The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 03/27/14
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Ari. Thanks, man. Good to
see you there.
And thanks to you at home for joining us for the next hour. If you
paid taxes in the state of New Jersey, look what you just bought. State of
New Jersey taxpayer money to the tune of $1 million was just spent on this
hardheaded analysis by a $650 an hour law firm.
As you can see here, this is from page 227 of the new report that just
came out today. The report is more than 300 pages in total, but this is
page 227. And as page 227 clearly shows, body language analysis apparently
is what we need to clearly disprove all of these scurrilous allegations
against New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
Literally, this is the evidence they are presenting to discredit
allegations by one New Jersey mayor who says she was threatened by members
of the Christie administration that her town would not get all of the
hurricane Sandy funding that was coming to them unless she okayed a private
development project in her town. That, of course, is an allegation the
Christie administration has always flatly denied.
But the law firm that Governor Christie hired to exonerate –
investigate this, it has disproven now as of today, this law firm has
disproven that that mayor ever actually felt threatened by anything from
the Christie administration and they`ve done it with hard evidence. They
have disproved her allegations because they found a photo of her yawning.
Look. As it says, as you can see here, the narrative here, figure
five, “a person does not normally yawn when being threatened, coerced, or
spoken to improperly.” Well, that is damning evidence.
Oh, but it`s not all. Look, that was figure five. Look at figure
six. What is that? Mayor Zimmer of Hoboken, New Jersey, caught smiling.
Look at the text here. Quote, “yawning during the middle of
commissioner constable`s statements and then smiling during the end of his
statements is hardly the demeanor one would expect of someone who is
actually being threatened.”
This million-dollar report paid for by you, the taxpayers of New
Jersey, at the request of your governor, thus concludes on the basis of the
damning smiling photo that everything that mayor said that might cast
dispersions on Chris Christie or his administration is proven to be, quote,
“demonstrably false.” Quote, “The subjective perception she may have do
not match – the subjective perception she may have do not match objective
reality as reflected in the hard evidence uncovered during our
investigation.” The hard evidence that she once yawned. Also that she
So that`s settled then. Body language analysis proves obviously that
she`s a liar. All the questions about Hoboken, settled.
Now, the bridge issue, the shutting down of access lanes on to the
George Washington Bridge, you`ll be happy to know that that issue has also
been completely put to bed as a scandal. In this case, not only has
Governor Christie, himself, been completely exonerated, in fact, he comes
out looking better than he ever has really at any other point in his
political career. He`s like some sort of amazing combination of the hero
and the bereft victim here, in a way that at times is very moving. Turns
out he cried a lot during this process, if you read this report.
But his law firm, the law firm that he hired, and that New Jersey
taxpayers paid for, they have also divined the real explanation from what
happened on the George Washington Bridge. It turns out the governor`s law
firm in this million dollar report paid for by New Jersey taxpayers has
decided to blame what happened on that bridge all on this lady, and the
report speculates openly and repeatedly throughout the report, and they
said out loud today in the press conference announcing the report that
maybe the whole thing happened because of her love life, because of
problems in her love life.
You know how women are. Boy crazy. That`s why it happened. You know
how it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RANDY MASTRO, ATTY FOR ChrisTIE INTERNAL INVESTIGATION: But guess
what? What we found was that whatever personal relationship, brief,
Stepien and Kelly had, had ended by the first week of August 2013. And
they largely stopped speaking. So, I don`t expect –
REPORTER: How do you know that, Randy?
MASTRO: We know it from our witness interviews and it was confirmed
by multiple interviews.
REPORTER: Who told you that? Who told you that?
MASTRO: Let me just finish. Let me just finish. We shouldn`t be
yelling out. But let me just finish.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So, the taxpayer funded million dollar report by these
lawyers hired by Governor Christie has decided that the Hoboken issues have
settled because they have found a picture of the Hoboken mayor yawning and
also smiling, and they decided that as body language analysis is totally
damning to her case and they`ve decided to explain away the bridge matter
with this hard evidence that they have turned up about Bridget Kelly`s
They brought up this matter of her personal life at the press
conference announcing the report and they reference it repeatedly
throughout this million-dollar document. Look, quote, “At some point after
Bill Stepien`s departure to run the Chris Christie re-election campaign,
Bridget Kelly and Bill Stepien became personally involved. Although by
early August 2013, their personal relationship had cooled, apparently at
Mr. Stepien`s choice.”
Then a little later on in the report, quote, “Evidence in Kelly`s
personal life may have had some bearing on her subjective motivations. Her
first known communication to David Wildstein about the lane closures
occurred around the time her relationship with Bill Stepien had cooled.
