IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 11/23/15

Guests: Welton Gaddy, Ryan Heath

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Good to have you back, my friend. HAYES: Thank you. MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. In 1991, in Louisiana, the Democratic Party nominated this man to run for governor of that state. He had actually served a couple of terms already as governor in the 1970s and then he was away and then he served another term as governor in the `80s. But even so with all that experience, he was not what you`d call a good candidate for governor. He had the advantage of being well known and hilarious, but he was kind of a creep. He had been the kind of governor that had to take time off from his gubernatorial duties to -- you know, go on trial for a variety of criminal offenses. But he was always reliably very funny. At one point in one of his campaigns he described his opponent as, quote, "so slow it takes him an hour and a half to watch `60 Minutes`." His name was Edwin Edwards. And when the Democratic Party picked him as their nominee for governor in Louisiana in 1991, they knew that it was going to be a tough one with Edwin Edwards at the top of the ticket. And it would have been a tough one that year, except for the fact that in that same year in 1991, the Republican Party also had to pick their nominee for governor and in 1991 in Louisiana, the Republican Party chose as their nominee for governor the grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan -- sorry -- the former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan -- David Duke. And with David Duke at the top of the ticket for the Republican Party, yes, the Republican Party lost that one. David Duke lost badly that year to Edwin Edwards, and Edwin Edwards, true to form, went on to serve eight years in federal prison. Fast forward, though, to this year, this weekend in fact, and the Republican Party this year reaped the benefits of not running David Duke as their candidate for governor this year. They instead ran this guy. And in election results that were kind of a shocker for a state as red as Louisiana, this weekend turned out to be the worst loss by any Republican gubernatorial candidate in Louisiana since David Duke, since they ran David Duke nobody has lost as bad as David Vitter lost this weekend. David Vitter lost this weekend to Democrat John Bel Edwards by 12 points, which would be huge in any state but is particularly huge in a red state. It is a loss so devastating that David Vitter also announced immediately that he won`t even try to hold on to his U.S. Senate seat next year, he is done. Barring some bizarre Louisiana-style political comeback, looks like David Vitter`s political career is over. It only took that hooker thing eight years to get rid of him. But David Vitter will be gone as of next year, when his seat comes up for re-election. And speaking of gone, David Vitter was running to try to succeed Bobby Jindal as governor of that state. Bobby Jindal did not have the option of running for re-election. He`s term limited out as governor. Governor Jindal had hoped, of course, that his next job in politics would be president of the United States, a job he was actively campaigning for until last Tuesday, when Bobby Jindal quit the presidential race. And now we know, had Bobby Jindal not quit on Tuesday, had he waited just a few more days until the end of last week to make up his mind about whether or not he was going to quit, Bobby Jindal might not have quit if he waited for just a few more days because on Friday, three days after he got out of the race, he at least what remain of the theoretical idea of his campaign got some good news. CNN announced on Friday, ironically enough, that they would finally adopt the debate qualifying criteria that Bobby Jindal had been advocating for for weeks. The Jindal campaign obviously consistently did terribly nationwide, but they were starting to do OK in Iowa and the Jindal campaign had been arguing for weeks that it shouldn`t just be national polls that qualify candidates to get into the debates, it should also be specifically early polls in Iowa and New Hampshire. CNN finally agreed to that demand last Friday, three days after Bobby Jindal quit. That debate announcement from CNN would have been great news for Bobby Jindal if his campaign had just lasted long enough for him to take advantage of it. That change in the debate qualifying criteria would have been really good for Bobby Jindal. It has turned out so far, though, to be very bad news for Kentucky senator and presidential candidate Rand Paul. CNN has been pretty clear about which polls it`s going to use from both the early states and national polling to qualify the Republican candidates for its next debate, both for the main stage and for the kids` table. And there`s a few weeks to go before that next debate happens, a few weeks to go before CNN cuts off its consideration of qualifying polls. So, things might get better for Rand Paul. But right now, if CNN were making their decision today based on the criteria they have laid out, Rand Paul would not make the stage. Rand Paul would not make the main presidential debate stage. He would be relegated for the first time ever to the kids` table, down there with Lindsey Graham. And that`s because this new criteria gives special weight to a candidate`s standing in Iowa and New Hampshire, and it turns out Rand Paul is doing pretty terribly in both Iowa and New Hampshire. And now on top of that dire political situation for Rand Paul, federal prosecutors have just brought another criminal indictment in Iowa against two guys running the Rand Paul super PAC this year, as well