The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 02/12/14
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: And thanks for you at home for joining us
this next hour.
It has been a big day today and the biggest political story in the
country this year, and we`re going to be reporting that out tonight,
including some new information. We`re going to be bringing it to you here
exclusively, and a trove of new document that is we have just gotten our
In news outside politics, though, the biggest story in the country,
the story that is at least physically larger than anyone in the country is
This is a real time traffic map of the biggest roads in the United
States of America.
Green means go. Green means traffic is moving normally.
Yellow on this map, you see here in the eastern U.S., yellow means be
prepared for some slow going on these major roads. Things are crowded,
say, on the roads.
But red – red means do stay away. Don`t do it.
And in the Southeast, hours of freezing rain, sleet and snow along
with winds may have made many roads dangerous if not totally impassable
because they are basically disastrous winter conditions. In Georgia today,
the people of Atlanta appear to have stayed off major roads and averted a
crisis this time.
But drivers in Charlotte, North Carolina, today found themselves
basically in an icy trap. Look at this, like many places in the South
right now, Charlotte`s roads today have been extremely hazardous to
Just like what happened in Atlanta a couple weeks ago, the rush to get
home in the face of the storm, today in North Carolina led to huge static
lineups of cars. Many cars ultimately abandoned on the roads. There are
reports tonight again of people once again stranded for hours on the
American roadways. This time, it`s Charlotte, North Carolina, it`s
Raleigh, it`s across the state of North Carolina.
Throughout the whole region, more than a half million homes have lost
power, thus far. So far, 11 million deaths are attributed to the storm,
most of them traffic incidents.
Today, the Northeast and mid-Atlantic are hunkering down for another
winter pummeling. It`s been a heavy winter already, but snow and freezing
rain and rain are all expected to move up the I-95 corridor overnight, with
by some strong northeasterly winds all day and night tomorrow. The
National Weather Service this morning used the adjective catastrophic to
describe the impact of this storm in the Southeast and on the East Coast.
If you are in the path of this giant storm complex, take it from me,
my layman`s understanding of this, stay home. This is a big one.
We`re going to keep an eye on this storm, continue to keep an eye on
this storm and related developments over the course of this hour, and over
the course of the night here on MSNBC. We hope you will stay with us for
But as we keep an eye on this big storm system tonight, we are also
keeping an eye on the big politics story of today. In that story today,
big news – behold the new subpoena to the office of New Jersey Governor
Chris Christie. Eighteen new subpoenas were released tonight in New
Jersey, including the new one to Governor Christie`s own office.
We knew these 18 subpoenas had been issued at the beginning of the
week. We did have some exclusive reporting here on this show about what
was expected to be in these subpoenas, what the investigators are looking
for. But now, as of tonight, we have the documents. The office of New
Jersey Governor Chris Christie has been subpoenaed in this matter twice
before, once by federal authorities and once by the legislator.
But now, we can report that Governor Christie`s office is being
ordered to hand over documents and records of any kind – all dossiers,
correspondents, notes, emails, texts, instant messages, or any other
electronically stored data about two things, about two very specific
things. Contact between the governor`s office and Mark Sokolich, the mayor
of Fort Lee, New Jersey. Fort Lee, of course, is the town that had its
access to the George Washington Bridge, shutdown purposely in order to
create traffic problems in that two.
But also this, anything related to the preparation of Bill Baroni`s
testimony to the state legislature last November. That was the testimony
of Bill Baroni – he tried to sell the legislature this false cover story
of what really happened on that bridge. That was his two hour performance,
where he tried to tell them it was a traffic study, even though it really
The new subpoena to Governor Chris Christie`s office tonight orders
the office to turn over all documents and correspondents of any kind,
quote, “which reflect or contain any drafts or earlier versions of,
comments on or chains or edits to the statement read by Bill Baroni during
his testimony before the legislature on November 25th. Weather
handwritten, electronic, or in any other form.
This is as we reported last night, as we were first reporting last
night. The focus is on the cover-up. The focus is on the effort to
concoct and sell a cover story that was designed to disguise the real
reason those bridge lanes were shut down.
Who was in on that cover-up? Who was in on the cover-up? This new
demands to Governor Christie`s office, to hand over anything that may show
the governor`s office helping to prepare that testimony or OK that
testimony, that demand of Governor Christie`s office and the subpoena just
released tonight is also made in exactly the same terms to Governor
Christie`s re-election campaign. It`s also made in exactly the same terms
in the new subpoena that was released tonight to Bill Baroni himself.