Apparently at Bill Stepien`s behest and Stepien and Kelly had largely
stopped speaking. Indeed, that fact may have affected how Kelly and
Stepien conducted themselves.”
Why is it relevant if these people were or were not having a
relationship and how it was going? The relevance of this is never
explained. It`s just supposed to be self-evident, I guess, and they keep
bring it up over and over and over again. Look, here it is again on page
“Given that Stepien`s personal relationship apparently cooled by
Stepien and Kelly`s personal relationship apparently cooled by early August
2013” – I mean, essentially they`re going throughout this report over and
over again, did we mention that he dumped her?
What possible relevance does that have to the issue of whether or not
the Chris Christie administration abused its power by using the busiest
bridge in the world as a weapon to attack a small town as some sort of act
of political retaliation? Why on earth would Bridget Kelly`s personal life
and how her love life was going and whether or not Bill Stepien dumped her
be relevant to that political question?
I mean, maybe if she had explained that that was her state of mind and
she`d had an emotional breakdown and therefore had done something at work
that was totally out of keeping with anything else she`d ever done in her
job and anything else the Christie administration had never done or
expected, because she explained she was so upset about a break – did she
explain that? Did she say that in a deposition or something? Is that why
this is in a report three times and was also brought up gratuitously at the
No. In fact, Bridget Kelly never spoke to the lawyers who did this
investigation. People doing this investigation didn`t speak to her, and
they also didn`t speak to the other person who they say she was having a
So what they`ve printed throughout the report is gossip about what
they heard about their relationship and how it was going. They just
gratuitously bring that up as they blame the whole thing on her. In real
life, this is called slut shaming. I`m not sure what they call it in New
Jersey politics but it`s amazing to see it in this report that New Jersey
taxpayers have paid for – $1 million in public money spent to produce this
report which blames the bridge scandal without explanation on the fact that
this lady in the office was having a tough time in her love life. Amazing.
But keep in mind that these are the lawyers. This is also the law
firm that Governor Christie`s office has hired essentially to put together
the governor`s defense in this issue. The governor`s defense as federal
prosecutors continue to pursue potential federal criminal charges related
to this scandal.
Now, there`s no indication right now that Governor Christie is going
to be indicted in this matter, but today`s report looks very much like a
ready criminal defense if that would become necessary. A would-be defense
prepared at taxpayer expense and previewed for all of us at a length of 360
And as they have rolled out the governor`s legal defense today, they
also did it in conjunction with a public relations rollout. The governor
granting his first one-on-one interview tonight since the scandal broke.
He did the interview at his home. This was the PR photo released by
Governor Christie in advance of tonight`s interview airing on ABC “World
News” – to show you how contentious it was for everybody sitting down for
The Christie administration also sent out press releases touting the
complete exoneration of the governor by his administration`s own lawyers as
if there`s anything here other than an argument that the governor shouldn`t
be indicted – an argument made – as it says right on the cover of the
report, an argument made on behalf of the office of the governor. While
the governor`s office is touting this report as a comprehensive and
exhaustive look at the scandal, what was probably the biggest surprise
today when they finally released it was that they actually published no new
documentation about the scandal at all. I mean, we knew he hadn`t – that
the lawyers hadn`t spoken with Bridget Kelly, hadn`t spoken with David
Wildstein, hadn`t spoken with Bill Stepien, hadn`t spoken with a lot of
people right at the center of the scandal, but they do brag about having
reviewed a quarter of a quarter of a million documents, doing more than 70
interviews including with the governor, himself.
But they released – this was a surprise - they released no
transcripts from those interviews. In fact, no substantial direct quotes
from those interviews, they released none of the documentation they looked
at. They release none of these text messages, none of the e-mails they
said they saw, no documents of any kind.
They just published this one long narrative today with unrelenting
glowing gauzy characterizations of Governor Christie`s strength and
leadership and character throughout this difficult time.
The governor demanded straight answers from his senior staff. The
governor welling up with tears expressing shock at the revelations. They
actually say in the executive summary of the report, Governor Christie`s
account of these events rings true. He has conducted himself at every turn
as someone who has nothing to hide. You know, if they had been slightly
less over the top, it would have been easier to stomach this, but
apparently they could not contain themselves and had to sprinkle everything
with glitter and smiley faces.
Still, though, even without releasing any supporting documentation at
all, even with the laugh out loud, over the top exhortations of Chris
Christie`s innocence and, indeed, his greatness, even with all of that,
there is within all of that some new information that this report is
offering. After all, they got to interview people who otherwise have never
spoken publicly and at length about this matter.
