The Rachel Maddow Show Transcript, 9/19/2016
Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: September 19, 2016
Guest: Matt Katz
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, my friend.
CHRIS HAYES, “ALL IN” HOST: You bet.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
There is a lot going on in the news tonight. I really appreciate you being
Charges have just been filed against the, alleged bomber from the New York
and New Jersey explosions this weekend. A string of bombing attacks that
started Saturday morning in Seaside Park, New Jersey. That was followed by
a large explosion in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan on Saturday
That was followed in the overnight hours last night by a further explosion
in Elizabeth, New Jersey, as a police bomb disposal robot tried to diffuse
another group of – explosive devices that were found on the street by a
couple of very, very, very lucky homeless guys who did not themselves get
hurt after they`ve handled the devices in Elizabeth.
That was all followed this morning by a shootout on the streets of Linden,
New Jersey. A man shot by officers in that gun fight and is now
hospitalized with multiple gunshot wounds. He has been charged tonight
with five counts of attempted murder.
Now that number may seem strange. It`s an interesting strategy on the part
of law enforcement. What`s interesting about these charges is that this
man has not yet been charged with, anything, related to his alleged role in
blowing up those bombs, either in New Jersey or New York. What he has been
charged with, is, is, he is, he has been charged in conjunction with the
shootout, with police officers this morning.
Super interesting. We`ll be talking in a moment about why that its. And,
what we know about the case against him.
We have also just got brand new detail tonight about the construction of
the bombs in both New York and New Jersey. There are very unusual details.
And what has been reported about the construction and the makeup of the
I mean, to a certain level. All home made bombs, by definition are a
little strange. They are a little different. But the details about the
bombs that have been recovered and the ones that exploded in New Jersey and
in New York, the details about how they were built are weird enough details
that they may actually be helpful, both in sorting out where the guy was
coming from, where he may have learned his bomb-making, and any potential
links that he might have to some sort of larger terrorist organization.
So, we`ve got those details coming up in just a second, along with some
experts here to help us understand their significance.
We`ve also got further news tonight on ISIS claiming responsibility for the
St. Cloud, Minnesota, stabbings that took place this weekend, that attack
seemingly unrelated to what happened soon thereafter in New Jersey and New
York. But we`ve got ISIS directly claiming responsibility for that
Minnesota attack. And there are interesting questions to be raised about
that claim of responsibility. And what it really means.
So, after the United States suffers what appears to have been at least
three terrorist attacks in the span of 12 hours. There is still a lot of
news on those still developing stories tonight and we will cover that this
There is also a bunch of other news beyond the terrorism stories tonight.
There`s a lot going on for example around the United Nations. The United
Nations General Assembly kicks off tomorrow. Security in our nation`s
largest cities, security in New York City, is always mega around the U.N.
General Assembly. You cannot imagine what it is like here now, with
simultaneously this multiple site bombing investigation going on and the
General Assembly starting tomorrow. You would never know there were enough
law enforcement personnel to be anywhere else in the country for the number
of them you see out in the streets of Manhattan and at New York landmarks
President Obama is due to address the U.N. General Assembly tomorrow. It
will be the last time he does that as the president.
Today and tonight, Hillary Clinton was in New York meeting with leaders of
Japan and Ukraine and Egypt. Republican presidential candidate Donald
Trump also took a meeting tonight with the Egyptian president. Feel free
to wrap your brain around that for a while.
We also just got in a very detailed explanation of the structure and the
topics for the first presidential debate. The debate of course happens a
week from tonight. We`ve got those details coming up for you in just a
little bit. Incidentally, there`s also a bit of bad news tonight for the
Libertarian Party and their presidential ticket.
Beyond just Gary Johnson not making that first presidential debate, which
he previously said would be game over for his candidacy, beyond that, the
Libertarians also got some further bad news in the last 24 hours.
So, as I said, plenty to cover tonight. This is a ten-pound show. We have
to fit it in a five-pound bag.
But, let us start with this hard to pronounce series of words hexamethylene
triperoxide diamine. Hexamethylene triperoxide diamine, I think that`s how
you say it. More easily pronounced as HMTD. HMTD. It`s a peroxide-based
compound that is explosive.
Because it is peroxide-based, it`s a little similar to a now well-known
similar explosive called TATP. That`s an explosive compound we`ve learned
a lot about over the last few years. This one is more unstable. A little
more likely to go off accidentally if it`s subjected to shock or impact.
But these peroxide-based explosive compounds, they have well-known even
among those who weren`t experts in this field, because they keep getting
used. They keep getting used by al Qaeda-linked and ISIS-linked all over
the world. So, the Bataclan attacks in Paris, the Brussels bombings, even
going back to 2005, the 7/7 bombings in London, the Boston marathon in
2013. Peroxide-based explosives.
And peroxide-based explosive compounds, they`re not easy to work with.
