The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 11/23/15

Welton Gaddy, Ryan Heath

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Good to have you back, my

HAYES: Thank you.

MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.

In 1991, in Louisiana, the Democratic Party nominated this man to run
for governor of that state. He had actually served a couple of terms
already as governor in the 1970s and then he was away and then he served
another term as governor in the `80s.

But even so with all that experience, he was not what you`d call a
good candidate for governor. He had the advantage of being well known and
hilarious, but he was kind of a creep. He had been the kind of governor
that had to take time off from his gubernatorial duties to – you know, go
on trial for a variety of criminal offenses.

But he was always reliably very funny. At one point in one of his
campaigns he described his opponent as, quote, “so slow it takes him an
hour and a half to watch `60 Minutes`.”

His name was Edwin Edwards. And when the Democratic Party picked him
as their nominee for governor in Louisiana in 1991, they knew that it was
going to be a tough one with Edwin Edwards at the top of the ticket.

And it would have been a tough one that year, except for the fact
that in that same year in 1991, the Republican Party also had to pick their
nominee for governor and in 1991 in Louisiana, the Republican Party chose
as their nominee for governor the grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan – sorry
– the former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan – David Duke.

And with David Duke at the top of the ticket for the Republican
Party, yes, the Republican Party lost that one. David Duke lost badly that
year to Edwin Edwards, and Edwin Edwards, true to form, went on to serve
eight years in federal prison.

Fast forward, though, to this year, this weekend in fact, and the
Republican Party this year reaped the benefits of not running David Duke as
their candidate for governor this year. They instead ran this guy.

And in election results that were kind of a shocker for a state as
red as Louisiana, this weekend turned out to be the worst loss by any
Republican gubernatorial candidate in Louisiana since David Duke, since
they ran David Duke nobody has lost as bad as David Vitter lost this

David Vitter lost this weekend to Democrat John Bel Edwards by 12
points, which would be huge in any state but is particularly huge in a red
state. It is a loss so devastating that David Vitter also announced
immediately that he won`t even try to hold on to his U.S. Senate seat next
year, he is done.

Barring some bizarre Louisiana-style political comeback, looks like
David Vitter`s political career is over. It only took that hooker thing
eight years to get rid of him. But David Vitter will be gone as of next
year, when his seat comes up for re-election.

And speaking of gone, David Vitter was running to try to succeed
Bobby Jindal as governor of that state. Bobby Jindal did not have the
option of running for re-election. He`s term limited out as governor.
Governor Jindal had hoped, of course, that his next job in politics would
be president of the United States, a job he was actively campaigning for
until last Tuesday, when Bobby Jindal quit the presidential race.

And now we know, had Bobby Jindal not quit on Tuesday, had he waited
just a few more days until the end of last week to make up his mind about
whether or not he was going to quit, Bobby Jindal might not have quit if he
waited for just a few more days because on Friday, three days after he got
out of the race, he at least what remain of the theoretical idea of his
campaign got some good news. CNN announced on Friday, ironically enough,
that they would finally adopt the debate qualifying criteria that Bobby
Jindal had been advocating for for weeks.

The Jindal campaign obviously consistently did terribly nationwide,
but they were starting to do OK in Iowa and the Jindal campaign had been
arguing for weeks that it shouldn`t just be national polls that qualify
candidates to get into the debates, it should also be specifically early
polls in Iowa and New Hampshire. CNN finally agreed to that demand last
Friday, three days after Bobby Jindal quit.

That debate announcement from CNN would have been great news for
Bobby Jindal if his campaign had just lasted long enough for him to take
advantage of it. That change in the debate qualifying criteria would have
been really good for Bobby Jindal.

It has turned out so far, though, to be very bad news for Kentucky
senator and presidential candidate Rand Paul. CNN has been pretty clear
about which polls it`s going to use from both the early states and national
polling to qualify the Republican candidates for its next debate, both for
the main stage and for the kids` table. And there`s a few weeks to go
before that next debate happens, a few weeks to go before CNN cuts off its
consideration of qualifying polls.

So, things might get better for Rand Paul. But right now, if CNN
were making their decision today based on the criteria they have laid out,
Rand Paul would not make the stage. Rand Paul would not make the main
presidential debate stage. He would be relegated for the first time ever
to the kids` table, down there with Lindsey Graham.

And that`s because this new criteria gives special weight to a
candidate`s standing in Iowa and New Hampshire, and it turns out Rand Paul
is doing pretty terribly in both Iowa and New Hampshire.