And we haven`t seen the interviews. They didn`t release the
transcripts or even long quotes, but we know at least what Chris Christie`s
lawyers say is the factual record based on the interviews that they say
they conducted. And from their report, we learn a handful of new and
They don`t say that all these things are important, but these are
things we never knew before. Some of them seem important to me.
First, during the cover-up, while the legislature was being told the
cover story that was designed to cover up what really happened when they
closed the lanes on that bridge, literally during that testimony, an e-mail
was sent to the governor`s office, to the governor`s spokesman exclaiming
how great and important it was that the governor`s office had not been
blamed. That had not come up in the testimony. An e-mail during that
testimony from David Wildstein to Governor Christie`s spokesman, quote,
“Most importantly, Governor Christie was not brought into this.”
They were already worried about governor Christie potentially being
implicated in this in late November while they were trying to sell the
Also, new information, we also know whose handwriting this is. This
is a draft of that cover-up testimony that was delivered to the legislature
back in November. We had previously seen this draft and could tell it was
all marked up by someone, but we didn`t know whose handwritten notations
these were, editing that testimony, obviously trying to shine it up a
little bit. We now know whose handwriting it is. We know it`s the
handwriting of the governor`s current chief of staff, Regina Egea, and a
staffer named Nicole Crifo, she`s another senior staffer in the governor`s
office at the time.
In today`s report from the governor`s lawyers, footnote 549 helpfully
notes that those two staffers are the two senior Chris Christie staffers
who admit that those are their handwritten comments on the testimony about
the cover story. So they helped edit it. We now know that.
We also learned that the governor`s chief counsel, Charlie McKenna,
also advised Bill Baroni on that cover-up testimony and also learned it was
Governor Christie`s personal direction that Bill Baroni should give that
testimony, that he should appear before the legislature and give that
testimony which, again, was a fake cover story.
We also learned from this report today that Governor Christie was told
at least three times including by his political adviser Mike DuHaime, that
people involved with the lane closures had claimed that the governor senior
staff was in on it, and that there was e-mails reflecting the fact that
someone on the governor`s senior staff was in on what happened on that
bridge. He was notified of that three times before he ever admitted to
We also know that even though the governor said publicly on December
19th that he wasn`t asking any questions about the bridge issue, he wasn`t
looking it, he said if you`re asking me if I`ve done independent
investigation, the answer is no. When he said that on December 19th, the
governor was not telling the truth. A week earlier he had, in fact,
started investigating. Independently. What his staff knew and when they
Morning of December 12th, 2013, Governor Christie, himself, asked Bill
Stepien, campaign manager, what, if anything, he knew about the lane
realignment. The governor then talked to another of his senior staffers
about the same issue and directed that other staffer to do more questioning
of other staffers about what happened on that bridge. The governor as of
December 12th was directing an independent investigation of what happened
on December – what happened on that bridge. And then on December 19th, he
said he had done no such thing.
We also learned one important new detail about why, at least maybe why
all of this happened in the first place. You remember the damning e-mail
that`s become the most famous thing about this story, right? “Time for
some traffic problems in Fort Lee.” That e-mail was sent by Bridget Kelly
on the very early morning of August 13th.
Well, now, according to this new report from the governor`s lawyers,
we have brand new information about what, at least contemporaneously, at
least on the timeline, what might have caused Bridget Kelly to send that e-
mail when she did. Remember, this e-mail was sent the morning of august
13th. It was sent roughly 7:30 in the morning. Now we know that 7:30 in
the evening the night before, Bridget Kelly reportedly called a member of
Governor Christie`s campaign staff who is in a diner in Jersey City at the
She called the staffer and asked, according to the report, about the
status of Mayor Mark Sokolich`s potential endorsement. Mayor Sokolich, of
course, the mayor of Fort Lee, New Jersey. Bridget Kelly, the night before
she sent that e-mail, called a campaign staffer and asked whether Mayor
Sokolich of Fort Lee was going to endorse Governor Christie. The staffer
responded that the mayor was not going to endorse Governor Christie. Kelly
responded in some more substance that that was all she needed to know. And
then 12 hours later, she sent that e-mail, “Time for some traffic problems
in Fort Lee.”
So that kind of makes it seem like, hmm, maybe it was the endorsement
issue. Maybe it was that lack of an endorsement from the mayor of Fort Lee
that was the impetus for this whole thing. She called to check to see
whether or not he was endorsing Chris Christie. She heard no.
All right. That`s all I need to know. 12 hours later, she orders
time for some traffic problems in his town. That`s new detail.