They can be dangerous for the bomber unless the bomber really knows what he
or she is doing. They are also becoming basically a signature explosive
for Islamic terrorist groups.
Now, we do not yet have absolutely clear information about the devices that
either exploded or were recovered in those several different sites this
weekend. We don`t have totally clear reporting on it, right? But there is
a bunch of devices being attributed to this one 28-year-old Afghan-American
suspect shot by police this morning in New Jersey.
But here`s the thing: there are reports tonight that the explosive compound
in the one pressure cooker bomb that he apparently set in Chelsea but it
did not explode, the bomb that was found on 27th Street in Manhattan. It
was found intact after the first bomb exploded four blocks south, in
Manhattan. It was taken intact first by the NYPD, and then by the FBI.
We`re told it`s at the FBI explosives lab in Quantico now.
There are reports that the explosive compound in the unexploded bomb, that
one that was recovered in Chelsea that compound was HMTD, one of these
And here`s why that`s interesting, here`s why that is interesting and
potentially strange. Because there are also reports tonight that the other
pressure cooker bomb, the one that did actually go off to such terrible
effect on 23rd Street and Manhattan on Saturday night, the one that injured
29 people, created the blast, we are told tonight that that pressure cooker
bomb was made with a whole different kind of explosive.
We`re told tonight that the explosive material in that one, the one that
went off, was a combination of ammonium nitrate and aluminum powder.
Neither ammonium nitrate nor aluminum powder is considered to be explosive
on its own, I think. But when you combine the two components it creates an
explosive mix, and relatively common one. Those two components are
components of widely available commercial products that people use at gun
ranges and stuff when they want a shooting range target that doesn`t just
get a bullet hole through it, explodes when you hit it with a rifle round.
I know that sounds a little bit over the top and I`m sure a lot of people
use exploding targets. Gee, whiz, I want something to explode. But it
does make sense if you are target shooting at a very, very long distance.
One of the thing that makes sense about an exploding target, if you are
shooting from very, very, very, very far away and you need to know with the
naked eye if you hit your target. Exploding targets. That said, also,
whoo, exploding targets, right?
So, it`s interesting already, right, if the nature of the two bombs proves
to be true. That means that we`ve got two bombs, structurally similar.
Both pressure cooker bombs. But they were made with two different types of
explosives. That`s weird and interesting if you are talking about one
But beyond that, the same suspected bomber is also being ascribed
responsibility for another completely different type of bomb. I mean, in
Manhattan, both on 23rd and 27th Street, they`re saying a pressure cooker
made into a bomb, right?
Well, in New Jersey, both in Seaside Park, where a device detonated near
the starting line of a, a Marine Corps fun run on Saturday morning, and
also in Elizabeth, New Jersey, where a come of homeless guys found devices
in a backpack sitting on a trash can, in both New Jersey instances it
wasn`t pressure cooker bombs. We`re told they were pipe bombs.
And once again, there is yet another weird detail. That is hard to
explain, it`s hard to imagine significance of, talking about one bomber
because that device that blew up in Seaside Park, New Jersey, which did not
injure anyone, blew up inside a plastic trash bin, start of the 5k run. It
didn`t hurt anybody.
That device appears to have been a bundle of three pipe bombs. And the
explosive material in those pipe bombs was reportedly yet a third kind of
Remember, the first pressure cooker bomb, ammonium nitrate and aluminum
powder. Second pressure cooker bomb was HMTD. That Seaside Park bomb was
neither of the things. The explosive material in the bomb was apparently
And if you want to give the screw one last twist, if you want to get even
weirder, consider that that last clutch of bombs found in Elizabeth, New
Jersey, again, those were pipe bombs like the New Jersey device, but those
ones were apparently stuffed with HMTD. Like the pressure cooker that
didn`t blow up.
So, how does this make sense? You`ve got three different explosive
compounds. All of which potentially are dangerous and hard to work with.
You`ve got two different bomb designs.
Between the two different bomb designs, you have, sort of mixed bag in term
of which explosive compound you are using in each. Between the three bombs
in Seaside Park, they think one of them went off. In terms of the five
bombs in Elizabeth, none went off before the police got there. One
detonated when a police robot was sent in to clip its wires.
So, between those eight bombs and the two pressure cooker bombs, one of
which went off, one of which didn`t. You`ve got basically, two purposeful
explosions. Seven devices that never went off at all, and one that only
went off being diffused after it was handled quite roughly by a couple guys
who stumbled upon it.
Huh? How is this one thing? How likely is it that you get one bomber who
has practiced enough at this stuff that he`s got all of his limbs, and his
fingers and things? He`s not accidentally blowing himself up trying to
make these things. But you`ve got one bomber making all ten of the bombs,
all in different ways. And miraculously, not killing himself and not
killing anyone else even with ten bombs to work with.
