The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 02/20/14
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Thanks to you at home for joining us thus
There`s a lot going on in the news. We`ve got coming up this hour, a
rather stunning report from Richard Engel in Ukraine. We`ve got that in
just a few minutes. And it is totally worth sticking around if for nothing
else that you want to see in this hour on the show.
We`ve also got a story tonight that you will not see anywhere else.
It`s out of Pennsylvania. A woman being criminally prosecuted for
something you won`t believe she`s being prosecuted for.
There`s also some new news tonight on the bridge scandal in Chris
Christie`s New Jersey. One of the main figures in that scandal has one of
his own actions, which at least appears to have been an illegal action, he
has one of his own actions retroactively undone. It`s like annulled in
history, which, frankly, if you could pick your own superpower,
retroactively undoing illegal things would be a pretty good superpower to
So, it`s a big show tonight. That`s all coming up this hour.
But we`re going to start tonight right here. We generally try to
avoid even oblique references to Nazis on this show. But in this case,
it`s unavoidable because the swastika is giant and it`s right there on the
You see the subheading here of the book, “How the U.S. Government Hid
the Nazi Discovery of Abiotic Oil from the American People.”
Remember the guy who wrote the “where`s the birth certificate” book
and then President Obama released his long form birth certificate and they
had to change the title of the book to “where`s the real birth circuit?”
Remember that guy? His name is Jerome Corsi from “World Net Daily.”
Mr. Corsi has a few pet series. It`s not just President Obama`s birth
certificate is fake and, therefore, President Obama is not really the
president. There`s his theory that President Obama is both secretly gay
and secretly gay married. Sorry, Michelle.
“World Net Daily” guy Jerome Corsi also had the conspiracy theory that
John Kerry did not really win his war medals in Vietnam. He also has a
conspiracy theory, I`m not sure I understand, called “The Shroud Codex”.
But the book has a nice cover.
He also thinks that Hitler is not dead. Hitler actually escaped Nazi
Germany and is not plotting the Fourth Reich. That is not a novel. That`s
But my vote for Jerome Corsi`s weirdest theory of all is his Nazi oil
conspiracy. See, Jerome Corsi believes – no, he knows, no, he has exposed
the truth – he knows the one nice thing that Hitler did, one good thing
about the Nazis is they discovered the real truth about oil, the truth that
could break the black cold stranglehold.
The great oil conspiracy that the “World Net Daily” guy has discovered
is the fraudulent science that has been sold to the American people in
order to enslave them. And this fraudulent science that has made America
so vulnerable is the belief that oil is a fossil fuel. That it is a finite
He says that`s all a lie because oil, frankly, is a fresh new thing.
It is a, according to him, it is a natural product made on a continual
basis, deep within the earth. Oil isn`t a finite thing. It`s an abundant
available resource. It`s free because Nazis!
Yes, I`m not – he`s making this up. I`m not making this up. This is
a real thing that he believes. I`m not putting words into this mouth. He
put those words there, himself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEROME CORSI, WORLD NET DAILY: The book which is just out, “The Great
Oil conspiracy,” you can see it there –
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
CORSI: – is a book that basically argues that oil is not a fossil
fuel. It`s not a biological product at all. That oil is an abiotic, a
natural product of the earth created on an ongoing basis in the mantle of
the earth. No ancient dinosaurs or decaying forests or plankton or ameba
or any other biological material. That oil is actually plentiful and
should be cheap, and natural gas, and we ought to be able to use
hydrocarbon fuel abundantly without damaging the environment.
I know this is a message that the left and mainstream media and the
establishment doesn`t want communicated. Went back to the Nazi science and
showed even at the end of World War II, our intelligence agents knew that
the Nazis had already concluded this and the only country to take advantage
of this knowledge at the end of World War II is Soviet Union. We buried
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
So, there`s a proportion of the American right that believes this.
Believes that the real reason America is really screwed in the world is
because of some very complicated conspiracy that the United States has been
denying the Nazi-discovered truth about fresh, free oil forever, we can use
all we want.
But the Russians, see, they`re getting ahead of us because the
Russians know that truth and accept it. They didn`t have it hidden from
them by their evil government. That`s why we`re doomed – so says Jerome
Corsi, author of several important treatises on President Obama being
secretly gay married.
