The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 03/24/14

Guests: Ryan Grim

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: You hit it much better than you ever hit it before. CHRIS HAYES, "ALL IN" HOST: I couldn`t resist patting myself on the back. MADDOW: The shame that rains down on me as I blow through 10:00 every night. I suck. HAYES: I know that shame. MADDOW: Thanks, man. Appreciate it. Thanks to you at home as well for joining us this hour. When you are the president of the United States, there is no such thing as an aside, right? Going off script, making even one little off the cuff remark can be a dangerous thing if you`re the president of the United States. In the sense that you`re basically guaranteed that somebody, somewhere in the world, is going to take what you said very seriously, even if it was your mildest, most sarcastic parenthetical phrase. Case in point: President Obama addressing a group of students in Waukesha, Wisconsin, in January. Watch. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A lot of young people no longer see the trades and skilled manufacturing as a viable career, but I promise you, folks can make a lot more potentially with skilled manufacturing or trades than they might with an art history degree. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: I`m just going to cut in here for a second to say it is painfully obvious that the president knew immediately, as soon as he said that, that he had just made America`s art historians very angry. And he right away tried to fix it. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: Folks can make a lot more potentially with skilled manufacturing or trades than they might with an art history degree. Now, nothing wrong with an art history degree. I love art history. I don`t want to get a bunch of e-mails from everybody. I`m just saying you can make a really good living and have a great career without getting a four-year college education as long as you get the skills and the training that you need. (APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: You can see him react knowing what he`s done. But indeed, as soon as President Obama made that very self-conscious joke about our history majors and he cringed as soon as he said it and tried to walk it back immediately, indeed, the reason he cringes, because he knew what was about to happen would in fact happen. He felt the swift raft of the art historians and people who love them as soon as he got off the podium. The College Art Association tweeted, "President Obama dissed art history today." "Art history majors now just a punch line for the president." It`s President Obama versus the gentlest foes you can imagine. One of those gentle foes is professor Ann Collins Johns who teaches late medieval and early Renaissance Italian art at the University of Texas at UT-Austin. After the president made the remarks in Waukesha, Wisconsin, about art history majors, this professor at UT e-mailed the White House to tell President Obama what she thought about his comments. She said she wasn`t writing to express her outrage, she just wanted to explain to President Obama what it is that art historians do very well. How art history teaches students how to think and read and write critically and that those are crucial skills both for life and also for the modern job market. Well, the professor clicked "submit" on her message. She sent it from the White House web page. And then a few weeks later, she got an unexpected response. Look. Handwritten letter. "Ann", the president writes, "Let me apologize for my off the cuff remarks. Art history was one of my favorite subjects in high school and it has helped me take in a great deal of joy in my life that I might otherwise have missed. Please pass on my apology for the glib remark to the entire department. Sincerely, Barack Obama." Professor Collins Johns seems to have accepted the president`s apology. She also said she kind of felt guilty for having wasted his time. But if President Obama had yet to redeem himself in the eyes of any other art historians who were still carrying a grudge about that joke in January in Waukesha, Wisconsin, President Obama may have gone some distance toward full redemption with the art historians of the world today. When he visited a renowned museum of Dutch art in Amsterdam, the Rijksmuseum. President gave a press conference today standing in front of this work of art by Rembrandt. It`s called "The Night Watch." It was painted in 1642. It`s the Rijksmuseum`s signature piece. It`s just lovely to look at. Just like this. But when you see it in context, oh, when you see it in context, instead of just in a book or otherwise sort of disembodied the way we just showed it a second ago, when you actually see the size of it, you see how freaking impressive it actually is. I mean, part of the impact of this piece, right, is that it is enormous. It`s 12 feet by more than 14 feet. And it served today as the gigantic and impressive backdrop for the president`s press conference today in Amsterdam. President Obama is in the Netherlands today officially for a long planned nuclear security summit. This is the third nuclear security summit of its kind that`s happened since he has been president. The goal of these summits is to bring together world leaders, 53 world leaders gathered in The Hague today, to agree to secure loose