Does that make sense technically? How does that make sense? What does
that tell about where he was learning his bomb-making? Whether it was
conceivable he did all of this both alone and without anybody noticing what
he was up to?
I mean, so far, the only real explanatory links we have got here are he are
that he`s under arrest. Law enforcement say that he is suspected being the
bomber behind all of those ten devices, the New Jersey devices and New York
devices. They say they`re not necessarily looking for any one else in
conjunction with these bombs.
We`re also told the device from Seaside Park and that, unexploded pressure
cooker, the one from 27th Street, we are told that those both used flip
phone cell phones as part of the timing device for the bomb. And that both
of the cell phones were purchased at the same store, they`re both purchased
at Family Dollar Store in Perth Amboy, New Jersey. Those are the links.
There are some explanatory links between the disparate bombs those
disparate bombings and this one suspect they`ve got in custody after he
shot at two police officers this morning.
In terms of other people who might have been in on this or linked to
ongoing terrorist concerns, ongoing terrorist organizations, whether
anybody else who`s had connections to these bombs might still be on the
loose, whether we should expect that there are other bombs out there from
the same maker, at this point we do not know.
That said, while all this has been unfolding in New York, meanwhile, ISIS`
media arm, which is called “Amaq”, they are overtly claiming responsibility
for the knife attack that happened Saturday night at Crossroads Center Mall
in St. Cloud, Minnesota.
After stabbing eight men, we earlier thought it was seven men – it`s now
eight men, one woman, and a 15-year-old girl – this 22-year-old Somali-
American security guard had the great misfortune to run into a man, a
licensed firearms instructor and trained competitive shooter. He`s
literally a man who has won medals in competition for practical shooting.
He trains other law enforcement officers, specifically in high pressure
handgun shooting techniques. That`s who he ran into.
So, that was the end of 22-year-old Dahir Adan at that mall in St. Cloud,
Minnesota. We now know he was born to a Somali family in Kenya. He was
raised in Minnesota since he was a toddler. We had no word, having no
known radical connections or stated radical convictions or being on any
sort of watch list. But, ISIS took less than a day to claim responsibility
for his attack at that mall, calling him a soldier of the Islamic State.
Now, this is not the first time that ISIS has claimed responsibility for an
attack that happened in the United States. Remember, they also claimed
responsibility for the San Bernardino attack, the Orlando mass shooting,
The question in this case – is whether this claim of responsibility for
the stabbing in St. Cloud, whether it is effectively just ISIS, you know,
crowing over this attack, expressing their pleasure that it happened and
wanting credit for it. I mean, at this point, do we know if the claim of
responsibility indicates any meaningful line of connection or,
communication, or even inspiration between that 22-year-old attacker in St.
Cloud and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
That investigation in St. Cloud will go forward now without that suspect
available to be questioned. He is dead.
Meanwhile, in New Jersey, Ahmad Rahami, 28-year-old Afghan/American, he`s
alive. He`s in the hospital. He`s charged with five counts of attempted
murder for his gun battle with police today. They have not yet charged him
with what are ultimately expected to be federal charges in conjunction with
all three of those fairly inexplicable, strange, oddly and diversely
constructed bombs in those two states.
Joining us now is Rukmini Callimachi. She`s “New York Times” correspondent
specializing in al Qaeda and ISIS.
Thank you for being here. I know this has been a lot of work, heck of a
workday for you today.
RUKMINI CALLIMACHI, NEW YORK TIMES: Thank you.
MADDOW: Let me start with St. Cloud first. You have said in the past that
there is a fairly recognizable pattern in terms of ISIS claiming
responsibility. They don`t let stuff necessarily go too long before they
CALLIMACHI: They`re looking for certain signs. They`re looking first of
all to see if the person who has done this attack is, A, a Muslim, and a
Sunni Muslim. And secondly, if he is doing it in an ideological fashion.
So, some of the clues that have come out of St. Cloud do indicate that.
There was a reference to Allah in something he said. There was at least
one witness that said that he tried to triage Muslims from non-Muslims by
asking one of the people he was about to stab, whether he was – whether he
was a Muslim. So, there are those two indicators.
In their statement, ISIS accredits their claim of responsibility to a
CALLIMACHI: So, we don`t, we have no idea if that is, if that it`s true,
if there really was a source. But what we have seen in the past, including
with Elton Simpson attack in Garland, Texas, with Omar Mateen in Florida
and host of attacks in Europe, is that in the initial hours and days after
the attack, law enforcement officials are often, are often puzzled by this
and they initially state there is no known link.