Now, as soon as they give us that detail, rather inexplicably, the new
report from Christie`s lawyers, they give us that crucial new piece of
information then they conclude this. Look – “The lane closures, the lane
realignment based on all available evidence does not appear to have been
based on Mayor Sokolich`s decision not to endorse the governor.”
Really? Except for the fact that she called to confirm that he
wouldn`t endorse right before she said, oh, he`s not endorsing? That`s all
I need to know. “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.” They give
us that information and then assure us that the endorsement had nothing to
do with it.
Report also tells us for the first time, and this is brand new
information that we never even had an allusion to before, this report also
tells us shortly after the call to check on the mayor`s endorsement, but
before the bridge lane is actually shut down, on August 22nd, two staffers
in Governor Christie`s office engaged in what amounts to another act of
political retaliation against the mayor of Fort Lee. The governor`s office
on August 22nd received an invitation for the lieutenant governor of New
Jersey to go address the Fort Lee Chamber of Commerce.
One of Governor Christie`s staffers who reported to Bridget Kelly
forwarded that request to Bridget Kelly. Bridget Kelly responded, “Should
we do this if light of the mayor?” And the other staffer responded, “Eh, I
guess not. It is a good chamber, though.”
Bridget Kelly then asked, “I assume the mayor would go?” Meaning the
mayor would go to the event. The staffer responded, “Not necessarily, if
we don`t tell him.” To which Kelly responded, “Correct, good call.” That
apparently was the basis on which they allowed the lieutenant governor to
go do that event.
So another instance in which Governor Christie`s office is maneuvering
to try to keep political assets essentially away from Fort Lee, away from
the Fort Lee mayor as some sort of punishment against him that is still not
explained. That`s new.
Here`s the last thing, and the most important thing. And if anything,
this may end up being however inadvertently sort of a smoking gun in this
report. And it is this. Day three of those bridge lanes being shut down
was September 11th. September 11th, 2013. And on that day, these pictures
were taken at the commemoration ceremony for 9/11 in Lower Manhattan.
What we learned today from this report, from the “Isn`t Governor
Christie wonderful” report, this report that purports to exonerate him of
everything related to the bridge lane`s closure. What we learned today is
David Wildstein, the man who organized the shutdown of the access lanes on
to the George Washington bridge, he said at that event on 9/11 that morning
in Lower Manhattan while the access lanes that bridge were shut down and
Fort Lee was still gridlocked, he said he talked to Chris Christie
personally about the fact the bridge lane shutdown was under way.
If that`s true, that would mean Governor Christie knew about it while
it was happening. He was in direct communication about the bridge lane
shutdown with the guy who shut the lanes down. It would also imply the
governor did nothing to stop it once he found out about it.
Now, in this report, the governor`s lawyers do back flips to say,
that`s totally normal. Nothing to see here. There`s nothing damning about
that at all.
But you can tell they`re really worried about it. Look at this – by
early December 2013, David Wildstein was feeling vulnerable and knew he`d
have to resign. He tried to deflect blame, telling the governor`s
spokesman that he had not acted alone, identifying Bridget Kelly and Bill
Stepien and others who knew, claiming he had the e-mails to prove it.
David Wildstein even suggested that he mentioned the traffic issue in Fort
Lee to the governor, himself, at a public event during the lane
Here`s where the governor`s lawyers really earn their million bucks.
Are you ready? This is a reference that the governor doesn`t recall, and
even if actually made, it would not have registered with the governor in
any event because he knew nothing about this decision in advance and would
not have considered another traffic issue at one of the bridges or tunnels
to be memorable.
In their conclusions of this report, the governor`s lawyers go back to
this, right? They know this is a big deal. They keep going back to it
again and again.
Listen to this: “In any event, even if credited, any passing reference
by David Wildstein made in a social public setting at the time of a public
9/11 memorial, any mention to a traffic issue in Fort Lee would not have
been meaningful for memorable to the governor. Indeed, it seems highly
unlikely such a brief mention even if made by Wildstein to the governor
would have registered with the governor at all. In any event, the governor
recalls no such exchange.”
And just to underscore the point they know this is something they have
to stress about, we have to go to the footnotes, where they do it again.
Christie`s lawyers again, “It will apparently be David Wildstein`s
contention as he alleged in early December that he mentioned the traffic
issue to the governor on that occasion. Whatever brief exchange they had
occurred in a public setting where they were surrounded by many including
other port authority officials, the governor`s wife, and a steady stream of
spectators requesting photographs and handshakes with the governor. Not
surprisingly, the governor has no recollection of such an exchange.”
Not surprisingly. Of course he doesn`t remember that. Do you realize
what a good guy he is?
