The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 9/8/2016
Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: September 8, 2016
Guest: David Priess
CHRIS HAYES, “ALL IN” HOST: That is all this evening.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts 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.
Will artificial intelligence enslave humanity before the globalists do?
Ever wondered? Do you also know that Hillary Clinton uses a wheelchair?
Her personal vehicle had to be outfitted with a wheelchair lift because she
is not a person who can actually walk. She secretly uses a wheelchair.
All the times you think you`ve seen her walking, she hasn`t been walking.
Did you know that?
Did you know Hillary Clinton has Parkinson`s disease? These things are
true. I know they are true because I read them in the headlines. Here, I
will prove it to you.
Will artificial intelligence enslave humanity before the globalists do?
AI, artificial intelligence, is taking over. That was a special report.
Here was the shock headline on Hillary Clinton`s wheelchair vehicle.
Just one column over from that, there was also this seemingly competing
news. Hillary Clinton – does Hillary Clinton have Parkinson`s disease.
The subhead, we can all see she has very serious health problems.
At this same news source, for all those stories, you can also find
important, maybe life-saving health information, about a powerful new
micronutrient that fights the Zika virus. You`ll be happy to know once
you`ve learned about this micronutrient, this service – this website will
sell you the micronutrient, thus curing your Zika.
They`ll sell you that alongside their super male vitality potion, which is
I`ve got to say, a little steep, $59.95 plus shipping and handling, for the
increase to your male vitality. If that price tag is too high for your
below-the-belt problems, fellas, spend half that much to get the survival
shield X2, apparently, according to the description, leading the way into
the next generation of super high quality nascent iodine.
The big bargain, though, I think at this news site as to be this one.
Their deep cleanse elixir. I don`t totally understand the description
here. It either has powerful nano-colloidal zeolites or it will get rid of
your nano-colloidal zeolites. I can`t quite tell. But your neo colloidal
zeolites will never be the same.
All of this incredible news about the artificial intelligence that is
enslaving humanity before the globalists do and the secret micronutrients
that cure Zika and the male vitality potions and the nascent – all of this
stuff is, of course, available through InfoWars.com.
Info Wars is the conspiracy theory website, sort of mega website, where the
dimmer bulbs among us have gone to get themselves brightened up without
benefit of a surge protector.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
ALEX JONES, INFO WARS: The government lies out of hand. You`re saying,
why do you believe in the moon lander?
I have sources inside NASA. They put on some fake stuff for you. There
was a lie. See, it`s not just did we go or didn`t we go. You were shown
the tinker toy stuff because you`re not supposed to see what they have.
You`re not supposed to know the thousands of astronauts that have died.
Oh, yes, I should do a show on that.
We`re already in a tyranny. Then operation Jade Helm gets announced. It
was put on the army website last week. We reported on it first.
It`ll have some real admissions, mixed in to confuse the idiot public, kind
of like cyanide pills, you know, taste sugar, or 80 percent sugar.
Yes. So, Sandy Hook is a synthetic, completely fake, with actors, in my
view, manufactured. I couldn`t believe it at first. I knew they had
actors their clearly, but I thought they killed real kids. And it just
shows how bold they are.
You saw them staged Fast and Furious. Folks, they staged Aurora. They
staged Sandy Hook. The evidence is just overwhelming.
But the reason there are so many gay people now because of the chemical
warfare operation the government documents said they were going to
encourage homosexually with chemicals to people don`t have children. I
even catch myself, Bob, drink out of the estrogen mimickers.
For those watching on PrisonPlanet.tv, here is the inside of the juice box.
If they zoom in more, see the thin plastic? It`s got it. I`m letting my
children drink this.
After you`re done drinking the juices, I mean, you`re ready to go out and
have a baby. You`re ready to put makeup on. You`re ready to wear a short
That is space cult, suicide cult, exterminism craziness. The eugenics
transhumanist cult wants to confuse the general species, ahead of rendering
us down and removing us.
The decision has been made. Cheer up. The post-human era is dawning. The
plan is that an asexual humanoid, even if they decide to keep us around.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: Got all that? I actually think, having reflected upon this, the
last part, I think when he says that the eugenics, transhumanist cult that
wants to confuse the general species ahead of rendering us down and
removing us, I think when he says, rendering us down, I literally think he
means we`re going to be melted and turned into candles, like they`re going
to use our fat to make soap. I think rendering, I think he`s literal on
That is the – the pilot, the captain of America`s conspiracy theory
mothership, Alex Jones. Alex Jones has been around forever. I`m assuming
he will be around forever.