But with time and with their communications being dug into, you eventually
find some sort of link to the Islamic State, whether it`s just an
inspirational one where the person has been imbibing their ideology, or
whether as we have seen in very recent cases in Europe there is an actual
tie through a communication via encrypted apps, through Telegram, et
cetera, with what we`re calling now a virtual planner of the Islamic State.
There`s a number of them. And their basic job is just to reach out to
radicalized young men and try to move them from just the radicalized stage
to the violent stage.
MADDOW: And in terms of the investigatory tools, that U.S. law enforcement
has, even though those are encrypted messaging techniques do they have
access to them? They know enough about how to find the things that they
find them when they do exist?
CALLIMACHI: Well, I think what we need to wait and watch for is – is are
they able to identify this young man`s Facebook account. He`s a young man,
so most likely he has one. His Twitter profile. And then his Telegram
account. And nowadays, it`s the Telegram account the most important I
ISIS has a host of encrypted channels in various languages and for various
communities. And it is on the channels that usually the discussions
devolve. From there, you can piece together how an attack is linked back
MADDOW: On New York and New Jersey bomber, I laid out some there what I
find puzzling about the construction of the problems. Let me ask your
basic reaction to that. Do you think what we know about the construction
of the bombs is interesting, or unique, or potentially important?
CALLIMACHI: I have to say that my own source that I have been consulting
on this law enforcement official has identified the material that`s been
used in only two of the, of the four, devices. And, what he is telling me
is that it is, HMTD.
CALLIMACHI: Other ones, my own colleagues –
MADDOW: And that`s Seaside Park and 27th Street bomb that didn`t explode?
CALLIMACHI: It`s Elizabeth, I think.
MADDOW: Elizabeth, OK.
CALLIMACHI: Elizabeth and 27th Street.
Now, that explosive in and of itself is also weird from my point of view.
It is a peroxide-based explosive as you have mentioned. But unlike you
mentioned unlike TMTP, it`s much more volatile. So, it includes some of
the same ingredient, peroxide or something that they used, the reason that
they`re using this particular explosive is because the raw ingredient are
easy to have in the West.
MADDOW: They`re not illegal. You can obtain them. As long as you don`t
obtain them from the same place, you won`t raise suspicions.
CALLIMACHI: Exactly. Exactly.
But of those two, TATP versus HMTD, I`m told by explosive experts that HMTD
is much more volatile. It`s much more, it is much more susceptible to
CALLIMACHI: So, that suggest in and of itself that if you are going to
make the explosive, you have skill, otherwise, you are likely going to hurt
yourself in the process.
So, one of the explosive experts I spoke to today, if it is really is HMTD,
then you expect some chemistry. You expect that this person had some
knowledge at least – yes, it`s possible he could have learned it online.
Unlikely. But it`s possible.
And that there would have been a lab. There would have been a dedicated
space some where, where he had done this. And, these materials in these
quantities would have given off a smell. She says that it smells fishy,
literally like fish. So, it`s possible that this – this lab, will be
found at some point.
But, that said, it is a departure from what I have seen. All of the ISIS
plots in Europe up to this point have been TATP. So, that said, the other
thing that is interesting about this case is on the one hand if you assume
– as seems to be the case with the dialogue we have seen so far, that it
really is one bomb maker. And you assume that there`s four locations in
two different states, that on one hand something very ambitious, right?
CALLIMACHI: It`s – it`s equally ambitious to perhaps November 13th
attacks, even though it was foiled and didn`t go off.
On the other hand, you have something very amateurish about it. So, one –
one of the pressure cooker bombs including the fingerprint of the bomb
maker. Every single manual online or otherwise for making these things
teaches the bomb maker that you have to use gloves, because otherwise that,
that exactly problem is going to present itself. And they will be able to
trace it back to you.
Secondly, one of the detonators, one of the cell phone detonators was one
from – from the bomb maker`s family, or from the suspect`s family. We
don`t know yet for sure if he is the bomb maker. Again, that`s a rookie
move. You use a burner phone so that it`s not traced back to somebody that
you know and therefore helps law enforcement.
MADDOW: Especially it`s not a suicide attack and you`re not sticking
around for the explosion to be murdered it happened.
CALLIMACHI: Right, exactly.
MADDOW: So many weird combinations of very advanced, both advanced and,
like high level and low level stuff simultaneously with the same thing. We
don`t yet understand the story I think.
CALLIMACHI: Yes, if I could just add.
MADDOW: Yes, please.
CALLIMACHI: My colleagues are reporting now from my colleague, this is
from my colleague Adam Goldman, that law enforcement officials are
confirming now at least three trips to Pakistan.
MADDOW: In addition to trips to Afghanistan.
CALLIMACHI: In addition, yes. And so we have 2005, we know he want to
Karachi. 2011, he went to Pakistan. We don`t know where. And then the
most recent trip was April 2013, to March 2014 in the city of Quetta in
Quetta is a hotbed of militancy. However, officials are saying he was
staying there with family, members of his that were in the refugee camps.
