Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: September 9, 2016
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC ANCHOR: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Happy Friday to you as well. You`re not allowed to take any Fridays off from the news from now until the election, because stuff keeps happening. Particularly on Fridays.
And today`s Friday news was both very, very serious and also laugh-out- loud, spit nose -- spit coffee out your nose.
So, here goes. Couple of weeks ago, funny thing happened in Wisconsin. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump went to the Milwaukee area after that city had a bad couple of nights of violence in the streets. A police shoot left feelings raw, led to a lot of anger on the streets of Milwaukee. In the middle of that sometimes violent upheaval in that city, Donald Trump went to Milwaukee to go talk about race.
So, there`s a lot of drama around that. That was actually at some point, an expectation that he might cancel the event, so he wouldn`t be seen as pouring gasoline on the flames in that city. On the other hand, some people saw that might be a real opportunity for him to demonstrate his presidentialness, his ability to calm people in times of crisis, to try to bring the country together. Presidents often have to do that in difficult times.
So, what Donald Trump was going to do around that situation, there was a little drama leading up to the night of that speech. What he did in the end, is that he didn`t cancel, but he made a somewhat unusual choice. He went to not Milwaukee proper. He decided to go to an event about 40 minutes outside Milwaukee, to a basically 100 percent all-white Milwaukee suburb.
And he gave a speech there on race. He gave a speech there specifically, as if he was talking to a black audience. It was like his first ever outreach address to African Americans, but he was speaking to an all-white room. So that was the sort of surreal decision by the Trump campaign.
It then became a laugh-out-loud moment from the Trump campaign, when they put out their press release about that speech, bragging about all the praise they say they got from reporters and observers about this brave speech on the needs of the African American community, that Donald Trump gave to a room entirely full of white people.
And one of the things that the Trump campaign distributed in their self- congratulatory press release about that speech was this tweet from an "Associated Press" reporter named Jill Colvin. The Trump press release that they sent out quotes her as saying this, here`s their quote, "Trump sounds like he`s talking directly to African Americans".
Now, what was funny about that, what Jill Colvin actually said, the tweet they were quoting from her there, it did not end after Trump sounds like he`s talking directly to African Americans. What she actually wrote was, "Trump sounds like he was talking directly to African Americans, comma, but I don`t see a single non-white person in the crowd."
Yes, so when you only take the first half of that, it does sound like admiration. But if you take it, including the comma, and the rest of the sentence, admiration is not what she was trying to convey.
The Trump campaign did that in mid-August. It was very funny at the time. They have just done it again in a way that made people in newsrooms all laugh and squirt coffee out our noses at the same time.
Today, Donald Trump was in Washington, speaking at the Values Voter Summit, one of these annual conservative events that`s meant to reinforce anti-gay and anti-abortion orthodoxy in the Republican Party. One of the reporters who was there to cover the speech is a young reporter from the "Toronto Star" in Canada, whose name is Daniel Dale.
So, Donald Trump`s there at the Values Voters Summit, he`s finishing up his speech. Trump campaign sends out one of their patented self-congratulating press releases, listing all the praise and admiration Donald Trump is getting are for their speech. And of the things they put in their press release is this, `Toronto Star`s" Daniel Dale, quote, "Trump was in fine form stylistically, good spirits."
Here`s whether they quoted that from. Daniel Dale did quote from the Trump speech in Washington what he tweeted was this, quote, "Trump was in fine form stylistically, good spirits. He also made stuff up and called for regime change while denouncing regime change." That was the whole quote that they quoted from Daniel Dale, but they only quoted the first part, which was actually the ironic set-up for the joke.
Daniel Dale from "The Toronto Star" responded minutes later, all caps, "HAHAHA. The Trump campaign just quoted my tweet as praise." Hahaha.
This is the equivalent of somebody telling you they`re quoting the Lord`s Prayer, but they say, into temptation, evil! Like that conveys the gist of the overall prayer. There`s more to it. That comes at a really important point in the plot of that prayer. Evil!
So, hahaha, right? The Trump campaign is occasionally laugh-out-loud funny, despite itself. But it`s weird that that happened on such a serious day in the news, when such serious stuff is going on and being discussed. Late tonight, obviously, the big serious news, the headline story in every major news website across the country right now is that a nationwide ceasefire has been negotiated for Syria. The U.S. and Russia have been slogging it out for weeks now.