He says Hillary Clinton is going to kill him. He has publicly asked
Hillary Clinton not to kill him. So, who knows?
But, honestly, he`s going to be around a while. It is a lucrative gig he
has going on. He basically got nationally famous, kind of came off the
fringe and became bigger fringe when he proclaimed that 9/11 was not
carried out by al Qaeda. 9/11 was actually committed by the U.S.
government against our own country.
He took the notoriety he earned from that 9/11 truthism and he has now been
running with it and expanding on the idea. Very successfully for the last
You sometimes have people ask, especially people in other countries, well,
look at the American electorate, ask in sort of serious, sociological, poly
sci terms, why is it an advanced and fairly well-educated country like ours
is nevertheless getting to be as susceptible to political conspiracy
theories as broadly uneducated countries in faraway lands? Why is it that
we get more and more susceptible conspiracy theories as time goes on? We
don`t seem like the kind of country where they would have as much traction
as they do now in our contemporary era in politics.
Part of the season why we`re so susceptible to conspiracy theories, is that
guys like Alex Jones make a ton of money circulating them as wide as they
possibly can. They use multiple platforms. They use talk radio, and the
Internet, and they live stream their fake TV shows. They make a very good
living doing it.
And they`re going to be around because of it for a long time. Usually,
this kind of stuff has no major effect on the United States of America.
Other than lowering our median IQ a couple points and making us seem
slightly more embarrassing on an international stage. Every additional
year, they have the alien people lizard on everything, we get a little bit
dumber. It`s the major effect it has on the United States of America.
But this year is different, because this year, that little corner, that
little niche of organized and profitable American insanity, this year,
they`re out of their corner because this year, they`re presidential
After NBC and MSNBC and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America hosted the
Commander-in-Chief Forum last night with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump,
after that last night, this morning, Donald Trump Jr. woke up and tweeted
this direct link to the Alex Jones Info Wars expose of what really happened
on board the Intrepid last night at the Commander-in-Chief forum. Got to
hit the shift lock key because it`s all in capital letters when you get
But what he`s linked to is this Info Wars Alex Jones piece. Was Hillary
wearing an ear piece during last night`s presidential forum? This is an
Alex Jones Info Wars conspiracy theory exclusive.
They took a screen grab from last night`s Commander-in-Chief forum, with
the light hitting Hillary Clinton`s left ear in the right way, it appears a
suspicious glare in that. I mean, if you wanted to take this accusation
seriously, that she was wearing an ear piece, she was on stage for more
than 20 minutes. You could take lots of different angles, camera angles,
showing the same ear but without the glinted light, right?
Here are other images of Hillary Clinton`s ear – the ear in question from
the same event last night. None show the secret ear piece that Alex Jones
But I mean, consider the source. Consider the context. This ear piece
story at Alex Jones Info Wars, it`s running alongside other headlines up
that says Hillary Clinton uses a wheelchair, that she has Parkinson`s
disease. Info Wars also announcing today that they`ve got the video proof
that Hillary Clinton is a mass murderer.
So, you know, the secret ear piece thing, that`s journalistically sound
compared to the rest of the stuff chair putting out there. That could be a
mainstream scandal. I mean, this year in 2016, with Donald Trump at the
top of the ticket for the Republican Party, Alex Jones is no longer just
broadcasting to your fillings and your molars. He is apparently with the
upper echelons of the Republican presidential campaign. It`s reading and
citing and circulating, even at this late date of the campaign.
And it matters, because it`s not just the kook fringe, it`s just not the
sort of remunerative conspiracy theory world, that part of the conservative
media machine. It`s not even just whacky people who made their way into
Republican politics to the surprising high. It is the top of the
Republican ticket. It`s after Labor Day and this is a presidential year.
All day today, after Donald Trump Jr. tweeted the Info Wars Alex Jones
conspiracy theory, all day today, this was the headline about the
Commander-in-Chief Forum at the mega-conservative news site that drives
more traffic online than anything else on the right. This was the headline
all day today at the Drudge Report. They led with this, as the most
important thing in presidential politics right now.
