunny road ahead and the hope that we would have. The word hope has basically been banished from this campaign.

MATTHEWS: I`m with you!

FINEMAN: And it`s grim. It`s extremely grim. There`s never been anything like it in our memories.

MATTHEWS: OK, I go back to 1952, and the only thing I can think of is `68 after Bobby and Martin Luther King were killed. All of that stuff, we`re left with an old liberal who`s been around too many times, Humphrey, and another guy looks like he`s passed his sell-by date, too. And we end up choosing between Nixon and Humphrey.

Oh my God. Humphrey was the hawk. We have to choose. It`s not quite that bad. It`s close.

SUSAN PAGE, USA TODAY: That was like "Morning in America" compared to this.

JONATHAN CAPEHART, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes.

PAGE: Because one thing is --

MATTHEWS: Why are they both even at 59?

PAGE: Why are they higher? Why aren`t the negatives higher given that the nuclear warfare that`s gone on between the two sides? I mean, it`s -- it`s -- and given the nature of this campaign, because it`s not just this negative, it`s that it`s caustic in a way that I think campaigns have not traditionally been --

MATTHEWS: Crooked Hillary, over and over and over --

PAGE: I`ve never seen a campaign where a guy uses a nasty nickname all the time.

CAPEHART: All the time. And his stump speech, despite this great news from his perspective, his stump speech is still the same. And I would have to disagree with Howard in that, you know, this is a -- it is relentlessly negative campaign, but it`s not like Hillary Clinton hasn`t been talking about a more stronger together, hopeful future. Like, I`m the nerd sitting at my desk watching these campaign rallies. And she does have a hopeful message. The problem is, it`s being drowned out by, like, that --

FINEMAN: But most of her --

MATTHEWS: Her "Daisy" ad --

CAPEHART: Wait, wait, wait. You`re talking about ads, I`m talking about - -

(CROSSTALK)

CAPEHART: I`m talking about the --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Look at this right now. The Clinton campaign released a new TV ad today, using the original "Daisy" girl, that young girl, from that 1964 Lyndon Johnson campaign ad. Watch this ad and tell me if she`s still running a positive, uplifting campaign. Just --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This was me in 1964. The fear of nuclear war that we had as children, I never thought our children would ever have to deal with that again. And to see that coming forward in this election is really scary.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trump asked three times --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three times, why can`t we use nuclear weapons?

TRUMP: I want to be unpredictable!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What safeguards are there to stop any president, who may not be stable, from launching a nuclear attack?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The commander in chief is the commander in chief.

TRUMP: Bomb the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) out of them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: OK, that was uplifting campaign of Hillary Clinton.

FINEMAN: Also, that was two -- and also, they used the Joe Scarborough, our colleague, who once upon a time was a Republican member of Congress, they used Michael Hayden, who was in a Republican administration. So I think they`re going there after the proverbial suburban, college-educated women voter.

PAGE: But you know, the most powerful part of that ad, it`s not the Republicans, it`s not the woman, whose 6-year-old was in the original "Daisy" ad, it`s Trump`s own words. That`s a part of the ad --

MATTHEWS: The words that were bleeped out.

PAGE: And also the idea, I want to be unpredictable when you`re talking about nuclear weapons.

FINEMAN: I`m surprised they were as restrained as they were.

MATTHEWS: Even Nixon who believes in the mad bomber theory. You don`t actually say it.

CAPEHART: Right, right, but also, that ad, is sort of like cancels out what I said before, but I would argue back, that you`ve got to do both things at once. He is -- he is a target-rich environment, when it comes to being the poster child for everything that you don`t want in a president. And everything that you should fear in a person like that, being, sitting in the Oval Office, literally with the country`s life in his hands.

MATTHEWS: It`s all over the place, this negative.

Here`s North Carolina Senator Richard Burr. I don`t know him very well, here he is in a tough re-election fight in North Carolina tonight. He`s in hot water for a remark that`s caught on tape, everything gets caught on tape now, during a meeting with Republican volunteers.

In the tape, he joked that gun owners may want to put a bull`s-eye on Hillary Clinton. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

SEN. RICHARD BURR (R), NORTH CAROLINA: Nothing makes me feel any better than I walked into a gun shop and there was a copy of rifle men on the counter. It`s got a picture of Hillary Clinton on the front of it. Got a little bit shocked at that. Didn`t have a bull`s-eye on it, though.

(LAUGHTER)

(END AUDIO CIP)

MATTHEWS: Susan, why do people tell jokes, as if only the people in the room is listening. I mean, I remember Gary Hart talking to a gay group in L.A., making fun of the solid waste dumps in New Jersey. My dad heard that in New Jersey. Everything hears everything now.

Why do they think just the gun owners?

PAGE: Assume you`re always being taped. Assume every e-mail you write is going to be read by somebody who don`t want to read it.