Secretary of State John Kerry and the Russian foreign minister jointly announced that a nationwide ceasefire has been called in Syria to begin at sunset on Monday. And no, nobody knows if it`s really going to go into effect. Nobody knows if it will work. Nobody knows if it will hold, even if it does initially go into effect.
After five years of increasingly apocalyptic civil war in Syria, though, even this fragile and unlikely prospect for any sort of interruption, let alone an end to this fighting is a source of desperate, desperate global hope for those poor people, right?
We expect to learn more about the details of the agreement and its likelihood for success over the course of this weekend, possibly into late tonight with the time difference between here and Europe and here and the Middle East. And with prayers for Syria, you will want to keep an eye on the news out of there and out of Geneva into the late night tonight. We`ll be live here at MSNBC through the night and through the weekend heading toward what is scheduled to be a sunset Monday ceasefire across the entire nation of Syria. We`ll see.
Even before that late night announcement tonight, though, about that ceasefire agreement, we knew from the other side of the world that today was going to be a very serious day in the news. And we in part knew that because of this lady.
She is 73 years old. She`s known for wearing this particular traditional Korean pink dress. Her name is Ri Chun-hee. And in North Korea, they call her the "cannon mouth". That`s because what she is prized for, as a newsreader on North Korean state TV is her outrageously shrill voice. She`s the person who the North Korean government trots out not just for everyday news. They only bring her out for the big stuff.
So, in 2011 when Kim Jong-Il died, cannon mouth is the one who got to announce it. In 1994, when his dad died, Kim Il-Sung died, it was cannon her again. She`s now long retired from her role on North Korean television, but she`s still around and they reel her out for really, really big stuff.
And so, this morning, everybody knew to brace for big news out of North Korea when they wheeled her out for another impossibly enthusiastic super excited North Korean state television pronouncement.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RI CHUN-HEE (through translator): Statement of the Nuclear Weapons Institute of the DPKR. The scientists and technicians of the Nuclear Weapons Institute tested a nuclear explosion at the northern part nuclear test ground for the assessment of power of nuclear warhead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: At the end of this show last night, just before we got off the air at 10:00 p.m. Eastern, we reported the initial news that let us know this was coming. There are not a lot of natural earthquakes on the Korean peninsula in either North Korea or South Korea. But last night, we were able to report that there was a 5-point-something magnitude seismic event on the Korean Peninsula and that was not likely to be an earthquake. That likely meant a nuclear blast, a nuclear test by North Korea, another one.
North Korea has been setting off nuclear explosions since the George W. Bush administration. The first one was in 2006. Since then, they`ve been averaging about one every three years. What`s worrying now, is this one they just set off last night, that`s the second one they`ve set off in eight months and it was a big one, it was the biggest one they`ve ever set off, almost twice as big as the last one they set off.
And like all the other nuclear explosions North Korea has set off, this one was underground. It`s worrying enough to be able to set off an underground nuclear explosion, right, to liquefy the inside of a mountain or whatever. It`s quite another to deliver that explosion beyond your national borders, to weaponize it, to put it on a missile.
While China was hosting the G20 Summit, North Korea shot three new missiles toward Japan. They were big missiles. They shot them all off within the space of one minute.
When you`re talking about increasingly advanced and powerful nuclear technology and increasingly reliable and powerful missile technology, that combination is a very bad thing. The idea of North Korea being able to put a nuclear warhead on a medium to long-range missile, that`s a whole new world.
And honestly, North Korea does fake a lot of stuff. They faked a missile launch from a submarine back in May. They just photo shopped it from somebody else`s picture. In March of this year, they showed Kim Jong-un handling basically a disco ball and they tried to pass it off as a miniature nuclear weapon. That`s apparently not a miniature nuclear weapon.
In January of this year, North Korea says they set of a hydrogen bomb. They did not set off a hydrogen bomb. They lie about a lot of this stuff.
But what they just did with those three missiles they shot toward Japan last week during the G20 and with this largest ever nuclear blast they set off in the last 24 hours, those weren`t fake. And so, this is serious stuff. This is global balance of power stuff. This is the threat of nuclear war. This is the craziest regime on earth with operable nuclear weapons.
So, to the extent that their nuclear test is a political test for us, right now, that means it`s a political test for the competitors to be our next commander-in-chief. And it`s worth noting that these two candidates have handled this moment very, very differently.
Hillary Clinton convened a bipartisan and non-partisan group of national security and counterterrorism advisers. They didn`t allow the press to cover the meeting itself, but they did allow this shaky, shaky camera in at the top to show Secretary Clinton starting those discussions.