Which on the one hand is hilarious, right? On the other hand, this is this
great moment. This is like a snapshot, a microcosm of why this campaign is
hard to follow. Sort of why it`s hard to get a sense of what the narrative
is of the campaign this year. Why it can be maddening to follow what`s
going on in the campaign. Why it can be painfully ridiculous to follow
what`s going on in the campaign any given day now.
It`s because there really just these two sides in the campaign. We are in
a presidential election contest. We have two major parties. And these are
the two candidates for those parties.
It just so happens that one of them is stuck on the juice boxes make you
gay channel, and the other one is nevertheless trying to conduct a campaign
as if this is normal politics. I mean, these are not two campaigns that
are doing the same thing. Not two candidates making the same kind of case.
These are not two political organizations that are even speaking the same
I mean, one side is literally tweeting Info Wars, which believes that
invisible alien lizard people drive most U.S. policy now. This is from the
Info Wars internet TV show. This is for the skeptics don`t believe they`re
moving among us, mostly invisible, secretly controlling American policy, in
order to demonstrate their influence, they dress up as alien lizard people
at InfoWars.com to show you the effect that the lizards are having on the
United States government, so you can recognize their work when they surface
among us, even though most of us can`t see them. Some of us can see them.
That`s one side. In what is supposed to be a contest between two equally
feasible political choices, to be the leader of the free world, commander-
in-chief and president of the United States. And what we`re going to talk
about tonight is if you are the other side, what do you do with that?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Meanwhile, bizarrely, once
again, he phrased Russia`s strong man, Vladimir Putin, even taking the
astonishing step of suggesting that he prefers the Russian president to our
Now, that is not just unpatriotic and insulting to the people of our
country, as well as to our commander-in-chief, it is scary, because it
suggests he will let Putin do whatever Putin wants to do. And then make
excuses for him.
I was just thinking about all of the presidents that would just be looking
at one another in total astonishment. What would Ronald Reagan say about a
Republican nominee who attacks America`s generals and heaps praise on
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Hillary Clinton today at a press conference with reporters,
invoking Donald Reagan to try to make the case that it is just legitimately
nutty to have an American presidential candidate saying he prefers the
Russian president to the American president.
Simultaneously, as Hillary Clinton was invoking Donald Reagan`s name to
make the case today, Donald Trump`s running mate was in California,
literally calling Donald Trump the second coming of Ronald Reagan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. MIKE PENCE (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: What you had in Ronald
Reagan, God rest his soul, and what you have in Donald Trump are two men
who fundamentally were raised to believe in the American Dream.
1980, 2016, two different men, two different times. But so much seems
familiar, does it not?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: While Mike Pence was trying to sell Donald Trump as the second
coming of Ronald Reagan today, Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan was back
in Washington actually having a hard time explaining Donald Trump`s warm to
the point of romantic feelings about the Russian president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: At the candidate forum last night, Donald Trump had high praise
for Putin. I`m just curious sort of what you think about that, if you`re
concerned at all about –
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I read the little snippet.
Let me say this about Vladimir Putin. Vladimir Putin is an aggressor that
does not share our interests. Vladimir Putin is violating the sovereignty
of neighboring countries. It certainly appears that he is conducting in
state-sponsored cyberattacks on what appears to be our political system.
That is not acting in our interests. That is an adversarial stance and
he`s acting like an adversary.
REPORTER: Just to follow up on that, are you concerned though of Donald
Trump praising Vladimir Putin, someone who –
RYAN: I made my points about Putin clear right there. I`ll just leave it
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The chairman of the Republican Party, Reince Priebus, got
questions on this matter today. He tried to clean up further in an
interview with the “Associated Press”, which they quote him as saying that
Donald Trump, quote, “was not endorsing Putin at all.”
The chairman of the Republican Party is having to clarify whether or not
the Republican Party`s presidential nominee is endorsing the Russian
president, because for the record, this is what Donald Trump said last
night about the Russian president which has everyone twisted up in knots.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATT LAUER, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: Let me ask you about some of the things
you`ve said about Vladimir Putin. You said, I`ll tell you in terms of
leadership, he`s getting an A. Our president is not doing so well.
