The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 09/23/15
CHRIS HAYES, “ALL IN” HOST: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: You`re a good singer.
HAYES: Oh, well, thank you.
MADDOW: I mean, “happy birthday to you”, weirdly, is one of those
songs hard to sing.
HAYES: You start out too low and you start scraping the bottom of
your range, you know?
MADDOW: I`m bad at singing everything. Nobody`s good at singing
that, except apparently you. Amazing stuff.
HAYES: Well, thank you.
MADDOW: Chris Hayes, what can`t he do?
Well, thank you at home for joining us this hour. Big day today.
This is the video we shot today on G. Street in downtown Washington, D.C.
It`s a beautiful day today in Washington, D.C. One of the most
beautiful I can ever remember spending in this city. We shot this video
You can see in the background of the shot as people are walking past
what looks to be a homeless person, a homeless man sleeping on that bench.
And people are walking by, they aren`t paying any attention.
But at closer inspection, if you look at him, you look at it for long
enough, you can tell, it`s not actually a live person, it`s a statue. That
whole figure is slightly oversized, it`s about 7 feet long, it`s a statue
of a man. You don`t see the face, the blanket pulled up over the face.
Because that statue is so life like, though, it is a little bit
disturbing, at a distance, it`s even a little bit disturbing up close. But
if you look close enough and look long enough, ultimately it is not just
disturbing, it is revelatory. Because the one thing about this statue that
tells you not just what you`re looking at but who you`re looking at is this
– the marks on the man`s feet, which are supposed to be the wounds that
would indicate where he was nailed to the cross, where he was crucified.
And that is the whole idea here. That this homeless person in the
background, this homeless person sleeping on a bench that you have become
inured to, this homeless person that you just walked by is Jesus.
And this statue is on G Street Northwest in downtown Washington, D.C.,
about 5 blocks from the White House. And it`s not the only one that there
is. There`s a few of these in different places around the country.
Interestingly, these homeless Jesus statues are cast by this big burly
Canadian sculptor who makes them in Ontario, Canada, it`s about an hour
outside of Toronto where he casts these sculptures. He`s a Catholic, his
name is Tim Schmalls (ph).
But this one tomorrow, this one here in Washington, D.C., again, just
a few blocks from the White House. This one tomorrow will be blessed by
Pope Francis himself. Because this particular statue, this homeless Jesus
statue is outside Catholic Charities they`re building in Washington, D.C.
And Pope Francis is due to pass right by this statue on his way to
feed lunch to 300 local homeless people in Washington tomorrow. Because
that is how he has decided to conclude his historic, unprecedented big
speech to Congress tomorrow. Not having lunch with Congress after that
speech, he`s having lunch with homeless people.
It`s kind of an amazing decision in its own right, right? To go from
the most pomp and circumstance our country can muster in this capital city,
to go from that to blessing the statue of homeless Jesus and personally
feeding the poor.
But that pomp and circumstance at the capital tomorrow, that address
that Pope Francis will make to a joint meeting of Congress, he`s going to
make that address in English. That is an unprecedented thing. There have
been several popes who have visited Washington over the decades. No pope
has ever addressed Congress before. And so, nobody knows what to expect in
terms of how it`s going to go.
But you know, even today, the day before that big address, today was
full of surprises, too. I mean, we knew there would be huge crowds here in
Washington. At the White House, at the ellipse outside the White House,
all along the route that Pope Francis traveled through downtown Washington,
in his sort of awesome open air Jeep Wrangler white pope mobile with the
big white grab bar and the leather easy chair that he never sat down in
because he was standing the whole time.
I mean, we knew that there would be these huge crowds for him at
Catholic University and at the National Shrine of the Basilica where he
celebrated mass in the United States today for the first time ever. We
knew there would be these giant crowds in the streets, particularly on such
a beautiful day. We knew there would be the sea of people waving and
chanting his name and holding their phones up. So people could both see
him, but also, take home a personal way to see him later and show their
friends and their family how close they got and that they were able to
document his presence themselves. We knew that.
What we did not know – well, there were a number of things. We did
not know that some of the nuns at the basilica would not be able to control
themselves when they saw him, and they would go kind of nuts and try to
physically grab him as he passed by. We didn`t know that about the nuns.
We didn`t know today that the White House would have second thoughts
about the 21-gun salute that they had planned to mark the occasion of Pope
Francis arriving at the White House. Twenty-one-gun salute had been on the
papal schedule the whole time there has been a papal schedule for this
visit, but at the last minute today, the White House decided to cancel the
21 guns citing, quote, “the dissidents in welcoming a professed man of
peace with the shooting off of a whole bunch of ammunition.”