nuclear material around the world. The idea is to cut off access to nuclear material from terrorists or terrorist groups or anybody else who might try to buy it in the black market. This idea, this issue as a priority as something that president of the United States should be devoting his time to, this is something that President Obama promised when he was a candidate and he started working on as soon as he was elected. It was a signature issue of his when he was in the United States Senate. The first loose nukes summit was held in 2010 in Washington. The second one was held in 2012 in South Korea. These gatherings happen every two years. This one right now, again, is happening in the Netherlands. The next one is planned for 2016 and that will be back in Washington. Today, both Belgium and Italy announced that they had completed what they called significant removal of highly enriched uranium and plutonium from within their borders. That`s the kind of thing that gets announced at these summits and agreed to. Thanks to this priority of the president, these meetings and all these summits and the work that`s happened in between them in order to make sure that these countries don`t have nuclear material lying around where anybody can get to it -- thanks to this work and this priority, in just the last five years, the number of states that have nuclear weapons material that could fuel a terrorist bomb has shrunk by more than a third. It shrunk from 38 countries to 25 countries. So that work, that priority of the president`s, that was the initial reason that President Obama was in the Netherlands today standing in front of that giant magnificent Rembrandt giving a press conference alongside the Dutch prime minister. Frankly, as important as that work is and as important as it is to our president, right now overshadowing that work and all of those accomplishments of these nuclear security summits thus far and all the work that is yet to be done on the nuclear security issue, overshadowing all of that right now is, of course, what`s going on with Russia, and Russia taking over a part of Ukraine. The Dutch prime minister today called Russia`s annexation of Crimea a flagrant breach of international law. He said his government condemned Russia`s actions in the strongest possible terms. And then President Obama echoed those comments. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: Europe and America are united in our support of the Ukrainian government and the Ukrainian people. We`re united in imposing a cost on Russia for its actions so far. I`ll be meeting with my fellow G7 leaders later today, and we`ll continue to coordinate closely with the Netherlands and our European partners as we go forward. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Did you catch what he said there? "I will be meeting with my fellow G7 leaders today." Isn`t that supposed to be G8? Used to be. The G7 used to be the group of the world`s eight leading industrialized nations, and it was called the G8, group of eight. The eighth member of that group, the most recent addition, was Russia. Here`s all of them. There`s Putin circled there. This is all those, the G8 leaders at the G8 meeting last year. After what Russia just did in Ukraine, the White House said that President Obama`s goal today in this overseas trip meeting with the world leaders was basically to get Russia kicked out of the G8, to get them kicked out of the exclusive group as punishment for having invaded another sovereign country. And late this afternoon, that is exactly what happened. The G8 became the G7 again. Russia is out. The planned G8 summit in Sochi, in Russia where they had the Olympics is going to be the June G7 summit in Brussels. Russia just lost it and Russia is not invited to the other meeting. Today`s statement expelling Russia from the G8, which is called The Hague Declaration, it says, quote, "We the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States reaffirm our support for Ukraine`s sovereignty. We strongly condemn Russia`s illegal attempt to annex Crimea. We remain ready to intensify actions including coordinated sectoral sanctions that will be an increasingly significant impact on the Russian economy. We will not participate in the planned Sochi summit." And then, this is interesting. Crucially, "We have decided that G7," remember it`s not the G8 anymore, "G7 energy ministers will also meet now to discuss ways to strengthen our collective energy security." Hmm. Russia`s foreign minister responded to that statement today, Russia being kicked out of the G8 by basically refusing to leave any club that would not have his country. He rejected the notion of Russia being expelled from the G8. He said, "Because the G8 is an informal group, really nobody can be expelled from it." In other words, Russia`s decided that this didn`t really happen. We were never really part of it, anyway. It doesn`t even really exist. Despite their effort, though, to laugh this all off, it`s clear that sanctions focused on punishing the Russian economy and concerted push to rid G8 countries and European countries of their dependence on Russian oil, these are serious and potentially scary threats from Russia`s perspective. I mean, as much as this conflict is about anything, it is about energy. Russia is the number two net exporter of oil in the world, second only to Saudi Arabia. And a