Sitting immediately to her right on the left side of your screen there, that`s Michael Chertoff. You probably recognize him. He was the secretary of homeland security under George W. Bush. He`s now talking national security matters with Secretary Clinton. She`s gone out of her way multiple times in the last 48 hours, to talk about how national security and foreign affairs ought to be bipartisan and non-partisan and that`s how she would approach it as president.
In what appears to be a new initiative by the Clinton campaign to make her more available to the press, she`s done four press availabilities in four days. Secretary Clinton gave remarks after her meeting with those counterterrorism and national security officials today. She talked about ISIS. She talked about the priorities she`s putting on personality targeting the head of ISIS, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi.
She laid out her assessment of the North Korean threat, and the various points of leverage he thinks the U.S. and our allies have in terms of pressuring them on their nuclear program, everything from sanctions to missile defense to potential economic embargo, to the kinds of leverage we might have with China, which is key, right? China seems the only country that could potentially rope in North Korea on those matters.
So, she made those extensive remarks in her prepared statements. She also took questions from reporters and answered those issues at length.
In terms of the other campaign, Donald Trump is in a little bit of a weird position on this specific issue, because of the previous stance he`s taken on North Korea. The previous stance he`s taken on North Korea is honestly just a very unusual stance from a foreign policy standpoint no matter which party you`re coming from, or if you have no party at all. This was Donald Trump, presidential candidate, on July 15th.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: And then one of the papers called the other day. And they said, would you speak to the leader of North Korea? I said, absolutely. Why not? Why not?
And they come out, Trump would speak to him. Who the hell cares? I`ll speak to anybody. Who knows?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That is Donald Trump`s on the record stance toward North Korea. Ahead of today`s new nuclear explosion that North Korea set off.
And it -- because that`s how he has talked about North Korea, it raises interesting questions as to how he would deal with this if he were president right now. How would a Donald Trump presidency deal with this strange, vituperative nuclear armed, hermit kingdom?
In his speech today in Washington, he said two sentences about North Korea and their nuclear blast. His take on the North Korean nuclear test is that it is Hillary Clinton`s fault. This was the sum total of his remarks in North Korea, quote, "Just today, it was announced that North Korea performed its fifth nuclear test, its fourth since Hillary Clinton became secretary of state. It`s just one more massive failure from a failed secretary of state."
You know, honestly, it is outrageous that Hillary Clinton set off that nuclear blast, very irresponsible of her, especially as secretary of state. I mean, setting off nuclear bombs is untoward in any case.
That was Donald Trump`s remarks. I heard North Korea set off a nuclear blast, isn`t Hillary Clinton terrible?
That left it to his campaign manager to explain what his plan would be for dealing with North Korea, and this was like golden poetry written like fire in the sky.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: North Korea, what would Donald Trump do if North Korea has ballistic missiles that can carry nuclear weapons to the continental United States?
KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Well, he wouldn`t do what`s being done now, with the president in Asia talking about Donald Trump instead of North Korea.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You always refer to what the Democrats are doing. What would he do? He wants to be president. What would he do in North Korea had the capacity to deliver a nuclear weapon to the United States?
CONWAY: Donald Trump, his entire America first doctrine is he would always look out for the interest of this country. And North Korea and the rest of the world would know, Charlie, that President Trump and Vice President Pence aren`t messing around with anybody who`s trying to threaten our lives. I mean, the generals that I hear and the national security experts that I hear, talk about nuclear capability being nothing short of devastating.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What would he do about North Korea if they had the capacity --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would it be diplomatic or military response?
CONWAY: He would make sure they would never use it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How?
CONWAY: He`s not going to reveal all of his plans. He`s made that very clear.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: See, Donald Trump would not be messing around. He definitely has a plan for dealing with North Korea. It is, of course, a secret plan.
In the midst of -- on a day like today, in the midst of all this serious international news, and in the midst of this very welcome focus on national security issues and foreign policy issues and the presidential campaign, especially as we come up on the 15th anniversary of 9/11 this weekend, in the midst of all this, there`s one other really strange thing that is happening in this current news cycle, and it is that Donald Trump himself has ended up in the middle of an international controversy.
And what is bizarre about it, he appears to have not understood that he was in it at all until he was right in the middle of it. He has no idea how he got there. He didn`t know it was happening to him until it was over, and now he says he wishes he hadn`t done it. Really? That`s next.