Also, so says this guy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAURA LESLIE, WRAL: I`m thinking about what you`re saying about
natural gas and that`s true. You know, obviously, it`s very cheap right
now. You know, on the flip side, it`s a finite resource and fossil
resource. I mean, is there –
JOHN SKVARLA, DEPT. OF ENVIRONMENT & NATURAL RESOURCES: There are
some people who disagree with you. The Russians, for instance, have always
drilled oil as if it`s a renewable resource. So far, they haven`t been
proven wrong. There`s a lot of different scientific opinion on that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That man articulating the crazy “World Net Daily” conspiracy
theory about the Russians knowing the Nazi secret that America denies about
how oil isn`t finite, we`re making it fresh every day. That man is who
North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory put in charge of the environment for
the great state of North Carolina. He did that interview with North
Carolina`s WRAL the day before he took office.
Now, we asked John Skvarla`s office today at the North Carolina
Department of Natural Resources what exactly he meant in that WRAL
interview about these people who would disagree that oil is a fossil fuel,
and whether he agrees with what he described as the Russian theory on this
matter. We haven`t heard back from John Skvarla`s office yet, so we don`t
know if he thinks like the World Net Daily guy does that the Russians
learned this oil secret from the Nazis or if he thinks that the Russians
learned this magic oil theory all by themselves. We don`t know why he
believes it, but he apparently thinks it`s at least credible. He
apparently thinks there`s legitimate scientific disagreement about what oil
There isn`t legitimate scientific disagreement about what oil is.
There is not scientific disagreement about this matter that is serious.
Yes, there is a Jerome Corsi book about it with a swastika on the cover and
you can buy it at the “World Net Daily” superstore.
There`s also this adorable astronomer who wrote very lengthy blog
posts about this matter, until he died a decade ago. But in terms of an
actual science – did the Nazis secretly prove the earth cooks up a fresh
batch of oil every day, it`s there for the taking, use all you want, we`ll
make more? Hey, we`ll make more. Did that really happen in the real
world? No, that did not happen.
But when Republican Governor Pat McCrory in North Carolina needed
somebody to be in charge of the most scientifically intensive of all state
agencies, protecting the natural resources of North Carolina, he found
somebody who apparently believes the “World Net Daily” conspiracy theory.
A conspiracy theory like this obviously has some appeal, right?
There`s a reason that some people would want to believe this. When John
Skvarla first made those comments in that TV interview the day before he
took office in North Carolina, the alt weekly, which is called “Indy Week”
in the research triangle area in North Carolina, they reacted with some
alarm to learning this was the guy who was going to be in charge of
environmental issues for the state.
They listen to his interview and then they took the claims to a
retired geology professor from UNC, to ask if this theory about new oil
being made every day has any scientific credence whatsoever. The professor
told “Indy Week”, no, the theory is, quote, in his words, “another idea
that conservatives have latched on to as a way to denying that there`s any
limitation that the earth places on the way we live.” They also noted part
of the reason this theory has some appeal is if you think that the earth is
not very old.
I mean, I`m not Bill Nye the Science Guy, but if you are a
creationist, if you believe there is nothing actually old on earth, that
God created all of us including the dinosaurs just a couple thousand years
ago, then really if you think the earth is only a couple thousand years
old, then there`s no room in that world view for understanding where oil
came from. To understanding how oil derives from things that are millions
of years old. It can`t be from stuff that`s millions of years old if we`ve
only been here a couple thousands years and the whole world, too.
So, if you need a theory that tells you we`re making new oil all the
time, “World Net Daily” has one for you. Also President Obama`s secretly
In that same interview, as he was taking office, Pat McCrory`s top
environmental official, Mr. Skvarla also said, of course, that he does not
necessarily believe in climate change.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LESLIE: First off, do you think climate change is a fact?
SKVARLA: I think climate change is a science, and I think science is
constantly in need of scrutiny. I have studied this every day for almost
10 years and I know there`s great divergence of opinion on the science of
climate and there`s a whole lot of experts who are – have different
theories and opinions. I`m saying, look, I`m not ready – I`m not ready to
say which is right or wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Turns out that view is shared by the governor of North
Carolina who put Mr. Skvarla in charge of environmental issues for the
state. This was Pat McCrory in North Carolina when he was running for
governor in 2008. He was asked by an interviewer about global warming.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
GOV. PAT MCCRORY (R), NORTH CAROLINA: It`s in god`s hands. Frankly,
the world has been warming for a long time and back in the `70s, if you
look at the covers of “Newsweek” and “Time,” we were getting cold.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: It`s in God`s hands.
You know, it`s one thing to have an abstract debate about not just
climate change but whether or not science is a thing, whether or not
science is real.
But any abstract concerns about having people who deny science serving
in public office became very concrete, very real concerns in North Carolina
this past Super Bowl Sunday, when Duke Energy dumped tens of thousands of
tons of toxic coal ash sludge into a 70-mile slick on the Dan River. There
are 31 other pits just like this one that spilled – just like this one
that spilled all over the state of North Carolina. There`s 14 sites across
North Carolina with what used to be 32 of these big ponds, these big pits
full of coal ash. Now, it`s down to 31 of them, of course, because this
one no longer is a big pit full of coal ash because the coal ash in the pit
has run away downstream.