We did not know today that Pope Francis would see this persistent
little girl, see that little girl there, this persistent little girl
holding the yellow t-shirt, just being held back and shoed away by the pope
security. We did not know today that when Pope Francis saw that little
girl and saw that she had jumped that barricade and she was trying to get
to him, we did not know that he would wave off security and beckon the
little girl to over to come to him, to embrace her and talk to her and take
what she wanted to give him.
We also did not know that after that stunning, very touching moment
with that little girl, that afterwards that the pope`s security guys just
kind of set her loose, watch how it ended. When they like, so she gives
the thing to the pope, that nice moment, and then, look, bye. The security
just lets her walk off vaguely back into the crowds, hopefully to find her
parents. They just let her go back on her own, presumably she got back OK.
We`ll actually have a little more on that little girl later on in the show.
We did not know today that in the Oval Office, there would be this
funny moment when President Obama did kind of a little arm dance move and
then Pope Francis did the same little move and they were doing this strange
little arm dance thing together. They were joking around about shooing the
press away from their private meeting. Little dance moves.
We did not know that Pope Francis would find a way, as crowds lined up
to cheer for him and meet him every time he stepped out in public today, we
did not know he would find a way to have personal, direct conversational
interactions with some individual people who he picked out of the crowd,
like he did here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
POPE FRANCIS: Pray for me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I will.
POPE FRANCIS: Don`t forget.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I will.
POPE FRANCIS: I need it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I promise. I promise. Everyday.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Pray for me.
I will. He says, “I need it.” The man says, “I promise, I promise.”
We also did not know – we suspected, but we did not know, that
contrary to the conservatives who warned that it was a horrible provocation
and it was terribly inappropriate and would all go horribly wrong today at
the White House, we suspected but we did not know that contrary to those
conservative warnings, no sky would fall and no one would be embarrassed
and no one would be shown up by virtue of the fact that some liberal nuns
and some gay people and some trans people were on the list there today at
the White House when Pope Francis arrived. There really were gays and
liberal nuns and trans people and all sorts of people among those 15,000
people invited to the White House, and it turns out everybody was OK with
that, including Pope Francis.
We did not know before today that along the route of the Popemobile
parade, after that time at the White House, a number of protesters would be
arrested, including one protester in a wheelchair. When those protesters
laid down in the street to try to block the path of the pope`s motorcade,
they were protesting the fact that the Catholic Church will not ordain
women to the priesthood.
We did not know today that at the National Shrine at the Basilica,
Newt Gingrich`s wife Calista is in the choir. Look, you know who that is,
that`s Calista Gingrich. We didn`t know that.
We didn`t know before today that Pope Francis likes Bo and Sonny. I
think we already knew that he was a dog person, but the White House
released this photo of Pope Francis meeting the first family`s presidential
dogs in the Blue Room of the White House.
Tens of thousands of people turned out today at all of the various
public access points where you could maybe lay eyes on Pope Francis, even
more tens of thousands people are going to turn out tomorrow in our
nation`s capital. Tomorrow, honestly, it`s going to be nuts. I mean, this
whole trip by Pope Francis, the trip to Washington and New York and
Philadelphia, the whole thing has been designated a national security
special event by the Department of Homeland Security. They say it`s one of
the largest, if not the largest security operation ever mounted in the
United States. The Secret Service has the lead role in security throughout
this entire trip.
But tomorrow, there`s going to be 50,000 people with tickets, plus
untold thousands of people more without tickets all convening at the U.S.
Capitol, along with every member of Congress and a significant chunk of the
Supreme Court if not the entire Supreme Court, and a significant chunk of
the president`s cabinet if not the entire president`s cabinet. And the
president himself and vice president himself and both of their families,
everybody will be convening there at the same time.
Tomorrow, this unprecedented joint address to Congress by Pope Francis
will be, honestly, like nothing this country has ever seen before.
And so, by virtue of that fact, we have no idea how it`s going to go.
It`s never happened before. There`s no history to base this on.
We also don`t know what about it is important to him. We don`t know
what Pope Francis is going to say and what he says as the import of this
occasion. But we do know something about him.
And you see it in the small things, right, in his decision to leave
Capitol Hill tomorrow and not have lunch with Congress, with the cabinet,
with the president, with the Supreme Court, or whoever else wanted would
see him, and anybody would. Instead, he`s going to feed the homeless
tomorrow and bless the homeless Jesus statue.
