The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 11/24/15
MAYOR GREG FISCHER (D), LOUISVILLE, KY: And, in fact, you know, it`s
the terrorists trying to divide us, extreme language is trying to divide
us, whether it`s from abroad or from own shores as well. What we`re saying
here in Louisville is we don`t buy into that. We think we can be – it`s a
safe city and compassionate city and a welcoming city at the same time.
CHRIS HAYES, “ALL IN” HOST: Mayor Greg Fischer, great thanks.
That is “ALL IN” for this evening.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, my friend.
HAYES: You bet.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
There`s a lot going on in the world right now. Not just in a broad
sense I mean today. There`s a lot going on.
We`ve got Richard Engel live from Turkey tonight after this almost
unbelievable and unbelievably serious news that Turkey shot down a Russian
We`ve also got the latest from Paris and from Brussels where there`s
new news tonight on both the Paris terrorist attacks, and on authorities`
expectations for some kind of impending terrorist attack in Brussels.
We`ve also got, I will warn you, a story on the presidential race
tonight that is a little bit disturbing. This is a story for which even at
this moment, we are still awaiting comment from the candidate in question
because it is a story that absolutely requires some kind you have
explanation from the candidate. It`s a story you will not hear anywhere
else. We`ve got it here exclusively tonight.
So, that`s all ahead for tonight`s show. But we start one year ago
tonight in Ferguson, Missouri, it was one year ago exactly when the local
prosecutor in St. Louis County ambled up to the microphone, basically in
the middle of the night after there had been weeks and months of protests
over the police killing of an unarmed African-American teenager named
Michael Brown in Ferguson.
One year ago tonight, the local prosecutor there gave a long rambling
statement about why there would be no criminal charges brought against the
officer, the police officer who killed Michael Brown. That was a year ago.
Well, tonight, exactly one year later, it was Chicago. But the
announcement today was that there would be charges brought against a police
officer in the shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. Laquan
McDonald was killed by a Chicago police officer over a year ago. Autopsy
results obtained by the press showed he was shot 16 times. And that some
of the shots appear to have been fired into his back.
Now, there has been a criminal investigation into the shooting for
more than a year now since it happened. The FBI and the Justice Department
have also been looking into this shooting. The police officer who shot
Laquan McDonald has been on desk duty for the last year while these
investigations have been under way.
We now know from prosecutors themselves what prosecutors now say they
know about this case is a pretty jaw-dropping list of circumstances.
Prosecutors in Chicago say there were eight police officers on the scene
when Laquan McDonald was killed, eight officers on the scene. But only one
of the eight police officers fired his weapon. That police officer they
say started firing his weapon approximately 30 seconds after he arrived on
the scene in his patrol car and only six seconds after he exited his car.
Again, he is the only one who fired. When he fired, he emptied his
clip into this 17-year-old. He shot those 16 bullets. It reportedly took
14 to 15 seconds in total. All but the first one or two of those 14
seconds the teenager was lying down in the street.
And again at least some of the shots were fired into Laquan
McDonald`s back. Only two of the bullet wounds in his body are linked to
the time when the young man was thought to have been still standing. The
other 14 were shot into him while he was laying on the ground. He was shot
in the scalp, in the neck, in the left chest, in the right chest, in the
left elbow, in the left forearm, in the right upper arm, in the right hand,
in the right upper leg, in the left upper back, and in the right lower
Prosecutors knew all of that before today. And now, the public can
see at least one angle at least one view of what happened in that shooting.
And I`ll tell you, we are only going to this once not like wallpaper.
We`re not going to show this as background noise while I`m talking about
We`re just going to show this once. I will tell you. It is graphic.
If you do not want to see it, you may want to close your eyes although I
will describe it.
The tape is from a police dashboard camera released tonight by the
city of Chicago. Mayor Rahm Emanuel said had he not seen this tape before
it was made available to the public tonight. But investigators obviously
had seen it as they have been looking into the shooting for more than a
The tape has no audio track other than the kind of odd singing hum
that vaguely tracks the police siren. The audio track is not of use in
terms of discerning what happened.
The video shows the police car moving through the streets of Chicago.
You can see at one point, when the police hits its lights and sirens and
starts speeding around traffic to obviously get to a call. The tape shows
cars moving over to the side of the road, getting out of the cruiser`s way.
A couple of minutes into the video, you see other police cars in the view
of this camera clearly responding to the same call.
And then you see when they arrive on scene, you see a man in the
road. That`s 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. He`s walking in the street.