And now on top of that dire political situation for Rand Paul,
federal prosecutors have just brought another criminal indictment in Iowa
against two guys running the Rand Paul super PAC this year, as well as
another staffer who worked for his dad`s presidential campaign in 2012.
These three Ron Paul and Rand Paul staffers already went on trial in Iowa
this year on charges of basically covering up an Iowa caucus`s bribery
scheme in 2012 for Rand Paul`s dad. And they went on trial earlier this
year, there was a conviction on one charge in that case but there was a
hung jury on some of the other charges. And now, prosecutors have kind of
surprised everybody by bringing a new round of indictments in that case
against those same guys.

So, now, the few Rand Paul supporters that there are in Iowa are
going to be treated once again to the spectacle of Ron Paul and Rand Paul
staffers being put back on criminal trial in Iowa again.

So, you know, political news mostly stopped or at least just spun its
wheels for the last ten days or so in the aftermath of the Paris attacks.
But now in quick succession we have had this huge upset in red state
Louisiana with a Democrat winning the governor`s race there by a bigger
margin than we have seen in that state since the Republicans ran David Duke
as their candidates for governor in 1981.

We`ve also seen this big change in the way Republicans are going to
qualify to get into at least the next debate. We`ve seen the potentially
devastating consequences of that change on Rand Paul`s attempted candidacy
for president, as well as this further bad news for Rand Paul with his
staffers getting put on trial again in Iowa.

But the biggest political news, at least on the Republican side, it
does continue to be at the top of the ticket, where since the Paris attacks
things have taken a very dark turn, particularly as of the last couple of


do I hear somebody over there?


You know, you have one guy over there shouting. We have thousands of
people – and you`ll read about him tomorrow. They`ll say oh, the room had
a picket.

All right. Yes, get him the hell out of here, will you, please?


Get him out of here. Throw him out.

You know, we had it the other day. I got criticized. We had it the
other night.

I had a lot of people. And one guy who was seriously obese. He
complained when I mentioned that food stamps – we have a lot of people on
food stamps. And the guy went crazy. And they said that wasn`t
politically correct.

Who cares? We all have a weight problem.

Yes, you can get him out. Yes, get him out. Get him the hell out of


Get him out of here. Get out! Get him out of here.


MADDOW: He doesn`t need to keep saying “get him out” because people
aren`t getting him out. He keeps saying get him out, get him out, get him
out because he likes the way the crowd reacts when he says it and so he
says it more.

Mr. Trump is now used to having protesters of different stripes
interrupt him at campaign events. All the candidates are used to that at
this point. Mr. Trump used to say when he would yell at protesters that
they should be taken out of the room, he used to say, “Don`t hurt him,
nobody hurt him.” He used to say that when he`d say get him out of the
room. He doesn`t say that anymore.

And in fact in this case, a CNN reporter was close enough to see what
happened when the crowd responded to this lone Black Lives Matter protester
Mr. Trump was shouting at from the podium. CNN`s reporter, who was right
there, says the man was ultimately pushed to the ground and hit and kicked
by about a half dozen people at the Trump rally.

Mr. Trump then went on the FOX News Channel and said if the man had
in fact been beaten up by his supporters at that event, maybe that was a
good thing.


TRUMP: But I will tell you that the man that was, I don`t know, you
say roughed up, he was so obnoxious and so loud. He was screaming. I had
10,000 people in the room yesterday. 10,000 people. And this guy started
screaming by himself. And I don`t know. Rough up? He should have been –
maybe he should have been roughed up.


MADDOW: After that morning appearance on FOX News, Mr. Trump then
tweeted this wildly inaccurate but conveniently very racist little
illustration of crime statistics, which are made up to wrongly give the
impression that basically it`s black people who commit all the murders in
the United States.

This is not true information – the information on this crime stat
that Donald Trump tweeted. But just in case you don`t get the implications
of it or maybe you`re confused because you looked up the real numbers and
they don`t – you know, in case of confusion, conveniently there`s also a
pictogram. There`s also the scary black guy with a gun next to the wrong
statistics to create the feeling he wants you to have about this even if
your mind tells you this can`t possibly be true because it`s in fact not

It`s like the picture menu when you can`t quite get out the word
sausage, eggs, waffle, you just have to point. Racist feeling.

But now, what might conceivably, maybe, who knows, might conceivably
become an issue for Mr. Trump or at least it may become something, he will
have to creatively address in his campaign is a lurid lie that he has made
up entirely about 9/11. Nobody really knows if he has made this claim
before in his public life, but he appears to have made it for the first
time as a presidential candidate this weekend at that raucous, raw rally
that involved a protester getting beaten up in Birmingham, Alabama, on


TRUMP: Hey, I watched when the World Trade Center came tumbling
down, and I watched in Jersey City, New Jersey, where thousands and
thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down.
Thousands of people were cheering.