MADDOW: Have you ever had that dream that everybody`s had, where you, like, think that you`re going to bed and you take off your clothes and put on your jammies to go to bed, but then you`re actually dreaming and you dream float through your bedroom door and you find you`re accidentally on a stage in front of a whole bunch of people and you`re wearing your pajama tops and not bottoms and you`re supposed to give a speech in a language you`ve never spoken?
How many times have you had that dream? Or is it just me?
One of the presidential candidates had a dream like that, thankfully everybody was wearing pants. And that story is next.
MADDOW: OK, take a look at this. This is a tweet from RT. RT, Russia Today, it`s Russian state-sponsored TV. It`s basically a good humored Russian propaganda outfit. RT is paid for by the Russian government.
And what you`re looking at here, this tweet from them, this is not a Russia today Cyrillic language, Russian headline about something that`s just going on with Donald Trump in the world. It`s not Donald Trump coverage in the Russian language. This is a Russia Today Cyrillic Russian language teaser for the interview that Donald Trump just did on Russian state television.
Remember Larry King? Larry King`s a very nice guy. He worked in cable news for a dog`s age. He used to be in this time slot on CNN. He was a very nice guy.
But then when he finished up at CNN, everybody thought he would retire and stop doing broadcast stuff, but where he actually landed was Russia Today. Just kind of weird, interesting thing about Larry King`s career afterlife. That`s where he`s landed, Russia Today.
And Donald Trump`s whole case for why he would be a great commander-in- chief, why he would be a good president, why he would be so much better than terrible Hillary Clinton and terrible Barack Obama and all of these professional politicians is because he has a businessman`s shrewdness, right?
That`s kind of the argument. He`s a great negotiator. He`s a man of the world. He`s a businessman. He`s canny. He will not get played like our terrible, terrible leaders get played all the time by these devious foreign leaders, who will just not be able to get one over on top guy Donald Trump.
That`s basically the case he has made for why somebody with no political expertise, no political experience whatsoever, why someone like him should be given the job of president and commander-in-chief. He knows better than all those dumb politicians, right?
Well, in the middle of making that case, this week, of all time, a sensitive week for foreign policy, right? Donald Trump appears to have accidentally done an interview on Russian state-sponsored television. Without having any idea that that`s where he was, or what he was doing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why would Donald Trump do an interview with Russian TV that is sponsored by the Kremlin?
CONWAY: He actually did an interview with Larry King, a personal friend of his, a friend of I`m sure everyone around the table. And he said he was doing it for his podcast, didn`t know wouldn`t be on Russian TV. But what he said there was --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How does something like that happen, that the campaign doesn`t know that his words are going to be played on Kremlin state TV? Larry King was doing the interview for Kremlin state TV.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He goes on Russian TV with Larry King, and he talks about the United States in an unflattering way to a Russian audience. What is the virtue of criticizing the United States to a Russian audience?
CONWAY: Well, first of all, as you know, as former CNN superstar Larry King has a podcast and Mr. Trump went on his podcast. Nobody said it was going to be on Russian TV.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Nobody said it was going to be on Russian TV. The Trump campaign had no idea that Larry King now works for Russian TV, and when he said -- they had no idea that`s where this was going to air.
Do you want to see again the Cyrillic teaser they put out for the interview again? A Trump spokesperson later clarified to CNN that what Kellyanne Conway meant was that Trump wouldn`t have agreed to do the interview had he known it would be aired on RT.
See, I think the problem here, R is such a common letter. I mean, when you say you`re going to be on RT, who would know that the R stands for Russia. I mean, it could be anything.
It could be Rabbit TV, could be Rutabaga TV, it could be a cute misspelling of wrinkles TV, could be Republican TV, could be Ruby Tuesday. He could have thought he was having a meeting with Larry King at a ruby Tuesday.
He didn`t know it was Russia!
The Trump campaign is a very unusual presidential campaign, to the point where it sometimes does stuff that makes you laugh out loud. But my friend Chuck who`s here is laughing out loud.
But when you find yourself laughing at them, on days when apocalyptic civil wars are getting their ceasefires negotiated, and literally, nuclear explosions are happening underground in North Korea, their actions are still funny, but it`s something other than hilarious to remember that this particular episode of hee-haw is also our nation`s presidential election and this is the guy who Republicans picked to contest it for them.