You can see something that appears to be glinting in his right hand.
Police say that was a small folding knife. You see officers to his left.
He`s walking and then he spins around and he is falling because he has been
shot. And then the shots keep coming, 16 shots. An empty clip.
Prosecutors say Laquan McDonald never spoke during that whole
altercation. Never spoke to the police officers before one of those
officers emptied his clip into that young man.
Now, you might have noticed we have blurred some parts of that video
basically out of respect because it shows the exact moment of this teenager
His family did not want this video released at all. The family put
out this statement tonight, quote, “As we have said in the past, while we
would prefer that the video not be released we understand that a court has
ordered otherwise. We ask for calm in Chicago. No one understands the
anger more than us but if you choose to speak out, we urge you to be
peaceful. Don`t resort to violence in Laquan`s name. Let his legacy be
better than that.”
Again, the statement from his family tonight as this videotape of
Laquan McDonald`s death has been made public. Now, again, the timing here
is crucial for understanding not just what`s happening in Chicago right
now, but for the overall trajectory of what happened here and why this is a
Investigators have had this video for more than a year. The city
council of Chicago had already in April agreed to pay a $5 million
settlement to Laquan McDonald`s family because of the shooting. But it was
not until today that they finally did bring charges against the officer who
fired those 16 shots. They charged that officer you see on the left side
of your screen, they charged him today with first degree murder. And now
he has turned himself in.
This is the first time a Chicago police officer has been charged with
first degree murder in 35 years. But after more than a year since the
shooting happened, it is hard to believe that the timing here is a
Murder charges for this officer were announced today. The video of
the shooting was released publicly tonight. Chicago had been holding on to
that tape for more than a year. The only reason the tape got out tonight
was because of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by a local
independent journalist that led to a local judge ordering the release of
that video by tomorrow at the latest, which appears to have set today`s
news, I guess, in motion.
That journalist who forced the release of the tape, he joins us now
from Chicago. His name is Brandon Smith.
Mr. Smith, thank you very much for your time tonight. I appreciate
you being here.
BRANDON SMITH-HEBSON, JOURNALIST: Thank you for covering the story,
MADDOW: Yes, well, thank you for letting us cover it with their
evidence that we never had before. I have to ask you, I understand that a
lot of other journalists and a lot of other interested parties had wanted
the release of this video. What led you to file this lawsuit and did you
know in advance that you`d have a good chance of succeeding?
SMITH-HEBSON: I – I didn`t know whether we would succeed but when
we starred making our arguments, I kind of figured that we might.
It was really disturbing to me and my activist friend William
Calloway, he helped me kind of determine what I should be filing about
It was disturbing to us both that a lot of requests for the video had
been denied including those by the “Chicago Tribune” and other major media
organizations. And months had gone by. They were denied. And no one
really picked up the mantle and pursued it.
There are a couple of ways you can pursue a denied FOIA request. One
of them is go to the Illinois attorney general and the other is to sue in
civil court which is what we did.
MADDOW: Does the tape now that you have seen it, does it show what
you thought it would show? I know there were witnesses who said they had
seen at least part of what went down that night in a way that didn`t
comport necessarily with the statements particularly from the police union.
Now that you`ve seen it, does it show what you thought it would show?
SMITH-HEBSON: It does in a way. There was a lot of description in
the media of what the video showed by people who had seen it. But really
description doesn`t speak to – it doesn`t really speak to the injustice of
it all, like a video does.
I mean, it was really quick. The cars pulled up. The officers
jumped out. They may have said something there off camera. But just a few
seconds later, they shot Laquan.
MADDOW: Let me ask you, Brandon, about tonight. I understand at
least I`ve been told tonight that you`ve been meeting with Laquan
McDonald`s family. If that`s true, can I just ask, I don`t want to ask you
to speak for them.
MADDOW: I just want to ask, I know they didn`t want this tape
released. I wondered about what those conversations might have been with
SMITH-HEBSON: I had planned to meet with them tonight, some plans
changed and I didn`t get to.
The takeaway I think is that they have the right to not want their
son to become like the poster child for police reform. And I hope it
doesn`t. I hope the video is just one more reminder of all the kind of
aggregate police brutality that we have here in Chicago. In the past five
years, I there 300 people have been shot by about Chicago police, 70 of
them fatal, 7-0.
And IPRA, the Independence Police Review Authority, found all of
those were justified except maybe two or three. And only one officer was
punished. So that`s the kind of question that I would have asked Rahm
Emanuel tonight at his press conference because of some technicality, I
wasn`t allowed inside.