MADDOW: Jersey City, New Jersey, is not just him stuttering over the
name New Jersey. It`s a real place. It`s right across the Hudson River
from Lower Manhattan.

Jersey City is also not just some random place in New Jersey when
you`re talking about 9/11. Jersey City had a very specific role on the
morning of 9/11, because not only do people in Jersey City have a
completely direct and unobstructed close view of what happened at the World
Trade Center, Jersey City is also a place where a lot of people commute to
and from Manhattan by boat, by ferry.

And what that meant specifically on the morning of September 11th,
2001 is that people who were injured at the Trade Center, cops and
firefighters and office workers and locals who were hurt in the collapse of
the Trade Center, people who were injured were put on boats in Lower
Manhattan and they were ferried straight across the Hudson River to the
closest point, which was Jersey City.

Jersey City got the injured that day. Their waterfront was basically
an extension of ground zero. It was part of the crisis. It was part of
the tragedy. It is really right there.

And now, the Republican presidential front-runner, Donald Trump, says
he has seen the footage of thousands of people in little Jersey City that
day cheering as the towers went down. He says it not only happened, he
says he saw it happen, everybody saw it happen because it was all over TV.
Don`t you remember?

It is utterly, fantastically untrue. But he is sticking with it.


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: You know, you raised some eyebrows
yesterday with comments you made at your latest rally. I want to show them
relating to 9/11.

TRUMP: Hey, I watched when the World Trade Center came tumbling
down, and I watched in Jersey City, New Jersey, where thousands and
thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down.
Thousands of people were cheering.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, the police say that didn`t happen and all
those rumors have been on the Internet for some time. So did you misspeak

TRUMP: It did happen. I saw it. It was on television.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You saw it with your own eyes? Police say it didn`t

TRUMP: George, it did happen. There were people that were cheering
on the other side of New Jersey where you have large Arab populations.
They were cheering as the world trade center came down. I know it might be
not politically correct for you to talk about it, but there were people
cheering as that building came down, as those buildings came down. And
that tells you something.

It was well covered at the time, George. Now, I know they don`t like
to talk about it, but it was well covered at the time.


MADDOW: It was not well covered at the time. There is in fact no
record of what Mr. Trump is talking about ever. Not one instance of this
being televised footage of people cheering, let alone being – let alone it
being well covered at the time on television.

Television archives from 2001 are not like in a black hole somewhere
where nobody can check them. This is the real universe where we can check
these things. I mean, whatever tape he`s talking about seeing could be
produced if that tape existed. The reason it hasn`t been produced is
because that tape does not exist, because it didn`t happen – because, in
fact, Jersey City was right in the middle of it on 9/11, which is the
record that we do have.

And there was an incredible moment today when the other leading
candidate for the Republican presidential nomination right now, Ben Carson,
for a time today he backed Donald Trump up on this lie – which was like
finding yourself going down a rabbit hole. You get to the bottom of the
rabbit hole and hey, look, there`s another rabbit hole there, let`s go down
that one too.


REPORTER: Dr. Carson, were American Muslims in New Jersey cheering
on 9/11 when the towers fell? Did you hear about that or see that?


REPORTER: Yes. Can you expand on that?

CARSON: Well, you know, there are going to be people who respond
inappropriately to virtually everything. I think that was an inappropriate
response. I don`t know if on the basis of that, you can say all Muslims
are bad people. I really think that would be a stretch.

REPORTER: Did you see that happening, though, on 9/11?

CARSON: I saw the film of it, yeah.

REPORTER: In New Jersey.


REPORTER: Dr. Carson, just to follow up on my question of 9/11, you
say you saw the film. What film are you referring to?

CARSON: The news reels.

REPORTER: The news coverage from the time of 9/11.

CARSON: Correct.


MADDOW: Not correct. Neither the news reels nor the film nor the
news footage exists. And we`re now at a really interesting moment because
where we`re at as of tonight is that Dr. Ben Carson`s campaign has taken
back what Ben Carson said about that today.

After he made those remarks earlier today, his campaign put out a
statement saying, oops, Dr. Carson didn`t mean it. “Dr. Carson does not
stand by the statement that was reported today. He was hearing and
thinking something differently at the time. He does apologize to anybody
offended bid that, for sure.”

For sure. So, Ben Carson`s campaign took it back. Donald Trump has
not taken it back.