And when referring to a comment that Putin made about you, I think he
called you a brilliant leader, you said, it`s always a great honor to be
complimented by a man so highly respected within his country and beyond.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Well, he does have an 82 percent
approval rating according to the different pollsters who, by the way, some
are based right here. Look –
LAUER: He`s also a guy who annexed Crimea, invaded Ukraine, supports Assad
in Syria, supports Iran, is trying to undermine our influence in key
regions of the world. And according to our intelligence community,
probably is the main suspect for the hacking of the DNC computers.
TRUMP: Well, nobody knows that for a fact. You want me to start naming
some of the things that President Obama does at the same time?
LAUER: Do you want to be complimented by that former KGB officer.
TRUMP: When he calls me brilliant, I`ll take the compliment. If he says
great things about me, I`m going to say great things about him. He`s very
much a leader. You can say, isn`t that a terrible thing? The man has a
very strong control over a country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Donald Trump at the Commander-in-Chief Forum last night with Matt
Lauer, restating his admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin. “If
he says great things about me, I`m going to say great things about him.
When he calls me brilliant, I`ll take the compliment, OK?”
Here`s the thing, you want to know the real crazy, Bilderberg lizard
people, fake moon landing, juice boxes make you gay truth about this
particular issue in our presidential politics? Vladimir Putin never
actually called Donald Trump brilliant. Oh, no, this is going to unravel
the whole thing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
INTERVIEWER: You made some comments about the American Republican
presumptive nominee, Donald Trump. You called him brilliant, outstanding,
talented. These comments were reported around the world. I was wondering,
what in him led you to that judgment? Do you still hold that judgment?
VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): You personally are
very famous in our country. You are not only famous as a journalist in one
of the biggest TV stations, but as an intellectual. Why do you always
change the meaning of what I said?
Because at the moment, you speak as a journalist, not as an analyst. Why
are you juggling with what I said? I only said that he was a bright
person. Isn`t he bright? He is. I did not say anything else about him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: See? This is – this shouldn`t be important, but this year it is.
This whole thing about Trump praising Putin because Putin praised him.
This whole thing that has turned the Republican Party into a pretzel
because now their presidential nominee is saying he prefers the Russian
president to the president of the United States of America. This whole
thing about Putin praising Trump and that led to this whole problem for
Republicanism, let alone the Republican nominee, let alone the Republican
Party, appears to have been a misunderstanding.
It`s true that the word “brilliant” was initially reported when Putin made
his comments in Russian about Donald Trump last December. But the news
sources who originally translated his remarks that way, they later
corrected themselves, to say the Russian word that Putin used when talking
about Donald Trump only means brilliant in one sense. It means brilliant
in the sense of shiny, brilliant as in a bright light, not as in a bright
NBC went to the chair of the Russian department at Dartmouth College today
and asked about the actual words Putin used when he described Trump in
December. Asked about the difference between our concept of the word
“brilliant,” which can mean both shiny or genius – asked about that
difference between our concept of the word brilliant and the Russian word
that Putin actually used.
It turns out, had Putin meant to call Donald Trump brilliant, as in a
genius, as in a smart person, which is what Donald Trump thinks Putin said
about him, turns out if that`s what Putin meant, he would have used this
word, which I am not going to pronounce because I do not speak Russian,
apologies to my ancestors.
He did not use that word, which would mean brilliant in the sense of being
a genius, being a very smart cookie. Instead, Putin, when talking about
Donald Trump, used this word, which I will also not pronounce. Russians
use this word to mean brilliant in the sense of bright light or bright
And so, the initial translations of Putin last December calling Donald
Trump brilliant were all corrected after the fact. “The Guardian” news
issued a print correction at the time, changing their translation to say
that Putin did not call Trump brilliant, he called him colorful. Other
translations were amended to show that Putin actually called Donald Trump a
word more like flamboyant.
And Putin himself has clarified with Fareed Zakaria this past June, that he
did not call Trump brilliant, in that genius sense. He was not
complimenting him in that way. He doesn`t think he is a genius. He thinks
he`s flamboyant and colorful, and that is not nearly as nice a thing to
You know what? It shouldn`t matter. On the one hand, who cares? On the
other hand, we now have to. This is apparently an election where the
Republican presidential campaign does its research at the number one online
debunker of 9/11 and the Oklahoma City bombing and the “Challenger”
disaster and the Aurora movie theater and the Sandy Hook shootings and the
Boston bombings because all of those things didn`t really happen, they`re
all government conspiracy theories.