MADDOW: One of the most remarkable news stories of this year has been a slow burning story that started small and has now gotten very big in Cannonball, North Dakota, of all places. It`s Indian land. It`s a site of the reservation for the Standing Rock Sioux in North Dakota, and it has become a national locust of protest over a planned oil pipeline that a company called energy transfer partners wants to build across four states, across more than 200 water crossings. Locally there in North Dakota, it would cross the Missouri River. It would also disturb what the Standing Rock Sioux says are their sacred burial sites.
The protest there has been the site of some violent clashes involving private security guards, including incidents with pepper spray and attack dogs. There`s been injuries on both sides.
But it`s also just become a very large protest site. Native Americans have been flooding there from all over the country. A leader with the native organizers alliance said today in living memory, there has never been a coming together of tribes like this one that is happening right now in North Dakota.
According to organizers, it could be the biggest such gathering in a century. And this has been a slow-burning story through the summer and now into the fall, it`s only been getting bigger. But today, it changed and kind of exploded in a very surprising way. I don`t know if anybody saw this coming.
Today was the day that a federal judge in Washington state was due to rule on whether the pipeline project would be stopped. The tribe had asked for an injunction. The judge did rule today and he denied the tribe`s request for an injunction.
And you would think that would mean full speed ahead for constructing the pipeline. But then something very unexpected happened, 15 minutes after the judge`s ruling was published, we got this -- a joint statement from the Department of the Army, the Justice Department, and the Department of the Interior.
Quote, "The army will not authorize constructing the Dakota Access pipeline on Army Corps of Engineers land until it can determine whether it will need to reconsider any of its previous decisions. Construction of the pipeline on Army Corps land will not go forward at this time. We request that the pipeline country voluntarily pause all construction activity. This case has highlighted the need for a serious discussion on whether there should be nationwide reform with respect considering tribes` views on these types of infrastructure projects."
This was a shock, right? The judge today this afternoon said, yes, go ahead. Within 15 minutes, the federal government, including the Army, comes out and said, no. We respect the judge`s decision, but we think the tribes have a point and we are not doing this.
This is a very big turn in what was already an incredible story.
And joining us now is Jack Healy. He`s "The New York Times" national correspondent who has been on the ground in North Dakota covering this story.
Mr. Healy, thanks very much for joining us. Really appreciate your time tonight.
JACK HEALY, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Of course. Thank you so much.
MADDOW: So, first of all, let me just ask, if I got that right, at least as far as you see it. Is it true this was a real surprise from these federal agencies today?
HEALY: It was completely stunning. I mean, the lawyers for the tribe, tribal members themselves sort of were not expecting this kind of last- minute, blue sky intervention from the federal government. You know, when big decisions that you`re always waiting for start to come in, there`s this natural flood that fills up your inbox, right? The reactions from either camp.
And that started to happen today. You know, the proponents of the pipeline were very happy with it, because it looked like it was full speed ahead. And the opponents of the pipeline were sending out distressed, very disappointed messages. And then this move from the federal government happened and it re-scrambled everything.
MADDOW: Is construction in fact stopping? We have the army corps who is a key player in this, in terms of permitting and in terms of the land here. They`re calling -- they`re saying that nothing will go forward on their own land. They`re calling for a voluntary pause from the private company involved here.
Do you know how effective this move by the federal government will be? Is this a full stop and there`s no way around it?
HEALY: Well, I mean, yes and no. The pipeline is incredibly long, right? It`s more than a thousand miles long. It`s almost about half constructed, as it runs through three or four states, like you said.
And I think construction is probably going to continue in other states where, for example, in Iowa, they`re putting it in farmers` fields, things like that. But here in North Dakota, at the site of the river crossing, this crucial juncture, the federal government has the authority to stop it while they review the process of permitting and approvals, things like that.
The other area that we`re talking about, this voluntary stoppage, we don`t know. I mean, I e-mailed the PR firm representing the pipeline, haven`t heard back from them. But construction has been effectively halted for at least this week. And so, there was no work going on today, when I was out at the site of the camp and at the construction. And I would not anticipate that there would be much happening for the foreseeable future, because they can`t go under the river.
MADDOW: Right. And so can you imagine the rerouting and the change that`s going to have to happen in order for them to accommodate this. This is dramatic.
Jack Healy --
HEALY: It`s like a straw. If you cut a straw in two, you can`t suck up water through that aperture.
MADDOW: Not even in the movies.
Jack Healy, "New York Times" correspondent who`s been covering this for "The Times" from North Korea -- Jack, thanks for helping us understand this development today. Appreciate it.