as another staffer who worked for his dad`s presidential campaign in 2012. These three Ron Paul and Rand Paul staffers already went on trial in Iowa this year on charges of basically covering up an Iowa caucus`s bribery scheme in 2012 for Rand Paul`s dad. And they went on trial earlier this year, there was a conviction on one charge in that case but there was a hung jury on some of the other charges. And now, prosecutors have kind of surprised everybody by bringing a new round of indictments in that case against those same guys. So, now, the few Rand Paul supporters that there are in Iowa are going to be treated once again to the spectacle of Ron Paul and Rand Paul staffers being put back on criminal trial in Iowa again. So, you know, political news mostly stopped or at least just spun its wheels for the last ten days or so in the aftermath of the Paris attacks. But now in quick succession we have had this huge upset in red state Louisiana with a Democrat winning the governor`s race there by a bigger margin than we have seen in that state since the Republicans ran David Duke as their candidates for governor in 1981. We`ve also seen this big change in the way Republicans are going to qualify to get into at least the next debate. We`ve seen the potentially devastating consequences of that change on Rand Paul`s attempted candidacy for president, as well as this further bad news for Rand Paul with his staffers getting put on trial again in Iowa. But the biggest political news, at least on the Republican side, it does continue to be at the top of the ticket, where since the Paris attacks things have taken a very dark turn, particularly as of the last couple of days. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We`re winning all over -- do I hear somebody over there? (BOOS) You know, you have one guy over there shouting. We have thousands of people -- and you`ll read about him tomorrow. They`ll say oh, the room had a picket. All right. Yes, get him the hell out of here, will you, please? (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) Get him out of here. Throw him out. You know, we had it the other day. I got criticized. We had it the other night. I had a lot of people. And one guy who was seriously obese. He complained when I mentioned that food stamps -- we have a lot of people on food stamps. And the guy went crazy. And they said that wasn`t politically correct. Who cares? We all have a weight problem. Yes, you can get him out. Yes, get him out. Get him the hell out of here. (CHEERS) Get him out of here. Get out! Get him out of here. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: He doesn`t need to keep saying "get him out" because people aren`t getting him out. He keeps saying get him out, get him out, get him out because he likes the way the crowd reacts when he says it and so he says it more. Mr. Trump is now used to having protesters of different stripes interrupt him at campaign events. All the candidates are used to that at this point. Mr. Trump used to say when he would yell at protesters that they should be taken out of the room, he used to say, "Don`t hurt him, nobody hurt him." He used to say that when he`d say get him out of the room. He doesn`t say that anymore. And in fact in this case, a CNN reporter was close enough to see what happened when the crowd responded to this lone Black Lives Matter protester Mr. Trump was shouting at from the podium. CNN`s reporter, who was right there, says the man was ultimately pushed to the ground and hit and kicked by about a half dozen people at the Trump rally. Mr. Trump then went on the FOX News Channel and said if the man had in fact been beaten up by his supporters at that event, maybe that was a good thing. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: But I will tell you that the man that was, I don`t know, you say roughed up, he was so obnoxious and so loud. He was screaming. I had 10,000 people in the room yesterday. 10,000 people. And this guy started screaming by himself. And I don`t know. Rough up? He should have been -- maybe he should have been roughed up. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: After that morning appearance on FOX News, Mr. Trump then tweeted this wildly inaccurate but conveniently very racist little illustration of crime statistics, which are made up to wrongly give the impression that basically it`s black people who commit all the murders in the United States. This is not true information -- the information on this crime stat that Donald Trump tweeted. But just in case you don`t get the implications of it or maybe you`re confused because you looked up the real numbers and they don`t -- you know, in case of confusion, conveniently there`s also a pictogram. There`s also the scary black guy with a gun next to the wrong statistics to create the feeling he wants you to have about this even if your mind tells you this can`t possibly be true because it`s in fact not true. It`s like the picture menu when you can`t quite get out the word sausage, eggs, waffle, you just have to point. Racist feeling. But now, what might conceivably, maybe, who knows, might conceivably become an issue for Mr. Trump or at least it may become something, he will have to creatively address in his campaign is a lurid lie that he has made up entirely about 9/11. Nobody really knows if he has made this claim before in his public life, but he appears to have made it for the first time as a presidential candidate this weekend at that raucous, raw rally that involved a protester getting beaten up in Birmingham, Alabama, on Saturday. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: Hey, I watched when the World Trade Center came tumbling down, and I watched in Jersey City, New Jersey, where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down. Thousands of people were cheering. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Jersey City, New Jersey, is not just him stuttering over the name New Jersey. It`s a real place. It`s right across the Hudson River from Lower Manhattan. Jersey City is also not just some random place in New Jersey when you`re talking about 9/11. Jersey City had a very specific role on the morning of 9/11, because not only do people in Jersey City have a completely direct and unobstructed close view of what happened at the World Trade Center, Jersey City is also a place where a lot of people commute to and from Manhattan by boat, by ferry. And what that meant specifically on the morning of September 11th, 2001 is that people who were injured at the Trade Center, cops and firefighters and office workers and locals who were hurt in the collapse of the Trade Center, people who were injured were put on boats in Lower Manhattan and they were ferried straight across the Hudson River to the closest point, which was Jersey City. Jersey City got the injured that day. Their waterfront was basically an extension of ground zero. It was part of the crisis. It was part of the tragedy. It is really right there. And now, the Republican presidential front-runner, Donald Trump, says he has seen the footage of thousands of people in little Jersey City that day cheering as the towers went down. He says it not only happened, he says he saw it happen, everybody saw it happen because it was all over TV. Don`t you remember? It is utterly, fantastically untrue. But he is sticking with it. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS) GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: You know, you raised some eyebrows yesterday with comments you made at your latest rally. I want to show them relating to 9/11. TRUMP: Hey, I watched when the World Trade Center came tumbling down, and I watched in Jersey City, New Jersey, where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down. Thousands of people were cheering. STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, the police say that didn`t happen and all those rumors have been on the Internet for some time. So did you misspeak yesterday? TRUMP: It did happen. I saw it. It was on television. STEPHANOPOULOS: You saw it with your own eyes? Police say it didn`t happen. TRUMP: George, it did happen. There were people that were cheering on the other side of New Jersey where you have large Arab populations. They were cheering as the world trade center came down. I know it might be not politically correct for you to talk about it, but there were people cheering as that building came down, as those buildings came down. And that tells you something. It was well covered at the time, George. Now, I know they don`t like to talk about it, but it was well covered at the time. (END VIDEO CLIPS) MADDOW: It was not well covered at the time. There is in fact no record of what Mr. Trump is talking about ever. Not one instance of this being televised footage of people cheering, let alone being -- let alone it being well covered at the time on television. Television archives from 2001 are not like in a black hole somewhere where nobody can check them. This is the real universe where we can check these things. I mean, whatever tape he`s talking about seeing could be produced if that tape existed. The reason it hasn`t been produced is because that tape does not exist, because it didn`t happen -- because, in fact, Jersey City was right in the middle of it on 9/11, which is the record that we do have. And there was an incredible moment today when the other leading candidate for the Republican presidential nomination right now, Ben Carson, for a time today he backed Donald Trump up on this lie -- which was like finding yourself going down a rabbit hole. You get to the bottom of the rabbit hole and hey, look, there`s another rabbit hole there, let`s go down that one too. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REPORTER: Dr. Carson, were American Muslims in New Jersey cheering on 9/11 when the towers fell? Did you hear about that or see that? BEN CARSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes. REPORTER: Yes. Can you expand on that? CARSON: Well, you know, there are going to be people who respond inappropriately to virtually everything. I think that was an inappropriate response. I don`t know if on the basis of that, you can say all Muslims are bad people. I really think that would be a stretch. REPORTER: Did you see that happening, though, on 9/11? CARSON: I saw the film of it, yeah. REPORTER: In New Jersey. CARSON: Yes. REPORTER: Dr. Carson, just to follow up on my question of 9/11, you say you saw the film. What film are you referring to? CARSON: The news reels. REPORTER: The news coverage from the time of 9/11. CARSON: Correct. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Not correct. Neither the news reels nor the film nor the news footage exists. And we`re now at a really interesting moment because where we`re at as of tonight is that Dr. Ben Carson`s campaign has taken back what Ben Carson said about that today. After he made those remarks earlier today, his campaign put out a statement saying, oops, Dr. Carson didn`t mean it. "Dr. Carson does not stand by the statement that was reported today. He was hearing and thinking something differently at the time. He does apologize to anybody offended bid that, for sure." For sure. So, Ben Carson`s campaign took it back. Donald Trump has not taken it back. And so, now, the man who`s standing as Republican presidential front- runner has only been shored up and in fact boosted since the Paris attacks. Now, he wants to stay on record sticking with his claims that policy-wise we might need a registry of every Muslim in the United States and policy- wise, we definitely need surveillance of mosques. But he also factually insists that there was widespread television news coverage which he says he saw with his own eyes, moving pictures shot from life which showed American Muslims in Jersey City by the thousands celebrating the fall of the Twin Towers on 9/11 as it happened. Donald Trump is sticking with that utterly false claim. After his rally tonight in Columbus, Ohio, Mr. Trump spoke to NBC`s Katy Tur off camera, but I do have the transcript of those remarks. I`m going to read to you from the transcript here. Just so we can be totally clear. Donald Trump: "There were tailgate parties. `The Washington Post` reported it. The liberal media didn`t like what they reported and so they kept it quiet." Katy Tur: "`The Washington Post` said it was a number of people?" Trump: "They said tailgate party. Tailgate gate parties are thousands. They are tremendous numbers from people. I also had hundreds of tweets saying, `You`re right, Mr. Trump, I saw it myself, we wanted to say it.` Hundreds of witnesses. We are looking for other articles." Katy Tur: "Where did you see the video? We can`t find anything in our archives. Others can`t find anything in theirs." Trump: "I saw video. It was on television. How would I know? You`ll have to find it. I`ve also seen it all over the Internet. I`ve seen it on the Internet over the years. I`ve seen it on the internet." No, he hasn`t. It did not happen. That was Donald Trump speaking with NBC News this afternoon. I said it was tonight. That conversation happened this afternoon. But what he describes there, thousands of people in Jersey City cheering for the towers falling on 9/11, that did not happen. At some level, who cares about the political impact of statements like those, right? I mean, the serious question, with specific statements like that, not just your run-of-the-mill lie, the specific question now, the serious question now is -- what do statements like those do to our country, regardless of what they do to any one candidate or any one campaign? Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Don`t be mad. But just in the last hour, I feel duty-bound to inform you that Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump has wrapped another campaign rally where he did just again address his claim to have seen thousands and thousands of people in New Jersey cheering as the Twin Towers fell on 9/11. So again, don`t be mad. We will have that ahead. Plus, the big news we are expecting from President Obama tomorrow morning. Stay with us. Lots to come tonight. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: I saw people getting together and in fairly large numbers celebrating as the World Trade Center was coming down, killing thousands of people, thousands and thousands of people. People are still dying over what happened at the World Trade Center and they`re dying a terrible death. And I saw people, and I saw `em on television, and I read about it on the Internet, and I read about it, so they said, "Oh, we can`t find anything, Mr. Trump." The reporters are calling all day, all night. They want to find out, did Trump make a mistake? (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: A mistake? That`s one thing to call it. The television footage, the widespread television footage of thousands of people in Jersey City, New Jersey, celebrating as the World Trade Center Towers fell on 9/11 is something that does not exist in real life. It has apparently become a central claim shoring up the candidacy of the leading Republican contender for president of the United States. Joining us now to help understand the impact of all this is my friend Dr. Welton Gaddy, the senior pastor of the Northminster Baptist Church in Monroe, Louisiana. He`s also president emeritus of the Interfaith Alliance. Welton, Dr. Gaddy, it`s great to see you. Thanks for being here. REV. DR. WELTON GADDY, NORTHMINSTER BAPTIST CHURCH: Thank you, Rachel. MADDOW: So, the first political instinct in a weird moment like this, when a candidate is apparently turning his campaign to be based on something that is really truly factually inaccurate, the first political instinct is to wonder whether this hurts the candidate, whether this hurts that candidate`s campaign. I want to ask you if you think there is a greater harm to this or this does something hurtful to the country. GADDY: No, Rachel, we`ve been together a lot of times, talked about a lot of things. I`m probably more sad tonight than I`ve ever been when you and I have talked. When truth is dispensable, democracy is in trouble. If we can`t trust people running for the highest office in the land, then who can we trust? And what does that mean about moving forward? We`re seeing both American values and religious values trampled on. We`re having candidates and other politicians who are giving God a bad name and who are turning their back on the Constitution of the United States. The ramifications of all of that are much broader and much more serious than you and I can describe in the time we have tonight. MADDOW: Welton, when you -- you obviously feel like this is sort of grave damage, that this is something that`s very hard to come back from. We`ve seen people go as far as they can. We`ve seen people push this particular envelope before. But there`s always been pushback. I wonder who has the moral authority, what kind of voices could potentially mitigate some of this harm, could potentially sort of re-establish norms that you feel would be more constitutionally sound on