Hey, Bill, who helped you draft this testimony? This exact same
demand for information about drafts and changes and edits and earlier
versions of the Bill Baroni testimony that`s also made in the subpoena that
was released tonight that went to Phillip Kwon. He`s the lawyer appointed
to the Port Authority by Chris Christie. You see him spot shadowed here on
the right side of your screen.
We know that Phillip Kwon helped prepare Bill Baroni to give that
false testimony about the cover story. And we now know he sat there in the
room while Bill Baroni delivered that testimony.
The same demand, what do you have about who was in on preparing the
testimony? That same demand about the preparation of the cover story is
made to all of these people whose subpoenas were released tonight. As we
reported last night, as were first to report last night, the focus is on
Now, this is interesting, Regina Egea. She`s Governor Christie`s
chief of staff. Before she got promoted to chief of staff, she had been
working in the governor`s office in another position. She was head of the
authorities unit for Governor Christie, which means she headed up matters
related to authorities, like, say, the Port Authority, which we now know
shutdown those bridge lanes.
In Regina Egea`s subpoena, which was released tonight, the governor`s
chief of staff, Regina Egea, is asked, like everybody else, for any
documents that she has that reflect drafts or edits or changes to the Bill
Baroni cover story testimony. But there`s one other thing, she`s also
asked specifically for information about a meeting, a meeting that may have
just been scheduled, or may have occurred.
But at least the propose meeting that would have included herself and
Nicole Crifo, who also worked for Governor Christie. She was a legal
adviser to the authorities unit. And Bill Baroni and Phillip Kwon.
Sometime after August 1st, the investigators seem to believe that at
least one meeting was planned to take place or did take place between the
guy who gave the false testimony and the lawyer who prepped him for the
false testimony and these two people who worked in Governor Christie`s
office, one of whom has been promoted to be Governor Christie`s new chief
Regina Egea, the new chief of staff, and all the other people
allegedly at that meeting have all been subpoenaed to turn over any
documents or notes or information they have about that meeting which
investigators seem to believe, was at least planned to happen.
And that sort of gets right at the heart of the question, right? As
to whether the cover-up was cooked up and propagated by the same
individuals who perpetrated the bridge thing in the first place, or whether
the cover-up was bigger. Wasn`t the effort to cover up what happened on
the bridge was some sort of a wider effort, whether it extended outside the
Port Authority, whether it came back to the governor`s office, since the
order to shut down the bridge started at the governor`s office, did the
cover-up come back to the governor`s office, too?
We still need to know why this whole thing happened in the first
place, right, and whether the order to do it came from any higher up than
the governor`s deputy chief of staff. But even if that part of it never
gets cleared up, even if Governor Christie`s administration never explains
why they did it, still, the issue of the cover-up is just as bad.
And with these documents tonight, with these documents that have just
been released tonight, now we know what lines are being pulled to try to
find out about the extent of the cover-up.
And there`s one more thing – after Bill Baroni finished his testimony
that day, where he tried to sell the cover story, after he did that
testimony, as soon as he got out of the committee room, we know from other
records, previously subpoenaed, that right after he got out of the room, he
texted David Wildstein, “Trenton feedback.” David Wildstein texted back,
“Good.” Baroni says, “Just good?” Then he swears.
Then David Wildstein reassures him, “No, I have only texted Bridget
and Nicole and they were very happy.” Bill Baroni says, “OK”. David
Wildstein responds, “Both said you were doing great.”
Now, Bridget is presumably Bridget Kelly who was the governor`s deputy
chief of staff and who sent the e-mail that called for there to be traffic
problems in Fort Lee in the first place, right? But he says he talked to
Bridget and Nicole.
Who`s Nicole? The only person named Nicole who`s previously been
subpoenaed in conjunction with this manner is Nicole Davidman Drewniak.
She worked on the governor`s re-election campaign.
In terms of tracing the cover-up, if the guy getting high-fives for
his cover story performance is getting them from someone on the governor`s
re-election campaign, that`s really interesting, why would the governor`s
re-election campaign be in on this?
But maybe there`s an alternate explanation. Now a second person named
Nicole has been subpoenaed in conjunction with this matter, and the
investigators seem to believe that she was in on at least that one meeting
that they think may have happened between the guy who gave the false
testimony and the lawyer who prepped him for that testimony and the
governor`s new chief of staff.
If this instead is the Nicole who Bill Baroni and David Wildstein were
text messaging about right after the attempted cover-up story to the
legislature, well, then, he was getting his high-fives for his good job
delivering the cover story, not from the governor`s re-election campaign,
but instead from two ranking members of Governor Christie`s own staff.
So, if Nicole and Bridget are the Nicole and Bridget who work in the
governor`s office, why are two people who work in the governor`s office
giving him high-fives for a good job on the cover-up?