And you have seen gestures like that and symbolic action like that
from the very start of his time as pope. From the very beginning, he has
done everything he could do as pope to try to convey humility and charity,
both in word and in deed.
I mean, you probably remember this. As soon as he was elected pope in
2013, the very first thing he did when it came time to leave the Sistine
Chapel where the cardinals had just elected him, when it came time to leave
the Sistine Chapel and go to St. Peters where he was going to be unveiled
as pope, the first thing he did as pope was he turned down the offered
ride. He turned down what would have been his first ride in the pope
mobile and instead, took the bus with all of the other cardinals from the
Sistine Chapel to St. Peters, even though, by then, he was no longer just a
cardinal, he was the pope.
When it came time for him to move in to the place where popes live, he
had to move out of some place else first. He insisted on personally paying
his own hotel bill at the hotel where he`d been staying with the other
cardinals before he was pope.
He ultimately refused to move in to the opulent papal apartment in the
Vatican and, instead, lives in a couple of simple very spare rooms.
On his first trip abroad to Brazil, he insisted on carrying his own
On the first Holy Thursday of Easter Week, after he was elected pope,
when other popes have used that occasion, that very holy occasion to wash
the feet of bishops and other priests, Pope Francis, instead, went to a
local juvenile detention facility and washed the feet of young Muslim
prisoners, he washed the feet of women.
He has made a point of being radically unprotected. I mean, this is
him in a regular car on purpose. He`s been made a point of being radically
unprotected, both in his means of transport and when he goes out of his way
to not just initiate human contact, but to embrace human contact, including
this little boy who just wouldn`t let go of him and then sat in his chair
during public remarks. He`s gone out of his way to not just welcome human
contact, but to embrace it to an extent that is almost always surprising
and that we have never really seen before from this kind of a figure.
He`s the pope who installed free showers for homeless people to use in
Vatican City and set up a once a week free barbershop for the homeless.
On his own birthday, what he did for his birthday was distribute
sleeping bags to homeless people in and around the Vatican.
So, that`s who he is. That`s how he has decided to conduct himself
and lead as pope. And tomorrow, we`re going to have an un-Francis-like
day, right? Tomorrow, he will be afforded all the honors, all the regalia,
all of the pomp and circumstance we have in a secular republic. I mean,
he`s going to be doing a presidential-style State of the Union, basically.
And members of Congress are expected to go so nuts for him at that
event that as we reported earlier this week, each party in Congress has
been told that they should designate specific members of Congress for this
event to basically be line backers for the pope on his way into the
congressional chamber, for them to be full contact tacklers if necessary.
And I`m not kidding.
Earlier this week, it was reported that the special blocking and
tackling members of Congress would be designated to occupy three seats on
all the way down the aisle on either side of that aisle that the pope will
walk down in order to give his address. These members of Congress would
pledge not only that they personally would not bug the pope and they would
not touch the pope, and they would not try to get selfies with them or, you
know, get a handshake from him.
These specifically designated members of Congress not only agreed not
to do those things themselves, they also, and I`m not kidding, agreed they
as members of Congress would put themselves on the line and physically stop
any other member of Congress who tried to touch the pope, so he can get
down the aisle.
Well, we have now learned that these blocking and tackling members of
Congress will not be three deep on either side of the aisle. Apparently
they thought that was overkill, there won`t be that many of them. We`re
told today that for both the Republicans and the Democrats, they`re each
picking, each party is picking eight members of Congress. So, 16 of these
members altogether who really will be expected to keep the peace alongside
the aisle. To keep the peace for the pope and protect him from any other
members of Congress who lose their minds when they see him and try to touch
him or take a picture.
We don`t know who the eight members of Congress who are designated for
this task from each party, I cannot wait to find out. And, of course, we
all can`t wait to find out what he`s going to say. And whatever he says is
going to have an impact in our country, there are 70 million Catholics in
this country, more than 1 in 5 Americans are Catholic, 30 percent of
Congress is Catholic. Six of the nine members of the Supreme Court are
Catholic. Interestingly, we have only ever had one catholic president,
JFK, and only ever had one Catholic vice president, who is our current vice
president, Joe Biden.
But this pope is such a constant surprise. He`s such an unpredictable
force. And there are so many people so enthused and inspired and at least
interested in this historic visit that however he chooses to handle this,
whatever he chooses to talk about, he has the chance to change this country
if he wants to. I mean, if he tries to move public opinion in this
country, even if he only moved Catholic public opinion in this country,
that`s 70 million people.
If he moves hearts and minds in this address to the nation tomorrow on
whatever subject he chooses. If he moves hearts and minds and public
opinion, he will move our country, if he wants to.
