The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 02/19/14
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Seat belts on, it was a big day. Let`s start
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One at a time.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Pat, you were the first person to identify what
might have happened at the bridge was a crime. Perhaps federal and also
state. Did you report that to authorities? And do you feel under the
circumstances that you should have?
PATRICK FOYE, PORT AUTHORITY EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: Look, my e-mail, I stated
my beliefs, which was my belief then, I testified under oath in Trenton to
that effect. I believe I took the right action when I learned about the
lane closures promptly opened them, I stand by my e-mail and that decision.
I believe then and I believe now, and obviously giving the multiplicity of
law enforcement investigations underway, there`s some question that there
was a question of violations of federal and state law.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: In the e-mails that were publicly released by the
state legislation of New Jersey there was a reference that Wildstein says
that Samson was assisting the New Jersey side in retaliating against you
and the New York side for your e-mail and your actions to re-open the
lanes. What was the retaliation that was referenced in that email?
FOYE: You`re asking the wrong guy. That`s a question that ought to be
referred to the chairman or his PR team.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: But you`ve experienced it?
FOYE: I – I`m not going to speak to that.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Has the chairman ever apologized to you for his e-
mail communications, whatever, attacking –
FOYE: The answer is no. And I don`t expect one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The answer is no and I don`t expect one.
The chairman in this case, the chairman they`re talking about, is David
Samson who is the chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New
Jersey. The man who is speaking there is Patrick Foye, the executive
director of the Port Authority. He is the guy who reopened the access
lanes on to the George Washington Bridge that had been shut by allies of
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
Patrick Foye`s decision to reopen those lanes was the decision that finally
gave some relief to the New Jersey town of Fort Lee that had been besieged
by four days of man-made, on-purpose total gridlock. At that point by the
time he opened those lanes, it had been more than four days with no end in
sight until Patrick Foye figured out what was going on on that bridge and
put a stop to it.
Well, today was the first Port Authority meeting since this whole scandal
blew open. The last time that Patrick Foye talked about this issue in
public was when he testified before the New Jersey legislature under oath
that the whole traffic study idea was a cover-up, that there was no traffic
Today was his first public appearance since then, at which he took
questions on the matter, including some very pointed questions about David
Samson and including one really fascinating question from our own Steve
Steve Kornacki asked Mr. Foye today about one of the more vexing questions
in this whole scandal. Remember that David Wildstein, the guy who shut
down the access lanes on to the bridge, he was appointed to the Port
Authority shortly after Chris Christie became governor of New Jersey. And
the job that he got at the Port Authority didn`t exist before he got it.
They created this job for him. He submitted no resume to get the job.
Once he lost the job, once he had to quit because of this scandal, they
dissolved David Wildstein`s job title. They got rid of the job because
apparently that job was only needed as long as David Wildstein was going to
Well, today, MSNBC`s Steve Kornacki asked the executive director of the
Port Authority about that weird job, about that weird only-for-David
Check this out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC ANCHOR: The title that David Wildstein had created
for him – the director of Interstate Capital Projects – what was your
understanding of what his job at the Port Authority was? And now
apparently that role is not going to exist in the future, functionally how
will the Port continue without a director of Interstate Capital Projects?
FOYE: Well, look, the decision to eliminate the position was a joint one
that – the position being the director of Interstate Capital Projects was
a joint one that Deb and I discussed, and we made that decision, I think it
was the right one. The absence of someone in that position, whether David
Wildstein or someone else, will have zero, nada, impact on the Port
KORNACKI: What – what was his job? Since there was no formal job
description – we`re able to find, what was your understanding of what his
job at the Port Authority was?
FOYE: I understood he was primarily interested in politics. Next.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Wow. Yes, what was his job? He was doing political work for
Basically, I mean, that`s what he`s sort of saying there, right? “I
understood he was primarily interested in politics, next.” He was there to
do political work at the taxpayer cost of $150,000 a year paying his salary
for four years. Before he did this thing on the bridge and got caught for
it and now he has to be gone.
Just fascinating stuff today.
Also, for the first time today, the Port Authority where David Wildstein
worked when he did shut down those bridge lanes, the Port Authority as an
organization finally apologized for something. They – what exactly they
apologized for is not exactly clear, but there was an apology or two.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT RECHLER, VICE CHAIRMAN OF PORT AUTHORITY: We`re apologizing the fact
that it became at least, you know, abundantly clear that some of the
members of the Port Authority shut down lanes and put public safety at risk
and put public convenience at dismay and – you know, we`re apologizing for
the action that everyone has been reporting on. It`s inappropriate and
we`ve noted that. And now we`re taking forward action on it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: “We`re apologizing for the action that everyone`s been reporting
on,” and you guys know what we mean. A little vague. But still a good
first shot at it from the Port Authority today.