So, any one of the trips could be explained him going back to see family.
But in light of what`s happened, it`s hard not to also look at it through
the optic of what these cities imply in terms of militancy and Islamic
MADDOW: Rukmini Callimachi is a correspondent for “The New York Times” who
focuses on al Qaeda and ISIS and who just advanced the story considerably
in terms of my understanding. But I still feel like there is so much more
explaining that needs to happen before this makes sense.
Rukmini, thank very much. Thank you.
CALLIMACHI: Yes, my pleasure.
MADDOW: Yes, much more ahead. Stay with us tonight.
MADDOW: So, we`re going to have more on the bombings later this hour,
including this interesting question about the weird tech that is involved
in these bombs. We are going to have a little more expert opinion on that.
But we`ve also got a lot of other news to get to tonight, including some
brand new info about the first presidential debate, which is basically
about to happen. It`s coming up very soon. We got details on how that is
going to run.
Lots to get to tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: So, tonight, we got the details, the logistical details for the
first presidential debate one week from tonight. Here`s what you need to
know. It is one week from tonight, Monday, September 26th. It`s at
Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York. There is a single moderator,
Lester Holt of NBC News. It is going to start at 9:00 p.m. Eastern. It
will run for 90 minutes. It will have zero commercials.
And now, as of tonight we know how they`re going to divide up that
noncommercial 90-minute time. It turns out they`re going to do it in six
segments of 15 minutes each. They`re going to do two 15-minute segments on
what they`re calling America`s direction, two 15-minute segments on
achieving prosperity, and two 15-minute segments on securing America.
So, there you have it. Little vague, I know. But I think that`s kind of
the point, right? You don`t want to give them too much direction or they
just will cram for what they know is on the test, right?
The Commission on Presidential Debates announced on Friday that there will
be no minor party candidates in this first debate next week. Or, in the
vice presidential debate the week after that. Libertarian candidate Gary
Johnson is complaining, I think rightfully that Ross Perot had lower
national poll numbers in some polls, than Gary Johnson does right now at a
time when Ross Perot was actually invited to be part of the debates in
1992. That`s arguably true depending how you look at the numbers.
But that doesn`t change the fact that Gary Johnson this year, came nowhere
near qualifying for this year`s debates, according to the rules and
criteria publicly set out well ahead of time.
That said. Gary Johnson may have more pressing things to worry about at
the moment other than the debate. Carl Bernstein (AUDIO GAP) over eh
weekend that Gary Johnson`s well-regarded running mate, (AUDIO GAP) Weld
might quit as Gary Johnson`s running mate over concerns that the
Libertarians could play a Nader-esque role this year and accidentally tip
the race to Donald Trump.
Now, Bill Weld and Gary Johnson are both absolutely denying that report.
They say that there`s no way that Bill Weld is quitting the ticket. But
that provocative report does exist.
As does Gary Johnson`s own persistent problem of saying extremely dumb
things about extremely serious subjects. Last week, it was the almost
unbelievable spectacle of him answering a question about the war in Syria
by saying, what is Aleppo? Like it was an obscure flavor of ice cream or
some fancy foreign version of Alpo dog food. He never heard the word
Now, Gary Johnson has weighed in on the attacks this week end where 29
people were hurt in a bomb blast Saturday night in Manhattan. Just hours
after ten people were stabbed at that St. Cloud, Minnesota mall. Here was
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GARY JOHNSON, LIBERTARIAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, first of all, just
grateful that nobody got hurt.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Actually, Gov – never mind. Perhaps not making the debate is a
blessing in its own way.
Lots more ahead tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Three years ago this past week, a columnist at “The Bergen Record”
newspaper in New Jersey started reporting on a weird stubborn, hard to
explain days long traffic event that seemed to come out of nowhere. It`s -
- it`s New Jersey. So, it`s not that weird for a newspaper to have a
But what was unfolding in the little town of Fort Lee, New Jersey,
according to “Bergen Record`s” traffic columnist was, quote, “a commuting
disaster”. And at the time, there was one question that needed answering
about that commuting disaster. Quote, “Why would the Port Authority
purposely quadruple commuting time for some of the people who live closest
to one of the nation`s busiest bridges?” That was September. Three years
By the following January, “The Bergen Record” was able to answer the
question when they broke the news that the order to close down access lanes
onto the world`s busiest bridge actually came directly out of the office of
New Jersey`s Governor Chris Christie.
It was “Bergen Record” reporter Shawn Boburg who first got ahold of this
smoking gun e-mail tying those lane closures to the governor`s office. It
was an e-mail from Chris Christie`s deputy chief of staff saying, quote,
“Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.”