And someone – it was funny. Someone asked the – my question for me
and he kind of dodged it. My question to Rahm would have been, what are
you going to do, Mayor, to change this culture of violence perpetrated by
police that resulted in 300 shootings over five years?
MADDOW: Independent journalist Brandon Smith, whose lawsuit forced
the release of this police shooting video today in Chicago – Brandon,
thank you for joining us, helping us understand how this came to pass. I
really appreciate it.
SMITH-HEBSON: Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: I will say it does seem pretty clear that the city made this
decision to announce these charges against the officer just ahead of the
tape being made public. We are showing there scenes from Chicago.
Protests are continuing tonight in Chicago. Nobody exactly knows how the
community will react to have both the tape of the shooting released and
also news that this officer has been charged with first degree murder.
But I will note again that this is the first time in 35 years that a
police officer in Chicago has been charged with capital murder. That`s
under way in Chicago right now.
Meanwhile, this was the scene in Minneapolis today. Hundreds of
people gathered outside the city`s fourth police precinct in Minneapolis.
There are five police precincts in Minneapolis. The fourth one, which you
see here, is located in the northwest part of the city.
And demonstrators have been gathered at that specific precinct for
nine days now. Every day, following the shooting death of a 24-year-old
African-American man named Jamar Clark. Jamar Clark was shot and killed on
November 15th, after an alleged altercation with two Minneapolis police
Police say Jamar Clark was a suspect in an assault that night. They
say that he tried to interfere with paramedics trying to treat the victim
of that assault. They say police – they say Jamar Clark then proceeded to
fight with police on the scene.
In the end, he was shot in the head, and pronounced dead at the
hospital the following day. The two police officers involved in that
incident have been named, although they`re apparently still on the job.
There are a number of on going investigations as authorities try to
determine exactly what happened on November 15th in Minneapolis, including
a state investigation into whether or not Jamar Clark was handcuffed when
he was shot, which is what several eyewitnesses claim.
There`s also a federal civil rights investigation under way, one that
was requested by local authorities after the start of these persistent
daily protests in Minneapolis, every day since the killing. It`s been
protesters associated with the Black Lives Matter movement camped outside
Minneapolis`s fourth police precinct, demanding among other things that
police release any video, any cell phone video or surveillance video that
might exist of the scene of the shooting.
In addition to candle lit vigils and rallies held outside the
precinct house in the 4th precinct, last week, there was a confrontational
demonstration when 51 people were arrested during a march down Interstate
94. On Wednesday, protester who`s police say were throwing rocks were hit
by police was high volume pepper spray.
The timeline since the death of Jamar Clark has, I have to say,
followed a similar pattern to the days following other recent police-
involved deaths. There`s enough of these now that there`s a patterns in
terms of community response – the protests, the demand for video evidence,
the back and forth between police and protesters, the calls for multiple
Tensions have been high around the shooting in Minneapolis. Much
like they were in Ferguson a year ago and in North Charleston and in
Baltimore and in New York and on and on and on.
Minneapolis has followed a very similar pattern over the last week
and a half except for one weird detail. Protesters have said during their
sort of campout at the 4th police precinct, they have said in recent days
that one of the unusual things that has happened on the outskirts of their
daily protests is the appearance of basically anti-protesters or counter
protesters or maybe you`d call them provocateurs or in the Internet word
you`d call them trolls – people turning up who are not part of the Black
Lives Matter protests but they were videotaping the protests.
They were sometimes wearing masks while they will do it. They`re
refusing to answer questions who they are or what they`re doing. They
periodically have been engaging with the Black Lives Matter protesters in
ways that made the protesters very uncomfortable in the sense that it made
worry what these people were up to and what they were planning and what
they were doing there.
So, this has discussed by the protesters. It`s been happening in the
ongoing way at the scene of this ongoing nightly Minneapolis protests.
On Thursday, it rose to the level where the Minneapolis Police
Department actually issued a warning to all demonstrators, asking the
demonstrators themselves to please be vigilant saying that they, the
police, had intelligence that some kind of group might be trying to cause a
disturbance amid the protests. So, on Thursday, police started asking the
demonstrators to keep an eye out for anyone or anything that seemed out of
the ordinary to them. That was Thursday.
The next day on Friday, Black Lives Matter in Minneapolis posted this
video of two masked men one of whom at one point in the video brandishes
what appears to be a handgun. He describes it as a loaded gun in the
video. And in the video, these two men are discussing their plans to go to
a candlelight vigil outside that Minneapolis police precinct the previous
night. They say this was a – this was the posted on Friday. This
apparently is these men on Thursday night talking about going down to that
protest with a loaded gun.