That`s the first time anybody there has apologized for what happened on
that bridge and to that town last September. The Port Authority gave it a
second shot at apologizing again just a few minutes later. This time it
was the chairman of the Port Authority, David Samson. He`s a former
attorney general of the state of New Jersey. He`s a close political ally -
- a very close political ally of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. And
he was a man who was appointed to his job at the Port Authority by Governor
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID SAMSON, PORT AUTHORITY CHAIRMAN: Recently there have been many
comments and concerns about how the Port Authority operates. I cannot
allow this agency to be mischaracterized by the actions of a few
individuals when the day-to-day work of so many, including this board, is
On behalf of the Board of Commissioners, we are deeply sorry for
inconvenience caused to our travelers. While I would like to comment more
specifically about some of the outstanding issues, I recognize that there
are established efforts to examine the events that occurred.
I defer to these procedures. And I trust that when the facts unfold, and
they will unfold, the public will have a complete picture. This will
include any comments I will make today for the public and the media. So
now let us return to the agenda.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That is the top Chris Christie appointee to the Port Authority,
David Samson, today, issuing his first apology for what happened on the
bridge, and then saying that that will conclude any comments he will make
today to the public and the media on that subject. We will not talk about
It`s true that he did not talk about the subject in public any more today.
It is unlikely he`ll be able to get away with not talking about this matter
at all in the future, though, because as the Port Authority was sitting
down today to this first meeting since the whole scandal blew open, as the
Port Authority was finally issuing its first apologies for its role in this
whole scandal, as that was happening, readers of the “Bergen Record”
newspaper today were sitting down to this.
See, when David Samson is not being the Chris Christie appointed chairman
of the Port Authority, he`s one of the named partners of a law firm called
Wolf & Samson. He`s the Samson in Wolf & Samson. In 2010, Wolf & Samson,
David Samson`s law firm, they were hired by an entity that operates a bunch
of parking lots for New Jersey commuters. They were hired for $650,000 in
Then in 2011, they more than doubled the value of that contract. They were
– getting paid $1.5 million, so by 2011, by the end of 2011, David
Samson`s law firm was getting paid $1.5 million by this entity that owns
these parking lots.
Now according to the “Bergen Record” today their contract was for Wolf &
Samson to advise this entity that has these parking lots – to advise them
on how they could maximize the profits that they made from all their
I mean, and over the course of those two years, by the end of 2011, David
Samson`s law firm had been paid more than $2 million to give advice on
these parking lots. To give advice on how they could maximize the profits
from the parking lots. Well, one of those parking lots is right here. You
see all the – do you see the buses there in the upper right hand corner?
Then you see the lot with the regular cars?
Yes. A couple of people who work on the show parked their cars in that
parking lot just about every day in order to commute into New York City.
The land for that parking lot is owned by the Port Authority. The group
that operates the parking lot pays the Port Authority to use it. They`ve
been paying the Port Authority $900,000 a year in rent to operate that
Well, in early 2012 David Samson as head of the Port Authority voted that
the Port Authority should stop charging $900,000 rent for that parking lot
and instead start charging the amount of $1. $1 a year.
Again this group had been paying almost a million dollars a year to use
that lot. David Samson in private practice is being paid to help that
group maximize their profits. In public life, he votes to reduce their
rent by $899,999 a year.
Thus depriving a public agency of that income that had previously been
getting. But greatly benefiting the client who has been paying him so
handsomely to help them maximize their profits. And whether or not, you
know, you think the parking lot is worth $900,000 a year in rent or whether
you think the market value of that property really is a dollar a year,
whatever you think of the merits of that decision, David Samson voted on
He didn`t recuse himself. He cast a vote on that while his law firm has a
big financial stake in the vote. We should note that David Samson`s firm
has not replied to a media request for a comment on the parking lot. But
this is not the first time that David Samson has been on the oh, my god end
of a story like this since the bridge scandal broke open.
He also voted for a quarter billion dollars in public money to be spent on
rehabilitating a New Jersey train station, even though his firm represented
the developer who was building a bunch of luxury apartments right next to
that train station. So the train station development would really help his
Whether or not you think it`s a good thing that Harrison, New Jersey, is
going to get a new train station, how on earth could he be voting on that
when he has a private financial stake in the outcome of his own decision?
And of course David Samson and his law firm are at the heart of the
allegations made by the mayor of Hoboken, New Jersey. She says she was
leaned on by the Christie administration to support a private development
in Hoboken that again had representation from Wolf Samson – from David
Samson`s law firm. The mayor says she was told that Sandy relief funds for
Hoboken would be contingent on her essentially doing that deal, OK-ing that
development, essentially doing that financially remunerative favor for
David Samson and his clients.