big chunk of those exports go to Europe, to Germany, to the Netherlands, to Italy. Germany in particular gets more than a third of their oil and natural gas from Russia. But even despite that dependence on Russian oil, the head of the German government now says she supports an escalation of sanctions against the country that provides her country with a third of its energy supply. Meanwhile, in the disputed territory of Crimea, the Ukrainian government seems to also be fighting its fight using energy, reporting today that the Ukrainian government cut off the electricity supply to Crimea. Crimea is not connected by land to Russia. It only connects to mainland Ukraine by a tiny spit of land and across that tiny spit of land is how they get a lot of their water and most of their electricity. They`ve been experiencing widespread power outages today. An escalation of this conflict that involves countries cutting off other countries from oil and gas, that would be a big deal. That would have big economic consequences, not just in the immediate effect but in terms of the knock-on effect. But it is an eventuality that European leaders seem to be preparing for. Also, if Vladimir Putin decides to invade another sovereign country, decides to invade more of Ukraine, he has said he does not intend to because said quite a few things in recent days that haven`t ended up being true. Or even if he refuses to un-occupy the one he`s already invaded, are the United States and other world leaders willing to do anything further in terms of continuing to put pressure on Russia`s economy? Would there be an effort to sanction Russian oil and gas companies? Will there be an international effort to stop Russian oil and gas companies from being able to sell their wares around the world? So far, President Obama has announced targeted sanctions and travel bans against 27 Russian individuals and one Russian bank. As president, he can take unilateral action that way. He can issue sanctions. He can punish Russia without the help of Congress. But in order to spend money on this conflict, in order to aid, for example, the fledgling Ukrainian government, to show America`s support for Ukraine financially, President Obama can`t do that side of it on his own. For that he needs Congress. And tonight, Congress did act. The U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly tonight to begin the process to advance to billion dollar package of aid to Ukraine. So, what happens next here? What is the next step in this conflict economically? What is the president willing to do? And how far is Congress willing to go in order to help him? Joining us now is Ryan Grim. He`s Washington bureau chief for "The Huffington Post." Mr. Grim, thank you very much for being here. It`s nice to see you. RYAN GRIM, THE HUFFINGTON POST: Thanks for having me. MADDOW: I know you were on capitol hill today when the Senate voted on advancing that bill about Ukraine. What struck you as significant about the vote or the way it went down today? GRIM: Well, the Republicans who voted to move forward pretty universally did not express their support for voting on final passage of the bill. So, in other words, it looks like an overwhelming victory. That doesn`t mean in a couple days when it comes up that it`s going to cruise through. They`re quite opposed to a provision that the White House wants in there, that would allow reforms at the IMF. Basically, it would allow the $6 3 billion pool of money to be moved from an emergency kind of crisis fund into the general fund. We agreed to do this four years ago, but we`ve never implemented it because we agree to do things all the time we don`t implement because we have this thing called the United States Senate. And so, they`re saying that this is not the right time to do it. Now, there has never been a right time to do it over the past four years. The argument is that the IMF, in order to be effective in Ukraine and for our billion dollars to be effective in Ukraine, needs this flexibility to have access to this $63 billion. But the Tea Party hates anything that smacks of foreigners, and so it is themed to be dead on arrival over on the house side. So the entire thing is getting caught up over this IMF reform provision. MADDOW: So we`re seeing, I mean, increasingly -- I don`t want to call it necessarily belligerent, but at least increasingly sharply worded criticisms not just of Russia but after the West, the United States` inability to push Vladimir Putin around. Conservative critique of what`s happening now with Russia is the United States isn`t doing enough. But you`re saying that the reason we might not be able to do anything through Congress is because of objections to an accounting change with the IMF rules? GRIM: That`s right. And it gets even more bizarre than that. A lot of the Republicans are saying, OK, look, we will cave on this IMF thing if you give us a provision on the IRS that says the IRS has to back off its investigation of dark money groups. In other words, this is an international situation that we have going on. Russian troops are literally marching around in places the United States and Europe don`t want them marching around. And Congress is hung up over stopping the IRS from enforcing the law on these dark money groups. The law says these 501c4s cannot spend this amount of money on political activity and Republicans are worried