On the one hand, that is their new source, that is what they at the highest
levels are circulating to the American public as the truth they ought to
know about their country. This is an election year where the Republican
Party is running as their candidate for president. A candidate who is
self-centered and narcissistic that a flippant and apparently misquoted
compliment from another foreign leader was enough to put enough stars in
his eyes that the Republican Party`s presidential nominee says he prefers
the president of Russia to the president of the United States.
This stuff is crazy. And it should be irrelevant. But this is the highest
level of our politics right now. And it`s so easily manipulable, because
that`s what it is.
I mean, nobody has done it already, but somebody should send a fake mash
note from Kim Jong-un to Donald Trump, complimenting him on his suit or his
hair or something. And then wait five minutes and ask Donald Trump if he
thinks the United States should give North Korea a state dinner, seriously.
MADDOW: So, we`ve got lots of news tonight. Some presidential news. Some
not presidential news. Including why a whole bunch of American public
officials who tonight are rotting in jail because they were in prison for
corruption – tonight, there`s news about why those convicted bribe
recipients and crooks had a tremendously awesome day today.
It`s a weird story. That`s coming up. Stay with us.
MADDOW: So last month, on the eve of his first intelligence briefing as
the Republican Party`s presidential nominee, Trump was asked if he trusted
the intelligence he was about to get at that briefing. He said he probably
wouldn`t trust it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Do you trust intelligence?
TRUMP: Not so much from the people that have been doing it for our
country. Look what`s happened over the last ten years, look what`s
happened over the years. I mean, it`s been catastrophic.
In fact, I won`t use some of the people that are sort of your standards.
You know, just use them, use them. Very easy to use them. But I won`t use
them because they`ve made bad decisions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was August 16th. I won`t use them.
The following day, August 17th, Trump received that secret intelligence
briefing as a candidate. He brought two advisers along with him, New
Jersey Governor Chris Christie and retired General Michael Flynn.
Donald Trump also later received a second intelligence briefing last
Well, those briefings came up at last night`s commander in chief forum.
Donald Trump responded to that question by talking about those briefings in
a way that no candidate has really ever done before.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: What I did learn is that our leadership, Barack Obama, did not
follow what our experts and our truly – when they call it intelligence, it
is there for a reason – what our experts said to do. I was very, very
surprised. In almost every instance, and I could tell. I`m pretty good
with the body language, I could tell, they were not happy. Our leaders did
not follow what they were recommending.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I could tell. I could tell they were not happy. I`m pretty good
with the body language.
The briefers from the National Intelligence Office were conveying to Donald
Trump with their body language their policy disapproval of President Obama.
Today, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which conducts
the briefings, would not comment on Donald Trump`s remarkable remarks about
what happened there. But, apparently, somebody has something to say about
those briefings and what happened there.
NBC News had a remarkable report on this today. Look at this. Quote,
“Four sources with knowledge of the briefing, including two intelligence
officials who spoke to people in the room, said General Flynn repeatedly
interrupted the briefers until Governor Chris Christie intervened.” Quote,
“Two sources said Christie verbally restrained General Flynn. One saying
Christie told Flynn to shut up. The other reporting he said, calm down.
Two other sources said Christie touched General Flynn`s arm in an effort to
get him to calm down and let the officials continue.”
Really? And how do we know this? How could we know? Who – what?
Both General Flynn and Governor Christie are absolutely denying that any of
this occurred. Governor Christie says the story is categorically untrue.
He says, it is a complete work of fiction. General Flynn called NBC News
tonight said the report of conduct was, quote, “total BS”. He says, “These
are unanimous sources. They`re lying.” He says, “This is just a smear,
He further said, this crowd has nothing else to go after so they`re trying
to go after credibility of people. I`m OK with that because I know what I
was a part of and what I witnessed.
Asked as a follow up what he meant by this crowd, General Flynn replied,
quote, “The Clinton machine.” The Clinton machine.
How did intelligence briefings turn into this this year? Intelligence
briefings for the candidate, usually the least controversial thing in the
whole campaign – the one thing we can count on to be a non-partisan thing
taken seriously and treated seriously. How did this happen?