And so, now, the man who`s standing as Republican presidential front-
runner has only been shored up and in fact boosted since the Paris attacks.
Now, he wants to stay on record sticking with his claims that policy-wise
we might need a registry of every Muslim in the United States and policy-
wise, we definitely need surveillance of mosques.

But he also factually insists that there was widespread television
news coverage which he says he saw with his own eyes, moving pictures shot
from life which showed American Muslims in Jersey City by the thousands
celebrating the fall of the Twin Towers on 9/11 as it happened.

Donald Trump is sticking with that utterly false claim. After his
rally tonight in Columbus, Ohio, Mr. Trump spoke to NBC`s Katy Tur off
camera, but I do have the transcript of those remarks. I`m going to read
to you from the transcript here. Just so we can be totally clear.

Donald Trump: “There were tailgate parties. `The Washington Post`
reported it. The liberal media didn`t like what they reported and so they
kept it quiet.”

Katy Tur: “`The Washington Post` said it was a number of people?”

Trump: “They said tailgate party. Tailgate gate parties are
thousands. They are tremendous numbers from people. I also had hundreds
of tweets saying, `You`re right, Mr. Trump, I saw it myself, we wanted to
say it.` Hundreds of witnesses. We are looking for other articles.”

Katy Tur: “Where did you see the video? We can`t find anything in
our archives. Others can`t find anything in theirs.”

Trump: “I saw video. It was on television. How would I know?
You`ll have to find it. I`ve also seen it all over the Internet. I`ve
seen it on the Internet over the years. I`ve seen it on the internet.”

No, he hasn`t. It did not happen. That was Donald Trump speaking
with NBC News this afternoon. I said it was tonight. That conversation
happened this afternoon.

But what he describes there, thousands of people in Jersey City
cheering for the towers falling on 9/11, that did not happen.

At some level, who cares about the political impact of statements
like those, right? I mean, the serious question, with specific statements
like that, not just your run-of-the-mill lie, the specific question now,
the serious question now is – what do statements like those do to our
country, regardless of what they do to any one candidate or any one

Stay with us.


MADDOW: Don`t be mad. But just in the last hour, I feel duty-bound
to inform you that Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump has
wrapped another campaign rally where he did just again address his claim to
have seen thousands and thousands of people in New Jersey cheering as the
Twin Towers fell on 9/11.

So again, don`t be mad. We will have that ahead.

Plus, the big news we are expecting from President Obama tomorrow

Stay with us. Lots to come tonight.



TRUMP: I saw people getting together and in fairly large numbers
celebrating as the World Trade Center was coming down, killing thousands of
people, thousands and thousands of people. People are still dying over
what happened at the World Trade Center and they`re dying a terrible death.

And I saw people, and I saw `em on television, and I read about it on
the Internet, and I read about it, so they said, “Oh, we can`t find
anything, Mr. Trump.” The reporters are calling all day, all night. They
want to find out, did Trump make a mistake?


MADDOW: A mistake? That`s one thing to call it.

The television footage, the widespread television footage of
thousands of people in Jersey City, New Jersey, celebrating as the World
Trade Center Towers fell on 9/11 is something that does not exist in real
life. It has apparently become a central claim shoring up the candidacy of
the leading Republican contender for president of the United States.

Joining us now to help understand the impact of all this is my friend
Dr. Welton Gaddy, the senior pastor of the Northminster Baptist Church in
Monroe, Louisiana. He`s also president emeritus of the Interfaith

Welton, Dr. Gaddy, it`s great to see you. Thanks for being here.


MADDOW: So, the first political instinct in a weird moment like
this, when a candidate is apparently turning his campaign to be based on
something that is really truly factually inaccurate, the first political
instinct is to wonder whether this hurts the candidate, whether this hurts
that candidate`s campaign. I want to ask you if you think there is a
greater harm to this or this does something hurtful to the country.

GADDY: No, Rachel, we`ve been together a lot of times, talked about
a lot of things. I`m probably more sad tonight than I`ve ever been when
you and I have talked. When truth is dispensable, democracy is in trouble.
If we can`t trust people running for the highest office in the land, then
who can we trust? And what does that mean about moving forward?

We`re seeing both American values and religious values trampled on.
We`re having candidates and other politicians who are giving God a bad name
and who are turning their back on the Constitution of the United States.
The ramifications of all of that are much broader and much more serious
than you and I can describe in the time we have tonight.

MADDOW: Welton, when you – you obviously feel like this is sort of
grave damage, that this is something that`s very hard to come back from.
We`ve seen people go as far as they can. We`ve seen people push this
particular envelope before.