When these guys – when the McCrory administration took over, this was
not just a disaster that was waiting to happen in North Carolina. This was
a disaster that was already in progress when they took office. All of the
Duke Energy coal ash pits, all across the state of North Carolina, all of
them were already known to be leaking toxins.
This was not an allegation that was refuted by the state. The state
knew that was true. The state knew that was true when they put the World
Net Daily Russian oil conspiracy guy in charge of that issue for the state.
And in a way, that`s kind of hilarious, but it has also resulted since
the spill in moments like this one that I`m going to show you now.
This is the “oil might not be a fossil fuel” guy talking about what
the state of North Carolina should do about all of these coal ash pits that
they know are leaking toxins all over the state. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SKVARLA: Their only acceptable remedy was dig them up, move them to
lined landfills and cover them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Oh, did that just get stuck?
He goes on to say, their only acceptable remedy, environmentalists,
“Their only acceptable remedy was dig them up, move them to lined
landfills, and cover them. We`re talking 14 facilities and 32 coal ash
ponds. I can assure you, it`s not that simple. There`s science that has
to go into making these determinations. There are environmental scientists
who say that`s the worst thing that can happen to the environment.”
“The answer is,” he says, “nobody knows at this point in time.”
Nobody knows. Is oil a fossil fuel? Nobody knows.
Is there climate change? Nobody knows.
Should coal ash pits that are leaking toxins be cleaned up and moved
somewhere safer? Nobody knows.
Actually, on all of those fronts, everybody knows. This is not a he
said/she said thing. There is scientific consensus on all of these
Luckily for North Carolina, the smart local press in North Carolina
knows that, too. Look at this. WRAL asked the agency, Mr. Skvarla`s
agency for a citation or source for the alleged concerns about
environmental risks of cleaning up and moving these coal ash ponds. The
agency was unable to provide any citation.
A renowned national expert on coal ash ponds at Duke University says
that`s because there isn`t one. Dr. Avner Vengosh of Duke University has
published multiple studies on coal ash skills and contamination. Told
about John Skvarla`s comments, the scientist tells WRAL, “There`s no
published study that casts any doubt on whether moving coal ash out of
leaky landfills is the best move for the environment.”
The exact quote from the scientist is this, “What are they talking
about? Of course not. If there`s evidence of groundwater contamination
and surface water contamination at the coal ash pond, then leaving it as is
obviously isn`t an option if the environment is something you care about.
You don`t need to be Joe chemist to figure that out”, end quote.
But what if you`re Jerome Corsi trying to figure that out? Or
Governor Pat McCrory who apparently believes the same anti-science
denialist nonsense about this disaster he`s supposed to be dealing with in
his state right now?
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
MCCRORY: The best-case scenario is to move the ash ponds, but I also
have to understand that in some cases, that option may not be environmental
sound or may cause a worsening of the situation.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: Nope. Nope. That`s made up. Not true.
You`ve got these big pits, these big ponds of stuff that are leaking
toxins. Stopping the pollution on site, cleaning it up and moving the
stuff somewhere safer is never going to make it worse, say actually
scientists who study these things.
What you`re supposed to do here is stop the pollution, clean it up and
move it somewhere safer. There aren`t environmental scientists out there
somewhere who think, actually just leave the stuff, that will be better.
All right. But those guys probably believe in fossil fuels, too.
They probably believe that President Obama is only married to Michelle
Obama and not some other secret Muslim guy who he met in college who Jerome
Corsi knows about.
There are times when the conservative movement`s modern rejection of
science is kind of hilarious. Like when Republicans got control of the
House and put guys on the House science committee who say things like this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL BROUN (R), GEORGIA: I`ve come to understand that all that
stuff I was taught about Evolution, embryology, Big Bang Theory, all that
is lies straight from the pit of hell.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Because the House is under Republican control, honestly,
don`t tell anybody, but Congress doesn`t do anything. So, they can`t do
much harm, right? The Science Committee in the House might be full of guys
like that, but what are they really doing anyway? So, it is mostly just
funny that that is the lies from the pit of hell kind of guy they want
dealing with matters of science for Congress.
Honestly, just look up the membership of the House Republican side of
the Science Committee. It`s astonishing. The “lies from the pit of hell”
guy is in good company. Look up house science committee and dinosaur
flatulence and see what you find.
It`s the kind of who are horror movie you laugh at, though, right?
