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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 09/16/15

Guests: Michael Beschloss

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thank you. And we will be keeping an eye on that as well. As Chris mentioned, a tsunami watch issued for Hawaii after that earthquake. Again, this is one of those stories where the early indications are obviously something that you want to be riveted to. The early indications can be very scary. They do not always end up being a scary thing, particularly given the direction in which these things move over the course of the -- over the surface of the ocean. But we`ll watch that closely tonight and let you know as we learn more. But I thank you for joining us tonight. Thank you for being with us. Let`s be honest, I know why you`re here. The Republican Party is hosting its second presidential candidate`s debate tonight, the second of the two debates being hosted on CNN tonight is three hours long. In the three-hour debate, the candidates are being given one bathroom break over the course of the three hours. And that comes after another two hours of a different subset of candidates who were made to debate first and separately from the larger group. So that is five straight hours of Republicans talking. And I know why you`re here. Sometimes that feels like too much Republicans talking. But in addition to the five hours of Republicans talking plan, CNN also made the strange decision to make the main event, the later of the two debates, the one that has 11 podiums on stage, they made this strange decision to pick that weird and large number of candidates for the second debate, 11. The reason they`ve got 11 candidates on stage instead 10 candidates, which is what FOX News did for their first debate, the reason tonight have 11 instead of 10 is because CNN broke its own debate eligibility rules, specifically to let and can a candidate called Carly Fiorina into tonight`s debate. Under CNN`s previous rules she would not have been there. CNN wanted in and so they broke their own rules. In the first debate, Carly Fiorina was not allowed in the main event, she was at the kids table with six other candidates. CNN moved her into the big table tonight so today`s a big day for Carly Fiorina. I think because she`s at the big debate tonight and she`d been at the kids table before really this is a bigger day for her than it is for any other candidate. This is really Carly Fiorina`s moment. And so, naturally, because that`s how it`s going this year for every candidate not named Donald Trump, because today is Carly Fiorina`s big day in the campaign, naturally a giant rainstorm just opened up over her parade. Carly Fiorina has never held public office before. She did run once before, she ran a losing U.S. Senate campaign against Barbara Boxer in 2010 but more than that one failed run for political office, Carly Fiorina is known for having been a business leader, right? She was CEO of Hewlett- Packard for from 1999 to 2005 during which time she made a number of very controversial decisions at HP, including firing more than 30,000 people. She herself then got fired by Hewlett-Packard`s board of directors in 2005, but it was the nice kind of firing. It was the kind of firing where they tell you, you can`t have your job but they also give you $40 million on your way out the door. So it`s kind of this awkward foundation for her presidential candidacy, right? One state didn`t want her as a senator but now she wants the country to want her as president. She wants to run as a business leader. But to most people, firing 30,000 people and then getting fired yourself, it doesn`t seem like a great business record to run on, right? I mean, even if you were able to cash in when you did it, it just doesn`t seem like the kind of thing you want to offer the country. Well, today her big day, the day that Carly Fiorina is participating in the big kids` debate for the first time ever. Today, today, her old company, Hewlett-Packard, decided to remind everybody of the worst part of her business record by putting out this announcement. Literally on the day of this debate HP announces that they are going to be firing another 30,000 people a la Carly Fiorina. And also they may be breaking the company apart. So that happening today is a nice reminder of what Carly Fiorina probably does not want people to think about when they think about her time as a business leader. But even with that, Carly Fiorina today is better off than the boys who are still stuck at the kids` table. I mean, at least first time there was a kids` table debate when FOX News did it there were seven people at that table. It looked like a substantial number of candidates. There was a significant number of people to watch. But between the first debate and the second debate, the kids` table went from seven people to six people to five people to four people after Jim Gilmore fell so low in the polls he didn`t even qualify to name CNN debate at all and then Rick Perry quit the presidential race altogether. And then CNN made this inexplicable decision that they were going to let 11 people instead of 10 people in the big debate so that took away another slot at the kids` table debate. And so, the kids` table tonight was really only four people and it was therefore sort of a terrible and awkward place to be for these guys in political terms. I mean, these four guys who CNN apparently decided to organize left from tallest to shortest like a decrescendo of disappointing height -- really, CNN? George Pataki is there on the tall side, or the left side of the stage. He ended up speaking a lot so that was probably good for him, more people heard George Pataki`s voice tonight than heard in the other parts of his not very impressive campaign. In terms of the guys in the middle, Bobby Jindal and Rick Santorum both seemed frantic and urgent, but they basically stuck to all the same stuff they always say on their campaign speeches, just more of a panicky tone of voice from those two tonight. South Carolina Lindsey Graham, he had been criticized at the last debate for being morose, one Republican observer told the "Washington Post" that in the last debate Lindsey Graham seemed like someone had quote "just killed his dog." Tonight Lindsey Graham tried to turn that one around by being the jokester of the kids` table. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I wasn`t the best law student. By the end of this debate it will be the most time I`ve ever spent in any library. (LAUGHTER) GRAHAM: We`re not going to deport 11 million people here illegally but we will start with felons and off they go. As to the rest, you can stay but you have to learn our language, I don`t speak it very well but look how far I`ve come. Speaking English is a good thing. Ronald Reagan did a couple of really big things that we should all remember. He sat down with Tip O`Neill, the most liberal guy in the entire house. They started drinking together, that`s the first thing I`m going to do as president. We`re going to drink more. (LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re having a good debate, but there is this problem of Washington elites and saying wonderful things about each other. GRAHAM: I`ve been called wonderful things but never "elite" before. My dad owned a liquor store or bar in a poolroom. So only in America can you go from being in the back of the liquor store to being elite. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: So Lindsey Graham at least brought some levity to the proceedings today. But for all these guys at the bottom of the Republican polls right now, all these guys at the kids` table tonight, they are in a pretty hopeless position. It`s possible to imagine that something might change for them in future but right now if you add up all the support that all four of them collectively receive in the last national Republican presidential poll, all of those candidates on stage tonight, those four guys, all of them totaled combined support in the last national poll was one percent, total combined. And it was easy to add up because three of them had zero percent support in the last poll and only one of them had one. The rest of the field, though, is not exactly a study of contrast in terms of strength. Almost everybody else running right now is stuck in single digits in every national poll. I mean, yes, it`s embarrassing to be Rick Santorum at one percent, but how much more embarrassing is that than being Jeb Bush at six percent? It`s just numerically unavoidable right now. You have to admit that the top of the ticket on the Republican side is so dominant, Donald Trump`s huge lead is so big it`s just squeezing almost everybody else in the race out as they try to find any support. So Ben Carson and Donald Trump are way up there at the top. But until Donald Trump in particular with his big leads, until he is cut down a little, until his lead shrinks, not only is nobody else going to have a chance to be a leader but a lot of people at the bottom of the race won`t be able to get above zero percent or one percent or two percent and there`s going inevitably to be more and more pressure for them to get out of the race entirely just because of how badly they are failing. The longer Donald Trump stay this is far out ahead, the more not just non- viable but sometimes self-parodying it looks like for guys like Jindal and Santorum and Graham and maybe even Chris Christie and Rand Paul to be talking about themselves as the next president of the United States. I mean, the longer those guys stay at one percent because Donald Trump is up over 30 percent, the more ridiculous their odds look at the bottom of the race. And the more inevitable it feels that they will have to get out of the race and maybe soon. And even facing that sort of existential trauma none of his presidential opponents have been able to cut Donald Trump`s lead down at all. But, Donald Trump is now facing two new opponents trying to cut him down from elsewhere in the political firmament, not other candidates but other big hitters in politics. The first one is happening in Iowa. It`s the largest and most influential newspaper in Iowa which, of course, is the "Des Moines Register." The "Des Moines Register" has previously feuded with Mr. Trump. They said after he criticized John McCain`s war record that Mr. Trump should drop out of the race. Since then the "Des Moines Register" has found its photographers and reporters frozen out of all Donald Trump Iowa events. But that`s really not causing them to back down. Heading into tonight`s debate, the "Des Moines Register" has just run one of the most blistering editorials I have ever seen against any American politician in any state in any context let alone a front-runner for a national Republican presidential nomination. This is from the "Des Moines Register." I`m not tuning this up at all. I`m not making it more hyperbolic than it is. This is actually what they published. Here`s how it starts. Every woman has met a Donald Trump. He is the jerk at the bar, family reunion or sporting event who disrespects women. He laughs the loudest at his own jokes and thinks the world resolves around him. He puffs up his chest and stares at yours. If you tell him to back off, he asks if