Joining us now is David Priess. He`s a former intelligence officer and
briefer under former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. He wrote
the book on presidential intelligence briefings. It`s called “The
President`s Book of Secrets”, and he`s been our sort of secret decoder ring
for these stories this year.
David, it`s nice to see you again. Thank you for being here.
DAVID PRIESS, FORMER CIA DAILY INTELLIGENCE BRIEFER: Thank you for having
MADDOW: So I don`t have any inside information as a person who works at
MSNBC as to the sourcing of this NBC story, about what happened inside the
briefing. Have you ever heard of briefers leaking information from inside
those briefings about what happened? Especially contemporaneously, like in
the same news cycle.
PRIESS: No, certainly not contemporaneously. And, in fact, not much in
terms of the long history of this, long after presidents are gone, the
presidents themselves will talk about their briefings and the briefes will
But there is a sense of the sanctity of these briefings where the briefer
comes in, the briefer does her job or his job communicating the
assessments, and that`s all. There is no policy recommendation. No
talking after the briefing about what was discussed and had how it was
discussed. That`s unusual.
MADDOW: See, the body language assertion stuck out for me. Because I
don`t know what it means to be an intelligence officer giving a briefing
like this, and also because it seems like Mr. Trump was reading a lot into
what he described as the body language of the briefers.
This idea that he was able to discern from the – from intelligence
officials body language that they were unhappy – that President Obama
didn`t follow their advice and they were unhappy about it. Can I get your
reaction to that, broadly speaking?
PRIESS: Yes. On two fronts, that strikes me as odd.
First of all, it`d be unusual for a briefing to be talking in any way, and
I include non-verbal communication, in any way about the policy of the
sitting president. That`s not the job of intelligence, number one. And it
violates the ethic of responsibility of the intelligence officers, to call
things like they see it about the foreign situation.
Secondly, as a former intel briefer myself, I can tell you, very few people
are more self-aware of how they communicate information. About what
they`re saying and what they`re not saying. Because our primary goal is to
make sure the message we`re conveying about sensitive issues with big
impact, that they`re not misunderstood in any way.
Trying to give some subtle body language to communicate that this isn`t
really what I`m saying, but it`s not what I`m not saying, if you know what
I`m saying, I don`t understand how one would do that. And, certainly, I
don`t understand why one would do that.
MADDOW: David, one last logistical question. One of the things we`ve
talked about the last couple times you`ve been here is the number of
briefings. It seems like the intent was that each of these candidates
would have a single briefing. We know that Trump has had a follow-up
Because he`s had a second, do you expect Hillary Clinton will also have a
second one now?
PRIESS: I suspect she will. If nothing else politically, it gives her the
chance to preempt a Trump comment that, well, I`m getting more briefings
than she is. She doesn`t care about this.
It might be a good strategy for her to keep the intel briefings going as
long as possible, because we keep talking about Donald Trump and the way
he`s handling these briefings and what he`s saying about them. That`s
pretty rich fodder in this election campaign.
MADDOW: David Priess, former election – excuse me, former intelligence
officer and briefer and author of “The President`s Book of Secrets” – it`s
pleasure to have you here as always, David. Thank you very much.
PRIESS: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. We`ve got much more ahead. Lots of news.
Presidential news and not presidential news. Stay with us.
MADDOW: If you`re just listening and you`re not looking at your TV, like
if you`re washing the dishes or listening on the bus and you`re zoning out
and just listening, you have to look at this. You have to look. Visual.
May I present the USS Zumwalt. Look at that, 610 feet of naval bad assery,
seen here cruising out of the bath iron works in Maine. What a strange and
amazing looking ship.
The Zumwalt is the most sophisticated destroyer ever built for the U.S.
Navy. It`s also most expensive, $4.4 billion for that ship.
Yesterday, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump proposed a huge,
huge military buildup for the United States of America, beyond even the
most 1980s bellicose dreams of the Ronald Reagan era. As for how we would
pay for this massive, massive, massive buildup, including more than 70 new
ships for the Navy, more than 80 new planes for the Air Force, 13 new
battalions for the Marine Corps, 50,000 new soldiers to the army. How we`d
pay for it? Well, he just will. He just will. Zumwaltz for everyone.