Not one that you actually scream at, when it happens in Congress, because
Congress isn`t doing anything. In the states, though, they are doing
stuff. In the states, people who hold statewide public office do actually
run stuff that affects millions of people and when things go horribly
wrong, the people who have statewide office and are appointed to statewide
positions, they`re in charge of fixing it and if they get it wrong, it goes
wrong for everybody.
North Carolina right now is living through an unscientific non-
controlled experiment about what happens when you put people in charge who
believe stuff like this. Unless you have any hope that maybe this isn`t
something government will fix, maybe industry will be better because, oh,
at least industry doesn`t have the luxury of cockamamie ideologically-
motivated science denialism that makes you believe that the Earth is only
five minutes old because that`s more comforting to explain to people.
Right, lest you think industry is going to fix this because they don`t have
the same ideologically imposed constraints of the kinds of guys who get
into this for political reasons.
Lest you think the industry might be the way, if you want to know how
Duke Energy shut down the spill at the Dan River. The third largest spill
in American history, it started on Super Bowl Sunday. It flooded that
river with all that toxic sludge all day Super Bowl Sunday, all day Monday,
all day Tuesday. They couldn`t figure out how to stop the flow of these
thousands of tons of toxic sludge into the river. They couldn`t stop it.
It was not that they couldn`t clean up what they had already dumped
into the river. They`d barely even started that now. They couldn`t stop
the spill from continuing for days. They couldn`t figure out how to stop
You want to know how they actually finally stopped it? The spill was
of a pipe that flowed under a big pit of coal ash. So, here`s the pipe.
All the coal ash is on top of it, right?
They couldn`t get into the coal ash to go fix the pipe. Hey, you
know, it`s really toxic stuff. We don`t want to be touching that.
So, they built themselves a platform over the coal ash pit so they
could sort of stage themselves on that platform and work from that platform
to get at the pipe. You want to know how they finally stopped the pipe
from leaking, a week into the spill?
The platform that they built collapsed. And, hey, look, that`s what
did it. The spill finally subsided when some 27 million gallons of water
drained from the lagoon and a platform constructed for emergency operations
collapsed into the sludge pit and buried the broken pipe in tons of rubble.
All that material went into the pipe.
That platform collapsed into the pipe and plugged it. Ta-da! That
was their fix. Total collapse. That was how they stopped the spill.
That`s how they stopped the third largest coal ash spill in the country
days into it.
And the guy quoted in that article there from the “Charlotte News and
Observer” who`s explaining to lawmakers that`s how they finally got the
pipe shut down, he`s one of the staff members of the Pat McCrory
administration who`s had their personnel records subpoenaed along with the
last batch of 18 subpoenas out to McCrory staffers asking them to report to
federal prosecutors whether they ever exchanged money or things of value
with Duke Energy since they`ve been employees of the McCrory administration
supposedly overseeing that company while that company unleashed the third
largest coal ash spill in history on the people and land of North Carolina.
This North Carolina story and this federal criminal investigation into
what`s happening in North Carolina is a terrible and amazing story from
about a million different angles. Why the beltway refuses to care about
it, I do not know, but it cannot last long.
MADDOW: Until two years ago these were the clinics providing abortion
services in the state of the Pennsylvania then the Republican-controlled
legislature and the Republican governor there passed laws aimed at shutting
down clinics across the state. And since then, these clinics have been
taken off the map. Roughly a third of the clinics in the state have shut
And yes, if you are still near a densely populated urban area in
Pennsylvania and you`re a woman who wants to get an abortion in that state,
you may still be within driving distance of a clinic that can provide that
service. If you`re not, Pennsylvania is a big state. There are a lot of
parts of the state where the service may technically still be legal but the
state government made sure it`s inaccessible, a third of the clinics in the
states closing in the last two years.
So, this is not a unique to Pennsylvania phenomenon. This is
happening all over the country. Anywhere, frankly, that Republican
legislatures and governors made shutting down clinics a priority which, in
fact, is all over the country.
In Pennsylvania, specifically, the shutdown of a third of the state`s
clinics since Tom Corbett has been governor has just had one specific and
potentially really important legal consequence. Not sure you`ll see the
story anywhere else today, but I think it may end up being a landmark
Before the Supreme Court ruled in Roe V. Wade that states couldn`t ban
abortion, that a woman`s right to have an abortion is a federally protected
thing, before Roe, in states where abortion was illegal, it`s not like
women did not get abortions. They just got them illegally. Women made
due. They found a way because all sorts of women and all sorts of
circumstances for all sorts of different reasons sometimes do not want to
go through with a pregnancy.