They used white supremacist language. They used a lot of profanity.
It`s not all totally intelligible to people who don`t study these things.
But Black Lives Matter says they found that threatening video along with an
online conversation between members of the internet be site Forchan (ph)
among people who apparently plan to come armed to that vigil at the police
Black Lives Matter posted this video as a warning to fellow
demonstrators to watch out for these guys. It appears that some
provocateurs or counter protesters did continue to show up to the vigils.
Here they are in this video posted by another Black Lives Matter activist,
although it doesn`t appear these sort of counter protesters, provocateurs,
did anything at that rally other than make racist comments and kind of
troll the activists behind the camera who`s taking images of them.
But that`s the backgrounds that brings us to the very dramatic events
of late last night when the a group of masked men apparently approached the
protest area right outside the police precinct and witnesses they were
acting suspiciously. They refused to say why they were there. A group of
demonstrators tried to escort them away from the main protest area and then
they say the men started shooting at the demonstrators. This happened only
a block away from the police precinct house, which is the focus of the
But gunfire happened. Five people were shot. One person was shot in
the stomach. Despite the injuries, all five people who were shot are
expected to survive. The one who was shot in the stomach had surgery
Police say they have three men now in custody in conjunction with the
shooting. They`re all white men. They`re aged 21 to 26. They at one
point arrested and then released, another suspect, a 32-year-old Hispanic
Police in Minneapolis say they`re working with the country attorney`s
office and the FBI on this case, although they have not released any of the
names of the men they`ve got in custody. But what we are seeing in this
case, reports of people trying to approach and basically provoke and troll
these activists involved in the protest, this is an unusual thing. We have
seen a pattern how these protests and how these incidents happen in
American cities. This is an unusual thing about the way things have gone
down in Minneapolis. And we don`t know yet till we hear more from police,
but it may very well have contributed to the shooing of five people in
Minneapolis last night.
And now tonight and today, even larger protests follow-on protests in
solidarity with the protesters who were shot last night and protesters who
are still looking for justice for that young man who was killed by police.
This was today in the streets of Minneapolis. Watch this space.
MADDOW: As I mentioned earlier, we`ve got Richard Engel here live in
just a moment. NBC News chief foreign correspondent coming up in a second.
But one quick thing in advance of that discussion – as you know, in
the city of Brussels in Belgium, schools and businesses and public
transportation have been shut down since this is weekend while security
forces have carried out a series of raids looking for suspected terrorists.
In Belgium, they are planning to reopen Brussels schools tomorrow.
But look at this – authorities now say tonight that a big soccer match, a
Europa League game an hour outside of Brussels will be played as planned on
Thursday but it will be played before an audience of zero.
Local authorities say they cannot spare enough officers to provide
the necessary security for that match. So, they`re not going to let anyone
at all into the stadium but they`re still going to have the teams play the
If you are looking for normal, we are nowhere near that yet.
MADDOW: This is called a TOW missile. TOW is spelled T-O-W, an
acronym that stands for tube-launched optically-tracked wire-guided
missile. TOW missile, T-O-W, one of the most widely used missiles in the
world for more than four decades. They`ve been a foundational U.S.
military weapon against tanks and other armored vehicles. So, the U.S.
Army has used these missiles for quite some time.
Early last year though, they became an important foundational
military tool for another group all together. Thanks to a not very covert
CIA program, TOW missiles were delivered to certain vetted Syrian rebel
groups to help them fight against the Syrian president.
YouTube is flooded with videos of Syrian rebels using TOW missiles to
fight armored vehicles belonging to the Syrian army. They`ve been so
effective that rebels have dubbed them the Assad tamers. It`s a play on
the word Assad which means lion. So, TOWs are the leon tamers used by the
It`s reported that those TOW missiles were used by Syrian rebels
today, but today, that fact is getting a lot more attention than usual
because those American missiles were reportedly used to destroy a Russian
helicopter. Earlier today, a Russian SU-24 super sonic bomber like this
one, it was launching strikes against targets in northern Syria.
Russian President Vladimir Putin says those strikes were against ISIS
targets, but U.S. defense officials say they were targeting some anti-Assad
rebels, some of the same rebel who have been armed with American made
missiles. It was while on that mission that neighboring Turkey says that a
Russian jet crossed into Turkish air space. Turkey insists it issued ten
warnings over a five-minute period for the pilot of that Russian jet to get
out of their air space and pull away.