that the IRS is going to enforce the law. MADDOW: So the -- in the Senate, at least so far, the objection is, no, an arcane accounting change at the International Monetary Fund is enough to stop us from doing anything about what we keep calling World War III and comparing to Hitler? Or take your choice, the other option is that if unless you leave the Koch brothers and Karl Rove alone, we will not do anything about something we`re calling World War III and akin to Hitler. GRIM: It`s quite a remarkable state of affairs. I mean -- MADDOW: I almost can`t believe that this is real. I mean, it`s part of the reason I wanted to talk to you because I know you saw it happen. I can`t actually believe this is what`s going on. I`m sorry. GRIM: Yes, and most people don`t -- most of the Republicans don`t want to say out loud that this is the situation. Talk to Ted Cruz and he said, absolutely, this is a terrible thing if you allow the -- you know, this IMF provision to go through. He went so far as to say it would strengthen Russia`s hand within the IMF. Ted Cruz is a smart person. He, you know, he knows that Russia has basically zero control over what the IMF is going to do with Ukraine. But that`s the kind of thing he`ll say, and I bet that`s the kind of thing you would see get picked up by Tea Party groups and they`ll start e-mailing it around to each other saying, look, you know, Obama is trying to surrender the IMF to Russia. We can`t allow this to happen. And so, this is the situation we`re in. So, you know, what the House Republicans say to the Senate is, yes, OK, maybe it`s crazy, but the only way we can get this IMF thing through is if you give us this IRS thing, too. Sorry, that`s just the way works, we have a crazy caucus to deal with. This is the way we have to get it through. It`s just bananas. MADDOW: Wow. So, if you want to know how the United States can respond to this situation, we can do things the president can do, but anything positive that needs to be done that has dollars attach to help Ukraine or the rest of it, it goes into the comment section at blog posts on "World Net Daily" about black helicopters and there it dies. Amazing stuff. Ryan Grim, "Huffington Post" Washington bureau chief -- thank you very much for your time tonight, Ryan. GRIM: Thank you. MADDOW: All right. Lots to come tonight including New Jersey Governor Chris Christie basically announcing he has cleared himself. That was good for him. But also a lot more to come out of Texas, Galveston Bay, tonight, and plenty more. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: The largest oil refinery in the United States of America is Saudi Arabian. It`s called the Motiva Refinery. It`s operated by the Saudi oil company Aramco and also by Royal Dutch Shell which is a company that is British and Dutch. But even with that Benetton ad heritage, this international refinery, the biggest one we have in this country, is located right here in Port Arthur, Texas. The dot on the right side of your screen. The second largest refinery in United States of America is located an hour west of Port Arthur, down I-10 in Baytown, Texas. If you plot the driving distance between the first and second largest refineries in the nation, Google Maps helpfully points out all the wildlife refuges you pass along the way. The second largest refinery in the country, the one in Baytown, that one is operated by ExxonMobil, which technically is an American company but tends to operate like it`s bigger than any one country including this one. Well, today, Exxon is marking an important anniversary for the company. Today is the 25th anniversary of one of Exxon`s thousand-foot- long oil tankers hitting a reef in the Prince Williams sound in Alaska. The Exxon Valdez disaster 25 years ago today fouled 1,300 miles of Alaska coastline, some of the greatest fishing waters on earth, fouled it more than 10 million gallons of toxic crude oil. Well, twenty-five years later, the otter numbers are still down in that part of Alaska. The herring fishery never came back there. And along that coastline today, you can still find oil. Here`s "The Anchorage Daily News" today marking the anniversary of the spill. Quote, "Pick up a stone on a rocky beach, dig a little, and it`s possible to still find pockets of Exxon Valdez oil at Prince William sound." A marine biologist for NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration tells the paper, quote, "I think the big surprise for all of us who have worked on this thing for the last 25 years has been the continued presence of relatively fresh oil." For its part, Exxon is marking 25 years since the Valdez disaster by denying that there is any continuing problem at the site of the spill. Exxon senior media relations adviser tells the "Anchorage Daily News" today, quote, "The sound," meaning Prince William sound, "is thriving environmentally. We`ve had a very solid, complete recovery," so says Exxon. That`s in Alaska. In Texas today, Exxon on this 25th anniversary of the Valdez disaster, Exxon in Texas today also had to partially shut down its second largest oil refinery in the country, the one in Baytown, Texas, because of another terrible oil spill. This one`s in the Houston shipping channel. It`s on the way to that Baytown refinery. On Saturday at midday, there was a collision between an oil tanker and a barge that was being towed by a Houston-based