issues like this. GADDY: I think it has to come from across the whole sweep of our society. Certainly, religious leaders need to be speaking out about this and pointing out just what we`ve talked about. We are closing the arms of Lady Liberty. We are stomping on the basic values of our democracy. And we`re turning the race for the highest office in the land into a joke. I don`t understand, Rachel, why anyone would want to run for an office that to get in, they have to pledge to defend a Constitution that they don`t even respect. The ramifications are incredible. Unbelievably important. MADDOW: Welton, do you -- sorry. Go ahead. GADDY: I hope -- well, what I was going to say is I hope, Rachel, that we will see, and some of it`s happening, people from the conservative religious community to hold hands and join voices with people from the progressive religious community. I hope that all of the religious people in this nation will speak as if with one voice about our generosity, our hospitality, our integrity. I hope the business world will step up and do what they ought to do with advertising money. And all of us together call our nation to wake up and see what`s happening because if we don`t we`re going to be sadder than we are tonight and we`re going to lose more than we`ve already lost. MADDOW: Reverend Welton Gaddy of the Northminster Baptist Church in Monroe, Louisiana, the president emeritus of the Interfaith Alliance -- I was looking forward to talking to you about this, Welton. It`s good to see you, my friend. Thank you. GADDY: Thank you, Rachel. I appreciate it. MADDOW: You know, in terms of the news cycle here and sort of how tight the curve is on this news cycle, this is still continuing to spool out in terms of politics, in terms of Mr. Trump`s campaign, in terms of how much he`s going to be willing to walk this back and when he`s going to do it and under what circumstances. But I do think that this operates on a different level. This is one thing about his politics and American politics. It is another thing in terms of our values as a country, how they get articulated and what is seen as truly out of bounds. This is testing it. All right. We`ve got much more ahead tonight. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: So, this is a short week in American business and school and politics because of the Thanksgiving holiday. But there is a thing to watch for that may happen when everybody is away on Thanksgiving break. And it has to do with this scene today in Paris. This is French President Francois Hollande in the middle there. And over on the right, standing right next to him is the British Prime Minister David Cameron. David Cameron traveled to Paris today to meet with Francois Hollande. The two men made a trip to the Bataclan music hall where they paid their respects to the people who are killed in the attacks last week. Upon the prime minister`s return home to the U.K. after that meeting, David Cameron said that he will call for the British military to start flying airstrikes against ISIS inside Syria. That`s something that the British have not done up until this point. British has been -- the Britons -- the British, excuse me, have been bombing ISIS inside Iraq, but they very explicitly rejected that idea of extending that military campaign inside Syria as well. And it`s not like it hasn`t been up for debate. In 2013, around the time that President Obama was considering starting American airstrikes in Syria, the British Prime Minister David Cameron proposed that Britain would do so as well. He went before his parliament. He called on parliament to authorize British military action inside Syria. And the British parliament including lots of members of his own party, they said no. It was this extraordinary and very unexpected moment. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DAVID CAMERON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: It is clear to me that the British parliament, reflecting the views of the British people, does not want to see British military action. I get that, and the government will act accordingly. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That was a three-line whip on the vote. We don`t have things like that exactly here. But in British politics, if you`re a member of parliament and you defy a three-line whip from your party, that is supposed to be such a terrible political offense that you can be kicked out of your party for doing that. But on that day in 2013 when David Cameron went to parliament and asked to bomb Syria, so many members of David Cameron`s own party defied him and defied the three-line whip that they couldn`t even afford to enforce that old rule. They would have had to kick out two dozen members of parliament, two dozen members of the Conservative Party. They would have collapsed their own government. But the Brits, even the Brits in David Cameron`s own Conservative Party, they were just not having it, and that was their shocking and surprising way of saying no to the question of airstrikes inside Syria. That was 2013. Now, David Cameron says he`s going to go back and try again. On Thursday of this week, on Thanksgiving, we are expecting David Cameron to officially make his case again to parliament that the U.K. should start bombing inside Syria. We don`t know exactly when the vote is going to be but Thanksgiving Day is when David Cameron will make that case. Meanwhile, look at the schedule for French President Francois Hollande this week. He met with David Cameron today. Tomorrow, he`s flying here to the U.S. to meet with President Obama. Then, he returns to France to meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday. Then on Thursday, he meets with