But nobody knows what he will do because nothing like this has ever
MADDOW: So, we`ve got much more ahead tonight, including Pope Francis
saying something nice about politics, and then politicians doing their very
best to prove that nice thing wrong.
Plus, there`s a big new national poll that came out.
And there is some truly, truly lurid news out of Pennsylvania tonight
that has not been reported nationally elsewhere.
But stay with us. There`s lots to come tonight.
MADDOW: Lots of very unforced enthusiasm and excitement today all
over Washington, D.C., as a lot of different types of people, very diverse
crowds of people flock to catch a glimpse of Pope Francis as he toured the
nation`s capital today. There`ll be more events to come tomorrow,
including a political event of sorts that has never happened before in the
history of our country.
Joining us now is NBC News presidential historian, Michael Beschloss.
Michael, it`s great to see you.
MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, NBC NEWS PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Great to see you.
Glad to be in the same room.
MADDOW: In terms of the unprecedented nature of what`s going to
happen tomorrow, I have been describing this as a pope speaking to a joint
session of Congress for the first time ever. But he`s not technically
speaking to a joint session, is he?
BESCHLOSS: He`s not. And that`s the most minor difference I can
think of. The technicians in the House and Senate say it`s actually a
joint meeting – a joint session is usually when a president comes or
sometimes I think when the ballots are counted from the Electoral College
about who is the new president.
BESCHLOSS: But joint meetings have gone back to actually the king of
Hawaii, 1874, I think, was the first foreign leader to speak at one of
these things. But the main one that we remember, I think, one that we
think of is the major first appearance like this was Winston Churchill
after Pearl Harbor, December of 1941, when he came to solidify the alliance
between Britain and the United States.
MADDOW: This is not the first pope to visit Washington or obviously
the first pope to visit the United States. This is the first pope to
choose to do this.
BESCHLOSS: It is.
MADDOW: To address this sort of a joint meeting. Because it`s first,
does that mean there`s nothing historically to extrapolate from in terms of
what to expect?
BESCHLOSS: Well, I think there is a lot. One is, why did he want to
do this? I think he sees his role as something very important. We heard
what he said about climate change, for instance, and other issues that are
very burning in the United States. So, he is someone who knows that in
taking these things to the joint meeting of Congress, he`s going to put
these things on the agenda in a way that, perhaps, he otherwise would not
do if he was just giving speeches elsewhere in the United States.
MADDOW: He does get involved in political matters.
BESCHLOSS: He does.
MADDOW: He was involved, indirectly, it seems in setting up the
United States and Cuba talks that resulted in this. He sent a letter
advising against military intervention in Syria. There have been
politically-minded and politically activist popes in the past. Is there a
way to map them neatly on to American politics or are they really their own
BESCHLOSS: Well, you know, I think for instance, John Paul and Ronald
Reagan, when they were very close had something in common. They were both
shot and nearly killed in the spring of 1981. They both felt they were
spared by God to do something important.
And we`ve learned in decades since then from declassified documents
how much they really worked together to try to bring down the Soviet Union
and end the Cold War. So, you know, just guessing, given what they did,
this pope and president on Cuba, I would be astounded if in that meeting
today when they met in private, they did not talk about what other ventures
they might not do in foreign policy, as well.
MADDOW: It is remarkable – talking about presidents and popes, 30
percent of the U.S. Congress is catholic.
MADDOW: Six of the nine members of the Supreme Court are catholic.
We`ve only ever had one vice president who is Catholic, our current one,
and JFK is the only president who has been Catholic.
BESCHLOSS: Exactly. And how many female vice presidents and
presidents have there been? Our system has been slow in catching up.
BESCHLOSS: But that`s something when a pope comes and people see how
important a pope can be and how powerful a force Catholicism is in American
life, it does really, you know, make you stop and wonder how we could be so
MADDOW: Michael Beschloss, NBC News, presidential historian, thank
you so much for being here.
BESCHLOSS: My pleasure.
MADDOW: It`s an exciting time.
BESCHLOSS: Sure is. Looking forward to the morning.
MADDOW: Thank you.
All right. We`ve got lots more ahead on, as I said, the pope saying a
nice thing about politics, politicians doing their best to prove him wrong.
Part of that story is one of the more lurid things I have ever had to
report about state politics in any state comes from Pennsylvania today, and
it will curl your hair.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: Hot off the presses, we just got in some brand new polling in
the Republican race for president. This is the latest batch of polling
post-debate, post-last week`s second Republican debate. It`s a brand new
FOX News poll of Republicans nationwide.