U.S. defense officials tell NBC News tonight the Russian aircraft
was, quote, “in Turkish air space only two to three seconds, a matter of
seconds before a Turkish F-16 fighter jet fired an air-to-air missile at
the bomber which took down the plane.
Video taken at the border of the two the countries shows the Russian
jet plummeting to the ground. The two pilots did managing to eject. You
can see their parachutes there.
But they floated down into hostile territory. The Russian ministry
of defense says one of those fighter pilots was killed from ground fire
from rebels. Rebels posted a video online showing them celebrating around
that supposed pilot after he`s dead.
The story doesn`t end there. In order to try to rescue their crew
from that jet, Russian soldiers deployed two helicopters to that area
inside Syria and that`s where the TOW missiles are believed to come in.
Rebels say they fired upon at least one of those Russian helicopters
possibly with a TOW missile. The rest of the Russian team managed to make
it out safely.
So, tonight, bottom line, at least two Russian soldiers are dead, a
Russian fighter pilot and another Russian soldier sent in to rescue him.
The whereabouts of the other fighter pilot, the other crew member on board
that fighter jet, the jet that was shot down, we still are not clear on the
whereabouts of that other person from the jet.
Today in a joint news conference with French President Hollande,
President Obama said that Turkey has a right to defend its territory and
its air space. But he also said something else. He said today`s incident
points to an ongoing problem with Russian operations in Syria. He said
that the country is operate too long close to Turkey and that conflicts
like this one would be less likely to occur if Russia directed its efforts
not at Syrian rebel groups but instead only at ISIS.
Today, the head of NATO called for calm, even though this is the
first time a NATO country has shot down a Russian or Soviet plane since the
Mission against ISIS in Syria was already complicated. Today it got
even more so.
Up next, we`re going to talk with one of the few people in my world
who helps me make sense of moments like this.
Richard Engel is here next. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We`ve got a coalition
of 65 countries who have been active in pushing back against ISIL for quite
some time. Russia right now is a coalition of two, Iran and Russia
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: President Obama at a White House press conference today
saying that the U.S. is part of a coalition of 65 countries operating in
Syria right now, while Russia is a coalition of just Russia and Iran.
That press conference today came after a Russian fighter jet was shot
down in Syria by F-16s from our NATO ally Turkey.
Joining us now from Istanbul is Richard Engel, NBC News chief foreign
Richard, thank you for being here, particularly in the middle of the
night, where you are. I have to ask you first, does the Turkish
explanation for why they shot down this plane, does it hold water? Does it
RICHARD ENGEL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: Not very much,
frankly. Turkey aid that it – there was a violation of its air space than
has been confirmed by NATO, it`s been confirmed by the United States.
But a few second violation on a border that is hardly airtight
doesn`t necessarily seem like the kind of thing that would prompt a violent
reaction from Turkey especially in this climate where the world is trying
to pull together, where there`s so many calls for a unified strategy
against ISIS. And then Turkey does this very provocative move, destroying
a Russian plane for the first time a NATO – as you mentioned earlier,
first time a NATO country has done that against the Russians or the soviets
since the `50s.
So, why? Why did it do it? That is a question a lot of people
around the world are asking.
And analysts I`ve spoken to, a U.S. official that I`ve spoken to has
another reason, says it is not just about this violation of the air space a
few second violation, that this goes to a much deeper conflict between
Turkey and Russia and goes to deeper divisions within the strategy on
Syria. And it basically goes to the targets. And I can tell you what it
is if you want.
MADDOW: Well, yes. I mean, part of what I understand about this is
that the Turks are really mad about the – you know, we`re mad about non-
ISIS targets that Russia is hitting because we think they`re bombing the
people who the United States has been trying to help. The Turks are mad at
Russia because Russia has been bombing targets that include basically Turks
in Syria who don`t seem to be involved in one side or the other of the
Assad fight. Is that right?
ENGEL: Exactly. And that`s what it`s all about. That`s what it`s
all about here. We complain about that they`re bombing non-ISIS targets.
And one of those non-ISIS targets is a rebel group, a rebel group in the
Turkmen Mountains where this incident took place. And not surprisingly,
because of the name of the mountains, the majority of the people who live
there are ethnic Turks.