It was also “The Bergen Record” that first reported years ago that the man
who would eventually plead guilty to planning those closures, David
Wildstein, was widely considered to be Governor Christie`s direct line to
the Port Authority. It was “The Bergen Record” that revealed in the wake
of the Bridgegate scandal all the conflicts of interest surrounding the
Port Authority chairman, and longtime Christie ally, David Samson, who was
later forced to resign from that gig.
“The Bergen Record is New York`s second largest newspaper. And that paper
along with a bunch of other really good New York area and New Jersey media
outlets, “Bergen Record” has devoted untold hours and gallons of ink not
only to the Bridgegate story but also to everything else that makes New
Jersey politics so New Jersey.
And that`s why it was remarkable and not at all funny when this past week,
as the jury was being selected and seated, in the biggest political trial
to hit that state in years, as the jury was seated, that day, last week,
“The Bergen Record” announced it is laying off all most half its newsroom.
The paper was just recently acquired by big media conglomerate, that
conglomerate says they`re about to cut 130 newsroom positions at “The
This is bad news for New Jersey. It is also bad news for anybody who cares
about transparency in local government, right? Anybody who might
conceivably like to know what appears to be a mysterious commuting disaster
is, in fact, allegedly a large scale act of political retribution by a man
who otherwise might end up being president if stuff like this isn`t
reported by his dogged local press.
The Bridgegate trial opening statements started today. And Bridgegate
today claimed a large portion of Chris Christie`s political scalp. Even as
one of the papers that was key to unraveling the scandal got scalped itself
by the local news business.
We`ll have more on that in just a moment. But in the meantime, in this
commercial break, get online, and subscribe to your local paper. Actually
pay to subscribe to your local paper. Your country needs you to do that.
Go on. Go on. Go on. Go on.
MADDOW: Today was opening day in the Bridgegate trial in New Jersey. You
know the story, right? A top political appointee of Chris Christie and
former deputy chief of staff are both facing felony charges over what
prosecutors say was a criminal scheme to inflict terrible traffic on one
New Jersey town on purpose as a political vendetta against that town`s may
your who had the temerity not to endorse Chris Christie for re-election.
Prosecutors kicked off their opening arguments today by asserting that
Governor Christie knew all about it. Oh. The U.S. attorney`s office, the
prosecutors, they said today in their opening statements that over the
course of this trial, they`re going to prove that Christie knew about it.
Now, we have long known that the defendants in this case, would probably be
trying to blame Chris Christie for the lane closure saying he knew it in
order to undercut the prosecution`s case against the smaller fish. But the
defense taking that line is one thing. Now, it`s the defense and the
prosecution. The prosecution is also taking it as a given and says they
will prove that Governor Christie knew about the scheme while it was
unfolding, they say they will prove it in open court. And that is – duh.
Governor Christie, important to say is not on trial here. But his name
came up dozens of times today, already he has become central to the trial,
on both sides. Now what happens?
Joining us now is Matt Katz. He`s covering the trial for the WNYC radio.
He`s also the author of “American Governor: Chris Christie`s Bridge to
Matt, it`s great to have you with us. Thanks for being here.
MATT KATZ, WNYC RADIO: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: I wanted to call in sick and go to the trial today. Was it – I
mean, when the prosecutor said, Chris Christie knew, was that a surprise?
KATZ: Oh, for sure. I mean we haven`t heard that at all. We heard one
indication of that from a defense attorney, but to hear this from the
prosecutor so early on, on day one.
We know, there is a picture of Chris Christie and the conspirators hanging
out at a 9/11 ceremony, on September 11th, at Ground Zero while the lanes
were closed. And there`s always suspicion as but that.
What the prosecutor said, Chris Christie was talking to these guys about
the traffic jam.
MADDOW: While these pictures were being taken.
KATZ: That they were bragging to Christie about the traffic jam. And,
that the mayor of Fort Lee which was having public safety issues because of
the massive traffic jam, ambulance drivers getting out of their vehicle
running to the scene of incidents. They were bragging to the governor that
they were ignoring calls, e-mails, text messages from the mayor of Fort
MADDOW: Do the prosecutors give any indication of how they will prove this
dramatic assertion about the governor?
KATZ: It`s likely going to be almost entirely based on the testimony of
David Wildstein, who has been charged in this but is cooperating. And his
testimony is really the linchpin of the trial. He has testified against
both of the defendants and in exchange, he`s getting a more lenient
MADDOW: In terms of the strategy, I understood or could fathom – I`m not
a lawyer – but I could fathom while the defense would say why you are
going after the small fish? Obviously, this was a political vendetta,
serving one man`s interest. This was a Chris Christie scheme. Not the
scheme of my clients.
MADDOW: Why is the prosecution also making the same point?