David Samson and his clients and the Christie administration have all
vehemently denied those charges. But today at the meeting of the Port
Authority, there he was, David Samson, he is still in his job. He`s still
the chairman of the Port Authority.
You know, when the bridge lanes were shut down and Patrick Foye, the guy
you saw a minute ago, when he intervened to get those lanes reopened, when
he blew the whistle on what had happened on the bridge, David Wildstein at
the time described efforts to reverse Pat Foye`s decision, and said David
Samson was helping us to retaliate against that decision.
Mr. Samson also turns up in the documents saying that Pat Foye, the guy who
reopens the bridge, is, quote, “stirring up trouble,” and he ought to stop
playing in traffic. Despite all of that, despite the way that David Samson
is in the mix of all of these things. Governor Christie says he is
absolutely convinced of David Samson`s total innocence in this matter. And
as you can see today, he is still in that position, as chairman of this
multi-billion agency that Chris Christie appointed him to.
He`s still in his job. He has been subpoenaed at least twice in the
investigation into this matter. He`s represented by two major law firms,
including one run by Michael Chertoff, the former director of Homeland
Security. He`s hired two major law firms and a major PR firm. At least as
far as we know, though, he`s not planning to fight the subpoenas nor is he
pleading the Fifth.
The people who have invoked their Fifth Amendment rights are Chris
Christie`s former campaign manager Bill Stepien and his former deputy chief
of staff Bridget Kelly. She`s the one who sent the “time for some traffic
problems in Fort Lee” e-mail. Well, today the committee investigating the
scandal filed lawsuits against both Bill Stepien and Bridget Kelly.
These are the civil actions that they filed, raising the prospect that if
Bill Stepien and Bridget Kelly continue to refuse to hand over documents
they could be held in contempt which would then be a matter of criminal
prosecution against them. And they are, you know, big heavy dense legal
documents. These are the court filings against Bill Stepien and Bridget
Kelly today. And they`re dense. It`s legalese, right?
But at times they kind of read by pot boilers. This is from the one from
Chris Christie`s campaign manager, for Bill Stepien. It says, “The
committee already has evidence demonstrating that Mr. Stepien,” the
Christie campaign manager, “received information related to the
reassignment of access lanes, even while that reassignment was ongoing, and
not only after it happened as Mr. Stepien contends.”
Oh, really? In the other one, in the Bridget Kelly civil action today, it
says, “As the person who authored that e-mail saying it was time for some
traffic problems in Fort Lee, Miss Kelly,” let me get that exactly right.
“Miss Kelly certainly has relevant information about the subject matter of
the committee`s investigation. The committee is well within its right to
ask Miss Kelly, a state employee using state resources, about the official
state action to close access lanes to produce any further information she
So the effort to compel them to turn over those documents and maybe to
compel them to testify. That effort is now going to court. And it will
likely take months. The battle is joined on that front and you can read
all about it, if you`re interested.
But do you want to know what else happened today? In addition, this
happened today. Yes. In all its glory. Yes. It`s been a big day. We
got these today. The town of Fort Lee, New Jersey, which of course was the
object of punishment in the bridge scandal. For what happened on that
bridge, it was Fort Lee, whatever reason, we still don`t know. But Fort
Lee was the object of punishment there.
And Fort Lee today released more than 2,000 pages of public documents that
they had in their possession as a town related to the bridge lane closure.
And a lot of this is about them answering requests for information from the
press and request for information from the public, but they`ve also
released some communications from during the bridge shutdown, including one
really intriguing text message from Chip, from Port Authority Police
Lieutenant Chip Michaels.
Now remember on the first morning of the bridge lanes being shut down, as
they were putting the shutdown into place, at 7:30 that morning, David
Wildstein, the guy who`s job at the Port Authority was mostly politics,
right? David Wildstein turned up at the bridge that morning to see his
handiwork. He`s the guy who`d arranged to shut down the lanes.
He showed up at the bridge that morning to see what the impact was of
shutting down the lanes from Fort Lee. And at 7:30 that morning, he sent
this e-mail saying he was going for a ride around with Chip.
Thanks to Steve Kornacki`s reporting, we now believe that that was David
Wildstein taking a ride around with a Port Authority police lieutenant
whose name is Chip Michaels. And Chip Michaels turns up in a few other
places in the documents that have been released publicly so far.
Now we have previously reported, we actually broke the news on this show,
about how David Wildstein actually did the work over a period of a couple
of weeks of planning the bridge shutdown before he actually put it into
effect. What was fascinating about that is that he got some options from
the career employees around the bridge, from the technocrats, from the
traffic engineers, about ways to mess with Fort Lee.