And Turkey as the greatest Turkish nation which feels itself as the
defenders of the Turkish people, the Turkish ethnic group, has been
complaining very vocally to Russia. There was a protest in Istanbul, sort
of a failed protest but a protest nonetheless. The protesters went to the
wrong embassy and started throwing eggs at the wrong consulate.
But that`s another story for another night and is equally bizarre.
But there have been protests here against the bombing of the Turkmen people
there. So, it wasn`t so much of a surprise when today, that Russian jet
quickly buzzed into Turkish air space and Turkey mobilized and used it as a
pretext, if you will, to attack the Russian jet, to send a message to
Russia that it won`t accept the bombing of the Turkmen people and as a
message to NATO that it needs more attention.
Military analysts think that this kind of action was probably
preplanned, that Turkey had a design in place that eventually when border
violation liking this took place and there have been borders violations
like this in the past, that it was going to react to send this message.
MADDOW: Wow, it`s stunning. It`s one thing for Turkey and Russia to
be having a fight in the corner of the school yard when Turk is a NATO
ally. It becomes – it suddenly feels like a much smaller school yard for
us to be on the edge of this.
Richard Engel, NBC News chief foreign correspondent, up live for us
in the middle of the night in Turkey – Richard, thank you so much. I
MADDOW: All right. We`ve got much more ahead tonight, including a
story you will not see elsewhere that`s out of the presidential race that
is also vaguely a story about terrorism but of a very, very, very different
character. We`ve got that here tonight. You will not see it anywhere
Stay with us.
MADDOW: Got an update for you on our story from the top of the show
tonight. These are pictures from moments ago.
We`ve been continuing to watch tonight crowds in the streets of
Chicago where people are reacting to the city` release of a videotape of a
police officer killing a 17-year-old Chicago teenager named Laquan McDonald
last year, the teenager was shot 16 times by the same officer.
On the occasion of releasing that tape, the city also announced today
that the officer who fired those shots will be charged with first degree
murder. This is the first time a Chicago police officer has been charged
with first degree murder in 35 years.
As these protests continue tonight, we have seen some reports that
some of the protests have been tense at times. Nobody really knows how
this is going to play out over the course of tonight. But look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PROTESTERS: Hey, we`re going to be all right! Hey, we`re going to
be all right! Hey, we`re going to be all right! Hey, we`re going to be
all right! Hey, we`re going to be all right! Hey.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: What they`re chanting from a Kendrick Lamar song that says,
“If God`s got us, we`re going to be all right. We`re going to be all
We`re watching the streets of Chicago tonight. We will keep you
posted as we learn more.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PROTESTERS: Hey, we`re going to be all right!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I have a prediction. Whether or not you are a person who
likes to talk politics with your family at Thanksgiving – don`t do it –
over the holiday break this week, there is nevertheless a good chance you
find yourself having a conversation about ISIS. The issue of the Paris
terrorist attacks will come up.
And your conversation will inevitably drift into exasperation, sad
and probably angry exasperation. What are the options, right? What can
actually be done? Everybody wants to do something but what`s something?
What can be done that we know how to do that would have a real effect
against ISIS that itself would not cause some other more terrible
unintended consequence. And that is something that`s actually within our
power to do as Americans. What real specific things can be done?
This I predict is where your conversation will go sometime in the
next few days. And then I predict, you will start talking about this man.
His name is Adam Szubin. He`s young looking but not that young.
He`s a Harvard lawyer. He worked in the George W. Bush Justice Department.
He has worked at the U.S. Treasury now for years.
And what he does is stop money from getting to international
terrorist groups. Al Qaeda, al Shabaab in Somalia, ISIS. When the U.S.
government wants money to stop getting to leaders in countries with
sanctions on them like Iran or Russia or Moammar Gadhafi in Libya, Adam
Szubin is the guy they turn to, to figure out how to turn off the spigot.
The United States is not great at everything we try in
counterterrorism terms, but we`ve actually gotten pretty good at battening
down the financial hatches so bad guys cannot receive money internationally
anymore. And they can`t move money internationally anymore.
And Adam Szubin is our country`s expert at doing that kind of
counterterrorism work. And in April, President Obama nominated him to be
the undersecretary for terrorism and financial crimes at the U.S. Treasury
Department. That was April. In July, President Obama went to the Pentagon
and in a speech about tactics we can use against ISIS, he expressed beak
disbelief that Congress had not yet acted to confirm Adam Szubin, the
person who would be in charge of going after ISIS`s finances.
So, nominated in April. In July, the president is exasperated. Adam
Szubin`s nomination had already been pending for months at that point.