KATZ: They`re making the argument. There is a culture of revenge and
retaliation that ran up and down the whole administration. So, they
brought up examples of both carrots and sticks the administration would
use, like, you know, tickets – free tickets to a Giants game to a mayor
who they want to endorse; a tour of Ground Zero perhaps for a mayor.
Then, also, they were showing that there were revenge tactics ordered by
the governor, like canceling meetings with the mayor who didn`t endorse
him, or causing a traffic jam. So, they`re trying to –
MADDOW: Show a pattern of behavior, a pattern of action by that governor`s
KATZ: Which is what is damning for Chris Christie because everybody in
that courtroom, all the lawyers have no interest in making him look good.
In fact, they all have an interest in according to their legal strategies
in taking him down.
MADDOW: And if they do prove it. Then, he`s going to have to answer the
people of New Jersey for continually asserting over all these years that he
had no knowledge, knew nothing about it.
KATZ: He will probably continue to say that.
MADDOW: Matt Katz, WNYC reporter covering the Bridgegate trial, will you
come back over the course of the trial and keep telling me until I can call
MADDOW: Yes, thanks, Matt.
We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: One of the sort of overwhelming details about the bomb incidents
in New Jersey and New York this weekend, is just the sheer number of bombs.
That were planted or at least just found across New York and New Jersey,
right? Three pipe bombs in Seaside Park, rigged into a single device, two
big separate pressure cooker bombs in New York City. Another five bombs at
the train station in Elizabeth, New Jersey, multiple pipe bombs in a
The makeup of all of the bombs as we have discussed earlier this hour, it`s
a little weird – the diversity of the bombs, the diversity of the
explosive compound in the bombs, the number of the bombs. It`s weird.
It`s a little scary.
But that strange fact about this crime, these terrorist attacks, they may
also be able to help us understand more about what kind of attack this was,
whether it is linked to something bigger than what it already seems to be.
We`ve got more on that ahead well-informed expert.
Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you know that your son was doing this?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You had no idea?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No idea.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you hear now that he has been accused of this, do
you believe it? Do you believe it? Sir?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m not sure what`s going on.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are not sure?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am not sure what is happening exactly. But I think
so. It`s very hard right now to talk. OK? Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was the father of suspected bomber, Ahmad Rahami, speaking
exclusively to NBC News earlier today.
Whether or not those close to the suspect knew that he was potentially
planning these attacks or building these devices, right now, those devices
are really interesting. Authorities are sitting on potentially a forensic
gold mine in terms of evidence. Not only do they have multiple bomb blasts
to investigate, they have also got multiple devices that did not explode.
How far can that go in terms of helping us understand what happened here
and basically the overall size of this plot? And whether it is linked to
Joining us now is Malcolm Nance. He`s former Navy counterterrorism
analyst, and he`s the author of “Defeating ISIS.”
Malcolm, it`s great to see you. Thank you for being here.
MALCOLM NANCE, FORMER NAVY COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Good to be here.
MADDOW: When we talked about bomb attacks in the past, you sort of
described an unexploded device as kind of the alpha and the omega in terms
of forensics and trying to understand where this came from. Do you have
high hopes in terms of that intact pressure cooker bomb and these intact
pipe bombs that have been recovered?
NANCE: Oh, yes, we are going to learn quite a bit about the – not just
about the bombs themselves. Bombs are just, you know, devices and systems
that the terrorists build. It`s about why he builds them. How he builds
Why did he choose that particular device? Why did he choose that
We`re going to learn quite a bit about this individual. And also, where
did he get the expertise to do this? I think you`re going to find
fascinating information about that as that comes out. Certainly, it might
be related to his trips to Pakistan.
But as soon as I heard pressure cooker bomb, the word Afghanistan came to
mind. Anybody who served in knows Afghanistan knows pressure cooker and
crock-pot style bombs are the rage over there. And the last time we saw it
in the United States was the Tsarnaev brothers with the Boston bombing.
MADDOW: Malcolm, in terms of what appears at least from initial reports,
appears to be a diversity both of materials and techniques in terms of
putting this together, some pipe-bombs, some pressure cooker bombs, some
HMTD, some black powder, some of this ammonium nitrate, aluminum powder
combination. That diversity of techniques and materials, what does that
say to you?
NANCE: Well, that tells me that the bomber himself was experimenting with
all these devices and all of these methodologies in order to get the right
mix down. What`s going to be interesting over the next 72 hours is do we
find this man`s bomb factory, OK? The bomb factory, the place he assembled
them, if it wasn`t in his bedroom, which I doubt, it`s usually a secondary
place, which is very clean, very neat with an electrical bench.