In the same text exchange that same day, after David Wildstein tells
Bill Baroni, Bridget and Nicole were very happy, both said you`re doing
great. Right after he says that, about at least one, and maybe two
staffers in Governor Christie`s office applauding the cover story, the very
next text message that he sends him is this one, “Charlie says you did
Charlie? The chief counsel to Governor Chris Christie at that time
was a man named Charlie. Charlie McKenna.
If this investigation is about the cover-up, then there are all these
questions now about the links from the cover-up back into the governor`s
office, there`s the “you did great” text messages, which came from – which
referenced at least one person who worked in the governor`s office, maybe
two. There`s the alleged meetings between two of the governor`s staffers
and the guy who prepped – the guys who prepped and delivered the cover-up
There`s the demand for information, these new demand for information
that we just got our hands on tonight – these new demand for information
from the governor`s office, from the governor`s re-election campaign, about
who helped prep the cover-up testimony. Who saw earlier versions of it?
Who edited it? Who changed it? Who made suggestions?
That`s where it stands tonight, with 18 new subpoenas being released
and the cover-up at the center of all of it.
And the other thing going on incredibly is this – the New Jersey
state Republican Party is now trying to raise money on the bridge scandal.
Specifically, they`re trying to raise money by saying that news
organizations should not be covering the scandal and that`s the real
Seriously, I`m not kidding. Look at this, this is from “The Star
Ledger” tonight, they`re quoting a fund-raising e-mail that the New Jersey
Republican Party has sent out, asking people to pledge $25 a month to the
New Jersey Republican Party because of the bridge scandal.
Quote, “Over the past few weeks, the liberal media and Trenton
Democrats have relentlessly attacked the governor, despite his strong
decisive leadership. It`s time to stand up to MSNBC, the liberal media and
Send us money because MSNBC keeps reporting on this story?
To the people of Fort Lee, to the people who missed the first day of
school or the first day of work, people who were late to appointments or
their jobs by hours, for not just one day but for four days, to the person
having a heart attack and the four people who were injured and need to be
moved by ambulance after a car wreck, to the parents of a missing child, to
all those people who found that police and first responders could not get
to them those days – to the people of Fort Lee and the hundreds of
thousands of other New Jersey residents and commuters who had four days of
this gridlock inflicted on them on purpose, thanks to still unexplained
orders that came out of Governor Christie`s office. To all of the hundreds
of thousands of people who were hurt here on purpose, the New Jersey
Republican Party would like you to know that the real outrage here is that
this TV network is reporting on what happened and trying to figure out the
answers that the Christie administration still won`t provide.
They want you to know that we`re the real outrage and they`re the real
victim, not you. They want the people of New Jersey to stand up, not
against this kind of corrupt and abusive outrage by their government. They
want the people of New Jersey to stand up against us covering the story.
It`s amazing, but it`s good to know.
MADDOW: OK. Imagine you are a mayor, and as mayor you are brought up
on corruption charges. You are then convicted of multiple corruption
charges. You are awaiting sentencing to federal prison on corruption
charges of which you have been convicted. Do you still get to be mayor in
Oh, the answer might surprise you. It may also drive you to drink.
That story and much more is coming up. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Have you ever looked at New Jersey Governor Chris Christie`s
lapel and thought, would I love to have my own New Jersey shaped American
flag lapel pin?
Well, today, we learned how you could get your own one just like Chris
Christie`s. The New Jersey Republican Party sent this e-mail out today.
Quote, “To show your support for the governor and the New Jersey Republican
Party, when you sign up to contribute $25 every month, we will send you the
American flag New Jersey pin. Yes, this is the very same pin you see
Governor Christie wearing during his public appearances.”
New Jersey Republicans using the bridgegate scandal, this totally
ballooning scandal, to drum up some money for the party, and to blame the
whole thing on the news organizations who have covered the story.
That fund-raising e-mail that went out today also include this line,
quote, “Over the past few weeks, the liberal media and Trenton Democrats
have relentlessly attacked the governor, despite his strong decisive
leadership. It`s time to stand up to MSNBC and the liberal media and their
It`s kind of nice, right? I think it`s the second most sincere form
of flattery. It`s very exciting for us.
But if you are a seasoned New Jersey reporter, getting attacks for
having the temerity to report critically on Governor Chris Christie and his
administration frankly anybody in the politics, it`s kind of an every day
part of the job.
Joining us now is Shawn Boburg. He`s a reporter for “The Bergen
Record”, and he has been on this story from the very beginning.
Mr. Boburg, thanks for being here.
SHAWN BOBURG, THE BERGEN RECORD: Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: First, this is not the most important thing. I just have to
ask you, though, the standing up to MSNBC thing, is that just – is that
just New Jersey? Like is that – are you guys used to getting attacked on
the basis of your reporting, no matter who you report on?