you`re menstruating. Every man has met a Trump, too, he`s the guy who makes comments about your sister, yells out car windows and just won`t shut up. All of just met a Donald Trump. He might be a family member who embarrasses us regularly, he`s the person you probably don`t want to take home to mother. And the idea of that guy being seriously considered as a candidate for the president of the United States is inconceivable. Look at that face he recently said about fellow candidate Carly Fiorina. He called Rosie O`Donnell a slob and a pig. It doesn`t matter what`s written about you quote "as long as you`ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass said the man seeking the job of leader of the free world." These are a few comments made by Donald Trump over the last several years that an overtly sexist candidate continues to poll so well among potential caucus goers reflects negatively on all of us. It`s increasingly difficult to believe he could garner support from any male with a mother, daughter, wife, or sister let alone support from any female. The way he talks about the opposite sex is disgraceful. Then again, maybe it`s just that time of the month for this editorial board. I have never seen an editorial like that about a presidential candidate in Iowa. I mean, there`s a New Hampshire paper, the union leader, that`s really known and proudly known for being brutal in its editorials. Some of the New Jersey papers have prided themselves on being New Jersey crass in the way they`ve gone after Chris Christie. But this is Iowa, and this is the biggest paper in the state. And Iowa is first in the country in terms of the presidential race. What does it mean for Donald Trump to have made an enemy this potent in a place that important? I don`t know, but I`m really interested to watch that space. That is one huge new variable in the Iowa contest. Now, add it this second variable. Add to that a million dollars in anti- Donald Trump ads that are going to start running in Iowa tomorrow. These ads are being run by a group called Club for Growth. Club for Growth is not an Iowa group. They`re a national group. Over the years they`ve earned a fearsome reputation in Republican circles for getting elected Republicans and candidates to vote the way the club for growth wants them to vote. Club for Growth has a very efficient system for bending Republicans to their will and it works in Congress in particular like magic. First the Club for Growth puts out an alert telling elected Republicans how they`re supposed to vote on a specific bill up in Congress. If you`re an elected Republican who decides to ignore that alert, if you decide to vote contrary to the way Club for Growth has told you to vote, then more than likely the Club for Growth will start running ads against you in your home district. They`ll try to bury you with a primary challenger in your own party primary. They pride themselves on essentially firing elected Republicans who don`t toe the Club for Growth line. So the Club for Growth, whatever you think of them, for years they have been a serious power player in Republican politics. And now that Donald Trump is the prohibitive front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, it is the Club for Growth that has stepped up to argue most aggressively against his candidacy. This week, Club for Growth called a press conference in D.C. to unveil their new million dollar anti-Donald Trump ad campaign. And because the Club for Growth is such a heavy hitter there was anticipation about this killer punch they were about to throw against Donald Trump. Again, this is not just one of the other people running for president, this is a heavyweight Republican operation. These are big political guns being trained on Donald Trump for the first time since he has been the front- runner. So they had their big Washington unveiling of what their big ads are going to be. They`re going to start running tomorrow in Iowa, a million dollar buy. All that anticipation, right? What will are they going to hit Donald Trump with? Nobody`s hit him like this before. What have they got on him? And I swear to you, this is what they came up with. This is how they say they`re going to stop Donald Trump. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Supreme Court`s kilo decision gave government massive new power to take private property and give it to corporations. Conservatives have fought this disaster. What`s Donald Trump say about the decision? DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I happen to agree with it 100 percent. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trump supports eminent domain abuse because he can make millions while we lose our property rights. Trump, the worst kind of politician. Club for Growth action is responsible for the content of this advertising. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That`s it? The Club for Growth has been telegraphing they`re going to hit Donald Trump hard, they are going knock him out of the race even though nothing else could but this is what they came up with? Donald Trump favors the Supreme Court Kilo decision from a decade ago, the Kilo decision. Which if you know case law that maybe Donald Trump wants to take your house. In fairness, they also put out a second ad that compares Donald Trump with Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton but the Donald Trump want yours house something is what Club for Growth is now dumping a million dollars into. These ads are going to start running tomorrow in Iowa. And who knows? Maybe they`ve struck focus group gold here. Maybe this he`s stealing your house ad resonates with Republicans more than I can get my Commie Pinko (ph) liberal brain around. But if that`s it, if the kilo decision ad is the best they`ve got, is that the best the big money establishment power brokers and conservative politics can muster against Donald Trump, then it is looking brighter for Donald Trump now than it ever has before. That can`t really be it, can it? There is one ray of sunshine, though, for anybody on the left or the center or the right who wants Donald Trump to not become the Republican nominee for president of the United States, and it turns out to be something that we uncovered somewhat unexpectedly here on this show last night. That story has developed later today and particularly it has developed tonight in a way that is really, really bad for the presidential front-runner and that`s next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: So last night we brought you a story from the very, very top tier of Republican national politics that I almost couldn`t believe was sitting there unclaimed in plain sight. Well, today with some terrific digging that story got even better I guess is the right word. It at least became a much bigger scandal. Stay right there, you need to hear this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: Boy, oh, boy, I didn`t expect that. You know Joel and the group called and they said would you come over and speak? I`m here for a certain reason, you know, it`s called tomorrow night. So I got here and they asked a couple of days ago would it be possible to come over and say a few words. An endorsement from your group with so many veterans, hundreds of thousands of veterans, I really appreciate that, Joel. I did not expect it. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Hundreds of thousands of veterans, Joel. Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump last night did a campaign event on board a decommissioned battleship called the USS "Iowa." We had known an event this was going to happen. It was sort of inherently funny because Mr. Trump has no personal history of military service although he says he felt like he was in the military because he went to a military- themed prep school. He also has no expertise whatsoever on anything related to national security. And so naturally he has to go stand on a battleship right underneath the 16-inch guns. Part of the reason that event last night got so much live national press attention is because it had been billed by the campaign as Donald Trump`s major foreign policy address. Since he`s been the Republican front-runner Donald Trump has yet to give a policy address of any kind let alone a foreign policy address and since he`s the presidential front-runner it seemed like that was going to be a newsworthy thing. Turned out to not be a newsworthy thing, at least not for that reason. There was no foreign policy in it at all and it frankly wasn`t even that much of a speech. What it was, was a fund-raiser. A fund-raiser for a group called Veterans for a Strong America. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: Boy, oh, boy, I didn`t expect that. You know, Joel and the group called and they said would you come over and speak? I`m here for a certain reason, you know, it`s called tomorrow night. So I got here and they asked a couple days ago would it be possible to say a few words. An endorsement from your group with so many veterans, hundreds of thousands of veterans, I really appreciate that, Joel. I do not expect that. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Let that be indelible in your mind. Donald Trump last night saying this group he was raising money for included hundreds of thousands of veterans. That does not appear to be the case. In fact, veterans for a strong America does not appear to have any members at all. If you wanted to become a member of Veterans for a Strong America, there is no way for you to join. Iraq and Afghanistan veterans of America, you want to go check them out? You go check out, check them out online, here`s how you join. You want to check out veterans of foreign wars, you go check them out, find out about them, here`s how you join. There`s no way to join this Donald Trump group which nobody heard of before last night. And it really does appear to be just one guy, the guy in the glasses there. The reason this fiasco of Donald Trump wrapping himself up in the mantle of veterans support and saying he`s raising money for veterans, although he is raising money for a group that doesn`t appear to represent any veterans other than its one founder. The reason this fiasco maybe be good political news for opponents of Donald Trump and people who are hoping Donald Trump might eventually blow up as a presidential front-runner, is that this guy, the Donald Trump just hopped into bed with and then his big battleship event for and race money for and basically plated his political trump with by saying, this is his legitimacy on the issue of veterans. That guy is really somebody who Donald Trump should have Googled. As we reported last night, the client that Mr. Joel Arends worked with on her U.S. Senate campaign in South Dakota last year, his client in that campaign just last year was later convicted on 12 election-related felonies. She says on the basis of advice given to her specifically by Donald Trump`s new friend on the battleship. Further googling might have turned out news that Donald Trump`s new friend on the battleship was also involved in the Arizona governor`s election last year in a way that now has him under investigation by two different parts of Arizona state government including a referral for investigation to the state attorney