David Wildstein asked them specifically to model some new traffic patterns
that would result in reducing Fort Lee`s access to the bridge. But the
options that the traffic engineers gave David Wildstein once he asked for
that apparently weren`t draconian enough because David Wildstein went back
to the traffic engineers after he got the first batch of options from them,
and he asked them for worse options.
He asked them to make the lane shutdown even more severe than what the
traffic engineers had initially offered him. Presumably so as to cause
maximum pain to Fort Lee since we know that`s what they were trying to do.
We reported previously on this show that that happened in August last year
ahead of the actual shutdown. Well, now, as of today, we have something
that suggests at least a similar dynamic at work once the shutdown was
Yes, we`re going to stick it to Fort Lee, but how can we really stick it to
Look at the timing here. It was – actually it`s just underneath the inset
there, you can see it was 7:28 a.m. when David Wildstein said he was going
to go take a ride with Chip and see how it looks. It`s roughly 7:30 in the
morning. Now he gets in the car with the Port Authority police lieutenant
to go take a look at the traffic that has ensued from what he`s done.
A little bit more than an hour later, it appears that that police officer,
that Port Authority police lieutenant and David Wildstein are no longer
together. Their ride around had ended. And we know that because there`s
no reason for two people in a car together to text each other if they`re in
the car together.
So we can assume that the ride around has ended when that Port Authority
police lieutenant sends another text, a follow-up text, to David Wildstein.
Remember they went on the ride-around at 7:30. At 8:46, the Port Authority
police lieutenant Chip says, “I may have an idea to make this better.”
That`s 8:46 a.m.
Well, now, as of today, we know that 45 minutes after that the same police
lieutenant who had been riding around with David Wildstein, who had an idea
to make this better, sends another text message to the Fort Lee police
chief, and that is him making a suggestion about how to deal with these
traffic problems that were so bad this morning.
Quote, “Suggest we send westbound traffic from Hudson Terrace to Center
Avenue Entrance.” So if you want to know where that is, he`s suggesting
sending the traffic coming from Hudson Terrace to Center Avenue instead.
Remember this whole area is gridlocked. The source of the gridlock is
those access lanes to the George Washington Bridge.
Well, the “Bergen Record” reporting on that text message today, the “Bergen
Record” is Bergen County which is where physically this all happened, so
they can report the actual local on the ground truth of this stuff. And
reporting on that message today, the “Bergen Record” notes that what that
police officer was proposing would have made everything way worse. It
would have rerouted local traffic toward the closed lanes.
Quote, “That move would have forced traffic to pass the lane closures.” So
that Port – Port Authority police lieutenant says to David Wildstein, hey,
I have an idea of how to make this better. They`ve been driving around
looking at how bad it is because David Wildstein wants to see how bad he`s
been able to make those traffic problems for Fort Lee.
They`ve been riding around looking at it after he drops David Wildstein
off, he goes, hey, I got an idea to make this better, and less than an hour
later his idea is an idea to actually make this way worse for Fort Lee.
We don`t know if that was the police lieutenant`s intention. We know from
the records released today that the Fort Lee police chief responded to the
Port Authority policeman by essentially saying, are you crazy? That cannot
happen, there`s already gridlock there.
But was there effort underway? Not just in designing the bridge shutdown
ahead of time but once it was underway to crank it down further and try to
make it even worse for Fort Lee than it already was? When the kids weren`t
getting to school, when the ambulances weren`t getting to people, when the
police were not able to respond to people, when people were stuck for hours
in what ought to be a minutes-long commute, was there an effort underway
during the bridge shutdown to make it even worse because it wasn`t bad
And did that effort extend beyond Chris Christie`s allies at the Port
Authority who were doing the whole thing to also include a law enforcement
When that bridge was used as a weapon to try to hurt that town for reasons
that still haven`t been explained? We have that newly today because Fort
Lee just released this on top of the legislative committee releasing this.
It has been a really bad day for trees, but it has been a big day for this
Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAMSON: Recently there have been many comments and concerns about how the
Port Authority operates. I cannot allow this agency to be mischaracterized
by the actions of a few individuals when the day-to-day work of so many
including this board is so important. On behalf of the Board of
Commissioners, we are deeply sorry for inconvenience caused to our
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Top Chris Christie appointee to the Port Authority David Samson
apologizing today for the bridge lane shutdown that his agency arranged in
September. Apparently after an instruction to do so from Governor Chris
Christie`s now fired deputy chief of staff.
Joining us now is Heather Haddon, reporter for the “Wall Street Journal”
who has been on the story like white on rice.
Heather, thank you very much for being here tonight.
HEATHER HADDON, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: I know that you marinated in these documents as we did today.
What do you think is the most important revelation from what we learned
today from Fort Lee and why did we get these documents in the first place?