BOBURG: Well, I`ll say that I think tension between politicians and
aggressive reporting organizations, news organizations is not uncommon. In
this instance, I can speak for myself, we are representing readers in our
coverage area, which were impacted by this, there`s no partisan motivation.
And I`d also point out that the Republicans voted for this legislative
committee to investigate this matter. Chris Christie has someone who`s
conducting an internal review. So, it seems like on both sides of the
aisle, there`s acknowledgment that there are unanswered questions. So, I
think the media is perfectly within its right to pursue this.
MADDOW: Calling a partisan witch hunt when it`s every Republican in
the assembly and every Republican in the Senate voted to proceed with the
investigation. Well, it`s hilarious, actually.
A dozen and a half new subpoenas have been released tonight. What
stands out the most for you here? As you heard me explain I think the
thing that stands out most for me is what seems like a real focus on the
cover-up, on the cover story they tried to sell to the legislature.
BOBURG: Yes, I think there`s a big focus on what happened after this
came to light, there were press reports. And you see if you look at the
documents that Bill Baroni and David Wildstein turned over, you see a lot
of back and forth between the governor`s office and Port Authority
officials, especially Baroni and Wildstein.
How do we deal with this? How do we answer press inquiries?
Now, obviously, we all know Bill Baroni went before the legislature,
and he talked about a traffic study. So, the question, and I think it`s a
fundamental one, how did he come to a story about a traffic study?
Did he – and ultimately, did he talk to the governor`s office about a
traffic study? Did he convince them that that`s what this really was? Or
were they aware there was another motivation behind it?
MADDOW: The latest round of subpoenas also includes kind of –
actually, it was sent out today as two different documents, both subpoenas
of the Port Authority, one of them looks like pretty much of what we
expected in terms of this investigation asking the Port Authority for any
information about any meetings or any of other discussion they have on file
about the lane closures, and then there`s a second document to the Port
Authority, which is all about totally unrelated issues, at least issues
that seem totally unrelated, including the Hudson River tunnel project that
Governor Christie very famously turned down and stopped in his tracks as
soon as he got elected.
What do you make of that?
BOBURG: Yes. So, these are minor controversies in the past that
relate to Governor Christie and the Port Authority. And I think the
investigation – the investigative committee sees an opportunity to look
into some unresolved questions here.
With the arc tunnel, there are policy debates on both sides whether
that was a wise decision, one thing that happened in the aftermath is $1.8
billion that was dedicated to that tunnel from the Port Authority, was
diverted to Governor Christie`s transportation trust fund. And so, there`s
a question there about whether the Port Authority was used for political
purposes, not just in the context of a lane closure, but for plugging
Another example that`s contained in the subpoena is toll hikes, and
how those were rolled out. I think those are unresolved questions and the
committee sees an opportunity to dig a little deeper.
MADDOW: In terms of the work of the committee, is it a surprise to
you that they`re going back to those older issues and bringing those in? I
guess I`m asking whether or not you see there`s anyway that we should see
this as a widening of the bridge investigation or whether this is them just
going back in time and trying to dot I`s and cross T`s on earlier but
unrelated investigations just because they can?
BOBURG: Well, in some ways, it`s been widening, because we`ve all
been focused on the bridge scandal and the aftermath. But, you know, I`ve
been covering the legislative committee in its first incarnation, and this
House or assembly committee was originally created to look at the toll
hikes. So, in some ways it`s a return to the original focus of the
committee. Even though it`s an expansion based on what we`re seeing in the
MADDOW: Amazing. I can imagine what it felt like at the Port
Authority to open up the first subpoena and be like, yes, that`s we
expected and then realized, hey, wait, there`s more here, it was a surprise
to me at least.
Shawn Boburg, reporter for “The Bergen Record” – really has been on
this story from the beginning. Thank you for being here. Appreciate it.
BOBURG: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. We`ve got lots more to come. Please stay with
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL BARONI, FORMER PORT AUTHORITY OFFICIAL: In 2012, more than 102
million vehicles cross the George Washington Bridge which connects Fort
Lee, New Jersey, and New York City, and it is the busiest bridge in the
world. And more importantly, the George Washington Bridge is a vital
lifeline for commuters, for visitors and for regional commerce.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was Port Authority deputy executive director Bill
Baroni, starting his testimony before the New Jersey assembly
transportation committee back on November 25th. He went on to discuss in
detail the supposed traffic study that caused a week of gridlock in Fort
Lee, New Jersey, in early September, first week of school.
And while Mr. Baroni was not under oath during that testimony, we now
know that was a cooked up cover story that did not at all reflect what
happened on that bridge and why.