general. Further googling by Donald Trump or his campaign might have next turned up this rather lurid story of Donald Trump`s new friend on the battleship being part of a super PAC scam operation that apparently relieved some naive old guy in Texas of several million dollars of his own money. Pro- Publica calling it an egregious example of what can happen when people running super PACs, use super PAC contributions to basically hire themselves. A little further googling might have revealed that "the Associated Press" first posted today, that just last month the IRS posted this public notification that Donald Trump`s new friend on the battleship and his group Veterans for a Strong America, they just had their nonprofit status revoked officially because they haven`t filed tax returns with the IRS in at least three years. We knew last night according to their last FEC filing this group that Donald Trump did his battleship event with, they only had $30 in the bank and about $300 of outstanding obligations. Something just didn`t seem right about Donald Trump calling this a group with hundreds of thousands of people and doing this big high profile fund-raiser for them. But now that we know more about that this group or I should say this guy, which appears to be the whole group, it now seems clear that Donald Trump and his campaign are either in on some kind of scheme with this group that is not a nonprofit or Donald Trump and his campaign just got duped and taken for a ride by a guy who you could sass out pretty easily with literally one page of googling and 30 spare seconds. In either instance, that`s the kind of base-level failure in a presidential campaign that doesn`t bode well for the long-term viability of that candidate just in terms of the basic functions of what it takes to run. Maybe Republican voters don`t care and it doesn`t look scandalous to them. But if he keeps doing stuff like what he did with that fake veterans group on the battleship last night, the "Des Moines Register" hating his guts is going to be the least of Donald Trump`s problems in Iowa. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: CENTCOM Commander General Lloyd Austin today had to fold his considerable 6`6" self into a wooden chair in a Senate hearing room for what ended up being a very difficult day of testimony to the United States Senate. For the first time, General Austin today confirmed with as little fanfare as possible that despite what you might have heard, the United States military does have boots on the ground inside Syria. General Austin confirming for the first time today that U.S. special operations troops are working with Kurdish forces inside Syria as the Kurds fight on one side of the many sided Syrian civil war. That is not a politically popular thing to admit because the U.S. strategy for intervention in that war has really centrally been about keeping U.S. boots off Syrian soil. You know, airstrikes, yes. Ground troops, no. Americans in Iraq is supposed to be OK, but Americans in Syria is not supposed to be OK. That was the official line until today at this Senate hearing when they admitted that U.S. boots are on the ground in Syria. That`s big news. Syria, of course, feels impossible and unsolvable. It feels like nothing is going to make it any better. But the U.S. government has not been, you know, staying out of it entirely, right? The U.S. government has had a military intervention in Syria of various kinds over the past year. The U.S. government decided to spend $500-$600 million training vetted Syrian rebels to fight against ISIS and to fight against the Syrian government inside Syria. Well, today, after having to admit that actually the U.S. military does have people on the ground in Syria directly, General Austin then had to explain that even though the U.S. started this training program for Syrian rebels back in May, and the plan was to help more than 5,000 fighters trained by the U.S. and back in the fight in Syria by the end of this year, after all of these months, after all of the money that has been spent so far right now he admitted to the Senate today that the total number of U.S.-trained fighters who have been sent back into Syria and are engaged in the fight on Syrian soil right now, the total number is four. Not four divisions or four battalions or even four platoons but literally four. Maybe five. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you tell us what the total number of trained fighters remained? COMMANDER GENERAL LLOYD AUSTIN, CENTCOM: It`s a small number and the ones that are in the fight is -- we`re talking four or five. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Four or five. This is a half billion effort. It has produced four or maybe five people fighting in the entire Syrian civil war. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D), MISSOURI: So we`re counting on our fingers and toes at this point when we envisioned 5,400 by the end of the year. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: I love me some Claire McCaskill but if you want to get literal, we`re not counting on our fingers and toes. The numbers of fighters, this half billion dollar program has produced, if you have the standard number of fingers and toes, you can just pick one or the other because if there`s a maximum of five of them, you can do that with just one foot or one hand depending. Four or five people? There have been five years of war in Syria and it is not only going nowhere. It seems to be going nowhere faster and faster and faster. It would be awesome if this absolutely riveting presidential contest we`re having in the United States was producing constructive new ideas being well-debated in our own country by our best and brightest in terms of what we ought to do about Syria. What to do about ISIS? What to do about Assad? It turns out that`s not exactly the kind of campaign we`re having this year. But NBC`s Richard Engel has been right in the thick of it today and all this past week in terms of the human consequence of that war not ending. And the people of that country having nowhere to go as that war gets more and more hopeless. Last night on "NBC Nightly News," Richard reported on the human smugglers, the people who are taking money from these Syrian refugees, these desperate Syrian families, offering to somehow sneak them around various border controls that have sprung up all over Europe as Syrians flee their home country and try to find somewhere safe. At one point in latest report last night, Richard and his crew had to hide a camera to get footage of the smugglers. At one point Richard tried to film an interaction with some of the smugglers using a cell phone camera hidden in his pocket. But now today Richard was in Serbia, right at one of those rapidly closing European border checkpoints, in this case between Serbia and Hungary. And watch what happened. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) RICHARD ENGEL, NBC CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They made it this far but got here too late. Hundreds of migrants and refugees are now stranded on the wrong side of the Hungarian border, sealed off this week. Dreams of a better life in western Europe now blocked by Hungarian riot police. Today, a group of young men trying to push across the border. Police pushed back. Tempers flared and when bottles started to fly, the cops let loose the pepper spray and tear gas. Clouds of it. The frustration and disappointment that these people feel because they are not allowed to go further has now just boiled over. This woman just collapsed in front of me. This woman just collapsed. She is breathing. They`re calling to bring her -- get her some water. She is breathing. She`s waking up. She`s waking up. I try to keep her head up. Leaning her against her bag. It`s clear she`s pregnant. People carry her off to a makeshift infirmary. Aid workers try to help. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get some air. ENGEL: But as she comes around, tear gas wafts into the infirmary. Volunteers take the woman outside. She can barely walk. Right there. Right there. She`s carried off for care, so for some of the children. Hours later, we managed to find the woman again, smiling, reunited with her husband. Her name is Zana (ph) and she`s 19 years old. Her baby is due in two weeks. She told me her husband defected from the Syrian army. If they go back, she says, he`ll be executed. "Even if we wanted to go back, we don`t have any money left," she says. I asked her how she felt before in the gas. "Everything was burning," she says. "My eyes, my skin, my stomach was hurting." She doesn`t remember falling. She`s more worried about what happens next, no way forward, no money left and a baby on the way. (END VIDEOTAPE) MADDOW: Joining us now from Ruskoh, Hungary is NBC`s chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel. Richard, thank you so much for being here. It`s just phenomenal footage today. I have to ask you what happened to that woman. Do you know where she came from and where she and her family ended up? ENGEL: She is from Qamishli which is a Kurdish part of northern Syria, very close to the Turkish border. Her husband was a regime soldier who defected. He didn`t believe in the regime`s policies or couldn`t stomach them anymore and was hiding out. And then once the town got surrounded by ISIS and their neighbor`s house was destroyed, this family, this young couple, he a defected soldier, she`s 19 years old, decided that they had to leave so they went to Turkey. They spent six days in Turkey. They took a boat to go to Greece. It actually took them four different trips because one of the times the motor didn`t work. Another time, the boat started to sink and they were rescued by Turkish fishermen. She had a miscarriage a year ago. Then after this fourth attempt on the boat, she successfully made it to Greece with her young husband and they have been transiting through Europe. They finally arrived at the Serbian-Hungarian border which is where I am right now. I`m on the Hungarian side. They had spent about $3,500 to make that journey. All of it borrowed money. And they spent their last dimes - - actually, it wasn`t even their last money. They had to borrow money from the people around them to make it this far and they found the door closed. So when she was saying "We don`t have the money to go back." Not only do they not have the money to go back to Syria, they don`t have the money even to move around inside Serbia to look for another possible way out. And there are a lot of people in that situation. So she`s stuck there. She and her husband are stuck there. She`s obviously still pregnant, due in two weeks and trying to figure out where to go next. There`s a possibility that the Serbian government will put on buses and bring people to the Croatian border, but right now, they are in a period of indecision. They`re trying to figure out what to do, not facing many options. MADDOW: Richard -- ENGEL: I think most likely they`ll try and get on one of those buses. MADDOW: Richard, as fences go up and as new border checkpoints go up, and as trains get cancelled and borders get closed, obviously, people -- these people in this situation don`t just cease to exist and they don`t go back in almost any conceivable circumstance. Do