HADDON: First of all, they`re in response to Governor Christie`s counsel
who is doing an internal review in regards to the lane closures, but who
has also asked for documents from Fort Lee and Hoboken as part of his
review. So Fort Lee chose to respond by releasing these documents which
are media requests for documents from Fort Lee and certain communications
that are relevant to the bridge closures and phone logs. So –
MADDOW: It was interesting – remember the master of requests, the
requests from Governor Christie`s attorney. He asked to meet with Hoboken
mayor, Dawn Zimmer, they said no. Asked to meet with Fort Lee mayor, Mark
Sokolich, they said no. But it was a public records request.
MADDOW: For what Fort Lee. And very specifically, I mean, a huge amount
of this volume is Fort Lee responding to media request.
MADDOW: It was interesting itself that Governor Christie`s attorney wanted
Fort Lee`s records of them talking to the media. I`m not sure how that was
germane to their investigation.
HADDON: Well, I guess there – you know, Democrats have raised questions
about how this is part of their internal review.
HADDON: I mean, the internal review is to ostensibly interview members of
the Christie administration about their own knowledge of this going on
during when the lane closures were happening and afterwards, but he`s
broadened that review.
HADDON: So the most interesting document for me in there was the
handwritten – handwritten log from the Fort Lee police chief where he`s
recording his observations during the lane closures and his calls and what
he knew about it at the time. And the first recording in that log, he says
that Chip Michaels, the lieutenant you referred to before, had told him on
the first day of the closures, that they were part of a month long traffic
study about traffic to the bridge.
So that`s the first time from our understanding that they`ve ever indicated
it was going to be a month long traffic study which is – that`s really
MADDOW: That would have been epic.
HADDON: And from there he goes on to record the traffic, it backed up all
the way to Cliffside Park, which is a neighboring community to Fort Lee.
He talks about people being very frustrated. He says road rage was a
response that he got from a lot of the passengers who were caught in those
closures. And then he documents day-by-day all the calls that were made to
the Port Authority, to Bill Baroni, to other Port Authority liaisons.
And basically, to a fault, it`s no response, no response, no response. So
you really get a sense that they – at least from these phone logs, they
really didn`t know why these closures were happening beforehand then
they`re dealing with the closures and they`re getting a lot of frustration
and then they`re not getting response.
MADDOW: It does – it seems to me from Fort Lee`s perspective, it`s
important to get that. Now looking at it from the other side, from the
lens of the Port Authority Police, we know that even months later, the head
of the Port Authority Police Union was saying, there was no ambulance
problems, there was no police problems, there was no safety concerns with
this whatsoever, we know that that wasn`t true.
And we`ve also got this at least one text message from the Port Authority
policeman – Police Lieutenant Chip Michaels, which makes it seem like
maybe the Port Authority Police were more closely looped into this than we
previously understood. Is that your understanding?
HADDON: I mean, that seems to be what this indicates. Again, we only have
a very few text messages related to this, and that one you mention in
particular, but it does seem that they were at least involved in some
measure of the planning of this, and particularly, it`s all from this
Lieutenant Michaels, he seems to be more directly connected than some of
the other ones.
So the legislative committee had said that they`re going to examine this,
you know, and that`s part of their subpoenas to the Port Authority Police,
so I expect that there could be more documents that come out of that.
MADDOW: Heather Haddon, reporting for the “Wall Street Journal” who, along
with Ted Mann, I hereby predict will win awards for your coverage thus far
on this subject.
Thank you for helping us understand this. I really appreciate it.
HADDON: Thanks so much.
MADDOW: And again, I do apologize to the trees.
We`ll be right back.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Last night, we led the show with what looks
like war in the streets of Ukraine. There had been protests in Ukraine, in
the capital city of Kiev, since November. But last night, frankly, all
hell broke loose in the streets of Kiev. It looked like this for hours.
When we were in the air last night, the death toll from that fighting
between protesters and police was thought to be about 15 people. Dawn
today it looked like the death toll was 25 dead. The government says
another 240 people were injured. Some news accounts put the number of
injured people at more like 1,000.
Those were the scenes last night in Ukraine, and the capital city of Kiev.
Well, today, the fighting went on and it spread. This was earlier today,
thousands of people showed up again in the same square to protest. This is
not just people left over from yesterday still holding their ground.
Thousands of new people joined them even today after they saw what happened
last night. Ukrainian riot police at one point charging into the
protesters, pushing and fighting their way into the central square.
Demonstrators don`t have riot gear like the police do, but they have been
wearing the civilian defensive version. At least many people wearing
helmets and makeshift body armor trying to hold the square, trying to not
This was Kiev today. This was Odessa today, which was the third largest
city in Ukraine, the conflict in these images here is pro-government
activists wearing helmets and wielding baseball bats. These are pro-
government forces all in black, ultimately charging at anti-government
protesters and also at journalists. That`s Odessa.