And in those cases, women are not easily deterred and women have
always found ways to end pregnancies or at least try to even when that
medical service of abortion has no been legally available to them. If you
don`t believe me, find an American woman who`s 65 years old or older and
ask her. She would have been 25 years old if she was 65 now when roe
passed, asked if she knows anybody who ended a pregnancy before then, asked
how it happened.
But as the Republican Party has been more successful over the last few
years than at any time since Roe at shutting down clinics across the
country, people who support abortion rights and medical professionals have
been getting increasingly worried that we might be going back to an era
where American women self-induce abortions or otherwise find ways to do it
illegally because they can`t access the medical procedure legally and that
is the issue in a new case out of Pennsylvania.
Two years ago the mother of a pregnant 16-year-old girl living in the
smallest county in the state of Pennsylvania, without an abortion provider
in the area, she helped her daughter terminate the daughter`s pregnancy.
The mom worked as a nurse`s aide. She found an overseas drugstore on
the Internet. She ordered a packet of medicine to induce the abortion.
There were some complications that sent the young woman to the hospital.
They are trying to do it on their own.
Well, this month, her mother was charged with a felony. It`s a,
quote, “felony count of medical consultation and judgment, dispensing
medicine without a license, endangering the welfare of a child and simple
The mother says she purchased the drugs after not being able to find a
clinic in her area that would perform a legal abortion. The mom is 38
years old. She`s now facing up to 15 years in prison.
Joining us now to help understand the impact of this case is a former
producer of this show, longtime reporter on issues of reproductive rights,
It`s great to see you. Thanks for being here.
REBEKAH DRYDEN, ALL IN PRODUCER: Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: So, these pills, the woman who`s been charged in this case
that she bought online, they`re legal. They`re FDA approved. They`re
generally quite safe.
But she`s facing charges for getting the drugs without a doctor`s
approval. What exactly is the crime here?
DRYDEN: Right, exactly. Well, she`s – as you said, she`s charged
with a few different crimes and some of them are misdemeanors and involve
her daughter. Part of that is because she did have to go to the emergency
room and have to be treated. Otherwise, no one would probably know about
this and there would be no charges.
But the felony, the big one there, is a Pennsylvania statute that
basically says only doctors can perform abortions.
MADDOW: And so as we look at the pre-Roe era to understand what women
do to get abortions when they can`t access them illegally, we talk about
those as the back alley days. We talk about surgical abortions, both self-
induced, done by nonmedical professionals and done in bad circumstances.
Since then, the technological change – there are medications that people
can use to induce abortions.
But the issue is whether or not it`s going to bring people into
contact with medical system because there can be complications.
DRYDEN: Exactly. And, you know, the interesting thing here is that
when we got medication abortions, which was in 2000, the idea among
abortion providers was that this would be a great way for access because
it`s so much easier to do, you could theoretically even use telemedicine.
You could just, you know, if you`re in a rural place, you can be on the
phone, or the video conference with the doctor who`s explaining how to take
it and administering it. And you wouldn`t actually have to go to the
clinic, which is a huge barrier to lots of women.
And actually, as you`ve seen, and that mostly has become true, that
many women have been taking advantage of access to abortion. It`s gone
from in 2001, it was about 6 percent of abortions. In 2011, which is the
latest we have data for, it was almost a quarter of all abortion, for
But as you`ve seen women using them more, you`ve also seen the anti-
abortion movement sort of notice and attack specifically medication
abortions. So, right now, you`re seeing in the states, a big move to
restrict specifically medication abortions and make it harder to access
them as well.
MADDOW: It is not just an act of furtherance, though, but sort of a
leap to go from trying to make it hard to access abortion pills and
actually prosecuting a woman and threatening to put her in jail for 15
years for accessing those pills for her daughter.
Is there any way to know if this is an outlier or is it expected that
this is going to be something that we see more of?
DRYDEN: Well, this has happened before. This isn`t the first time.
There was – but it doesn`t tend to go well. In fact, even in the
antiabortion movement, you will be hard pressed to find anyone saying yes,
let`s go after women and prosecute them for performing their own illegal
abortions for accessing these drugs.
And that was the case in – there was a 2010 case in Idaho in which a
woman got illegal – you know, obtained abortion drugs from the Internet.
You know, did her own abortion and was charged under a similar kind of law
that said you have a doctor to perform an abortion. And those charges were
eventually dismissed and in fact she countersued the state.
So, I would not expect that this will go well for anyone who continues
to pursue these sorts of action, but you may well continue to see, because
certainly you`re going to continue to see more and more women access these
drugs without medical care, who can`t access them otherwise.
MADDOW: What ends up being remarkable here is the Pennsylvania
decision to charge. And they spent two years trying to come up with a
charge to levy against this woman.