FINEMAN: Especially the FBI.

PAGE: It`s like your mother told you to behave, right?

CAPEHART: And why are people joking about assassinations of political figures? Particularly, people running for president.

MATTHEWS: So why are they? Answer the question?

FINEMAN: Because apparently, it plays well to that particular crowd.

MATTHEWS: And by the way -- let`s go on the record. He knows he did wrong, but he also knows he was talking to a group that liked it.

FINEMAN: But, Chris, a theme throughout the edges of the Republican campaign, and not always the edges, over the last few months, has been comparing -- talking about -- you know, Thelma and Louise, going off the end of the cliff, you know, there`s been a lot of pretty violent language used about Hillary Clinton in this campaign, and Barack Obama, as well.

MATTHEWS: Dangerous stuff, because everybody`s listening. Anyway -- including people who are unstable, anyway, are listening.

We`re all here, we`re all stable, I hope, and we`re going to tell me something -- you guys, something I don`t know. We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Ohio Governor John Kasich has consistently said he won`t support Donald Trump for president. Well, today, Kasich voted absentee when he voted and he wrote in McCain. Wow.

Kasich`s spokesman also reports the governor also voted a straight Republican the rest of the ballot, but not at the top.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We`re back with the HARDBALL round table, including the arched eyebrow of Jonathan over there.

Howard, by the way, tell me something, look at that arched eyebrow.

CAPEHART: I`ll tell you when it`s my turn.

MATTHEWS: OK.

FINEMAN: OK. This is something that you know and you`ve said a million times and I`m going to remind you of it.

MATTHEWS: I`m ready.

FINEMAN: OK, Pennsylvania is the far wall for Hillary. If you look at the Electoral College map, Trump is gaining in some other states here. But as long as she`s got Pennsylvania -- now, the Republicans may take the Senate race there but she`s got the presidential. As long as that`s the case, the math doesn`t work for Donald Trump.

MATTHEWS: Pennsylvania polka, yes, that`s it.

PAGE: All right.

MATTHEWS: I agree -- by the way, I agree with it completely. There`s something about higher educated women around the Philadelphia suburbs, 22 percent of the states. Minorities in Philadelphia, they are just -- there`s just too many of them for angry white man to overcome, if you will.

PAGE: Millennials is also a very important group for Hillary Clinton and a group for whom she still has problems. In our new "USA Today"/Rock the Vote poll out today, she dropped six points among millennials in just two weeks, but she has a big advantage with millennials which is the people they listen to.

Sixty-nine percent of the millennials tell us it`s important to us what Barack Obama recommends. He`s recommending Hillary Clinton.

Sixty percent say it`s important what Bernie Sanders says they should do.

What about Rudy Giuliani? Because we asked Republicans. A third of millennials want to listen to what Rudy Giuliani says they should do. Twice by parents.

MATTHEWS: Great news.

CAPEHART: Mine`s really short, but the Clinton campaign is going full-on at war with FBI Director Comey. At 5:00 this afternoon, Robby Mook, the campaign manager, did a call with the press and went right on the record with the -- against the FBI director, saying if you`re going to go after Hillary Clinton on the e-mails, why aren`t you going after Donald Trump and his ties to the Russians?

MATTHEWS: I think it`s Paul Manafort`s ties, isn`t it?

FINEMAN: No, this wasn`t about Manafort. This is about the question whether the Russians have been hacking into the American political system.

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN: He doesn`t want to talk about it.

MATTHEWS: I got that. There`s two pieces to this.

Anyway, thank you, Howard Fineman, Jonathan Capehart, and Susan Page.

You want to arch the eyebrow one more time?

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, that`s memorable.

When we return, my election diary for this Halloween. And that was Halloween. You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Election Diary Monday, October 31st, 2016.

It`s Halloween, the goblins are out and every house is getting toilet papered. Sorry. I was describing the presidential campaign in its last dying week, or has it already ended and we`re just now getting the aroma.

I just checked and offered them to you the unfavorable numbers of the two presidential candidates, and here we go. Trump, 59 percent unfavorable. Hillary Clinton, 59 percent unfavorable. Boo. Just like the Redskins and the Bengals yesterday in London tied in overtime.

This is a result you get on a scoreboard at the end of a presidential campaign has been composed largely of the nasty. For Trump, "Lyin` Ted" of the primary has given way to "Crooked Hillary". No need to say anything more, just keep it saying to every voter every day of the year, and as it happens in most wars, one side`s tactics has soon been copied by the other. Hillary Clinton`s campaign is now in the stretch a stop Trump campaign.

And this is not to say both campaigns are equally bad. That would be an absurd accusation. Trump`s, which started with a message of change, has become nothing but a personal assault on his rival. The tragedy in this, eight days before the election, is that people have so little reason to feel good about what is happening in this, the greatest represented democracy in human history and that`s us -- and happy Halloween.

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

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END