We are in this moment where important and serious stuff in American policy
is kind of evaporating like bubbles from soda into the politics of this
election fight. But one of these important policy things has just been
introduced into the presidential fight, and I think it seems likely to
stick and I think it`s really important and Richard Engel is here to talk
about it, next. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Last night for the first time ever, we got to see both candidates
for president participate in a forum devoted to veterans issues, and
foreign policy and war and peace. And, yes, it was short and it definitely
didn`t get to all the things it could have gotten to. There was a lot of
dancing around stuff that should have been straightened out. Yes, yes,
But you know what? We did get something new on a key foreign policy issue
that we`d never really got before. And that`s great, because campaigns are
supposed to be about debate. And the new thing that got introduced into
what ought to be our foreign policy debate is something that is an open and
interesting question that people of good faith on both sides can reasonably
It`s a real question as to whether or not this is the right way to do it.
We`ve now got a concrete proposal. This is what we ought to do.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: It is in our national security
interest to defeat ISIS, and I intend to make that happen.
MATT LAUER, NBC NEWS: Thank you very much for your question.
CLINTON: We`re going after Baghdadi, the leader, because it will help us
focus our attention, just like going after bin Laden helped us focus our
attention in the fight against al Qaeda.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Interesting. Even as Matt Lauer was trying to wrap her and move
to the next question, Secretary Clinton pushing aside the interruption and
bringing us this last point. She intends to go after ISIS, but you know
what? She intends to go after the named head of ISIS. She names him.
She says, we need to go after Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, the same way we went
after Osama bin Laden when we were going after al Qaeda. She volunteered
the information, she went out of her way to do it and circled back to it
this morning in her press conference.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: We should hunt down the leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, and
bring him to justice, just as we did with Osama bin Laden.
As with that operation, getting al Baghdadi will require a focused effort
driven at the highest levels. But I believe it will send a resounding
message that nobody directs or inspires attacks against the United States
and gets away with it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDDOW: Secretary Clinton talks a lot about is. But she is sticking a
flag in this tactical, planned pursuit. She`s sticking a flag and going
after this leader, right? Reminding everybody of what she said last night,
circling back to it and saying it`s important we not only go after ISIS as
an organization but that we personally go after the named head of that
OK. Let`s talk about it. Is that a good idea? Substantively, is that a
good idea, in terms of how we approach and make our priorities in counter
terrorism and the fight against ISIS?
Joining us live from Istanbul, Turkey, is Richard Engel, NBC News chief
Richard, thank you for staying us into the wee hours. I know you did it
last night, too, to watch this forum.
Let me just start off by asking you about Hillary Clinton`s pronouncement,
whether this is a big deal?
RICHARD ENGEL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: No, I don`t think it
is a big deal. There is already a campaign to hunt down Baghdadi. I know
people involved in the campaign, they very much want to find and kill or
capture Baghdadi. I think it`s a way for Hillary Clinton to remind the
voters that she was involved in the hunt for bin Laden and that al Qaeda
was decimated once bin Laden was killed.
I`m not totally convinced, by the way, that al Qaeda was totally decimated.
I think it is a narrative the intelligence community has put out. I`m not
at all sure that it`s accurate.
When you see Syria right now, I think we`re in a situation where ISIS could
very well be eliminated and what we`ll be left with is a very strong al
Qaeda base in Syria.
So, I think she`s trying to remind people of that and put the flag down.
Yes, I`m going to kill Baghdadi, just the way I was involved in the death
for bin Laden.
But the fact remains, there are more numerically and more dangerous
terrorists now in the world on the loose than there were a few years ago,
than there were five or six years ago. Whether the death of bin Laden or
whether the death of Baghdadi, there are still more and more dangerous
terrorists out there now than there were before.
MADDOW: That`s why this seems like a substantively interesting point for
her to have raised and kind of stuck this flag in, because there is this
count terrorism debate. As to whether or not going after the named guy,
going after, you know, the head of the snake, right, picking recognizable
in the West targets, people like bin Laden, people like Baghdadi, and
focusing resources on that makes sense in terms of counterterrorism
strategy in terms of decimating the organizations or whether it`s something
that works in the West that`s designed for American public, that it does
make the most sense strategically.