It`s an amazing story.
Rebekah Dryden, senior producer for “ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES”. We
miss you every day. Thanks for being here.
DRYDEN: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: You know who has had a harrowing day today? NBC`s Richard
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD ENGEL, NBC: Protesters have turned this hotel lobby into a
field hospital. The injured are still streaming in. We`ve seen volunteers
using bed sheets to try and treat the wounds. And some of the injuries, at
least appear to have come from live ammunition.
The hotel lobby quickly turned into mayhem. No supplies have been
stored here. The injured give care on the floor. We watched at least
three protesters die. By afternoon, protesters were spreading across
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Richard Engel in Kiev today for NBC. We`ve got more in just
a moment. Please stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ENGEL: We watched this woman confront hundreds of riot police alone,
holding her ground, even while pelted with stones. The police rattled
their heels for more.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: NBC`s chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel has been in
Sochi as part of NBC`s Olympics coverage for the past couple weeks but when
intense street fighting broke out in Ukraine, Richard left the Olympics, he
left Sochi and he bee-lined for Kiev. Richard is there now in the middle
of the fighting.
And I want you to see this new reporting he just filed tonight. This
is incredible stuff.
ENGEL: Protesters charge police lines in independence scare this
morning. Suddenly, the police were in retreat. Protesters in small groups
advanced. But they were picked off.
This man shot in the leg. Police fired on demonstrators, some with
high-powered rifles. But then we saw the dedication that is keeping this
movement alive. The protesters continued their charge, peering around
corners, dodging bullets, diving for cover, recovering their wounded under
They paid a price for it. We watched them come back, limping, on
stretchers. Some unconscious. Others dead.
The wounded were rushed to a nearby hotel. In the lobby, a nurse
tends to one man. Another couldn`t be saved.
It`s a makeshift field hospital. Short staffed with few supplies. A
body left by the front desk.
Back outside, as the shooting subsided, the demonstrators moved to
take new ground while they could. And build new barricades. And stockpile
more weapons, Molotov cocktails and rocks.
The advance had been costly, but it worked. The protesters expanded
This is the protesters` new frontline. The riot police have now
withdrawn from this area in central Kiev, but the demonstrators clearly
worry that they could come back. And that`s why they`re reinforcing their
Alex, a 23-year-old financial consultant, helps guard the front line.
How do you think this is going to end? Where does this go here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe a little more victims, I guess. But finally
the democracy will win.
ENGEL: The war drums here are beating. There is little mood anymore
MADDOW: NBC`s Richard Engel filed that report for us tonight from
Kiev. There`s one other development today you should see.
With the fighting in the streets, with police using live ammunition
and now protesters in some cases shooting back at them with live
ammunition, with worries at the Ukrainian president may be preparing to
deploy the military against the protesters, it sometimes hard to see how
the political process fits into this.
Violence, after all, represents the failure of politics. But today,
the parliament in Ukraine did convene just over half of the members of
parliament turned up. The government had asked them to vote for what they
called a nationwide anti-terrorism roundup, to round up protesters around
the country, to crack down on the opposition in response to the protests.
The government wanted that vote. Parliament today did take a vote on
that bill. The vote was no. The parliament voted 236-0 to say no to
rounding up the opposition.
They voted instead that the Ukrainian government should reset all
security forces to normal operations and should release the prisoners from
the opposition that they had detained.
Everybody voted no. There were zero yes votes, there were two
abstentions. And when that overwhelming no vote came in, the members of
the parliament cheered and hugged each other and then they sang their
This is a moment that might be beyond the political process for now.
And nobody knows what the president of Ukraine will do with that law that
was passed in parliament today in direct defiance of what he wants. But in
the midst of war, and in the streets today, this wasn`t widely reported,
but politics did happen, too.
A political end to this is what`s needed because where politics ends
in circumstances like this, where politics ends, it is only war that can
begin. Here`s hoping for the political process as a way out.
MADDOW: OK. Last week, the committee investigating the New Jersey
bridge scandal issued 18 new subpoenas and we were first to report on this
show that a significant portion of those 18 new subpoenas had one thing in
common. They asked for information about not just the lanes on that bridge
being shut down but specifically the cover-up, even more specifically, the
planning of Bill Baroni`s testimony to the legislature. Where Mr. Baroni
tried to hock that false cover story about what happened on the bridge
saying it was about a traffic study.
Well, most of the subpoenas issued last week asked about the cover-up.
And a number of them asked specifically about a meeting that the committee
seems to believe Bill Baroni attended along with Philip Kwon, a Christie
appointed lawyer who helped prepped that testimony, and Regina Egea, who
later promoted to be Governor Christie`s chief of staff and also the person
named Nicole Crifo.