Since then, in September, the Senate was finally persuaded to get off it
petard and host one hearing on the nomination of Adam Szubin. He faced no
opposition at that hearing. The Republican chairman of that committee
pronounced Adam Szubin, and I quote, “eminently qualified for the job for
which he had been nominated.”
Nobody is against him or thinks he`s not the right guy for the job.
Everybody agrees this is a good job. Everybody agrees that the U.S.
government ought to use its power to go after ISIS` money. We know how to
do it, we know it would have a real effect, it`s one of the few things we
know we can do without the possibility of some terrible unintended
consequences and it is in our power to do it as Americans.
But the United States Senate cannot be bothered. Nobody`s confirmed
to be in that terrorism financing job in the Treasury. Nobody`s against
President Obama`s nominee to have that job. But Senator Mitch McConnell
and the Republican leadership in the Senate haven`t felt like holding a
vote on him.
It`s been 222 days since he`s been nominated. What`s the rush?
Tick-tock, no reason to hurry. And so happy Thanksgiving. I hope it goes
It turns out Adam Szubin is going to be at your Thanksgiving table at
least in conversation this year. He won`t be there in person but he will
definitely be there in name, Adam Szubin. Why can`t that at least get
MADDOW: For whatever reason, and completely defying beltway pundit
common wisdom, Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump has not
only reclaimed but stretched his lead in the polls since the terrorist
attacks in Paris. Since Paris, Donald Trump`s doing great.
The one candidate who seems to be deflating recently in the polls is
Ben Carson. And as Carson deflates, there`s another candidate, a third
candidate who pretty clearly appears to be capitalizing, picking under the
support that Ben Carson has been losing.
And that candidate it turns out, that candidate and his campaign,
they are now evoking the issue of terrorism on U.S. soil in a way that is
very, very different than everybody else in the lace and very, very
different than the beltway press is prepared to cover as best as I can
tell. This is a sort of disturbing and slightly mind-bending story.
It is about candidate Ted Cruz. You have not heard it anywhere else.
But it`s next, right after this.
MADDOW: OK, this is a doozy. On the weekend of July 25, 1987, San
Diego police and federal ATF agents were involved in a surveillance
operation. They got a tip from an informant that something was going to go
down at a specific site in suburban San Diego. So, they staked out that
site and waited.
But by Sunday night, it looked like the informant got it wrong.
Nothing had happened. So, all that weekend, they called off the stake out,
except for one detective. He went home but then he had what he called a
So, after the stakeout had been called off, this one police detective
just felt wrong. He got out of bed in the middle of night and went back to
the location. And sure enough, his bad feeling was right on there. At
about 3:00 a.m., somebody pulled into the parking lot of the site they had
been staking out, this person got out of the car, walked over to the
building where the police had been watching and that person put down what
turned out to be a bomb at the door of the building.
The person then got back into the car, started to drive away. The
police detective stopped the car a short distance away, arrested the man
who had placed the bomb. The man was, weirdly, wearing a woman`s wig. He
was also carrying a handgun.
A few months later, that man gave up his co-conspirators in the
bombing plot, including a woman who helped plan the bombing and the bomb
itself and the disguise for the bomber. This woman had procured gunpowder
and some of the other supplies for the bomb. She also obtained the wig
used in the disguise, and she provided the wig to the bomber.
The bomb was not only the real deal, it was of substantial size.
Investigators say it could have done real damage. The only reason is it
didn`t go off is that after the bomber lit the fuse, the fuse blew out in
The building they tried to blow up that July weekend in 1987, it was
a clinic that did abortions. And the woman who provided all the bomb-
making supplies and the wig was a radical anti-abortion activist named
Cheryl Sullenger went to prison for two years for that plot. And
when she got out, she stayed part of the radical anti-abortion movement.
She`s in it for the long haul.
A few years after she got out of prison, another radical anti-
abortion activist named Paul Hill assassinated a doctor in Pensacola,
Florida, a doctor named John Britton. He killed John Britton along with a
retired colonel who was acting as the doctor`s bodyguard. He also wounded
the colonel`s wife who was acting as a clinic escort.
Anti-abortion activist Paul Hill was arrested after those killings.
He was convicted of capital murder. Again, Cheryl Sullenger was out of
prison herself by then. When it came time for Paul Hill to have his
sentence brought to bare, when it came time for Paul Hill to be executed by
the state of Florida for those murders, Cheryl Sullenger put out a
statement saying that Paul Hill should have been allowed to argue that what
he did was justifiable homicide, because, quote, “the killing of the
abortionist was necessary.”