This is called protesting too much.
The guy who did the lane closures says Chris Christie knew about it
while it was happening. He says he told him while it was happening. There
are pictures of them together on the day and at the occasion where the guy
says it happened.
There is still no purported explanation from the governor`s lawyers or
from the governor, himself, as to why this happened if it wasn`t political
retaliation directed from the governor`s office, and this is his million-
dollar defense. This is the best he`s got. And New Jersey taxpayers, you
paid for it.
Well, they did get that incredible detail that Mayor Zimmer once
yawned. So, I guess there`s that.
MADDOW: Breaking news: Chris Christie`s fired campaign manager Bill
Stepien has just put out a statement in response to Governor Christie`s
lawyers today. The report I was describing in our opening statement.
Mr. Stepien`s statement asserts he is innocent. It says the
governor`s lawyers offered, quote, “Not a jot of evidence to support
Governor Christie`s decision to sever ties with Bill Stepien.” And this is
interesting. “Interesting that somebody has pointed out the weird tabloid
distraction that Governor Christie`s lawyers put in the report over and
over again about personal matters.”
This is from Bill Stepien`s statement which came out moments ago.
Listen to this, quote, “The report`s inclusion of a gratuitous reference to
Mr. Stepien`s brief dating relationship with Bridget Anne Kelly which began
after he left the governor`s office, ended before the lane closure debacle
began and took place at a time when both he and Ms. Kelly were single is a
regrettable distraction that has no place in this report.”
You know what? It is true that there`s no purported explanation for
the repeated references in this report to Bridget Kelly and Bill Stepien
having a relationship. Governor Christie`s lawyers just assert three
separate times in the report and then brought it up again today at the
press conference. They just assert that that relationship existed and that
maybe that explains Bridget Kelly`s involvement in the bridge lane
It is inexplicable but repeated and emphatic assertion made in this
report and now at least one of the people`s name is being part of that
relationship is calling bullpucky on it. Perhaps that should not be as
We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DIANE SAWYER, ABC NEWS: If Bridget Kelly talks, will she blow this
report out of the water?
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Not credibly. No. Absolutely
SAWYER: You think she`ll come after you?
CHRISTIE: I don`t see any reason why she would.
SAWYER: David Wildstein has said at a 9/11 event, he talked to you
about traffic. It`s a little ambiguous exactly what. Did he?
CHRISTIE: Yes, I don`t have any recollection of that, Diane. David
was one of hundreds of people I spoke to that day. We stood around and
spoke briefly that day.
I don`t have any recollection of him saying anything, but I`ll tell
you this. I`ll tell you what he didn`t say. He didn`t say, “Hey, by the
way, governor, I`m closing down lanes on the George Washington Bridge to
stick it to the mayor. Is that OK?” That I`d remember.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey with ABC`s Diane
Sawyer. First one-on-one interview he`s done since the scandal in his
administration broke open in January.
That last point the governor was addressing there was about the
revelation in this new report from the governor`s own legal team today in
which the report says that on September 11th, last year, while access lanes
were shut to the George Washington Bridge, apparently as part of some
political vendetta against the town of Fort Lee, Governor Christie was told
that the lane closure was under way while it was under way. A man who
arranged the lane closures, a Christie administration appointee to the Port
Authority named David Wildstein, says that he told Governor Christie that
day in Lower Manhattan at the 9/11 commemoration what was going on on the
We don`t know if, in fact, it happened, but we know it is logistically
plausible that it happened because we`ve got these photos and we`ve got
these photos because people knew to look because of this reporting in “The
Wall Street Journal” in January which proved that Chris Christie did spend
time that day talking with the man who is now his chief accuser. Chris
Christie`s response to that accusation delivered through his lawyers today
is that he doesn`t recall, he doesn`t recall any such conversation. It
should be noted that he`s not denying that any conversation about these
matters might have happened, though.
Joining us now is “Wall Street Journal” reporter, Heather Haddon.
Heather, thanks very much for being here.
HEATHER HADDON, WALL STREET JOURNAL”: Thank you.
MADDOW: I just want to put on screen today what your headline was
today after this report came out from the governor`s lawyers. Officials
said he told Christie of lane closures, bridge scandal review. Is this
claim that the governor knew that he was told while the lanes were shut
down, is that the big news today?