Nicole Crifo has also been served with one of those subpoenas. She
worked for Governor Christie as his legal adviser to the authorities unit.
In other words, his liaison to the Port Authority. Or at least she worked
for Governor Christie, past tense, because Nicole Crifo who investigators
appear to believe they have been involved in a meeting about Bill Baroni`s
false testimony, the same Nicole Crifo that we think was the Nicole
referenced by David Wildstein while giving feedback to Bill Baroni on the
traffic study, where David Wildstein assured him saying I texted Bridget
and Nicole and they were very happy. That same, we think, Nicole Crifo no
longer works for Chris Christie because she just got a brand new job.
She just got a brand new job with, guess where? The Port Authority.
She`s just been moved over to the Port Authority.
They`ve just given her a new job there that comes with a nearly
$75,000 a year raise. Again, she`s been subpoenaed for information
apparently pertaining to Bill Baroni`s traffic study cover-up which may
have been cooked up with David Wildstein at the Port Authority. That
investigation is ongoing.
And meanwhile, she`s hopping from the Christie administration to a new
job at the Port Authority with a $75,000 raise.
I would like to make a hyperbolic joke here about how this works, but
New Jersey frankly just manufacturers its own hyperbole in real life
everyday and there`s no topping it.
And joining us now is Brian Murphy. He`s a former New Jersey
political reporter who at one point worked at a blog run by one of the
central figures in the scandal, David Wildstein. He`s been helping our own
Steve Kornacki stayed way out in front on the reporting on this bridge
Mr. Murphy, thank you very for being here.
BRIAN MURPHY, BARUCH COLLEGE: Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: So, obviously, being subpoenaed doesn`t mean you necessarily
did anything wrong. Either way, seems like a strange time for a promotion,
MURPHY: Yes, it`s an odd time to make the move. I saw it last night
and kind of had the “seriously?” reaction.
MURPHY: Especially since, I mean, I think you`ve pointed this out
before. This is the – this is our copy of the – or at least my copy of
the testimony that Bill Baroni gave to the state assembly in which I can
find two sets of handwriting added to this. Both of them look female to
It seems from the messages that we`ve seen that Nicole Crifo might
have been involved in prepping Baroni for the testimony, which we know if
Bill had to give under oath would have caused serious legal problems for
him, and in fact, when he was subpoenaed to come and give that under oath
again, he subsequently resigned.
MADDOW: Yes. So, now, working at the Port Authority – I mean, if
they were trying to create the impression the Port Authority isn`t a
political slush pile for New Jersey politics –
MURPHY: I don`t think they`re trying to create that impression.
MADDOW: Court dates were set today for Bill Stepien and for Bridget
Kelly. Court dates next month. They`re fighting handing over documents
until the inquiry. That`s now heading into court. Everybody keeps saying
that might take a long time.
Does that become a sideshow that works on its own timeframe now or
might not still be important to us figuring out what happened?
MURPHY: I think it is important. I mean, obviously, there`s
something in there if they`re fighting. I would imagine – I shouldn`t say
obvious. It seems to me that they`re fighting it for a reason. There`s
something in there and they might be making a production doctrine argument,
just by the act of producing the document, you are implicating yourself in
Though it seems to me that the constitutional argument that they can
make here is a little bit weaker. The New Jersey legislature has a right
to investigate things. They have an obligation to conduct oversight of the
executive. Under the New Jersey constitution actually, not bring up the
impeachment word here, but the impeachment threshold is very low.
It`s just a misdemeanor. It`s not a high crime, or a high
misdemeanor. It`s just a misdemeanor. So, I think you can – working
backwards, you can see in order to even find something like that, the
legislature has to have broad powers to conduct an investigation here. And
simply, they have to turn over these documents.
MADDOW: Is it – do you expect that it will take months and months to
resolve and we actually won`t hear anything from Bridget Kelly and Bill
Stepien for a very long time? It`s further in this investigation.
MURPHY: People who know more about this than I do tell me it could be
really quick. The state courts might just decide to give the go ahead to
the legislature right away. And it could even work its way up to the
Supreme Court, but fairly quickly.
MADDOW: At this point, regardless of what happens on that front, and
that`s intriguing, are we expecting any further document releases? Is
there anything on the horizon that we could expect in terms of things that
are going to be made available to the public that might shed more light
MURPHY: My understanding is that the committee chairs, Senator
Loretta Weinberg and Assemblyman Wisniewski who, I think is a frequent
guest of this show.
MURPHY: That they`ve both seen David Wildstein`s un-redacted text
messages to Bill Baroni.