The words that you heard him say right there in the piece of tape we
played and a good chunk of his prepared testimony that day, it seems to
have come from this document. It`s sort of a mysterious document, looks
kind of like a prepared statement but doesn`t have any headers or
explanatory information on it. It was found as a partial document, deep
inside the 900-page document dump that was provided by David Wildstein
following his first subpoena back in January.
There also appears to be a draft of at least a portion of the
statement. And it`s all full of cross-outs and markups and rewrites,
somebody`s editing it.
And there`s no explanation offered to who wrote the statement
originally or why they wrote it or why somebody then made all these
handwritten changes to it.
Importantly, we do not know whose handwriting is all over this
statement, and it doesn`t help that there appears to be at least two
different kinds of handwriting on it. Is that one person with a cramp or
two different people?
Well, now, the latest round of subpoenas going out tonight, with the
latest round of subpoenas being released tonight, we now know that one of
the reasons the committee investigating the scandal has sent subpoenas to
this list of people who work in the governor`s office and the Port
Authority is to see who has information regarding at least one possible
meeting that happened with Bill Baroni in preparation for his testimony on
November 25th, does this prepared statement and the handwritten notes all
over it provide any indication of what took place at that meeting? And who
drafted the cover-up story? And who edited it?
And when they edited it, did they know that it was cooked up? Did
they know that it was made up? Or did they think it was the truth?
More ahead with the co chair of the investigative committee. Stay
MADDOW: We have yet more new reporting tonight on the Chris Christie
bridge scandal in New Jersey, new information that has not been reported
elsewhere tonight about what could be the next big fight in this
investigation. Or maybe what we`re about to say about it tonight will head
it off, kumbaya.
All right. One of the most dramatic moments so far in this scandal
was this testimony or rather this lack of testimony from David Wildstein,
the Chris Christie ally at the Port Authority who arranged the shutdown of
access lanes under the George Washington Bridge back in September,
apparently to hurt the town of Fort Lee on purpose.
When David Wildstein appeared before the New Jersey assembly last
month, he plead the Fifth. He showed up, but he refused to testify.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID WILDSTEIN, FORMER PORT AUTHORITY OFFICIAL: On advice of my
counsel, I respectfully assert my right to be silent under the United
States and New Jersey Constitutions.
On the advice of counsel, I again assert my right to remain silent.
On the advice of counsel, I assert my right to remain silent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: After repeatedly invoking the advice of his counsel and the
Fifth Amendment and refusing to testimony, Mr. Wildstein`s lawyer said at
the end of the hearing that if his client was given immunity, then he would
be very happy to talk. But without immunity, he was going to keep invoking
the Fifth Amendment.
Legally, it`s not at all clear whether you are allowed to do that
before a committee hearing like this after a subpoena. And so, the New
Jersey legislature held David Wildstein in contempt for refusing to testify
to them. They referred him for prosecution on contempt charges.
Since then, Governor Chris Christie`s two-time campaign manager Bill
Stepien and his deputy chief of staff, Bridget Kelly, have also invoked
sort of headed in that direction. They both invoked their Fifth Amendment
rights to refuse to hand over documents to the bridge-gate investigation.
The investigative committee this week voted to try one more time to compel
them to hand over those documents.
But if Mr. Stepien and Ms. Kelly continue to refuse, then they too
honestly will be moving toward contempt charges just like David Wildstein.
In their case, though, it is an open question whether or not they`re
only going to refuse to hand over documents or whether they, too, will
plead the Fifth in order to refuse to testify? And that`s an important
question, right? I mean, after what David Wildstein did, is everybody
involved in the scandal going to sit there next to their lawyer and plead
the Fifth? Is everyone going to refuse to answer questions?
Yesterday, there was a rather shocking revelation involving that part
of the story. When “New Jersey Spotlight” published this piece, look at
the headline here, “Rule prevents staff from testifying in bridgegate, says
Senator Robert Gordon, who`s chairman of the legislative oversight
committee in New Jersey, he announced yesterday that he had been told by
the Christie administration, that it`s Christie administration policy that
no members of the governor`s office are allowed to appear before
legislative committees. Senator Gordon told the “New Jersey Spotlight”,
quote, “This is a Christie administration policy? There was no such policy
before this in previous administrations.”
Now, Senator Gordon wanted testimony from people who work in the
governor`s office on a matter sort of unrelated to bridgegate, it was
something having to do with hurricane Sandy recovery. But if it is a
blanket policy of the Christie administration that`s just being announced
now, that no staff from the governor`s office is never allowed to testify
before the legislature, that has big implications fro implications for the
whole scandal going forward, right, and this whole investigation.