ENGEL: Well, there`s both. There is the idea that, sure, you shouldn`t
focus on the boogie man and believe that if you eliminate the leader that
the problem will go away, the problem of terrorism and anger towards the
United States didn`t go away with the death of bin Laden.
But leaders do matter. Some individuals are more skilled than others. If
you look at the history of is when it used to be al Qaeda in Iraq. When
you killed Zarqawi, when U.S. troops killed Zarqawi, it did set the
And then, he was replaced. There was another leader named Abu Ayyub al-
Masri. You probably don`t remember him very much because he was a terrible
leader. There are many in the counterterrorism world that wish he had been
left in place because he was so efficient as a leader, and by killing him,
this replacement to Zarqawi, we ushered in a new generation of more
So, yes, not all terrorist leaders are created equal and killing the most
charismatic ones set the organization. It`s not a silver bullet. I think
what she`s trying to do is remind people she was involved in that very
symbolic and I think very important decision and very important mission
that killed bin Laden. But, the fact remains, there are still ISIS now
when there was not ISIS before.
MADDOW: And the symbolic value here is not – I mean, symbolism is
important, strategically and politically here. I hope there is a fight, a
robust about this. I think there are lots of different ways to argue this.
I feel there was this substantive nugget that came out of last night.
Richard Engel, NBC News chief foreign correspondent, joining us from
Istanbul, tonight, Richard, thank you. It`s great to see you, my friend.
ENGEL: Good to talk to you.
MADDOW: I do – you know what, with – in terms of national security
issues and veterans` issues and getting those things spot let with this
forum. I think it`s worked. I think the campaign turned towards those
issues in anticipation of last night`s event.
The question is whether after last night`s events, they end up finding the
substantive differences between themselves of the issues that they were
asked about and whether or not they get better of tweezing out the
differences between them on this stuff, and the issue whether we should be
targeting Baghdadi personally is a way of going after ISIS, I would love to
hear them fight about that. Please, fight about that. Try that.
All right. More ahead tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Two years ago, September 2014, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell was
convicted on multiple felony corruption counts. The court found that the
personally engraved Rolex and use of awesome white Ferrari and more than
$100,000 in gifts, and cash and loans that were all accepted by Governor
McDonnell, court found those were a quid pro quo, that after receiving
those things he used the power of his office as governor to tried to help
out the businessman who had given him the loot and loan him the car.
Governor McDonnell was convicted on 11 counts, sentenced to two years in
prison. But he always maintained his innocence. He appealed his
conviction and in June, the Supreme Court threw his conviction out. The
court called the governor`s actions tawdry and distasteful, but in a
unanimous decision, they said it had not been proven that those tawdry and
distasteful actions counted as official corruption.
Since that ruling, it has been up to federal prosecutors to decide what to
do next, they`ll decide whether they would try the case again or let it go.
A week ago, “The Washington Post” reported that they were going to try it
again, that the prosecutors who brought the charges against Governor
McDonnell were raring to go. They wanted to charge him again. They want
to get, essentially, a second conviction under the terms set out by the
But that didn`t happen. Today, the Justice Department announced that, no,
Governor McDonnell will not be retried. The charges against are dropped.
And with that, we get to the end of the Bob McDonnell saga. But we also
lose any clear sense of what does constitute bribery of a public official
anymore. If what Governor McDonnell took from this guy and did for this
guy in return isn`t corruption, then how would anyone prove bribery by any
public official from here on out?
So, watch the space, but particularly watch to see how many currently
imprisoned public officials use this Bob McDonnell case now to get their
own convictions overturned. I`m telling you, it was a happy today in a lot
of minimum prison security blocks.
MADDOW: We`ve got some late breaking news tonight that`s just come to us.
Since we`ve been on the air this hour, there are indications tonight that
North Korea has conducted an underground nuclear test. South Korean
officials say they detected a tremor emanating from North Korea but they
described it as an artificially caused tremor, meaning it was not caused by
an earthquake. Usually, that means a large explosion caused by a test,
corroborating that, the U.S. U.S. Geological Survey said it registered a
5.3 magnitude seismic event out of North Korea.
But again, indications are that this is not a natural earthquake, this is a
nuclear test. If confirmed, this will be North Korea`s fifth nuclear test
in total, it will set off a whole new round of international recriminations
and worries. Their last test was in January of this year. If this is a
new one, this is going to be very big news over the next few days.
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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