MADDOW: Not just the lawyers. The chairs have seen it.
MURPHY: Right. So, they`re aware of what`s in them. And I think
going forward, there`s a judgment that they`re going to make about how they
proceed with releasing it. The standard had been that if once a hearing is
held and they become part of the public record, then we all get to see
I don`t know that – they didn`t really commit whether or not they`re
going to follow that course in the future.
MADDOW: But it`s within their power to decide.
MURPHY: That`s right. So, we could see them fairly soon.
MADDOW: Former New Jersey political reporter – Brian Murphy, thank
you for helping us out. That was fascinating.
MURPHY: Thanks a lot.
MADDOW: We`ll be right back. There`s more on this story. Stay with
MADDOW: A totally unexpected development in the Chris Christie bridge
scandal today. I have – I have learned to expect anything from this
story, but I did not expect this today.
All right. Last night on this show, we introduced you to this plot of
land, it`s a nice place, right? It`s a parking lot in northern New Jersey
just across the river from New York City.
The entity that operates that parking lot has been trying for a few
years now to figure out a way to maximize its profits, from operating that
parking lot and a few others. In order to do that, they hired a top New
Jersey law firm to help advise them on this matter. A law firm called
Wolff and Samson.
In 2010, they paid that firm somewhere in the neighborhood of $650,000
according to the “Bergen Record”. Then the next year, they gave the law
firm a huge raise. They paid them $1.5 million, all in the hopes that
Wolff and Samson could help them figure out how to make more profit out of
their parking lots.
Well, the Samson in Wolff Samson is this gentleman, David Samson. And
in addition to heading up that law firm, Mr. Samson is also the chairman of
the state agency called the Port Authority. The Port Authority, and luck
would have it, also happens to own that piece of land where the parking lot
In early 2012, Mr. Samson in his official role as chairman of the Port
Authority decided that he would cast a vote to change the way his agency
leased that land going forward. He voted that they should stop charging
the entity that operated the parking lot, should stop charging them
$900,000 per year, that they had been charging them and instead they should
start charging them $1 – $1 per year. Do the math.
David Samson in private practice was being paid to help that entity
maximize its profits, and then in public life, he voted to reduce their
rent by – just $1 a year. It`s amazing. That laugh out loud story broke
yesterday morning on the front page of the “Bergen Record” newspaper.
You can see their headline here. “New Port Authority conflict issue
emerges.” That story incidentally dropped on the same day that David
Samson made his first public apology for his agency`s role in the bridge-
gate scandal in New Jersey. If that was the end of it, that would still be
an amazing story, right? I mean, toll payers lose $900,000 every year from
here on out. So, a Chris Christie appointee can steer that money to his
clients instead – his clients who are paying him handsomely for that job.
Yes, that alone would be kind of an amazingly simple story about how
things work in New Jersey. But because this is New Jersey, of course, that
isn`t the end of it.
Today, the “Bergen Record” reports that David Samson and the Port
Authority are making this go away now. They`re essentially trying to
disappear the vote. Look at this. The Port Authority`s general counsel on
Wednesday agreed to change the recorded board vote on the dollar a year
lease deal after the board`s Chairman David Samson said he did not intend
to vote on the contract.
David Samson was present at the vote that day. He voted yes, but now
two years later, he says actually he never intended to vote in the first
place. He would like to retroactively recuse himself from that vote,
please, two years later.
In a letter to David Samson on Wednesday, the Port Authority general
counsel told Mr. Samson, quote, “I have concluded that you intended to
recuse on that matter, through clerical inadvertence, your recusal was not
correctly noted.” Clerical inadvertence – I`m going to get that tattooed
in Latin on my bag.
A spokesman for David Samson didn`t provide answers to the “Bergen
Record” yesterday, for their original story that ran yesterday. But today,
she responded to the newspaper by providing that letter, the general
counsel`s letter which says essentially that the vote in question never
happened. It`s not like a divorce, more like an annulment, just never
The Port Authority`s general counsel says he now intends to, quote,
“correct the board`s minutes to reflect David Samson`s recusal.”
I`m not sure I`ve ever seen anything as a retroactive recusal, but in
New Jersey, we`re all learning that anything is possible.
Late tonight, as a result of this developing story, as well as the
agency`s role in the bridge-gate scandal, late tonight, New Jersey`s
largest newspaper, “The Star-Ledger”, published this editorial calling on
David Samson to resign.
So far, Chris Christie seems happy to keep him in the post. He says
he`s quite confident that David Samson did nothing wrong, but the largest
paper in New Jersey tonight says he`s got to go. Stay tuned.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”.
Have a great night.
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