HEALY: Thank you so much for talking about it.
MADDOW: I appreciate it. I will say that we tried to find some sort of statement from the pipeline company as well. Jack was saying there he hasn`t been able to hear anything from their PR representatives. That`s been an eerie silence from the private company side of this, since this dramatic move by the Army and the federal government today.
And one programming note on this, THE LAST WORD has a special live show tonight, following this hour, and among Lawrence O`Donnell`s guests is going to be the chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux, which is the tribe leading the protest against this pipeline. So, again, the chairman of that tribe is going to be on Lawrence live coming up after this show.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: This is from September 11th, 2002, the one-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
At that time, the question of whether or not the U.S. would invade Iraq was top of the news.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
TRUMP: Yeah, I guess so. I wish the first time it was done correctly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The question was, "Are you for invading Iraq?" The answer, "Yeah, I guess so. I wish the first time it was done correctly."
That was Donald Trump before the Iraq invasion. It was in the fall of 2002. It`s because that`s on tape and on the record that it is weird that Donald Trump continues to say he was against going to war in Iraq. That is not true, but he keeps insisting that it was.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I was totally against the war in Iraq. You can look at "Esquire Magazine" from `04.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Stop right there.
Donald Trump says. "I was totally against the war in Iraq. You can look at `Esquire Magazine` from `04."
OK, here`s the article Donald Trump is citing from. There`s a new editor`s note at the top of the article. We talked to the folks at "Esquire" to make sure it`s legit. They said they added the editor`s note yesterday because they are tired of what Donald Trump keeps saying about this article.
Here`s what they`ve just appended to it, quote, "The following story was published in the August `04 issue of `Esquire`. During the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump has repeatedly claimed to have been against the Iraq war. From the beginning, he has cited this story has proof.
The Iraq war began in March 2003, more than a year before this story ran. Thus, nullifying Donald Trump`s timeline."
In other words, "Esquire Magazine" would please like Donald Trump to stop using their article as proof that he warned against the invasion of Iraq, when he actually said before that invasion, yes, we should probably go ahead and do it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOWARD STERN: Are you for invading Iraq?
TRUMP: Yeah, I guess so.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I guess so.
This morning, CBS News played that tape for Mr. Trump`s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, and that is when we got the Trump campaign`s brand spanking new answer to what has now turned into this continuing problem for them. This was kind of amazing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, was Donald Trump for the Iraq war or against it?
CONWAY: He`s a private citizen who was against the Iraq war. You heard him with Howard Stern, say I guess so. If he had been in the United States Senate, he would have cast a vote against the war.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do we know that?
CONWAY: Because he said so. The same thing President Obama did in 2008 and everybody took him at his word.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Had he been in the Senate he would have voted "no," the same thing President Obama did in 2008 and everybody just took him at his word.
Slow your roll. I do not think this new answer from the Trump campaign is going to hold up any better than the one they tried on about esquire magazine. I mean, Barack Obama was not just asked about his Iraq war vote in 2008, after the war was under way. He was asked about it in 2002, look, back he was a little state senator, way before the war started. He was asked about it in 2002 before the war, just like Donald Trump was asked about it on Howard Stern.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), THEN-STATE SENATOR: I think there`s a division.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you have voted? Would you have supported their resolution? Voted yay or nay?
OBAMA: If it came to me in an up or down vote, as it came, I think I would have agreed with our senior Senator Dick Durbin and voted nay.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Barack Obama before the war. I would have voted "no" on invading Iraq. Donald Trump before the war, yeah, I`m for it, I guess.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOWARD STERN: Are you for invading Iraq?
TRUMP: Yeah, I guess so.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: One of these things is not like the other.
The Trump campaign still has not figured out how to tell the very basic truth about that. And now it is getting worse. Stand by for that.
MADDOW: Six months exactly after the 9/11 attacks, they turned on what`s called the tribute in lights in Lower Manhattan, the 9/11 lights. It`s these two endless blue beams of light that go straight up into the sky, to represent the Twin Towers.
And a lot of people at the time thought the lights should become permanent. That did not happen. The city and the artist who designed the lights believed, I think, wisely, that that wasn`t something that we needed to see every day for the rest of our lives. That in some way we`d need to combine our grief and anxiety and the gut-punch of 9/11 into our lives, fold it into our lives in a way that wasn`t part of our permanent night sky in New York City. So they turned the lights off after a month.