And now, here`s the live feed we have right now from the central square in
Kiev. This is right now, as the protests continue. There`s a lot of worry
about what happens next, and who can affect what happens next.
And a lot of the worries coming down to one specific question which I`ll
explain in just a second.
You should know today, in terms of the international response, that the
Russian government put out a statement condemning the protesters, accusing
them of mounting a brown revolution by which the Russian government means -
- they mean brown shirts, as in Nazis. They`re accusing the protesters of
being terrorists and of mounting a Nazi coup to overthrow the government.
It`s kind of amazing.
On the other side, the European Union has called an emergency meeting of
its foreign ministers for tomorrow, and has raised the possibility of
sanctions against the Ukrainian government. The U.S. has already announced
that a list of top Ukrainian officials is now subject to a visa ban, which
means they`ll be banned from traveling to the United States.
But then President Obama personally went even further today. He warned the
government in Ukraine to not cross the line as the president put it, and
then he mentioned one very specific concern.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There will be consequences
if people step over the line, and that includes making sure that the
Ukrainian military does not step in to what should be a set of issues that
can be resolved by civilians.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Crucial point there – President Obama warning Ukraine to leave
their military out of this, essentially saying don`t turn the force of your
army against these protesters. And that has been a real worry, and here`s
why – a couple weeks ago, the president of Ukraine suggested imposing a
state of emergency in Ukraine in response to these protests.
The head of the military publicly disagreed with the president about that.
The head of the military said at the time that, quote, “No one had the
right to use the armed forces to restrict the rights of the citizens.”
Well, today, the president of Ukraine fired that guy. The guy who had
stood up to him in the military, which is worrying – was the head of the
military stopping the Ukrainian president from turning the army loose on
their own citizens? If so, it`s worrying that the head of the army has
just been fired. They promoted the head of the Navy to replace him.
Turning this over from police in that square to troops would be a huge
escalation and would be very worrying in terms of the death toll here.
That would be the law on civil war.
One very small glimmer of hope today, even as the fires continued to burn
in Kiev, late this afternoon, there was a report on the Web site of the
Ukrainian government that the president had met with some opposition
leaders and they agreed to at least a temporary truce. They use the word
Now, other opposition leaders are not saying anything about this yet, and,
honestly, it has not looked like much of a truce. It`s breaking out since
this was posted in the Web site.
But hope springs eternal. It has to, especially when things are this
Watch this space. We`ll keep you apprise.
MADDOW: Tough day for the Pat McCrory administration in North Carolina
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Thanks, everybody.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Secretary, do you –
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can we ask any question –
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can manage for over an hour. Everyone`s gotten.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Secretary, do you have somewhere else to be that`s more
important than this?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why are you running away from the press?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Why are you running away from the press?
Tensions are running high in North Carolina right now, and it`s for good
That story is ahead. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Behold the frog that I`m more worried about any frog anywhere else
in the world. You can see him there, and he`s in a storm water pipe in
North Carolina. See the little guy? Just the little guy.
We don`t know what kind of frog he is yet, we`re working on that. But this
is him or her I suppose, hopping around in a storm water pipe under a coal
ash dump in Eden, North Carolina. We know this, because the company that
owns the coal ash dump and this pipe sent a camera down the pipe to see
whether that pipe has been leaking.
And it turns out, yes, this pipe has been leaking. This is a pipe that`s
supposed to carry rainwater from one side of the coal ash dump, safely to
the Dan River on the other side of the dump. But the colt ash water
polluted with coal ash residue is leaking into the pipe. That`s what`s
been spilling into the Dan River.
Testing so far has shown arsenic levels at 14 times the level safe for
human beings, and that`s where we meet the frog. Let`s hope that frogs are
more resistant than humans right somehow.
That newly leaking pipe and the arsenic, that`s the newest headache for
Eden, North Carolina. On Super Bowl Sunday, another pipe ruptured at that
same site, spilled tens of thousands of tons of coal ash into the Dan
River. The coal ash and the pipes belong to Duke Energy where it so
happens that North Carolina`s governor worked for 28 years before he went
Last week, we reported that federal prosecutors had sent a subpoena to
North Carolina`s environmental agency and to Duke Energy, federal
persecutors demanding documents and testimony from the state about Duke`s
coal ash spill into the Dan River. The U.S. attorney`s office described
the subpoena as part of an official criminal investigation of a suspected
felony. Well, that subpoena landed on February 10th, last week.
Now, tonight, we have news of a fresh round of federal grand jury subpoenas
for the Governor Pat McCrory administration in North Carolina.