HADDON: Well, stepping back a bit, remember the letter that David
Wildstein`s attorney sent to the Port Authority saying originally they
should pay for his legal bills. In that letter, he mentioned that David
Wildstein had or could have evidence that suggests that he had told the
governor or the governor knew during the lane closures that they were
happening. So, this seems to confirm or try to isolate and contain David
Wildstein`s assertion that he had told Governor Christie during that 9/11
So, Randy Mastro, the attorney who – lead attorney writing the
report, he was asked about that quite a bit during the press conference
today and he basically said, you know, the governor was greeting many, many
people during that 9/11 commemoration. There`s no way he had any knowledge
or could really filter out that this is what David Wildstein was saying.
So, the question remains, what exactly did David Wildstein say? Did
he say to the governor, you know, these lanes were closed for some other
political motivation? Did he spell it out to him? Or did he say the lanes
are closed? We don`t know that.
And during the Diane Sawyer interview, I think the governor was
careful with his wording. He said, he made a joke. He said that David
Wildstein did not tell him that he was closing lanes to punish the mayor.
He would have remembered that.
Did he say something else that indicated that? We don`t know.
MADDOW: It`s interesting to me that the sort of vociferous rebuttals
of this – the idea that this would be damning information from David
Wildstein from the governor`s lawyers in this report today. They
continually assert that it would be absurd for Chris Christie to have
remembered receiving that information from David Wildstein, because why
would the governor remember anything about a traffic matter?
It doesn`t make sense to me that David Wildstein would have told the
governor, hey, there`s a lot of traffic on the streets of Fort Lee today.
He wouldn`t have brought it up to him that way. Presumably what David
Wildstein is saying – I`m asking you this, correct me if you read it in a
different way or see evidence to the contrary, presumably what David
Wildstein is alleging and what he will say if he talks is that he told the
governor not that there was traffic in Fort Lee, but that lanes had been
shut down onto the bridge in order to cause that traffic.
Isn`t that the only reasonable explanation here?
HADDON: I mean, again, David Wildstein`s attorneys seem to assert he
made it clear or someone made it clear to the governor while the lanes were
being closed that they had other implications other than traffic. When the
governor has been confronted and asked about this, you know, he has said he
learned about it in press accounts and there was no reason that he should
take traffic seriously. That traffic is always backed up. He`s made jokes
But, again, there seems to be some other implication here. I think
there`s a specific reason why it was mentioned in the report, presumably
knowing that this is going to come out in some kind of investigation with
the twin probes going on. This is a way to confront that information now
in a way that`s set up very chronologically and I guess in their thought
process logically. We had Randy Mastro respond to it, to reporters`
So, again, this is a way for them to respond through this report in
questions that will come up later.
MADDOW: Should this essentially be seen, along those lines, as the
governor`s defense to the accusations against him? I mean, is this
essentially the outline of potential legal defense to criminal charges if
they ever are brought by the U.S. attorney in this case?
HADDON: Well, I think it`s interesting to look at what happened
today, right? So, we had Randy Mastro and his firm presenting their
internal review, also seeming to answer questions almost like a
spokesperson by the end of the press conference. The tone really sort of
shifted by the end of the hour-long event.
By then, Governor Christie is on TV. This is the first time he`s
acknowledging the report, that he`s read it, seems to agree with the
MADDOW: Yes, shocking.
HADDON: In his first televised interview since that January press
conference. Presumably he`s now going to be doing more TV appearances. We
are told that he will address the report with the press at some point soon.
So they haven`t said it so far, but one would think this is going to
be what they rest on as the conclusion from the investigation.
MADDOW: The report very clearly isolates Bridget Kelly and David
Wildstein as the bad guys here.
MADDOW: We`ve seen in this response moments ago from Bill Stepien
saying why are you gratuitously harping over and over and over again on the
fact that Bridget Kelly had a brief romantic relationship with me? Why do
you keep bringing that up?
Mr. Mastro, and I know you`re at that press conference today, also
brought it up unsolicited today at the press conference. I find it very
surprising that they`re singling out that aspect of her life as a potential
explanation for what happened here.
Is it clear to you what the logic train is about why they`re talking
about who she dated and when?
HADDON: I mean, the report alludes to it and dances around it but
doesn`t make it clear. It`s basically saying when this relationship
severed. That she was not talking to Bill Stepien, so maybe the
communication broke down. Maybe it caused her to act on her own
We don`t really know. But, yes, I spoke to Bill Stepien`s lawyer
earlier today and he is angry. So, you know, all along, he has said that
Bill Stepien really had only knowledge about what was going on in sort of a
He heard these allegations were coming up. He would respond. His
name wasn`t referenced in a lot of the e-mails that came out during the
original subpoenas. And so now to have him and this relationship being
sort of trotted out here, he`s not happy with it.