But now they turn them on every year again for the anniversary. This year, it`s this weekend. Sunday will be the 15th anniversary.
The part of our national story where 9/11 was ever present, where it was something we saw every moment, that has ended for most of us, but there are ways in which what started for us on 9/11 really hasn`t ended. And among the most important of those things are America`s longest wars.
And you can tell from the debate over it in this year`s presidential politics, that we can look at Iraq now and widely agree, not uniformly agree, but widely agree as a country, that we probably shouldn`t have done that. Both candidates this year, for example, will agree that we were basically lied into that war and we can make apologies for supporting it at the time, as Hillary Clinton does, or as Donald Trump tries to say now, you can try to say that you were against it at the time, even though we know from the record that`s not true.
There`s a reason they`re both trying to come out on the right side of the Iraq war conflict now, because there`s a broad national consensus that it was a bad thing to do. It`s good politics now to oppose invading Iraq in 2003.
Our national feelings about the war in Afghanistan are much more mixed. The kind of rethinking on the issue of Iraq, it doesn`t happen so much on the subject of Afghanistan, aside from a general frustration that the whole thing has taken so long, and that it doesn`t have an end in sight.
There was a flurry of attention to the war in Afghanistan, as President Obama surged and then drew down the number of troops there. But since then, it`s once again become almost a forgotten conflict, which it has been for most of the years that American forces have been fighting it, even with 10,000 U.S. troops still there and staying there for the foreseeable future.
We`ve basically decided that invading Iraq look obviously foolish and tragic 13 years after that invasion. This weekend is 15 years since 9/11. What do we say about Afghanistan as that war approaches 15 years as well?
Joining us now is Peter Kiernan. He`s a decorated former marine. He served in Afghanistan. He`s now vice president of the U.S. military veterans at Columbia University, where he`s studying poly sci.
Mr. Kiernan, it`s great to have you here.
PETER KIERNAN, FORMER U.S. MARINE, SERVED IN AFGHANISTAN: Thanks.
MADDOW: I know you`ve not been on TV before. So I appreciate you killing the butterflies in your stomach.
KIERNAN: Thanks. I appreciate it.
MADDOW: Can I ask how old you were on 9/11?
KIERNAN: I was 11.
MADDOW: Were those attacks -- was the whole idea of the war on terror, was that part of why you enlisted in the Marine Corps?
KIERNAN: Definitely, to some extent. So, 9/11 was a formidable event in my youth, I think. I grew up on Long Island. So for my town, there were 40 people who were killed that day. And my uncle survived only because he was outside on a smoke break, worked in the North Tower, when the planes hit.
So I think I had a pretty intimate experience with the events that happened that day. And seeing the casket at funerals that followed September 11th, I think, you know, it definitely kind of underscored the notion of the ultimate sacrifice and you know, kind of galvanized that commitment to serve.
MADDOW: When you went -- you went to Afghanistan in 2012?
KIERNAN: I did. I deployed in 2012, got back in 2013, I was there for nine months.
MADDOW: So, that was -- by the time you went, the war in Afghanistan was a decade old.
MADDOW: One of the things that I`ve always thought about, as a civilian, I`ve thought a lot about the fact of our civilian responsibility for the fact that Afghanistan was largely forgotten. We didn`t pay much attention to either war in this country because 99-plus percent of us civilians had nothing to do with it, in terms of the burden borne by military families.
But is it a source of frustration when you`re there that people back home aren`t paying attention to the conflict?
KIERNAN: You know, I have to say, while I was there, the focus was still very much on Afghanistan. I think it was still a topic that was often discussed. So I didn`t feel like I was forgotten while I was there.
I definitely feel like that`s the case today. You know, you`ve seen a resurgence of the Taliban. Same thing in Iraq, you`ve seen ISIS come.
One of the most tragic things I think is that, one of my responsibilities when I was in Afghanistan was an interpret manager. And I was responsible for the lives of these men and implementing them, the entire use military used these men and women to communicate with our partner forces in Afghanistan.
Well, today, there`s 35,000 men and women who are trapped in these countries who had helped us, and now given the resurgence in these terrorist organizations, they`re in fear of their lives. We actually have a program in the United States to bring these men and women back, because we promised sanctuary both implicitly and explicitly.
Well, it turns out that program expired September 30th, and Congress has seen it fit not to renew the program.
KIERNAN: So, there`s, you know, there`s an organization called No One Left Behind that`s dedicated to bringing these people back. The kicker is that it would cost the U.S. government $30 million to resettle all 35,000 people.