At roughly the same time, Cheryl Sullenger also co-authored a book
which castigates the U.S. government for not putting abortion providers to
death in this country, for not killing abortion providers. Quote, “In
addition to our personal initial guilt in abortion, the U.S. government has
abrogated its responsibility to properly deal with the blood guilty. This
responsibility rightly involves executing convicted murders including
abortionists for their crime in order to expunge blood guilt from the land
Cheryl Sullenger`s co-author on both that book and on the statement
about it being justifiable homicide to murder the Florida abortion doctor,
her co-author in both of those instances on the book and on the statement,
her co-author is this guy, Troy Newman.
Troy Newman is president of the a group called Operation Rescue. And
whether you are involved in the politics of abortion or not, you probably
have a clear idea in your mind of what Operation Rescue is. In the 1980s
and `90s, Operation Rescue was widely known for protests like the Summer of
Mercy protests they pulled off in Wichita, Kansas. These mass physical
blockades of abortion clinics.
Operation Rescue has a hard time pulling off protests like that
anymore. Now, Operation Rescue does stuff like Troy Newman going out to
California this past summer to inform Californians that he had figured out
why there`s a drought in that state.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
TROY NEWMAN, OPERATION RESCUE: The land was polluted – scriptural
language – polluted with innocent blood. Is it no wonder that California
is experiencing the worst drought in history when it is the largest child-
killer in all of the United States? There are no coincidences with God.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: So, some of what they do is slightly on the goofy, if
apocalyptic side, right? Blaming the California drought on abortion being
legal in California.
But even when they`re inadvertently goofy, Operation Rescue has
always been deliberately intimidating. The reason they were founded, their
specification reason for being has been a strategy of personally harassing
and individually targeting doctors, while also, honestly, being associated
with, and defending people who kill or try to kill such doctors.
Cheryl Sullenger, the convicted clinic bomber, is Operation Rescue`s
senior vice president. They now to this day maintain a Web site dedicated
to putting up pictures of individual doctors who do abortions and putting
up addresses and how to find them.
In 2002, Operation Rescue moved the headquarters of their national
operation to Kansas specifically to target one particular Kansas abortion
doctor, Dr. George Tiller. When another radical anti-abortion activist, in
fact, killed Dr. Tiller in 2009, when police arrested him after the
killing, they found on his dashboard, a piece of paper with a phone number
on it for Operation Rescue, specifically the rescue for Cheryl Sullenger at
That said, she and Troy Newman have denied having any substantive
contact with the man who killed Dr. George Tiller.
Well, this past weekend, one of the groups is that reports on the
activities of way out there folks like Cheryl Sullenger and Troy Newman,
the group People for the American Way. This weekend, they sort of lost
their minds. They saw their own proverbial hair proverbially spontaneously
combust, when a joint press release was issued by Troy Newman and leading
Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz.
Said Ted Cruz, quote, “I`m grateful to receive the endorsement of
Troy Newman. We need leaders like Troy Newman who will stand up for those
who do not have a voice.”
Ted Cruz is having kind of a moment in the presidential race. Donald
Trump is obviously winning in the Republican contest overall, but Ben
Carson is on the decline and it seems like Ted Cruz is taking Dr. Carson`s
evangelical supporters, particularly in Iowa.
And today`s latest Iowa poll from Quinnipiac, Ted Cruz is in second
place in Iowa at 23 percent. That puts him only two points behind Donald
Trump. Ted Cruz is having a moment.
In the coming days, we`re going to have more on this show in terms of
Ted Cruz`s relationship to at least one religious leader who was loudly
calling for the death penalty as the only just penalty for the crime of
homosexuality in this country.
But right now, Ted Cruz`s courtship of the hard right evangelical
vote also extends to his warm welcome and praise for the endorsements of
the clinic bomber`s co-author, who maintains the public list of abortion
doctors names, addresses and photos and says not just executing, but also
vigilante murdering abortion doctors is at least arguably justifiable
We reached out to the Ted Cruz campaign for comment. We have not
heard back. I dearly hope that we do. We will keep you posted if we do.
But this is one of the stories that I recognize the beltway media
doesn`t sort of have the feelers out for. As Ted Cruz ascends in the polls
and as his lift in the polls is driven basically entirely by very, very
conservative religious right voters. This is part of understanding why and
this is one of the things he should explain to people who may have
justifiable concerns about who he`s building his campaign on now.
That does it for us tonight. We will see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”.
Good evening, Lawrence.
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