We`re going to find out whether there were more materials, whether he
intended more bombings. We`ve got about eight bomb pipes, which is about
right, because bombers tend to build pipe bombs in pairs, or, you know,
rarely do we have like seven, or always have two, four, six, eight. And
then the pressure cooker bombs themselves which were devised exactly like
al Qaeda`s anti-personnel devices, with layers of explosives in between
layers of ball bearings in order to create the most significant anti-
So, once those things – once that bomb factory`s found and the FBI`s labs
and BATF take that device apart, they`re going to compare it to every
pressure cooker bomb of found in the world. Same thing with the pipe-
bombs, the pipe bombs are usually used here in the United States by anti-
government extremists and they generally fill those with black powder or
pyrotechnic powders. So, again, each one of these devices is going to tell
us something unique.
MADDOW: If it turns out, Malcolm, that HMTD, one of these peroxide-based
explosives, not TATP, which we`ve seen more frequently, but HMTD, it`s one
– it`s one of these – the basis of one of these bombs, does that imply to
you either a level of training or a level of sort of chemistry
sophistication or anything else? Is that a more difficult material to work
NANCE: Yes, it`s a much more difficult material to work with, the
peroxide-based bombs. You know, I`m wondering, and certainly even though
this attack was amateurish in its delivery, he appears to have had some
type of preparation.
You know, bombers choose the material they work with either because of the
availability of the materials or on the other hand, when they went through
little baby bomb builder school, whether they actually became more
proficient at building one type of bomb. He may have gotten the HTMD path
– you know, build pattern down very well at bomb-maker school and failed
at TATP and all these other improvised chemicals. And he started with the
basics, which is always black powder and moved town flash powder, which is
the nitrate-based ones, and then maybe at school, he got very proficient at
building HTMD as opposed to TATP or any of the other explosives.
So, that`s probably why he chose that, he became chemically proficient at
building that type.
MADDOW: Malcolm Nance, director of the Terror Asymmetrics Project –
Malcolm, thank you for being with us tonight. It`s good to see you, my
NANCE: My pleasure.
MADDOW: All right. Still ahead, an intriguing open case that we learned
about today. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Just have one last point I want to raise with you tonight on the
issue of the bombings his weekend in New Jersey and New York, which injured
a total of 29 people before that alleged bomber was shot and taken to the
custody this morning by police.
We`ve been taking a close look tonight at the fact that of the ten bombs
being attributed to that suspect, this bomber apparently made at least four
different kinds of bombs. Ten bombs, four different types. One of the
pressure cooker bombs used ammonium nitrate and aluminum powder as an
explosive. Another reportedly is the chemical called HMTD. Some of the
pipe bombs also used HMTD. Others used black powder.
That`s a surprising range of techniques and materials is prompting new
questions about a totally different event, from earlier this year in New
York City on July 3rd. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: It was chaos in Central Park. This video was taken minutes
after 18 year old Conner Gooden`s foot was severed and an explosion in the
middle of the park. Conner`s friends told us they had no idea what caused
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We really don`t know. There was a small explosion then
REPORTER: Police believe the teen and his friends were climbing on rocks
in the park, when Conner stepped on what may have been a plastic bag filled
with an explosive material. That set off the blast.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was July, right? That was July 3rd.
Police that day said that college kid had stepped on a homemade
experimental fire work left behind by who knows. That was the leading
theory. I should tell you by way of good news that Conner Golden is back
walking and back at college, he was going to be OK.
But at the time of that accident, when he came out of surgery and spoke to
his parents, he told them, quote, “I stepped on a bomb.” Well, whatever he
stepped on. Police have still not identified a suspect. The police lab
tests reportedly found traces of the explosive TATP from the blast that
TATP was used in the Paris bombs last year. It was used by Richard Reid,
the shoe bomber, in 2001. It was used – TATP is used in a lot terrorist
attacks. It`s relatively easy to gin up from stuff you buy at the store
I mean, the relative ease of getting TATP and its popularity among bomb
makers, the absence of a named suspect in that central park case – I mean,
all of that has combined to bring the question of that case back now in
light of this new case about bombs of so many different varieties.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Does this arrest at all make you rethink Central Park?
ROBERT BOYCE, NYPD CHIEF OF DETECTIVE: Again, with the Central Park, from
what we know now, from what we know now, two separate incidents completely
– two different devices, wholly different, all right, and a couple months
apart. So, we`re always rethinking Central Park because this is still an
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Two incidents completely, wholly different, a couple months apart,
but it`s an open case. Maybe there is no connection, right? I mean,
sometimes, weird inexplicable stuff happens in the news and it is just
totally inexplicable and it`s just an outlier.
But then, sometimes months go by and you think, wow, that might not have
been a completely isolated and inexplicable incident. Maybe that was
chapter one in what has turned out to be a very dramatic novel about a very
experimental local bomb maker.
Tonight, as with so much else in the story, we simply do not, but we will
keep asking questions. That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”.
Good evening, Lawrence.
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