company called Kirby Inland Marine. The tow boat that crashed has been involved in a string of 20 accidents and other incidents reported to the coast guard over the last 12 years, including two other accidents that occurred when that boat was pushing barges containing asphalt or oil like it was on Saturday. It`s according to the "Houston Chronicle" reviewing government records. Well, that company that owns the towboat and now partially sunken barge says that they will pay for all the cleanup costs associated with this new oil disaster in Galveston, but the Coast Guard is on scene. They have hundreds of people in dozens of boats trying to clean up this heavy, gunky, marine fuel oil. The conditions are windy and choppy. They`re not doing a good job containing the oil so far. As of this morning, the oil had already spread about 12 miles into Galveston Bay. By sun up tomorrow, we should have a better idea of how far it`s gone in another 24 hours. Once again, the state of the art response from the world`s most profitable industry is boom. That`s boom, you can see there, lying on the beach. That`s boom doing just its usual great job of keeping oil off the shore. Here you can see boom doing just as good a job protecting shore birds. There`s miles and miles of supposedly protected shore bird habitat all along this part of Galveston Bay and Texas coast. The spill itself happened just two miles from the Bolivar Flats Audubon refuge. Tens of thousands of birds use the wetlands as stopping off points on their spring migration. So, the wildlife consequences here could be just devastating. Potentially, also, the economic consequences. The Houston shipping channel was closed after the crash on Saturday. This 52 -mile-long channel is one of the busiest commercial shipping channels in the whole country. The intersection, the actual intersection where the spill happened has about 11,000 ships passing through it every month. And a lot of those ships are supplying the refineries there. These huge refineries in that part of the country, those refineries rely on daily deliveries, constant shipments in and out in order to keep running. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REPORTER: You have about 30 boats and close to 400 people working to contain and clean up this oil. We`re talking about 168,000 gallons of bunker fuel oil that`s in the water, all of it leaking from a partially sunken barge. Now, this fuel is thick. It`s sludge-like. It does not evaporate easily. And containing this spill is proving very tricky. You`ve got the heavy winds as well as choppy surf moving this oil farther out into the gulf. So far, you have about 69,000 feet of containment boom that`s been deployed into the water with more of that boom at the ready. This spill has the potential to wreak economic havoc on our area. The ship channel is closed. And as it stands right now, you have nearly 80 vessels stacked up waiting to either leave or come into the area. You also have several refineries that are along the ship channel that depend on daily shipments by vessels to maintain operations. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Some of the local coverage from local channel 2 in Houston, the NBC affiliate there. This is a disaster any way you look at it. The whole Galveston area, the tourist beaches already been hit with oil in Galveston today. For the native wildlife, for all the migratory birds, for the fishing industry, local fishermen already say today they`re throwing back fish they`re catching that are coated with oil. Potentially, though, this is also an economic disaster for all of us. If the refineries there at this choke point, for our oil-dependent economy, if that choke point stays choked and that shipping channel stays shut, we`re all going to feel this disaster sooner rather than later. Today is 25 years since the Exxon Valdez disaster. We`re commemorating it in Texas tonight in a way that is so appropriate, it is nauseating. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Vice President Joe Biden is an in demand speaker at political events around the country in part because the man does not mince words. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It`s close to barbaric. I mean, think about this. No, I really mean this. Imagine, imagine 20 years from now as Americans look back and say, how in the hell could that have ever been allowed? (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: What Vice President Joe Biden was talking about there, and what was happening halfway across the country at the moment that he was saying that which absolutely proved his point turns out to be a kind of incredible story. And that story is coming up. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: We`re going through an internal investigation. All of this stuff will come out over an appropriate period of time and I`m not going to give into the hysteria of questions that are given by folks who have information, today, that I didn`t have at the time that you`re talking about why didn`t I ask certain questions? I mean, I didn`t ask the questions because I didn`t think they needed to be asked. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey vowed to the public in February that everything that should be known about the Fort Lee traffic jam scandal would be known, in his words, "over an appropriate period of time." Well, the appropriate period of time apparently began today when somebody leaked to "The New York Times" that there is, quote, "no evidence that Governor Christie was involved in the plotting or directing of the lane closings on the George Washington Bridge." Now, if you are Governor Chris Christie, that is a pretty awesome thing to have somehow leaked to "The New York Times," right? But it`s also a great place to put a big glowing giant asterisk, or in the case of "The New York Times" front page today, at least the second part of the headline that comes after the comma. "Inquiry is said to clear Christie, but that`s his lawyers` verdict." What made the front page of "The Times" today is the leaked result, at least reportedly, the leaked result of an internal investigation that Governor Christie ordered of his own administration. After the scandal broke open in January, about a staffer in Governor Christie`s office reportedly ordering the shutdown of access lanes on to the world`s busiest bridge as a means of punishing one town in New Jersey for some as yet unexplained political punishment, well, Governor Christie reportedly called up his close friend, a friend who is also a veteran of the George W. Bush Justice Department. Her name is Debra Wong Yang. She`s also a U.S. attorney at the same time Chris Christie was. She`s publicly described herself as a close friend of the governor. WNYC reports tonight that she was also a contributor to the fund to pay for Governor Christie`s second inauguration which happened around the same time this scandal broke open. And tonight, "The Bergen Record" is reporting that her daughter was an unpaid intern in Chris Christie`s office in 2011. So, they`re close. Lots of ties. And when Governor Christie was looking for someone to hire to investigate what happened in his administration around the bridge scandal and whether he did anything wrong, he called his old friend, Debra Wong Yang. She set it up at her law firm at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. The Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher review is the one that has not yet been publicly released but leaks to "The Times" describe it as totally exonerating the governor. The Gibson, Dunn partner heading the investigation calls it a comprehensive and exhaustive look at the scandal. For the record, he may call it comprehensive and exhaustive, but I should tell you, it did not include the investigators from the review speaking with Bridget Kelly, the Christie deputy chief of staff who apparently ordered the lane closures, David Wildstein, who apparently carried out the lane closures, Bill Baroni, appears to have led the cover- up effort about the lane closures, or even Mark Sokolich, the mayor of Fort Lee, New Jersey, who reportedly was the target of the lane closure scheme in the first place. They didn`t talk to any of those folks. But still, it`s being described as comprehensive and exhaustive. And according to anonymous leaks in today`s "New York Times", it`s described as totally exonerating the governor, after being paid more than a million New Jersey taxpayer dollars in a contract awarded by the governor. Joining us now is Steve Kornacki, host of the very excellent "UP WITH STEVE KORNACKI", weekends on MSNBC. Steve, thanks very much for being here. STEVE KORNACKI, UP WITH STEVE KORNACKI: You`re welcome. Thanks. MADDOW: Nobody expected Governor Christie`s internal review to do anything other than exonerate him, I think. KORNACKI: Yes. MADDOW: Is there anything that we have learned about this review about its importance or relevant context that we didn`t know before? KORNACKI: I don`t think so. We didn`t learn when exactly it`s coming out, which would be a useful piece of information. They`ve been saying for a while now, soon, and the new report today says, soon. So, we didn`t even learn that. I think the two relevant things to look for here, there`s no indication of what`s in the report about this, is does this report offer some kind of, like, unified theory of, OK, here was the motive, here`s how it was carried out, why it was carried out, who exactly knew? And does the report implicate anybody who`s not previously come up in all this? Is there a new scapegoat? Is there someone else for Christie to point to and say, this person failed in their job? I`m going to disassociate myself from this person. There`s two things to look for in this report when it comes, but there`s no indication that "The New York Times" even saw the report. MADDOW: Right. KORNACKI: So, they don`t know what`s in it. There`s no indication that they got an explicit description of the contents of the report. There`s broad assertions here in this story. I don`t think we learned anything new today. We`re just going to have to wait until we see the report. MADDOW: What "The New York Times" front paged is what somebody wants them to print about the report without seeing the report, themselves. KORNACKI: Yes and here`s the thing -- I mean, look, this is speculation. You call around Trenton today and the suspicion, at least, there`s an effort here by the Christie camp to sort of roll this out in two phases. The first phase is headline. Christie exonerated. Christie report, you know, exonerates Christie, whatever the headline is. So, the people are focused on that as the bottom line. Then, when you roll out this dense, bulky report that`s going to have