the prime minister of Italy but only in the morning because Thursday afternoon, he has to fly to Russia to go meet with Vladimir Putin. That`s all this week. That`s all between now and Thursday. And it`s no secret what Francois Hollande is trying to accomplish with this whirlwind schedule of meetings. The first French airstrikes against ISIS in Syria after the Paris attacks came just two days after the attacks. French fighter jets dropped bombs inside Syria. And they took off from bases in the United Arab Emirates and from Jordan in order to do that. Those have been the sort of home bases for French operations so far. They`ve launched air strikes against ISIS in the last week from bases in those two countries, UAE and Jordan. That all changed today, when the French started taking off from their own floating air base that just arrived in the region. Today, France announced that the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier has arrived in the eastern Mediterranean and it has already started launching fighter jets to drop bombs inside Syria. Francois Hollande says the arrival of that aircraft carrier triples France`s military capacity to fight ISIS in Syria. So, they`ve got an aircraft carrier there now. France is now literally in terms of their number of planes, they are tripling down on their military fight against ISIS. This wasn`t something they were doing for show after the attacks. They are going for it. David Cameron is now seeking British military involvement in Syria as well after meeting with French President Francois Hollande. And tomorrow, the French president will come here to talk to President Obama. President Obama`s going to host the French president in the Oval Office. The two of them are set to discuss the fight against ISIS and the whole issue of Syria. They are then expected to hold a joint press conference where presumably President Obama will announce something. If past is prologue, he will announce tomorrow some new action that the U.S. will be taking in the wake of the Paris attacks in order to target ISIS. What specifically will Francois Hollande ask the United States to do that we are not already doing? Are we about to have some change in U.S. policy toward ISIS and some change in the U.S. military effort in Syria? That press conference is going to happen around lunchtime tomorrow. You will see it here live on MSNBC. Watch this space. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: In April 2009, one of Mexico`s biggest soccer teams played a key match in one of the largest stadiums in the entire world but not a single fan was there. Each of the 95,000 seats at Estadio Azteca were empty. It was the same scene in the city`s Olympic stadium. At the pumas game had been sold out but the home team ended up playing before 80,000 empty seats. Across the city, Sunday mass was canceled. The city`s leading cardinal instead offered up prayers from the altar of an empty cathedral. Schools across the city were closed. Seven million students from kindergarten all the way to college students were told they had to stay home. Museums were closed, concerts were canceled, people were warned not to attend movies and public events. For more than a week, a city of 21 million people just became a ghost town. And it was because of the flu. A swine flu outbreak that struck the Mexico City region particularly hard. It killed more than 1,200 people in that country. That was 2009. Four years later, it was April 2013, and a city in this country came to a stand still but for a very different reason. It was days after the Boston marathon bombing before police officers found and engaged in a brutal gun battle with the suspected bombers. One of the terrorist attackers from the marathon bombing was killed in that shootout, but the other one managed to flee the scene. And while the active manhunt continued for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the governor of Massachusetts took unprecedented action. Deval Patrick gave a news conference at dawn in which he asked residents of the greater Boston area to shelter in place indefinitely. And people did. From dawn until after sundown, the city was deserted. Public transportation was shut down. A temporary no-fly zone was imposed over the city. People in Boston, Brookline, Newton, Cambridge, Watertown, they all stayed locked inside their apartments and houses as more than 9,000 law enforcement officials went door to door hunting for the escaped Boston marathon bombing suspect. And it worked. They got him. He was hiding out in somebody`s yard in Watertown. He was found in a boat -- he found a boat with a cover over it. He crawled inside, camped out in one of those areas where residents had been told to stay inside and shelter in place. So, it`s not like it`s totally unprecedented. It happens sometimes. Cities get shut down for 12 hours or maybe for a week for a swine flu outbreak. For a manhunt maybe? This time it`s Brussels. And this time it`s not because of something that has happened already in Brussels. It`s because of something they say they`re worried about that might be about to happen. They`re calling it a serious and imminent threat. The city is locked down. Brussels is a huge city. It`s a city roughly the size of Dallas. It`s the de facto capital of Europe. It`s where the European Union is based. It`s where NATO is based. Brussels has been under lockdown for three days now and counting. Schools, universities, the whole metro system remain closed. They`re saying probably until Wednesday, even then though the entire transportation system might not go completely online again. Usually, Brussels is bustling in the lead-up to the holiday season. They have a Christmas market there