Well, just tonight, we got copies of subpoenas four more people who
work as staff in the governor`s office and getting a subpoena doesn`t mean
you`re necessarily going to be called to testify. But is there some rule?
Some Governor Christie rule, some Christie administration rule that says
anybody who works in the governor`s office isn`t allowed to testify if the
legislature asks them to or tells them to?
Well, tonight, Governor Christie`s office says despite this other
reporting, despite what State Senator Robert Gordon says he was told by the
governor`s office, the governor`s office tells us tonight that there is no
policy in the Christie administration of preventing the governor`s staff
testifying before the legislature.
The governor`s spokesman told us tonight. Quote, “`The New Jersey
Spotlight` story is wrong. Governor Christie`s spokesman tells us that the
governor`s staff couldn`t attend a specific hearing held yesterday on the
issue of Sandy, that was basically just a scheduling conflict.” And that,
quote, “the administration would welcome the opportunity to provide
testimony later this month.” The governor`s office added, quote, “Everyone
here is committed to the highest levels of accountability and
Senator Gordon for his part, when we called him back and told him what
we had heard from the governor`s office, Senator Gordon says he`s standing
by his earlier statement, he says the governor`s office really did tell him
its policy is that we`re never going to let anybody testify to the
legislature on anything ever.
This is one of those he said/he said things, right? But it`s not one
that goes on indefinitely. It`s not one of these unknowable things that
drags on forever. This one really does get resolved at some point. If at
some point the legislature wants to talk to somebody in the governor`s
office, we will know whether or not this alleged policy exists by whether
or not that person actually ends up sitting in the chair, whether they`re
asserting the Fifth or otherwise.
Joining us now is New Jersey State Senator Loretta Weinberg. She`s
the co-chair of the Legislative Select Committee investigating the lane
Senator Weinberg, thank you for being here.
STATE SEN. LORETTA WEINBERG (D), NEW JERSEY: Thank you.
MADDOW: What do you make of the governor`s office in this rule about
testifying before the legislature? They clearly were trying to tamp this
down today and say this is not going to be an issue. There`s no
administration rule that should make this a problem.
WEINBERG: Well, there`s no doubt this is one of the more closed
administrations that I have ever seen. And when I served on the committee
that had the hearing yesterday on Sandy, and when I sit across from
advocates who had to go to court to get basic documents to find out how the
money is flowing, and Sandy is so frustrated, I happen to be a great
believer in open government, I have been the sponsor sometimes
successfully, sometimes not so successfully of almost all the governor
bills that come back before us in the last number of years, and to sit
there, it is so frustrating to deal with a government with an executive who
would much rather say no and make you fight for documents than to just hand
These are things that are owned by the taxpayers who pay the salaries
of all these folks that might or might not be allowed to testify before us.
And I think somewhat in fairness, I think there is – the governor`s office
probably making a distinction between a cabinet member, a commissioner or
department head versus staffers in his office. I don`t really recall that
– I haven`t served on any committees in the recent past where we`ve had
staffers from the governor`s office. We will soon see, as you pointed out.
MADDOW: In terms of these new subpoenas that were released tonight.
They went out on Monday night. We`ve all been served we understand.
The way that I – what jumps out to me when I look at what you`re
asking these people to turn over is a focus on the traffic study as
essentially the cover-up, as the cover story that was supposed to disguise
what happened on those bridge lanes. Is that fair for me to infer that
that`s what you`re going after with this new round of subpoenas?
WEINBERG: Well, that`s certainly one thing we`re going after. The
subpoenas ask for other documents beyond that.
But that`s really the linchpin in this story, I believe. It was a
cover-up. We knew it almost immediately when Mr. Baroni delivered it to
the prior assembly transportation committee. That was November 25th.
Don`t forget at least six weeks before that infamous e-mail from the
executive director of the Port Authority was in all the news media – the
e-mail that said this was done with lane closures, was done improperly,
they didn`t follow any of our policies and procedures. We haven`t found
any reason to have them done. I`m reversing it, it puts people in jeopardy
and very well might have broken both state and federal laws.
And six weeks later, they were giving this story. Nobody has produced
a traffic study. It seemed to me sometime between the Pat Foye e-mail and
Mr. Baroni`s testimony, someone might have said, could you please hand me
the traffic study?
And then the other half of the testimony, this whole big story about
the private lanes, the private roads that go from Fort Lee, they are
absolutely nonexistent. There are no secret private roads that Fort Lee
residents travel on to the George Washington Bridge.
So, what happened in that length of time between October 1st, when the
executive director of the entire Port Authority made all those statements
about what took place? And then six weeks later, this crazy cover-up
story, which very respectfully wasn`t even good – you`re going to come up
with a cover-up, at least try to make it sound reasonable.