all these details and names and dates -- MADDOW: It sounds like old news. KORNACKI: Right. And also, they don`t want people to lose sight of their bottom-line conclusion when they get this thick document and want people focusing on as they reading it, OK, this exonerates Christie. That`s the working theory of the talk around Trenton. MADDOW: What`s interesting is to see the Christie campaign, today, or sorry, the governor`s office today push out a very long, breathless press release about this information crediting "The New York Times" for this incredible insightful look at how not guilty Governor Christie is when Governor Christie`s office has been excoriating "The New York Times" sort of above all other news outlets for the way they`ve covered this in the past. KORNACKI: Right. I mean, here`s the thing: we -- so we say nobody who`s followed this at all expected the Christie internal investigation would do anything other than say Chris Christie had no knowledge, no involvement. That may actually be true. We don`t know. That may end up being the case. But nobody was looking at this as the definitive answer on whether Christie was involved, wasn`t involved, had knowledge, didn`t have knowledge. And that`s what the U.S. attorney is for, that`s what the legislative investigative committee is for. Potentially, that`s what the inspector general at the Port Authority is for. You have three independent investigations that are now playing out. You mentioned all of these people who didn`t agree to be interviewed by the Christie`s internal investigation team, they didn`t agree because they said it would be inappropriate to meet with Chris Christie`s lawyers while the attorney from New Jersey is actively looking into this, many cases presumably interviewing these people. So, that`s the ball game here. Whatever this report ends up saying, it`s interesting. It will be interesting if they throw anybody else under the bus, interesting if they offer their explanation of what happened. MADDOW: Or any further documents or supporting information explaining what happened since they`ve still never explained it. KORNACKI: Right. But even if they do that, the real ball game here is what the U.S. attorney does and if the investigative committee from the legislature actually gets its hands on these documents Bridget Kelly is fighting to hold back. There are independent authorities here that are going to weigh in on this. This is not the be all and end all. MADDOW: What do you make of the legislature responding to this report in "The Times" saying, hey, sounds like they got access to a lot of information you never handed over to the legislature. We`d love to see that stuff. KORNACKI: Yes, there`s that and the other thing they`re also pointing out look who wasn`t interviewed. They`re in the battle right now to get the documents from Bridget Kelly, from Bill Stepien, that obviously were not provided to this investigation. And even in they fail in that, it`s pending in the courts now, the U.S. attorney is going to have no problem. What the U.S. attorney wants to see, who the U.S. attorney wants to talk to, he will see and he will talk to, and I really that`s what the ball game is on this race. MADDOW: Fascinating. It`s amazing stuff. And the taxpayers of New Jersey, you should know tonight that this internal report that they`re leaking as exonerating the governor, you just paid $1 million for this. It was taxpayer funded all along the way, which, you know, frankly is kind of its own scandal. Steve Kornacki, host of the sensational "UP WITH STEVE KORNACKI", weekend mornings here on MSNBC. Steve, thank you. KORNACKI: Thanks for having me. MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BIDEN: Folks, it`s a lot of progress in a relatively short time after this fight`s begun, but guess what? There`s so much more to be done. My grandkids, my children, and their kids are going to be shocked. It shocked the conscience that this very moment in American history in some states, an employer can fire you just because of who you are or who you love. It`s close to barbaric. I mean, think about this. No, I really mean this. Imagine, imagine 20 years from now as Americans look back and say, how in the hell could that have ever been allowed? (APPLAUSE) BIDEN: The country`s moved on. The American people have moved on. It`s time for the Congress to move on and pass ENDA. Past ENDA now. Not tomorrow. Now. (APPLAUSE) BIDEN: If you think about it, it`s outrageous we`re even debating this subject. I really mean it. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: I think one of the reasons that Vice President Joe Biden is a very sought after speaker around the country is because he speaks bluntly and specifically I think it matters that he is not above a little mild swearing from time to time in order to make a point. That clip was from the vice president speaking this weekend at a human rights campaign event in California saying that human rights issues, gay rights issues in particular, are advancing so fast now that in 20 years, people will look back and say, how in the H-E-double hockey sticks could have ever have been allowed? Now, that said, at the very moment that the vice president was making those very well-received remarks in California, halfway across the country in another state, things were getting if not worse then at least a little more confusing