But there`s always been pushback. I wonder who has the moral
authority, what kind of voices could potentially mitigate some of this
harm, could potentially sort of re-establish norms that you feel would be
more constitutionally sound on issues like this.

GADDY: I think it has to come from across the whole sweep of our
society. Certainly, religious leaders need to be speaking out about this
and pointing out just what we`ve talked about. We are closing the arms of
Lady Liberty. We are stomping on the basic values of our democracy. And
we`re turning the race for the highest office in the land into a joke.

I don`t understand, Rachel, why anyone would want to run for an
office that to get in, they have to pledge to defend a Constitution that
they don`t even respect. The ramifications are incredible. Unbelievably

MADDOW: Welton, do you – sorry. Go ahead.

GADDY: I hope – well, what I was going to say is I hope, Rachel,
that we will see, and some of it`s happening, people from the conservative
religious community to hold hands and join voices with people from the
progressive religious community. I hope that all of the religious people
in this nation will speak as if with one voice about our generosity, our
hospitality, our integrity.

I hope the business world will step up and do what they ought to do
with advertising money. And all of us together call our nation to wake up
and see what`s happening because if we don`t we`re going to be sadder than
we are tonight and we`re going to lose more than we`ve already lost.

MADDOW: Reverend Welton Gaddy of the Northminster Baptist Church in
Monroe, Louisiana, the president emeritus of the Interfaith Alliance – I
was looking forward to talking to you about this, Welton. It`s good to see
you, my friend. Thank you.

GADDY: Thank you, Rachel. I appreciate it.

MADDOW: You know, in terms of the news cycle here and sort of how
tight the curve is on this news cycle, this is still continuing to spool
out in terms of politics, in terms of Mr. Trump`s campaign, in terms of how
much he`s going to be willing to walk this back and when he`s going to do
it and under what circumstances.

But I do think that this operates on a different level. This is one
thing about his politics and American politics. It is another thing in
terms of our values as a country, how they get articulated and what is seen
as truly out of bounds. This is testing it.

All right. We`ve got much more ahead tonight. Stay with us.


MADDOW: So, this is a short week in American business and school and
politics because of the Thanksgiving holiday. But there is a thing to
watch for that may happen when everybody is away on Thanksgiving break.
And it has to do with this scene today in Paris.

This is French President Francois Hollande in the middle there. And
over on the right, standing right next to him is the British Prime Minister
David Cameron. David Cameron traveled to Paris today to meet with Francois
Hollande. The two men made a trip to the Bataclan music hall where they
paid their respects to the people who are killed in the attacks last week.

Upon the prime minister`s return home to the U.K. after that meeting,
David Cameron said that he will call for the British military to start
flying airstrikes against ISIS inside Syria. That`s something that the
British have not done up until this point. British has been – the Britons
– the British, excuse me, have been bombing ISIS inside Iraq, but they
very explicitly rejected that idea of extending that military campaign
inside Syria as well.

And it`s not like it hasn`t been up for debate. In 2013, around the
time that President Obama was considering starting American airstrikes in
Syria, the British Prime Minister David Cameron proposed that Britain would
do so as well. He went before his parliament. He called on parliament to
authorize British military action inside Syria.

And the British parliament including lots of members of his own
party, they said no. It was this extraordinary and very unexpected moment.


British parliament, reflecting the views of the British people, does not
want to see British military action. I get that, and the government will
act accordingly.


MADDOW: That was a three-line whip on the vote. We don`t have
things like that exactly here. But in British politics, if you`re a member
of parliament and you defy a three-line whip from your party, that is
supposed to be such a terrible political offense that you can be kicked out
of your party for doing that.

But on that day in 2013 when David Cameron went to parliament and
asked to bomb Syria, so many members of David Cameron`s own party defied
him and defied the three-line whip that they couldn`t even afford to
enforce that old rule. They would have had to kick out two dozen members
of parliament, two dozen members of the Conservative Party. They would
have collapsed their own government.

But the Brits, even the Brits in David Cameron`s own Conservative
Party, they were just not having it, and that was their shocking and
surprising way of saying no to the question of airstrikes inside Syria.
That was 2013.

Now, David Cameron says he`s going to go back and try again. On
Thursday of this week, on Thanksgiving, we are expecting David Cameron to
officially make his case again to parliament that the U.K. should start
bombing inside Syria. We don`t know exactly when the vote is going to be
but Thanksgiving Day is when David Cameron will make that case.