This there is no traffic study. Nobody`s produced it as of today.
Nobody has produced a traffic study. There was no reason for it, because
there are no private roads from Fort Lee over the George Washington Bridge.
MADDOW: If it was a corner story, and frankly I believe you it was,
because the traffic study doesn`t exist and because the executive director
of the Port Authority said it doesn`t exist. It`s a pretty good authority
on this issue. To the extent we know that the cover story exists and we
know it was delivered by Bill Baroni, do you know who was in on cooking it
up? Do you know if Bill Baroni knew he was telling an untruth in that
testimony? Did he knowingly do it? And could he have been sold something
that he believed and he said it not knowing that it was untrue?
WEINBERG: Well, I suppose anything is possible. Mr. Baroni has not
testified before us yet, so we can`t – we haven`t had the opportunity to
ask limb that question. What my instincts tell me? Mr. Baroni was a
former state senator, he knows a little bit about the state of New Jersey,
he`s probably even driven over the George Washington Bridge a few times,
himself over the years.
So, I suspect that he knew that he wasn`t exactly giving a very
truthful account of what took place here. And then they spun it even
further. There was an op-ed piece written by one of my colleagues on the
other side of the aisle, about a day or two after his testimony, talking
about, we have to look into those private roads.
WEINBERG: Why are those people getting private roads? They almost
tried to play on making other people angry over this, rather than the
victims who the people themselves.
MADDOW: New Jersey State Senator Loretta Weinberg, co-chair of the
Legislative Select Committee that`s investigating these lane closures,
thank you for keeping us apprised on this, and keeping our – keeping our
coverage as close as we can get to what you`re doing. I appreciate it.
WEINBERG: Thank you very much.
MADDOW: Thank you very much, appreciate it.
All right. It was a big day for a slew of current and former public
officials who have been investigated for corruption. A big bad day,
America`s longest running, bipartisan phenomenon coming up. Stay with us.
MADDOW: If for some reason I do not show up to work tomorrow, I`m
telling you now, look for me in Trenton, New Jersey – and not in a bad
way, in a good way because Trenton is a heck of a town.
Look at this, Trenton, New Jersey, you get to have an actual really
good time at Christmas, courtesy of the town. Even when you have a lot of
gray hair, you still get to have a really good time in Trenton, New Jersey.
The town throws a Christmas party for you. Come on down, get in there.
This is the mayor`s annual senior gala in Trenton, New Jersey. So
And do not think I`m kidding here, I`m not kidding. Trenton, New
Jersey, getting maligned in much of the rest of the world, in New Jersey,
you think people make fun of New Jersey – Trenton, New Jersey, they make
fun of twice, once for being New Jersey and the other time just for being
But anybody making fun of Trenton is wrong. Look at them doing the
electric slide with Santa. In Trenton, you get to dance not only with
Santa but with the mayor in his bright red tie for Christmas sake, at the
senior gala every year. He really, really, really enjoys being mayor of
Trenton, you see him there in the suit.
Maybe his good time being mayor explains why the good time mayor is
refusing to clear out his desk and go home in Trenton. You can call him
Honey Fitz or you can call him the little guy or Napoleon or you can call
him by his real name, Tony Mack.
But the party is very nearly almost over for Tony Mack, the mayor of
Trenton, New Jersey. Mr. Mack got indicted on corruption charges back in
December 2012. He got hauled up on charges of official extortion
conspiracy, attempted extortion, accepting bribes, mail fraud and two
counts of wire fraud.
According to those charges, Mayor Tony Mack conspired with his brother
to take a bribe in exchange for approving what he thought would be a new
parking garage downtown, but really it was just a government sting
operation. And then, he went to the mayor`s annual senior gala four days
after he got indicted.
Tony Mack would not give up the joy of being mayor of Trenton just
because he was indicted on multiple federal corruption charges. He stayed
in office all through the indictment, all through the investigation. He
stayed in office as mayor during his trial on those corruption charges.
And now, Tony Mack is still staying in office in Trenton, even though
he was convicted on those corruption charges on Friday.
On the day he was convicted, Trenton had a replacement acting mayor
waiting, ready to be sworn in. Then they realized oh, Tony is not leaving.
No, Tony Mack will be staying on as mayor until, maybe Monday? When the
court might be able to remove him?
They tried that Monday. Now they say who knows when Tony Mack will
actually have to go. The town is trying to pry him out of office. They
took away his official driver. They have the would-be acting mayor on hold
at the wishy-washy Laundromat that he owns.