MADDOW: And to be fair, too, it is amazing to see this is a
relationship alleged between two people asserted as if it is relevant to
this investigation, asserted only as relevant to the emotional state of the
female person in this relationship. It`s never asserted as an explanation
of the emotional state of Bill Stepien. It`s never asserted as something
that explains his behavior. It only explains her. She`s described as
either emotional or upset. More than 10 times in the report.
HADDON: I think there is a narrative of her being distraught, of her
being very concerned about what the governor thought about her. And,
again, sort of acting on her own.
MADDOW: It`s amazing. Heather Haddon from “The Wall Street Journal”
– thank you for helping us understand it.
HADDON: Thank you so much.
MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: If your job is the scariest and most dangerous job in the
entire world, the consequences of you cheating at your job are very, very
dire. And that happened today in a big way and in an unprecedented way in
the state of Montana. And that story is next.
MADDOW: OK. This is a doozy.
Last year, in the part of the U.S. military that`s in charge of all of
our nation`s nuclear weapons, the number two guy in that command was fired
after he was alleged to be involved in gambling at casinos with counterfeit
Soon thereafter, the Air Force general in charge of all nuclear
missiles was also fired. Actually, he was relieved from the responsibility
of being in charge of our nuclear missiles and assigned to a desk job after
he was found to have engaged in personal misbehavior of an official trip to
Russia. From the inspector general report on that trip to Russia, kind of
seems like the trip was a four-day bender for the general, including the
general spending lots of drunken time in the company of suspicious foreign
women while he bragged publicly and loudly in Russia about him being in
command of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.
The general got reassigned to an unglamorous desk job last October.
So, 2013 was not a great year for our nation`s nuclear weapons and their
keepers. That was then, though, right?
This is 2014 – a fresh start for the people who we hope and pray are
the most responsible and competent people on the planet given what they`re
responsible for. 2014 has to be better than 2013, right? Has to be,
Actually, this year started with reports of a wide investigation into
alleged drug use by nuclear weapons launch officers. Eek. That
investigation widened even further into an investigation into cheating on
proficiency exams by our nuclear weapons launch officers. These are
monthly proficiency exams given to Air Force officers, ones who literally
have their fingers on the triggers of our nuclear missiles.
At first, the military pulled 34 launch officers off the job, stripped
them of certification and security clearances. But then came bombshell
revelations from former officers quoted in the “L.A. Times” and “The New
York Times”, talking about how widespread the cheating is on the exams in
the Air Force and apparently has been for years – reports that commanders
and higher-ups in the nuclear command have been aware of this widespread
cheating by launch officers for years, reports that it is rarely, if ever,
Basically, news that cheating has become the norm at our nation`s
nuclear weapons sites. Well, today, big news. Today, the Air Force fired
nine nuclear commanders. Nine mid-level nuclear commanders involved in the
cheating scandal, including the commanders of three nuclear missile
Beyond the nine commanders that they fired, the Air Force says it will
discipline dozens of junior officers. The most senior person tied to the
cheating scandal, this guy, the top commander at Malmstrom Air Base in
Montana, he was not fired today but he was allowed to resign. Both his
command and from the air force generally. As the part of the U.S. military
that handles nuclear weapons has basically melted down and started
collapsing over the past few years, top people have been fired before.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel`s running a top to bottom review of the
nuclear weapons part of our military now because of these repeated
failures, but a purge this big? An air base commander out, nine other
commanders fired? Dozens of junior officers disciplined?
Today was the biggest purge yet. And it comes immediately on the
heels of President Obama`s third big international nuclear summit held this
week in the Netherlands. The president started these summits four years
ago in an effort to elevate the issue of nuclear security on a global
level. And that`s great.
And at the same time, the United States is trying to lead the world on
nuclear nonproliferation, nuclear safety, the reduction of nuclear threats.
At the same time, that we`re doing that, our own handling of our own
nuclear weapons, the largest nuclear weapons force in the world is
descending to Larry, Moe and Curly status. How can both of these things be
happening at once? Why does it keep getting worse? What does today`s mass
firing of our nation`s nuclear officers mean for the future of the
deadliest weapons in the history of human kind?
Joining us is Joe Cirincione, president of Ploughshares Fund and the
author of “Nuclear Nightmares: Securing the World Before It is Too Late”.
Mr. Cirincione, you were the man I wanted to talk to today when I
shrieked at my desk when I saw this headline. Is this problem getting
worse, the way it feels like it is getting worse? Or are more people
getting caught for something that shouldn`t be more alarming than it used
JOE CIRINCIONE, PLOUGHSHARES FUND: It is getting worse, Rachel.
There`s a reason that one of the top commanders released a statement a few
months ago when this first came to light that there was a rot in the
nuclear command structure.