Meanwhile, look at the schedule for French President Francois
Hollande this week. He met with David Cameron today. Tomorrow, he`s
flying here to the U.S. to meet with President Obama. Then, he returns to
France to meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday. Then on
Thursday, he meets with the prime minister of Italy but only in the morning
because Thursday afternoon, he has to fly to Russia to go meet with
Vladimir Putin.

That`s all this week. That`s all between now and Thursday. And it`s
no secret what Francois Hollande is trying to accomplish with this
whirlwind schedule of meetings.

The first French airstrikes against ISIS in Syria after the Paris
attacks came just two days after the attacks. French fighter jets dropped
bombs inside Syria. And they took off from bases in the United Arab
Emirates and from Jordan in order to do that.

Those have been the sort of home bases for French operations so far.
They`ve launched air strikes against ISIS in the last week from bases in
those two countries, UAE and Jordan. That all changed today, when the
French started taking off from their own floating air base that just
arrived in the region.

Today, France announced that the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier
has arrived in the eastern Mediterranean and it has already started
launching fighter jets to drop bombs inside Syria. Francois Hollande says
the arrival of that aircraft carrier triples France`s military capacity to
fight ISIS in Syria.

So, they`ve got an aircraft carrier there now. France is now
literally in terms of their number of planes, they are tripling down on
their military fight against ISIS. This wasn`t something they were doing
for show after the attacks. They are going for it.

David Cameron is now seeking British military involvement in Syria as
well after meeting with French President Francois Hollande.

And tomorrow, the French president will come here to talk to
President Obama. President Obama`s going to host the French president in
the Oval Office. The two of them are set to discuss the fight against ISIS
and the whole issue of Syria. They are then expected to hold a joint press
conference where presumably President Obama will announce something.

If past is prologue, he will announce tomorrow some new action that
the U.S. will be taking in the wake of the Paris attacks in order to target

What specifically will Francois Hollande ask the United States to do
that we are not already doing? Are we about to have some change in U.S.
policy toward ISIS and some change in the U.S. military effort in Syria?

That press conference is going to happen around lunchtime tomorrow.
You will see it here live on MSNBC.

Watch this space.


MADDOW: In April 2009, one of Mexico`s biggest soccer teams played a
key match in one of the largest stadiums in the entire world but not a
single fan was there. Each of the 95,000 seats at Estadio Azteca were

It was the same scene in the city`s Olympic stadium. At the pumas
game had been sold out but the home team ended up playing before 80,000
empty seats.

Across the city, Sunday mass was canceled. The city`s leading
cardinal instead offered up prayers from the altar of an empty cathedral.

Schools across the city were closed. Seven million students from
kindergarten all the way to college students were told they had to stay
home. Museums were closed, concerts were canceled, people were warned not
to attend movies and public events.

For more than a week, a city of 21 million people just became a ghost
town. And it was because of the flu. A swine flu outbreak that struck the
Mexico City region particularly hard. It killed more than 1,200 people in
that country. That was 2009.

Four years later, it was April 2013, and a city in this country came
to a stand still but for a very different reason. It was days after the
Boston marathon bombing before police officers found and engaged in a
brutal gun battle with the suspected bombers. One of the terrorist
attackers from the marathon bombing was killed in that shootout, but the
other one managed to flee the scene.

And while the active manhunt continued for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the
governor of Massachusetts took unprecedented action. Deval Patrick gave a
news conference at dawn in which he asked residents of the greater Boston
area to shelter in place indefinitely. And people did. From dawn until
after sundown, the city was deserted. Public transportation was shut down.
A temporary no-fly zone was imposed over the city.

People in Boston, Brookline, Newton, Cambridge, Watertown, they all
stayed locked inside their apartments and houses as more than 9,000 law
enforcement officials went door to door hunting for the escaped Boston
marathon bombing suspect.

And it worked. They got him. He was hiding out in somebody`s yard
in Watertown. He was found in a boat – he found a boat with a cover over
it. He crawled inside, camped out in one of those areas where residents
had been told to stay inside and shelter in place.

So, it`s not like it`s totally unprecedented. It happens sometimes.
Cities get shut down for 12 hours or maybe for a week for a swine flu
outbreak. For a manhunt maybe?

This time it`s Brussels. And this time it`s not because of something
that has happened already in Brussels. It`s because of something they say
they`re worried about that might be about to happen. They`re calling it a
serious and imminent threat. The city is locked down.

Brussels is a huge city. It`s a city roughly the size of Dallas.
It`s the de facto capital of Europe. It`s where the European Union is
based. It`s where NATO is based.