And here are the results. As you can see, the big top line headline
is exactly what you expect. The top part of these Republican polls is now
the boring part because Donald Trump is still on top. His 26 percent is
actually the best showing for any Republican candidate in any FOX News
national poll this year. Ben Carson`s in second place after Mr. Trump, and
he`s the only other candidate in double digits nationwide. Carly Fiorina
and Marco Rubio are tied in third place, Ted Cruz in fourth place.
But check out the bottom of this poll. Look down at the far end there
on the right. Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal, Lindsey Graham polling at zero
percent nationwide. Jim Gilmore is even polling ahead of these guys, as is
George Pataki. George Pataki killing it with 1 percent. Whoo! And Rand
Paul is at 2 percent nationwide.
I mean, Scott Walker is the guy that dropped out of for lack of any
support. But what happens with these gutter balls. Rand Paul is at 2
percent nationwide. We`ve got more on the Republican race and a new
interesting war that broke out straight ahead.
MADDOW: On the occasion of this historic visit by Pope Francis to the
U.S. – behold. Behold! A political miracle.
As of today, Donald Trump can no longer fill a room! At least, he
couldn`t fill this one in South Carolina today. Look at that.
This was a gathering of the South Carolina African-American Chamber of
Commerce. Donald Trump`s appearance for this appearance was announced two
weeks ago. The campaign says they expected 1,500 people to be there to see
Mr. Trump. Well, that is not 1,500 people.
Perhaps a bit stung by that, Mr. Trump began his remarks today that
half empty room by making it seem like this was just a last-minute campaign
rally, just a thrown together thing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is fantastic. You
know, wow. This is so nice. You had no notice. I can`t believe all these
people, you had no notice, they just asked me to pop by. I`m going to be
in another part of the state in about two hours. And they asked me to pop
by and look at everybody shows up. That`s incredible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: It`s incredible. You had no notice. Except for the notice
that we gave two weeks ago when we said 1,500 of you would be here.
Also, when I say everybody shows up, I`m not talking about those empty
chairs in the back of the room with no one in them. That`s not everybody,
that`s – well, that never mind.
And so, you know, we have not seen very many pictures of rooms like
this being addressed by Donald Trump. And maybe this is the beginning of
the end for Donald Trump. Maybe his appeal is wearing off. Or maybe this
is just a fluke, or maybe Donald Trump is going to freak out at any
possible indicators of his fading popularity and start a whole new round of
patented Donald Trump-related stunts.
I pick door number three. As a presidential candidate, we`ve been
through two rounds now of Donald Trump and FOX News going to very public
war with each other, and then having a truce. And then Donald Trump and
FOX News going to big public war with each other, again, and then having a
Well, now, as of today, now the Donald Trump/FOX News, Godzilla versus
Mothra stunt war is back on, again. At 12:02 p.m. today, Mr. Trump tweeted
this, quote, “FOX News has been treating me very unfairly, and I decided I
won`t be doing any more FOX shows for the foreseeable future.” Everybody
freak out! Donald Trump and FOX News are fighting again.
FOX News then set out their own statement saying it was not his
decision to cut ties this time. He couldn`t quit, they fired him, or
Quote, “At 11:45 a.m. today, we canceled Donald Trump`s scheduled
appearance on The O`Reilly Factor on Thursday, which resulted in Mr.
Trump`s subsequent tweet about his, quote, `boycott` of FOX News. The
press predictably jumped to cover the tweet, creating a distraction from
any real issues that Mr. Trump might be questioned about. When coverage
doesn`t go his way, he engages in personal attacks on our anchors and
hosts, that`s true, which has grown stale and tiresome, that`s arguably
true. He doesn`t seem to grasp that candidates telling journalists what to
ask is not how the media works in this country.”
Do you care? Do you care? If you don`t, then maybe this is the
beginning of the end for Donald Trump. If his stunts – if the Donald
Trump/FOX News stunts included are getting boring and repetitive, and we
know how they end, then maybe he has pulled all the rabbits out of his hat.
And after all these months, his frontrunner status will start to fade
because people get bored.
Whether or not that happens, though, while Donald Trump today had
trouble even half filling a medium-sized room in South Carolina on two
week`s notice, the man who is running second to him nationwide had no
trouble filling a room at all in Michigan and then some.
Today, Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson held a rally at
Spring Arbor University in Michigan, at about 1:30 in the afternoon, around
the same time as Mr. Trump`s event in South Carolina. Three thousand
people were expected to attend to go see Ben Carson, but according to the
county sheriff up there in Michigan, more like 3,500 people showed up.