new paths open as so many of these existing paths are closing? ENGEL: They do. And the Croatian route is the new path. For many weeks, the path has been to go like this woman did to go through -- by boat into Greece and then up through the Balkans, Macedonia, Serbia then through Hungary. That is now effectively shut down by the Hungarian government so people are diverting before they get to Hungary and are taking a path into Croatia. We will see if that continues and if that path gets shut down, will they find another way? But that seems to be the path that opened in the last 24, 48 hours. MADDOW: Reporting live from Ruskoh, Hungary, chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel. Thank you, my friend, for staying up so late to be with us. ENGEL: Absolutely. Absolutely. MADDOW: Much more ahead. Please stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Programming note, the polls say he`s gaining on the front-runner, the establishment says there`s no way he can win. The crowd suggests he`s way more popular in person than anyone else on either side, but the candidate himself is going to join me, join us, here, live, on this show tomorrow night. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is going to be here for the interview, 9:00 p.m. Eastern tomorrow. I get to ask Bernie Sanders about the campaign and about black lives matter and about winning in Iowa and New Hampshire consistently now. And we can ask him about the "Washington Post" saying he`s not as progressive as you think. We can ask him about what he thinks about the "Washington Post" saying that. This is going to be good. Bernie sanders live here in person for the interview. This show tomorrow night. Set your calendar beeper thing right now. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: One of the all time great acronyms, they called it a PICL. Stood for the President`s Intelligence Checklist, PICL, pronounced pickle. And the PICL was a super secret intelligence document prepared specifically for the president of the United States. The first PICL was issued for President John F. Kennedy in 1961. He`d been very specific with the CIA about how he liked his PICLs. He wanted them to be short and to the point. He wanted the card stock. The thing was written on to be small enough to fit into a breast pocket of a jacket so he could read the thing anywhere. He wanted the PICL to be written in simple plain English. He said no gobbledygook. Well, today, the director of the CIA now, John Brennan, explained what happened on the day that first PICL was first delivered to President John F. Kennedy in 1961 -- poolside. Check this out. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOHN BRENNAN, DIRECTOR OF CIA: It was June 17, 1961 and an aide had just arrived from Washington carrying a top-secret document. The president sat down to read it next to the swimming pool, perched on the edge of the diving board. The document was seven pages long and printed on short square blocks of paper with spiral binding along the top. Inside were two maps, a few notes, and 14 intelligence briefs. Most no more than two sentences in length, on topics ranging from Laos to Cuba to Khrushchev. After reading the document, the president sent word that he was pleased with the contents. An aide contacted the offices at CIA who had written it and said "so far so good." (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: "So far so good." poolside. This whole idea of a digest, an easily readable literally physically small digest of intelligence made up of the most important things the president had to know that day. That was basically invented for President JFK at his request. The briefs for him at that time, of course, included, you know, the lead-up for the Cuban missile crisis, August 4, 1962, quote, "11 soviet merchant ships on their way to Havana. We strongly suspect they`re carrying arms." A week into the crisis, October 23, 1962, quote, "We can now account for 33 missiles and 23 launchers." This was the JFK PICL on east Berlin building the Berlin Wall to separate it from West Berlin, quote, "Flood lights are being installed. Mazes of concrete stanchions, permanent fences replacing the temporary barriers." On the day that president, the day President Kennedy was assassinated, the CIA took the rare and possibly unprecedented step of filing a second PICL that day, a second intelligence brief for that day after the president was killed. It said, quote, "In honor of President Kennedy for whom the President`s Intelligence Checklist was first written, for this day the checklist staff can find no words for fitting than a verse quoted by the president to a group of newspaper men the day he learned that the presence of Soviet missiles in Cuba." Quote, "Bullfight critics ranked in rows crowd the enormous plaza full but only one is there who knows and he`s the man who fights the bull." A couple days after the assassination, the president was Lyndon B. Johnson. And the new president got his first PICL, which included information on the travels of Lee Harvey Oswald, JFK`s assassin. But as time went by, it soon became obvious that what President Kennedy had liked in the PICL was not what President Johnson liked. So they renamed it and they revamped it. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BRENNAN: So the editors of the checklist decided to change course. They gave the document a new name, "The President`s Daily Brief." They repackaged it, adding longer articles that supplied greater detail as well as thoughts on future trends. And they delivered it in the afternoon, not the morning, since Johnson liked to do his reading at the end of the day, often in his pajamas while lying in bed. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: End of the diving board or pajamas in bed. You choose your anecdote. Today, the CIA released thousands of these PDBs. From the first ones with JFK starting in 1961, right through the end of the Johnson administration in January 1969. Before now, the CIA had resisted ever allowing any President`s Daily Briefing to be released to the public, other than under the most extreme circumstances. President Obama issued an executive order in 2009 that said, "After 25 year, unless there`s some reason to keep stuff secret, it should be made public." And now today, this is the first release. 2,500 documents released today. 2,500 PDB`s released to the public for the first time. And the man who knows more than anyone else in the country about what we just learned from this new historic trove of stuff is our guest -- next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BRENNAN: Today for the first time ever, the Central Intelligence Agency is releasing en masse, declassified copies of the PDBs and its predecessent publications. Some 2,500 documents from the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: The CIA director John Brennan today announcing that the CIA has just let out of its clutches more than 2,000 Presidential Daily Briefs from the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. These were all classified before today. Now they`re out. And they are a historical treasure trove. What did we learn? Joining us now is Michael Beschloss, NBC News presidential historian. Michael, it`s great to see you. Thanks for your time tonight. MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, NBC NEWS PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Same here. My pleasure, Rachel. MADDOW: From getting to look at these PDBs, do we know what explains why they were kept so highly classified? Are we seeing things here that are mind blowing? Are they very different than what we would have expected to see? BESCHLOSS: Well, you know, it`s not something that sort of overturns the history of the cold war, but I think there has been resistance to this because, if you think about it, you know, the finished intelligence that the CIA gives to a president, that`s probably the most guarded thing that they have in many ways, because not only does it show where they`re -- it shows kind of information the CIA is getting in real time, but also what they think is important enough to show a president. And the argument of the CIA for years has been if we show what we did in the 1960s, that might give our enemies in 2015 some idea of what we`re giving President Obama now. The result, of course, as you suggested, Rachel, is that the CIA basically jumped before it was pushed, realized that you can`t hold documents that are over half a century old close forever. MADDOW: In terms of the historical significance of these specific documents, you`ve done so much work and written so many books on Kennedy and Johnson. Do you feel like you`ve at least seen from what`s come out just today, new areas of inquiry, new lines of potential research that you didn`t know to pursue before these documents came out today? BESCHLOSS: Sure. For instance, specifically what John Kennedy knew about the missiles that the Soviets had slipped into Cuba in October of 1962. It`s almost chilling to see the words on the paper, where he`s essentially told that the CIA presumes that these missiles can be fired and are operational. And you know from the larger context that that wasn`t a moment that the joint chiefs of staff were screaming at Kennedy. You know, you`ve got to get these missiles out of Cuba at almost any cost, bomb the sites, invade Cuba. And Kennedy was trying to resist that. With hindsight, we now know that had Kennedy listened to them, there probably would have been a nuclear war that would have eliminated maybe 40 million human beings in the northern hemisphere of this area. Now what really made me think, Rachel, we`re at the outside of a presidential campaign, it really does matter who is president. That`s one of the incidents that really shows it. MADDOW: When you see the kind of information that presidents have on which they get to make real decisions, it becomes all the more humanly stark. Michael Beschloss -- (CROSSTALK) BESCHLOSS: And you want someone who`s going to ask the CIA for more and question certain things he`s going to be told. MADDOW: Mr. Beschloss, NBC News presidential historian. Michael, thank you very much. Good to have you here. BESCHLOSS: My pleasure. Thank you, Rachel. MADDOW: Talk to a presidential historian on the day that 2,500 presidential daily briefs get declassified for the first time ever in American history. It`s kind of like talking to him on Christmas and his birthday altogether. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: We`ll have an update for you on the breaking news tonight out of Chile, where shortly before 7:00 tonight, there was a big quake that struck off the northern coast there. It`s a magnitude 8.3, possibly 8.4, which would make it the strongest earthquake anywhere in the world this year so far. The reports from Chile of at least one person killed, many injuries so far, but those reports are still sketchy. The top concern at this hour, globally, is whether this quake could generate a tsunami. Authorities in Chile have ordered residents out of low-lying coastal areas. We`re getting some reports of buoys at sea, registering a rise in the water of several feet. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. 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