These are men and women who did just as much as I did if not more. I mean, we did not nine month deployments, some people did year. Some people did year straight of fighting. They were alongside us, they`re in the villages, doing the same missions, making the same sacrifices. And I think it`s really sad our government is going to leave these people out there to dry.
MADDOW: I know you went to the forum this week --
KIERNAN: I did.
MADDOW: -- on Intrepid. Is that the kind of thing you wish you would hear the candidates talk about?
KIERNAN: I think everyone is underwhelmed at the questions they were asked in the manner they were presented. I think the two questions that I thought could have been answered better were, one, the mental health question with Donald Trump. You know, 20 Americans, 20 veterans every day committing suicide.
This is actually a serious issue because for me personally, I study at Columbia University here. We just had a student veteran commit suicide this week. His name is Yuri Flores (ph). He was a close friend. I sat next to him in class. It`s heartbreaking and frustrating to watch your friends commit suicide.
And that, you know, that -- to see the answer that Donald Trump gave basically saying that these people are suffering from pain and that the answer is to give them prescription drugs. You know, really aggravates you because he obviously doesn`t understand the issue.
KIERNAN: This is not something you solve through prescription drugs. It`s something that you solve, you know, through therapy and talking about it and meeting with people. There`s a great organization here in the city started by Zach Iskal that`s called headstrong. You can walk in, you can get mental health treatment, you talk to therapist, fantastic organization. Models like this aren`t being emulated around the country, and it`s problem.
MADDOW: Peter Kiernan, decorated former marine who served in Afghanistan in 2012 -- thank you for coming to talk with us about us. You should talk on the TV machine more, you`re very good at it.
It`s great to have you here. Thanks.
KIERNAN: Thank you so much.
MADDOW: Appreciate it.
All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Two things to tell you. Number one, Lawrence O`Donnell is going to be live right after me tonight. Sometimes we go to previous recorded shows, sometimes we go to prison after me on Friday. Tonight, Lawrence is here live and he`s going to have the chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe who`s going to be here on this day where there`s been this incredible development on that pipeline story, sort of must-see television coming up right after this.
Also, it`s the return of Donald Trump`s amazing doctor. I`ll tell you why, next.
MADDOW: This has felt like an awkward story all year long, because of person`s health history, person`s health records are something sort of hard wired to believe, they`re a private matter, right? But in politics this year, Donald Trump`s medical records have become an unusually politically salient thing for two reasons. Number one, his campaign has consistently and aggressively tried to make Hillary`s health some sort of scandal in this campaign.
The Trump folks alleged that Hillary Clinton has secret health problems they can diagnosed based on edited videos they`ve found on right wing websites. They have made the health of the candidates of the political issue by pushing these weird conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton.
The other reason it has been an issue for Donald Trump is because of the patently ridiculous, hyperbolic information he released as his supposed medical record early on in the campaign. This was the half-page letter from his gastroenterologist which insisted that Donald Trump would be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency. Mr. Trump`s doctor later confirmed to NBC News that the only reason Donald Trump would be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency is because in this doctor`s view, all the other presidents are either, quote, "sick or dead." That was a direct quote from the doctor. "Sick or dead."
So, a little bit lost in the sauce this week in everything else that`s been going on, this busy week, short week because of the Labor Day holiday, a little bit lost in the sauce was Donald Trump telling ABC News that in addition to the half page misspelled laugh out loud ridiculous doctor`s note that he released earlier, he is now going to release what he says was his full medical history, his full medical history. He told ABC that on Tuesday.
Well, we can now report that he`s been scheduled for an hour long sit down discussion about his health and other topics on a syndicated daytime talk show called "Dr. Oz". This is going to happen on Thursday. We don`t yet know if the Dr. Oz appearance is going to be where Donald Trump actually hands over the documentation of his full medical history. We reached out to both the Trump campaign and to our friend Donald Trump`s doctor to ask what we can expect, who`s going to be signing off on the history, what are we going to get? Is it going to be the same doctor?
So far, we have not heard back from his doctor. The Trump campaign did get back to us. Trump campaign did get back to us. Trump campaign press secretary told us tonight, quote, "He will be releasing additional information soon." Soon.
I mean, you can spend your weekend getting excited about the fact that you`re about to learn Donald Trump`s body mass index and also what happened to the heel spurs that kept him out of Vietnam.
That does it for us tonight. We will see you again on Monday.
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