Ben Carson continuing to turn out very large crowds, overflow crowds,
even in the middle of the day, even in the middle of the week. Even as the
beltway collectively gasps at how his campaign is basically becoming an
overtly anti-Muslim campaign. It started this Sunday when Ben Carson told
Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press” he believes a Muslim should not be president
of the United States and that Islam is incompatible with the Constitution.
The beltway press saw this as not just a cringe-worthy moment for Ben
Carson or a continuation of the kind of extreme rhetoric he has been using
from the very beginning of his political campaign. Beltway press saw this
as a huge gaffe, right, as a potentially deal-breaking mistake for him.
Maybe it was all over for him because of this.
But to Ben Carson, this really is consistent with everything he`s been
saying all along. This was not a gaffe. He is not running away from those
comments at all. He is running on them.
This is from his web site right now. Quote, “I will not back down. I
cannot advocate any Muslim candidate for president. Please stand in
support of our shared values by making a donation now.” Our shared values.
When it comes to reaching out to folks who do have these shared anti-
Muslim values, Ben Carson is in luck among Republican voters. In Iowa
where Mr. Carson is polling second to Donald Trump, Dr. Carson, I should
say, the proportion of Iowa Republicans who say in the latest PPP poll that
Islam as a religion should be illegal in the United States, the proportion
of Republicans in Iowa who say that is 30 percent.
If you just ask Ben Carson supporters in Iowa, that number jumps to 35
percent, if you just ask Donald Trump supporters in Iowa, that number jumps
to 36 percent. And Donald Trump, the Iowa front-runner in his own way has
become increasingly explicit in his comments about Muslims, after failing
last week to shut down a town hall questioner who asked him to talk about
the country`s problem with Muslims.
The biggest news in the country right now, obviously, the biggest
thing happening in news and culture and security and politics is this
historic visit by the pope, which has brought with it, I think, inarguably
the sort of moment of religious grace in the public sphere. At the same
time, at the highest level of Republican politics in this country right
now, they`re at a very dark place, specifically, on the issue of religious
freedom. And Republican voters love it. So it doesn`t appear to be ending
any time soon.
MADDOW: He speaks Spanish and Italian and German fluently. He speaks
a little bit of French, little bit of Portuguese and a little bit of
English, but just a little. Not super comfortable in English, so he rarely
makes public remarks in English.
But today, he went out of his way to make sure that he did.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
POPE FRANCIS: Good morning.
Mr. President, I am deeply grateful for your welcome in the name of
all Americans. As the son of an immigrant family, I`m happy to be a guest
in this country which was largely built by such families.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: As the son of an immigrant family – this pope was raised by
Italian immigrants living in Argentina – as a son of an immigrant family,
I`m happy to be a guest in a country which was largely built by such
On this historic visit, those were the first words that Pope Francis
chose to utter for the public in English, just in case there would be any
confusion about what exactly he meant.
And then when the pope and pope mobile paraded through Washington
streets today, this little 5-year-old girl slipped through, made her way
past the metal fencing. The pope personally signaled for his security to
let her through. Reportedly said, let her come to me. The guard picked
her up, whisked her over to the pope, she embraced him, he embraced her,
she gave him a yellow t-shirt, she gave him a note.
This is that little girl, her name is Sophia Cruz, and this is the t-
shirt she gave him. You can see a little bit more in this picture. It
says Papa rescate DAPA. And that means pope rescue DAPA. DAPA stands for
Deferred Action for Parents of Americans, a program that President Obama
announced last November to keep more immigrant families together in this
country. That`s now on hold in the courts.
Sophia also gave Pope Francis today this drawing which says in
Spanish, my little friends and I love each other regardless of the color of
That`s a pretty good drawing of the pope. I couldn`t do a pope
drawing that good. I tried today and it came out looking like a snow man.
It was terrible.
This pope`s visit has particular resonance for us now as the refugee
crisis globally dovetails with anti-immigrant campaigns leading in the
polls here at home. Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump and
his fervently anti-immigrant campaign said just today that if Donald Trump
becomes president, the U.S. will take in zero Syrian refugees, zero.
But now today, we see this pope saying his first words on U.S. soil in
English about America being built by immigrant families. And we see him
going out of his way to embrace that young daughter of Mexican immigrants
in a totally unscripted moment. With his vocal and direct and creative
advocacy, both for reform on the issue of immigration, but also compassion
on the issue of immigration, does he have the chance to move the needle for
us as a nation?
Joining us now is Congressman Xavier Becerra. He`s a Democrat from
California. He`s a long time advocate for immigration reform.