that attracts about 1.5 million visitors annually. They`re setting it up this year anyway in the hopes that it can open on Friday, but that too doesn`t seem like a sure thing right now. For now, even the holiday season is on hold. And even though things like this happen in some cities, what`s happening now in Brussels does feel like the only thing like this that has ever happened in modern times. Joining us now live from Brussels is Ryan Heath, senior European correspondent for "Politico". Mr. Heath, thanks for being with us. Appreciate your time. RYAN HEATH, SENIOR EUROPEAN CORRESPONDENT, POLITICO: Good evening, Rachel. MADDOW: What do we know about the basis of the threat that led to this unprecedented shutdown? Do we have any leads on what kind of information they got that led them to do this? HEATH: No. Because we`ve got a very complicated security apparatus here in Belgium. It often doesn`t talk to the other component parts of that apparatus let alone the media or the public. So, we`re very thin on the information. But what we were told is that it`s multiple layers of threat. It could be multiple attacks in multiple locations, possibly organized from multiple locations as well, including what`s become known as Europe`s terror capital, the district of Molenbeek right here, just a mile or two down the road from where we`re standing right now. So, everyone was put on high alert on Saturday. People were willing to comply from the beginning. Belgians are generally good-natured, willing to listen to instruction. But we started to see people question whether they should continue to be doing that and also question why suddenly schools and transport might reopen on Wednesday when none of the main suspects have been caught -- even though one person is now charged and in custody. MADDOW: We`ve heard reports about a number of trades over the weekend and into today. We`ve heard about a number of people being detained. As you suggest, not many people actually being held after their initially being detained. Is there any sense that any of the police action they have taken since this lockdown started has done anything to alleviate the threat they`re so worried about? HEATH: I think that people have seen very clearly that the Belgian state is making efforts, but if I just recall the night I spent last night, I tailed the police around to five different major deployments, call them raids if you will, around that district of Molenbeek, and it didn`t seem that they knew exactly what they were doing or that they were in control of the situation. So, obviously, when you`re searching 19 premises all at once, that`s complicated, that`s confusing, and I wasn`t in charge of that intelligence. But it did not strike me as a very well-organized affair. And what it did do was follow a series of lock-ins in the central district of Brussels were people were sort of herded into cafes or bars and yet allowed out to smoke a cigarette when they asked to. And that is making people question how serious is that threat, what is the level of tactics used in some of these deployments that`s not based on intelligence but is based on some other form of theater. So, at the moment all of this is really speculation. But when you start to see a city shut down that needs to function as the capital of Europe for three, four, going on into five or six days potentially, that`s why people are asking these questions. MADDOW: Ryan Heath, senior Europe correspondent for "Politico" in Brussels -- Ryan, thank you. Really helpful to have you here tonight. Appreciate your time. HEATH: Thank you. MADDOW: It`s interesting what he`s saying there in terms of as the time goes on, it becomes more and more important that people see a logical connection between what they`re being asked to do and the threat that they`re assured is real, right? You can get people to do a lot of things in short notice -- sorry, in the short term, but as things go on and on people have to believe there`s a reason for the major disruption to their lives. We`ll keep you posted. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Back when the world seemed slightly more sane than it seems now, we reported on the imminent release of a Pentagon plan to close the prison at Guantanamo. We expected based on multiple source reporting that the administration was going to unveil the close Guantanamo proposal two weeks ago. Then, the terrorist attacks happened in Paris and the Pentagon plan that we were expecting for closing Guantanamo, it never came out. Well, now, "Politico" reports that the White House had already decided to delay the how to close Guantanamo plan before the Paris attacks. Politico quotes an unnamed Pentagon official as saying the attacks in Paris make it harder to proceed with that plan. But the real reason they say for the delay was that officials have yet to figure out what moving all the prisoners out of Guantanamo and housing them elsewhere dollars and cents cost of it. President Obama reportedly still intends to close Guantanamo and they are still slowly transferring out prisoners who were cleared for release years ago. Most recently, five more guys from Yemen got transferred out. But as for when the president might move to shut down the prison entirely, as for when he might release his plan for shutting down the prison entirely, we thought we knew that was coming, eminently. Now it is no longer eminent, and who knows. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: We got some important news about something that`s going to happen tomorrow at the White House other than President Obama`s big event with Francois Hollande, president of France. But before we get to that, we do have some breaking news out tonight from the State Department. The State Department has just issued a brand new worldwide travel warning for Americans. Just days after the attacks in Paris and Mali, both killed Americans, the State Department says the threat of terrorism continues worldwide both from terrorist groups and from potential lone wolf attackers who might be inspired by recent events. The State Department as of tonight is advising travelers to, quote, "avoid large crowds or crowded places". Again, this is a worldwide travel warning just put out by the State Department tonight. This is the first travel alert that we`ve had like this all year. State Department says it will remain in effect until February 2016. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: This is an unusual list of people. Billy Frank Jr., Native- American fishing activist. He would not give up his fishing rights his tribe secured through treaties instead of lunch counter sit-ins. He led riverside fish-ins. Also, Willie Mays, one of the first black players in the Major League, a maker of a play so genius and so sublime that today, they still simply call it "the catch". (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here`s the pitch. Long drive to deep center field, to the wall. It`s an incredible catch. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Incredible catch. Willie Mays. Also on the list, Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland who might be our shortest lawmaker but she`s definitely the longest serving woman in the history of Congress. Last on the list, alphabetically, is this guy, Minoru Yasui. Minoru Yasui was born in Hood River, Oregon, in 1916. He became first Japanese- American lawyer in Oregon. He couldn`t get a job with a law firm so he put out his own shingle in Portland, Oregon, in January 1942, just weeks after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. Just weeks later, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed executive order 9066 which placed people of German, Italian, or Japanese nationality under special restrictions and required them to register for a special certificate of identification. By now you know the history of internment camps, when the American government rounded up people, most of them Japanese Americans and put them into camps. But the crackdown didn`t start with the camps. It started with new rules like curfews and instructions about who was allowed to go where and when. And young lawyer Minoru Yasui saw what was happening, decided he would act to try to stop it by breaking his own local curfew on purpose. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REPORTER: On March 28th, 1942, Yasui set out to become a test case. What happened that day? MINORU YASUI, LAWYER: Actually, about 8:00, I told my secretary to be sure to call the department police, the FBI, to tell them a Jap was walking up and down Third Avenue in violation of the military curfew order. So, I walked these streets two or three, four times as I recall, that evening trying to get arrested. REPORTER: After three hours, Yasui finally walked to Portland police headquarters and found a cooperative desk sergeant. YASUI: He booked me and then he had one of the security people throw me into the drunk tank. My contention obviously was if you begin to erode the liberties and freedom and rights of the individual, then you are indeed jeopardizing the safety of our whole nation. That was my position. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: For taking that position, he spent nine months in solitary confinement. He was then sent to an internment camp in Idaho. He had to plea for the return to his citizenship all of the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and lived with a criminal record for breaking that military curfew for the rest of his life. But in part because of his advocacy, a congressional committee in 1983 publicly recognized the injustice of the internment camps. He lived to see that. In 1988, President Reagan signed a formal apology that included compensation for survivors of the camps. But by then, Mr. Yasui had been dead for almost two years. Even today, though, his family continues the work of telling his life story because it`s an important part of our larger American story. And now, tomorrow the White House has announced that he will be awarded the highest honor that can be given to an American civilian, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He`s been this year`s celebrated list along with Billy Frank Jr. and Willie Mays and Barbra Streisand, and Barbara Mikulski. Minoru Yasui, American hero, now officially recognized for his continues defense of the ideals of democracy embodied in our Constitution. We spoke to his family this week about this honor. His daughter and granddaughter told us they can`t help but note that our country is again talking about registries and ID cards and limits for certain groups of people. His daughter Lori Yasui told us his daughter would be out in the streets anywhere he could be heard to say that this is wrong. And through the telling of his story in a sense, he is out there fighting the good fight. If you are feeling outrage or anxious by what is happening right now in our politics, I won`t try to talk you out of it. You are hearing really the ghost of history. What`s going on right now, it`s ugly stuff. But take a little heart. Take a measure of optimism and seeing that legacies like Minoru Yasui`s persists. We still got heroes. Tomorrow, he gets the Presidential Medal of Freedom. That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow. Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL." Good evening, Lawrence. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END