Brussels has been under lockdown for three days now and counting.
Schools, universities, the whole metro system remain closed. They`re
saying probably until Wednesday, even then though the entire transportation
system might not go completely online again.

Usually, Brussels is bustling in the lead-up to the holiday season.
They have a Christmas market there that attracts about 1.5 million visitors
annually. They`re setting it up this year anyway in the hopes that it can
open on Friday, but that too doesn`t seem like a sure thing right now.

For now, even the holiday season is on hold. And even though things
like this happen in some cities, what`s happening now in Brussels does feel
like the only thing like this that has ever happened in modern times.

Joining us now live from Brussels is Ryan Heath, senior European
correspondent for “Politico”.

Mr. Heath, thanks for being with us. Appreciate your time.


MADDOW: What do we know about the basis of the threat that led to
this unprecedented shutdown? Do we have any leads on what kind of
information they got that led them to do this?

HEATH: No. Because we`ve got a very complicated security apparatus
here in Belgium. It often doesn`t talk to the other component parts of
that apparatus let alone the media or the public. So, we`re very thin on
the information.

But what we were told is that it`s multiple layers of threat. It
could be multiple attacks in multiple locations, possibly organized from
multiple locations as well, including what`s become known as Europe`s
terror capital, the district of Molenbeek right here, just a mile or two
down the road from where we`re standing right now.

So, everyone was put on high alert on Saturday. People were willing
to comply from the beginning. Belgians are generally good-natured, willing
to listen to instruction.

But we started to see people question whether they should continue to
be doing that and also question why suddenly schools and transport might
reopen on Wednesday when none of the main suspects have been caught – even
though one person is now charged and in custody.

MADDOW: We`ve heard reports about a number of trades over the
weekend and into today. We`ve heard about a number of people being
detained. As you suggest, not many people actually being held after their
initially being detained. Is there any sense that any of the police action
they have taken since this lockdown started has done anything to alleviate
the threat they`re so worried about?

HEATH: I think that people have seen very clearly that the Belgian
state is making efforts, but if I just recall the night I spent last night,
I tailed the police around to five different major deployments, call them
raids if you will, around that district of Molenbeek, and it didn`t seem
that they knew exactly what they were doing or that they were in control of
the situation.

So, obviously, when you`re searching 19 premises all at once, that`s
complicated, that`s confusing, and I wasn`t in charge of that intelligence.
But it did not strike me as a very well-organized affair. And what it did
do was follow a series of lock-ins in the central district of Brussels were
people were sort of herded into cafes or bars and yet allowed out to smoke
a cigarette when they asked to.

And that is making people question how serious is that threat, what
is the level of tactics used in some of these deployments that`s not based
on intelligence but is based on some other form of theater.

So, at the moment all of this is really speculation. But when you
start to see a city shut down that needs to function as the capital of
Europe for three, four, going on into five or six days potentially, that`s
why people are asking these questions.

MADDOW: Ryan Heath, senior Europe correspondent for “Politico” in
Brussels – Ryan, thank you. Really helpful to have you here tonight.
Appreciate your time.

HEATH: Thank you.

MADDOW: It`s interesting what he`s saying there in terms of as the
time goes on, it becomes more and more important that people see a logical
connection between what they`re being asked to do and the threat that
they`re assured is real, right? You can get people to do a lot of things
in short notice – sorry, in the short term, but as things go on and on
people have to believe there`s a reason for the major disruption to their

We`ll keep you posted. We`ll be right back.


MADDOW: Back when the world seemed slightly more sane than it seems
now, we reported on the imminent release of a Pentagon plan to close the
prison at Guantanamo. We expected based on multiple source reporting that
the administration was going to unveil the close Guantanamo proposal two
weeks ago.

Then, the terrorist attacks happened in Paris and the Pentagon plan
that we were expecting for closing Guantanamo, it never came out.

Well, now, “Politico” reports that the White House had already
decided to delay the how to close Guantanamo plan before the Paris attacks.
Politico quotes an unnamed Pentagon official as saying the attacks in Paris
make it harder to proceed with that plan.

But the real reason they say for the delay was that officials have
yet to figure out what moving all the prisoners out of Guantanamo and
housing them elsewhere dollars and cents cost of it.

President Obama reportedly still intends to close Guantanamo and they
are still slowly transferring out prisoners who were cleared for release
years ago. Most recently, five more guys from Yemen got transferred out.

But as for when the president might move to shut down the prison
entirely, as for when he might release his plan for shutting down the
prison entirely, we thought we knew that was coming, eminently. Now it is
no longer eminent, and who knows.