Congressman, thanks for being here.
REP. XAVIER BECERRA (D), CALIFORNIA: Rachel, thank you for having me.
Great, great piece.
MADDOW: Thank you. You, I wanted to talk to you today because you
have been such a passionate and creative, yourself, immigrant, immigration
reform advocate in Congress. And I just – I wonder how helpful you see it
is that it is to have this pope on your side in the way that he is.
BECERRA: He hit a home run. He hit a home run. And I say that not
just as a member of Congress. I say it more as a son of immigrants, the
son of Mexican immigrants.
So, when he kissed that little girl, he was kissing me, he was kissing
my daughters, he was kissing all of us who believe that immigrants come to
make this country better and powerful. Powerful.
MADDOW: About a third, 70 million Catholics in this country, 320
million people, that means like 1 in 5 people in this country is Catholic
in some way or another. A lot of us are lapsed Catholics, or raised
Catholics, or identified Catholic in some way means something other than
going to church every week.
MADDOW: But with so many Catholics in this country, about a third of
them are Latino. And if you look at young Catholics in this country, it is
MADDOW: I wonder how important do you think it is culturally and
politically and in terms of the, you know, integration issues in this
country to have such an important Catholic visit, in such a high-profile
way, for the Latino community.
BECERRA: I grew up Catholic. And I learned all about this. I always
knew how important the pope was. But did I ever have a pope speak to me so
personally? Did I ever relate so convincingly to the pope?
This man can speak to me in English and Spanish and so many other
languages. He talks to me as someone who had the experience like I had.
It`s just – it`s a different thing, it`s a different level, Rachel, when
he connects with you. You love him already because you`re Catholic.
But you truly do grow inspired by him, and the love becomes real, not
because you`re supposed to because you`re Catholic, it`s because he`s
talking right to you. And he`s telling the rest of the world who you are,
and it`s fun. It`s fun to have someone who can do the talking for you,
because that little girl can speak for herself.
MADDOW: Yes. And her boldness and him rewarding her boldness by
saying, yes, she got through, come to me.
But let me also ask you whether or not what you`re talking about
there, that emotional part of it, including the joy that you`re talking
about, whether that`s potentially non-partisan. Whether that can transcend
some of the ways we fight.
I mean, he`s going to speak to the meeting of Congress tomorrow. Can
he be heard? Will both parties be receptive to him? Do you think people
have open minds and open hearts to hear him?
BECERRA: How can your heart not open up to the message of the pope?
Especially when he talks so passionately about this and so personally?
Will it change so that tomorrow we`re able to do immigration reform?
Probably not. But does it make it easier? I think it opens that door.
But more than open the door to that Congress member. All those people
who live in that member of Congress` district who believe in what the pope
is saying will start asking that leader they elected, hey, where are you,
can you help us somehow put into fruition what the pope is talking about?
Jersey Vargas, another little girl similar to this little girl a few
years back in at the Vatican was able to talk to the pope. She`s here
again. Her father was on the verge of being deported. She asked and
you`ll probably remember.
She asked the pope, can you intervene and help? You`re going to meet
with the president of the United States, can you let him know not to deport
my dad? The pope talked to the president, her father`s still here.
MADDOW: Congressman, thank you so much.
BECERRA: Thank you.
MADDOW: We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: OK. Checklist: gambling, fraud, indictments, arrests,
convictions, pornography, unredacted pornography and apparently lots of it.
Our next story is a political story, but, boy, does it have it all.
That`s next. Stay with us.
MADDOW: One of the first major religious documents that Pope Francis
published after he started his papacy was called “The Joy of the Gospel.”
In his first mass celebrated in the U.S. today, Pope Francis talked in
homily about the joy of the gospel. Joy is one of his favorite subjects.
But in that early document, on “The Joy of the Gospel,” the pope went out
of his way to say a nice thing to spread some joy about politics,
He says in that document, quote, “Politics, though often denigrated
remains a lofty vocation, and one of the highest forms of charity in as
much as it seeks the common good.” Which is really nice.
Politicians need that kind of good press, right? But even Pope
Francis is up against strong headwinds in making that particular case to
the American people right now. And I say that as somebody today steeped in
the elected official police blotter right now.
It`s astonishing right now. I mean, this is the year that for the
first time ever, we had a major candidate run for the presidency of the
United States while under criminal indictment. Rick Perry has already quit
the presidential race, but one felony charge is still pending.
This is the year that one former vice presidential prospect, the
Virginia governor got sentenced to federal prison. Bob McDonnell is due to
report to start serving his federal prison sentence for corruption charges
sometime later this year.