Federal prosecutors yesterday sent North Carolina regulators a new and
broader demand for documents. The new subpoena is seeking information
about the state`s regulation of every Duke Energy coal ash dump in the
state, more than 30 of them across 14 dinner sites across North Carolina.
Specifically, they want to know about a settlement that the McCrory
administration proposed and then backed out of with Duke Energy over some
of its coal ash dumps.
That settlement happened after environmental groups tried three times to
sue Duke Energy last year. Each time the McCrory administration stepped,
in took over the case and then moved to settle it. The state proposed set
egging two of its cases where the group had been known to be polluting the
The state move to settle two of those cases with that $50 billion company
for a grand total of a $99,000 fine, and no agreement that they would clean
up the pollution.
The day after the “Associated Press” published a blockbuster account about
the proposed settlement, Governor McCrory`s office yanked the settlement.
They asked the courts to please not approve that deal that they had drawn
So, check this out, we now know that in addition to the subpoena about the
site where there was that huge spill, in addition to the subpoena about all
the sites and the state`s proposed settlement that “The A.P.” wrote about,
in addition to both of those things we also know this. Federal prosecutors
have subpoenaed 18 staff members of the McCrory administration, 18 staff
people who work at North Carolina`s environmental agency – 18 individual
subpoenas, they`re asked to turnover documents and to testify. They were
served last week. They were not disclosed until today.
But look where the prosecutors are asking for. They`re asking all these
people who work for the McCrory administration for all documents to include
payment, cash, check, wire transfer and stock transactions received by you
from Duke Energy and its partners, documents about any item of value
received by you. Also documents about payments or items of value you might
have given to them. They also ask for any information about contracts
between duke energy and any of its affiliates and all these people working
for the McCrory administration.
Now, just because a staffer got one of these subpoenas and no way means
that it happened, right? And now way means that the staffer got or gave
anything of value to Duke Energy. But it does show us what federal
prosecutors are looking for in this criminal investigation in which they
have subpoenaed a dozen and a half people who worked for the McCrory
administration, and the administration itself. They appear to be looking
to see if anyone got paid off by Duke Energy when they were working in Pat
McCrory`s administration to supposedly regulate Duke Energy. That appears
to be what they`re after.
McCrory administration officials today pulled out of their press conference
on the issue of the subpoenas today while reporters were still shouting
questions in their direction, they just walked out of the room.
Joining us now is the grand bureau chief for North Carolina public radio
station, WUNC, Jeffrey Tiberii.
Mr. Tiberii, thank you for being with us. I appreciate your time.
JEFFREY TIBERII, WUNC-RADIO REPORTER: Absolutely.
MADDOW: I have to ask you if I`m a naive outsider and this kind of thing
happens all the time in North Carolina politics, or whether this is an
TIBERII: This is unprecedented in North Carolina. And this is not
something new in the sense that there are 30 coal ash ponds throughout the
state of North Carolina, and environmentalists had been warning for years
about contaminated groundwater here, and then in the aftermath of some
other environmental issues and West Virginia recently and also there was a
coal ash spill, the largest in U.S. history in Kingston, Tennessee, six
years ago, following those events, environmentalists have said and urged
the state hearing, North Carolina, to do something, they haven`t.
But this is all very, very new. There`s no precedent for this here.
MADDOW: I was going through all the subpoenas today, there`s 18 subpoenas
of people who work for the administration. There`s another subpoena
seeking personnel records for them. And then there`s a big long subpoena
seeking a lot of information from the state about their dealings with Duke
Energy and coal ash in the past.
As you were going through these voluminous documents today, what`s your
sense about what federal prosecutors are looking for here, and what
felonies may be involved here?
TIBERII: As you mentioned, this is a 94 page subpoena that came down
today, they`re looking for illegal payments, sweetening, greasing of the
wheels. And they`re looking for a legal payment to state employees who, of
course, cannot accept any kind of bribe or anything that would compromise
their judgment. Of course, the state, Department of Environment and
Natural Resources is supposed to be policing Duke and is supposed to be
making sure that the Clean Water Act is being – is in effect. You know,
Duke isn`t violating the Clean Water Act. And we`ll see what they find if
MADDOW: In terms of the governor and how he has managed this issue so far.
We saw him get asked about this issue when he was holding press
availabilities having to do with winter weather. We saw his administration
today hold a press conference to their credit but then cut it off in the
middle of a lot of people wanting to ask questions, particularly when the
questions were getting pretty tough.
I would expect that he`s a savvy and ambitious politician. He knows that
he worked for Duke Energy for 2 years and people know that about him if
they know nothing else.
It would seem to me like he`s not – he`s not managing this well in terms
of seeming independent from Duke and seeming like he`s handling this issue
aggressively. That`s just my observation from here.
From within the state, how does it seem to you?