MADDOW: We got some important news about something that`s going to
happen tomorrow at the White House other than President Obama`s big event
with Francois Hollande, president of France. But before we get to that, we
do have some breaking news out tonight from the State Department.

The State Department has just issued a brand new worldwide travel
warning for Americans. Just days after the attacks in Paris and Mali, both
killed Americans, the State Department says the threat of terrorism
continues worldwide both from terrorist groups and from potential lone wolf
attackers who might be inspired by recent events. The State Department as
of tonight is advising travelers to, quote, “avoid large crowds or crowded

Again, this is a worldwide travel warning just put out by the State
Department tonight. This is the first travel alert that we`ve had like
this all year. State Department says it will remain in effect until
February 2016.

We`ll be right back.


MADDOW: This is an unusual list of people. Billy Frank Jr., Native-
American fishing activist. He would not give up his fishing rights his
tribe secured through treaties instead of lunch counter sit-ins. He led
riverside fish-ins.

Also, Willie Mays, one of the first black players in the Major
League, a maker of a play so genius and so sublime that today, they still
simply call it “the catch”.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here`s the pitch. Long drive to deep center
field, to the wall. It`s an incredible catch.


MADDOW: Incredible catch. Willie Mays.

Also on the list, Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland who might be
our shortest lawmaker but she`s definitely the longest serving woman in the
history of Congress.

Last on the list, alphabetically, is this guy, Minoru Yasui. Minoru
Yasui was born in Hood River, Oregon, in 1916. He became first Japanese-
American lawyer in Oregon. He couldn`t get a job with a law firm so he put
out his own shingle in Portland, Oregon, in January 1942, just weeks after
Japan bombed Pearl Harbor.

Just weeks later, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed
executive order 9066 which placed people of German, Italian, or Japanese
nationality under special restrictions and required them to register for a
special certificate of identification. By now you know the history of
internment camps, when the American government rounded up people, most of
them Japanese Americans and put them into camps.

But the crackdown didn`t start with the camps. It started with new
rules like curfews and instructions about who was allowed to go where and

And young lawyer Minoru Yasui saw what was happening, decided he
would act to try to stop it by breaking his own local curfew on purpose.


REPORTER: On March 28th, 1942, Yasui set out to become a test case.

What happened that day?

MINORU YASUI, LAWYER: Actually, about 8:00, I told my secretary to
be sure to call the department police, the FBI, to tell them a Jap was
walking up and down Third Avenue in violation of the military curfew order.
So, I walked these streets two or three, four times as I recall, that
evening trying to get arrested.

REPORTER: After three hours, Yasui finally walked to Portland police
headquarters and found a cooperative desk sergeant.

YASUI: He booked me and then he had one of the security people throw
me into the drunk tank.

My contention obviously was if you begin to erode the liberties and
freedom and rights of the individual, then you are indeed jeopardizing the
safety of our whole nation. That was my position.


MADDOW: For taking that position, he spent nine months in solitary
confinement. He was then sent to an internment camp in Idaho. He had to
plea for the return to his citizenship all of the way to the U.S. Supreme
Court and lived with a criminal record for breaking that military curfew
for the rest of his life.

But in part because of his advocacy, a congressional committee in
1983 publicly recognized the injustice of the internment camps. He lived
to see that. In 1988, President Reagan signed a formal apology that
included compensation for survivors of the camps. But by then, Mr. Yasui
had been dead for almost two years.

Even today, though, his family continues the work of telling his life
story because it`s an important part of our larger American story. And
now, tomorrow the White House has announced that he will be awarded the
highest honor that can be given to an American civilian, the Presidential
Medal of Freedom.

He`s been this year`s celebrated list along with Billy Frank Jr. and
Willie Mays and Barbra Streisand, and Barbara Mikulski.

Minoru Yasui, American hero, now officially recognized for his
continues defense of the ideals of democracy embodied in our Constitution.

We spoke to his family this week about this honor. His daughter and
granddaughter told us they can`t help but note that our country is again
talking about registries and ID cards and limits for certain groups of
people. His daughter Lori Yasui told us his daughter would be out in the
streets anywhere he could be heard to say that this is wrong.

And through the telling of his story in a sense, he is out there
fighting the good fight.

If you are feeling outrage or anxious by what is happening right now
in our politics, I won`t try to talk you out of it. You are hearing really
the ghost of history. What`s going on right now, it`s ugly stuff.

But take a little heart. Take a measure of optimism and seeing that
legacies like Minoru Yasui`s persists. We still got heroes. Tomorrow, he
gets the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow.


Good evening, Lawrence.


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