This is the week that an eighth-month prison sentence just started for
a former New York Congressman Michael Grimm. Michael Grimm threatened to
break this New York 1 reporter in half like a boy. He reported to federal
prison to start serving eight months for tax fraud.
Today in New Mexico, the local press was all excited because new
Mexico`s secretary of state apparently came to work. Now in a normal state
with a normal politician, that would not be news. But in New Mexico, their
secretary of state just got hit with a 64-count criminal indictment, 64
counts, alleging basically that she took campaign money, moved it into her
personal accounts and then withdrew it and spent it at New Mexico casinos
to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Diana Duran is her name. She`s not been going to work as secretary of
state since the scandal broke, but apparently she did go to the office
today, thus making headlines. She happens to be the first Republican
elected to secretary of state in New Mexico in 80 years or so.
But when the state legislature takes up her possible impeachment soon,
that committee will be made up of equal numbers of Republicans and
Democrats. That will be worth watching.
Now, on the Democratic side, the biggest police blotter story
involving a Democratic politician right now, it honestly just got so
dramatic, I would be surprised if it doesn`t turn into an NCIS plot by them
just changing the names and turning all the main players into sailors. It
involved the attorney general of Pennsylvania. Her name is Kathleen Kane.
The A.G. job was made a statewide elected job in Pennsylvania in 1980.
She`s the first woman and first Democrat elected to that job.
But there is a problem right now with her status as attorney general,
the highest ranking law enforcement official in that state, because the
state constitution says in order to be eligible for that job, you have to
be a member of the bar. And Kathleen Kane, attorney general of the state
of Pennsylvania, isn`t right now. She just got her license to practice law
And we`ve been following the story for a little while, since criminal
charges were filed against Kathleen Kane. These criminal charges say she
leaked secret grand jury documents to the press in order to embarrass her
political opponents. Kathleen Kane she`s innocent. She won`t step down.
She also, you might remember, pulled that amazing move when she was
arraigned where her twin sister walked in ahead of her and distracted the
camera crews so she could walk in behind her twin so no one would hassle
here. The state Supreme Court suspended her law license. When that goes
into effect in 30 days, it`s not clear if she`ll be allowed to do anything
the attorney general does. She won`t be able to make legal decisions or
sign legal documents from her whole office. How is that going to work for
the top law enforcement official in the state? What`s going to happen if
you`re the attorney general and not an attorney?
And that brings us to the second thing, which just happened today.
Beleaguered indicted Attorney General Kathleen Kane in Pennsylvania didn`t
just let the other shoe drop today. Today she drew up the whole shoe
store. What the charges against her about, these grand jury documents
she`s accused of leaking, those documents concerned public officials and
government employees using pornography and sending sexually explicit e-
mails while at work.
Well, today with her law license about to be suspended, with the whole
apparatus of state government and the judiciary tilted against her to try
to force her out in Pennsylvania, today, Kathleen Kane said while she still
can act as attorney general, she`s going to release all the porn, all the
sexually explicit e-mails, all unredacted and all the names of people who
sent them and used the e-mails and sent those e-mails and who received
those emails, all unredacted, nothing blacked out.
She says what she`s about to release implicates government officials,
members of the state police, judge, law enforcement officials in the state.
She says she`s going to make it all public. And then we`re just see what
You boys want to throw me in jail for exposing you on this stuff?
I`ll give you some exposure. How much time do I have left?
The lead on this story in the “Philadelphia Inquirer” today was this,
quote, “There will be porn and lots of it.”
Politicians go to prison. Politicians get indicted. Politicians get
impeached if they don`t quit after they get indicted or convicted. And
honestly, it`s a liberal and a conservative thing and a Republican and
Democratic thing. It happens.
On tomorrow night show, we`ve got news about a federal criminal
corruption trial that is about to become a thermonuclear bombshell in the
campaign of one leading Republican candidate for president and I`m not
talking about Chris Christie. That story is tomorrow night on this show.
You have to promise me you will watch it in part because you will not hear
that story anywhere else but here.
But in the middle of this cultural and religious moment we`re having,
with this adored pope reminding us of the lofty and noble purpose of
politics, as long as those politics are waged for the common good, it`s
either depressing or might be inspiring that here in our country so many of
our high-ranking politicians end up having mug shots. Either we can
despair because so many of them are crooks or we can find joy in fact that
it turns out they`re not above the law when they are crooks. Maybe we can
rejoice in the fact that so freaking many of them get caught. Oh, yes,
That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL.”
Good evening, Lawrence.
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