Meanwhile, the town is cutting the mayor`s paycheck tomorrow, same as
usual and he`s expected to pick it up. And his attorney says the mayor
remains, quote, “in high spirits still”, while he considers whether to ask
for a new trial.
Indicted, tried and convicted, still there. Trenton.
Moving on, in New Orleans today, they convicted a former mayor of that
great city. Ray Nagin served two terms as the leader of New Orleans when
he was doing a little more than obviously was expected. Eight years,
apparently making a way better living as the mayor of New Orleans is
supposed to make.
In New Orleans today, a federal jury found former Mayor Ray Nagin
guilty on 20 out of 21 counts of corruption. The case showed that Mayor
Nagin solicited bribes in the form of money and trips and oddly piles of
free granite for his family business installing granite countertops.
Mayor Nagin`s lawyer says he plans to appeal. But for now, Mr. Nagin
faces up to 20 years in federal prison, 20 years. Big time, real time, for
behavior that is just strikingly petty.
His down fall is enough to make you think of this guy – John Rowland,
former governor of Connecticut who was a rising star in New England and
maybe national Republican politics, until it turned out that the gifts and
loans and vacations and kitchen cabinets and even a hot tub that the
governor kept insisting he had paid for himself actually came from people
who were looking for a little something from the state.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS: Connecticut`s former governor today pleaded
guilty to federal corruption charges that could send him to prison for up
to five years. John Rowland, driven from office last summer, admitted to
accepting more than $100,000 worth of perks from state contractors. Once a
rising star in the GOP, Rowland was even considered as a possible running
mate for President Bush back in 2000.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: John Rowland resigned as Connecticut governor in 2004. Then
he spent almost a year with a new title – federal prisoner number 15623-
014. I do not know for sure, but that seems far less fun than getting free
kitchen cabinets and free hot tubs from guys who want state contracts.
The former governor John Rowland is back, I`m here to tell you. After
he got out of the federal pokey, John Rowland reinvented himself as a talk
radio personality. He told the public he would try to be a better person.
He would show everyone how truly sorry he was for letting them down. And
he went to work hosting a political talk show.
But for former Governor John Rowland, it was out of the pokey and now
back into the stew. The “Hartford Courant” reports now that Mr. Rowland
has recently hired one of the nation`s top white collar criminal defense
lawyer to help him with a new grand jury investigation into his political
goings on. The new investigation has to do with whether or not he was
involved with unreported campaign spending from a fellow Republican running
for Congress in 2012.
“The Courant” notes that while Mr. Rowland was quietly on the payroll
of that candidate`s husband, Mr. Rowland, quote, “had been critical of that
candidate`s opponent.” Was it in effect, a secret political contracting
gig – secret political consulting gig that they tried to disguise as
It should also be noted that John Rowland is still getting his yearly
pension from the state of Connecticut, with annual cost of living
adjustments, even after prison. Maybe that state pension that he`s still
getting from his time as governor before he went to prison for what he did
as governor, maybe that pension will help with the fees from his top white
collar criminal defense attorney.
It`s important to consider that Mr. Rowland has not been charged with
anything this time around. But he could send a nice letter with advice of
what to do when you`ve been found guilty on corruption for that other time,
Elections have consequences. Sometimes convictions do, too.
MADDOW: Two big stories tonight.
One is the release of 18 subpoenas in New Jersey related to the George
Washington Bridge scandal, including a new one to Governor Chris Christie`s
office, as governor of New Jersey. That would be these subpoenas.
The other major story tonight is the winter storm that has already
pummeled the Southeastern United States and knocked out power to more than
half a million customers today and forced about 3,300 flights to be
canceled. After being basically paralyzed by a similar recent storm, most
of Georgia today heeded emphatic warnings from their elected officials to
stay off the roads today.
North Carolina, however, did not have that terrible recent experience
that Georgia had last month. And this is what traffic looked like in North
Carolina today, as cars in many areas were brought to a complete halt.
Reports from local papers around the state say police and emergency crews
in North Carolina were unable to keep up with quickly multiplying
And just like we saw in Atlanta a couple of weeks ago, cars in North
Carolina today were abandoned on the highway and abandoned on streets as
heavy snow and ice accumulations just left people stuck with nowhere to go.
The storm is expected to move up the East Coast later tonight,
reaching the Northeast early tomorrow morning, as New York Governor Andrew
Cuomo told state agencies to prepare for an impending nor`easters.
So again, if you are home and you`re safe tonight and you`re in the
path of this storm, stay there. The Weather Service is on record calling
this storm catastrophic. So pay attention and be careful.
Don`t forget THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW motto at times like these – when
in doubt, chicken out. Stay home. We like when you`re OK.
That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow night.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL.”
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