In 2007, we had the incident at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota,
where we lost track of six nuclear missiles for 36 hours, nuclear cruise
missiles. Now, we have this cheating and drug scandal at Malmstrom. Minot
was strike one. Malmstrom is strike two.
I am very fearful of what strike three could look like.
MADDOW: When the commander at Malmstrom resigned today, he was
allowed. He resigned both his command and from the Air Force, he wrote a
heartfelt letter to the airmen at Malmstrom, explaining his decision to
resign and essentially excoriating them for nobody coming forward to
complain about the cheating. Nobody being willing to come forward and say,
I know this is happening and it`s wrong. He described it essentially as an
integrity problem. That implies a sort of human failure that`s unrelated
to the nuclear mission.
Do you see this as something that`s nuclear specific or a broader
problem that has nothing to do with those missiles?
CIRINCIONE: You have to feel for these officers here. They are first
rate and they are trying to do their job. And it is a thankless mission.
We send them to the most remote areas of America.
They pull 24 hours shift underground, practicing to push a button they
know they`re never going to push. No wonder there`s morale problems here.
So, you have to feel for them, and here you`ve just stripped away the top
command at one of the bases, basically ending these people`s careers,
although they`ll stay in the Air Force for a little while longer. But does
this solve the problem?
The general who briefed today said we`re not just putting a fresh coat
of paint on the problem, but it sure feels like this. They`re treating
this as a training problem, a procedural discipline. And they`re putting
into place new training, new procedures and new disciplinarians. But
they`re not getting at the underlying cause, the obsolescence of the
Why do we have these ICBMs in the first place? They don`t help us
with Crimea or Afghanistan or Iraq or any of the real national security
problems we have. It`s a meaningless mission. The officer corps knows it.
That`s the root of this problem.
Unless you address that, you`re going to be looking at another crisis
in the not too distant future.
MADDOW: And a crisis in this particular field is a crisis with a
Joe Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund, you made me feel
worse and not better, but I think it`s probably an honest worse and that`s
a good thing. Thanks for being here, man.
CIRINCIONE: Thank you for covering this, Rachel. It`s very
MADDOW: All right. Thanks.
All right, we are now in dire need of a best new thing in the world.
And we`ve got one. And it is honest and real and it comes with a really
awesome picture. And I`ve been waiting to do this all day. Best new thing
in the world is next and you`re going to want to see it.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: OK. Best new thing in the world today, and I mean it.
With the possible exception of former Providence Mayor Buddy Cianci
and his apocryphal wife, Nancy Ann. Remember, Buddy Cianci and Nancy Ann
With the possible exception of the Nancy Ann Cianci family, I believe
this is the first time that one family has been a repeat perpetrator of the
best new thing in the world.
You have to go back to December 2011. It was a simpler time, a
simpler time, especially for our esteemed colleague and friend Chris Hayes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Have you ever seen anything more freaking wonderful in your
entire life? That`s not fake. That`s the real lamb chop. Lamb chops had
a baby lamb chop. The great and good Chris Hayes, for all his boyish
charm, is himself a father. Chris and his wife Kate Shaw have a beautiful
new baby girl named Ryan Shaw Hayes.
She was born healthy and happy, right on time, as expected. Look at
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: On Monday morning, Ryan Shaw Hayes had a fantastic term as
the best new thing in the world. And she remains new and great and perfect
in every day. I`ve got your back, Ryan.
But alas, things are more complicated in this modern time for Chris,
Kate and for my pal Ryan because now, Ryan, I have to tell you, there`s a
new best new thing in the world today. And he`s related.
Clocking in at eight pounds even, meet David Emanuel Shaw Hayes, who
entered the world very early this morning at 5:39 eastern time. And look
how alert he is.
Hi, pops. Is Ari Melber filling in tonight? What`s in the A block?
Chris explained earlier today on the Twitter machine the significance
of the name “Emanuel”, which David Emanuel`s name. He says, quote,
“Emanuel was the name of my mom`s dad who ran an Italian deli and argued
politics with a vigor that would put cable news to shame.”
So, David Emanuel, welcome. We hope that you do, in fact, live up to
your namesake because if so, that would be freaking entertaining in its own
right. It was also possibly be constructively annoying to your big sister
at some point in your life.
Congratulations to our dear friend. Look at them. Congratulations to
lamb chops. To our dear friend Chris Hayes and his excellent wife Kate on
their newborn son.
Welcome to the world, buddy. Congratulations, Ryan, on your little
brother. We are truly psyche to have you here. Best new thing in the
That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow night.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”.
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