TIBERII: This is certainly a big moment for him. This is a very big
moment. As you said, big aspirations, just in his second year as governor
of the state. And how is this going to play? How is this going to affect
his political career moving forward?
As for that press conference today, you mentioned it – yes, I was there
and the reporters, we probably had never 45 minutes or an hour worth of
questions. But they did leave, and the tone today from the secretary of
the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, John Skvarla, was one
that was really defensive. And he criticized and critiqued some of the
media reports that have come out.
And he said there`s just – you know, misperceptions about the state`s
relationship with the environmental groups and the citizens group, which a
bit of irony when he said that there`s a partnership between those citizens
and the state. And a reporter did point out and asked how come if they`re
partners with you in this whole thing, the citizens, the environmentalists,
they weren`t at the table today with you all.
MADDOW: Fascinating. This is the story that the national press has not
caught on to. Governor McCrory was on the shows talking about how much he
stands cleaning up on the environment and none of the hosts of the Sunday
shows even mentioned that he just received a federal criminal grand jury
subpoena on that issue.
The national press is not picking up on this. But it is an amazing story.
You guys in North Carolina are doing a wonderful job covering it.
Jeffrey Tiberii, Greensboro bureau chief for North Carolina public radio
station WUNC – thank you for your reporting on this. Thanks for being
TIBERII: Thanks, Rachel.
All right. We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT: The Bush Institute completed one of the
most comprehensive studies ever conducted of post-9/11 veterans. Here`s a
Of the 2.5 million post-9/11 veterans, more than 2 million served in
Afghanistan or Iraq. The average veteran spent one out of every three
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Since George W. Bush has stopped being president, most of his
speeches have been for money. Less than two months after Barack Obama has
sworn is as successor, former President Bush had already started getting
paid speaking gigs. His first one was March 2009 in Canada.
A lot of a former president`s speeches are out of the country. But not all
of them, he`s also done the get motivated seminars, which are basically a
pitiful self-help style traveling revival, usually held in big stadiums.
Half of what happens is that you get speeches from people like former
President George W. Bush, but the other half is a hard sale from snake oil
salesman how you should sign up to make a million dollars in penny stocks.
Sign up, $29.95, sign here.
Even as the former president has turned down invitations from President
Obama to address events like the commemoration of 9/11, saying he wants to
keep a low profile, he wants to stay out of the spotlight, Mr. Bush has
kept up a steady stream of the private events. His speaking fees
reportedly between $100,000 and $150,000 per speech.
I`m not sure what criteria he uses to determine who gets the opportunity to
pay him that money, but we do know that that late last year, he decided to
address a Jews for Jesus style event for a group that promotes mass
proselytizing of the Jewish people. That decision got a lot of the
mainstream Jewish community really annoyed by him, but Mr. Bush stuck by
his decision and he gave the speech. And naturally, it was close to the
Today, though, former President George W. Bush did a rare thing. He spoke
for free, and it was open to the press. He spoke at his presidential
When he formed that library, he also formed something called the Bush
Institute. It was a bit of an unusual decision. Alongside the library
part of his library, Mr. Bush said he wanted this institute to work to
change public policy. He wants to keep effecting policy as a former
president through his institute.
Well, today in this unpaid speech concerning his institute, the former
president gave one of the only open to the press speeches he`s given since
he left office. It was to launch a big ne initiative of the Bush
Institute, which is to work on issues concerning veterans of the wars in
Iraq and Afghanistan.
The former president who started the war in Afghanistan and who started the
war in Iraq and who left office with both wars still raging is now
launching his first unpaid public initiative in his post-presidency. And
that initiative is he wants to be known as the champion of the people he
turned into veteran when he started and then walked away from two of the
longest wars in history, including the one he launched on false pretenses,
something about which the former president says he has no regrets.
Now, as an ex-president, he wants to be known for how much he supports the
people who got sent to fight those wars. He wants to be wrapped up in them
as his new cause.
And, of course, it is better that he supports them than if he didn`t.
That`s true of anyone.
Nobody has ever faulted the former president for doing this kind of work
quietly on his own. But now, he is trying to make this his marquee issue.
He wants to be known for this and it is a little mind-bending.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: At Bush Center, we believe it`s never too late to learn a new skill.
Just ask Laura. I promise you years ago, she didn`t think she was marrying
an oil painter.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Maureen Dowd of all people from the “New York Times” reports that
former President Bush is now painting skulls. He`s painting animal skulls.
He`s doing that in private, but his wife confirms that`s what he`s doing.
In public, though, he`s wrapping himself in the glory and in the cause of
the people who he sent to get Saddam Hussein`s smoking gun, right? It`s a
free country. This is his new cause. And the man can say whatever he
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”.
Have a great night.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>