on that very specific civil rights issue. On Friday, after close of business hours in the state of Michigan, a federal judge struck down the state`s ban on same-sex marriage. Republican-dominated state government in Michigan had fought vigorously to defend that ban in court including spending $40,000 in taxpayer money on expect witnesses for the trial, expert witnesses the judge in the case described as described as largely or entirely unbelievable witnesses who espoused fringe beliefs. But taxpayer money paid for them. Now, a lot of federal judges have struck down a lot of state marriage bans in the last few weeks and months. But unlike most of those states, in Michigan on Friday this federal judge`s ruling went into immediate effect. It wasn`t stayed pending the state`s appeal. And so technically, as soon as that ruling was issued on Friday night, it was legal for same-sex couples to get married in Michigan. The practical problem was that you can only get a marriage license in Michigan from a county clerk and by the time the ruling came down on Friday night, all of the clerk`s offices in the state were already closed down. Also, county clerk`s offices in Michigan typically are not open on the weekends. That said, there is not typically this much demand for county clerk services on weekends like there was this weekend. This is footage from early Saturday morning in Washtenaw County in Michigan where couples lined up to get their marriage licenses. And because of this kind of sudden interest from couples who had unexpectedly just been given the right to marry effective the night before, because of that demand, clerks in four Michigan counties decided to open for business on Saturday, even though they are usually closed on the weekend. And hundreds and hundreds of people in Michigan lined up and crowded the lobbies and paid their marriage license fees, and clergy came out from all over the state, ready to get people married right then, right there, including in one county people getting married all at once, all in a big group, just so it could be done faster. Why faster? What`s the hurry? Well, the hurry was because that outbreak of equal rights in Michigan this weekend, it only lasted a few hours. That window where the state`s marriage ban was struck down and all Michigan couples could get married, that window opened effectively at 8:00 a.m., when the first county clerk`s office opened up on Saturday. But it closed just a few hours later on the same day, when the Republican state attorney general of Michigan got another federal court to wade in and put a hold on that ruling pending the state`s appeal. So it was just a few hours. But hundreds of people got married. And now what becomes of those marriages? Those hundreds of marriages which were signed, sealed, delivered in that crucial few hours on Saturday. Well so, far the Republican Governor Rick Snyder, his state government is not saying if those marriages are legal in Michigan. They`re also not saying those marriages are illegal. They`re just leaving those families in limbo, including one very well-organized Michigan couple who managed to file their joint federal tax return as a married couple during that few hours. That few-hour window of equal rights on Saturday before the window came crashing down. What happens next is this federal court will hear the issue of the stay on Wednesday, the day after tomorrow, but as of right now, and this is interesting, the federal government and all the other states in the country have a decision to make about those Michigan marriages. Because the government of the state of Michigan may be confused as to whether or not these couples that got legally married on Saturday are actually legally married. But should the rest of us be? When a similar situation happened in Utah in December and 1,300 couples got married there before their equal rights window lows closed in that state, the federal government made a bold decision in that Utah case. When the Attorney General Eric Holder announced that even though the state of Utah was denying its own citizens marriages, the federal government would recognize those Utah marriages as legal. Will the federal government now do the same thing for these hundreds of couples who just got married in Michigan? The Justice Department so far says that it is reviewing the matter. That`s going to be an important decision both for the lives of these families in Michigan and also for what happens next in this fight. Watch this space. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) VOICE: Very interesting. MADDOW: "Moment of Geek" tonight concerning a recent heist by a public official in the town of Ridgewood, New Jersey. Thomas Rica was the public works inspector in Ridgewood. He pled guilty last week to four counts of third-degree theft, admitting that he stole at least $460,000 from the town. Specifically, though, and this is the geek part of it, he stole those $460,000 from the town in quarters. Over the course of 25 months, he stole quarters from Ridgewood`s meter collection room. Meter as in parking meter. He stole almost half a million dollars in people`s parking money. Which, OK, is sad and corrupt and pitiful. But B, is also kind of amazing. I mean, physically, how did he do this? First of all, $460,000 -- $460,600 equals a little over 1.8 million quarters. The 1.8 million quarters in total are said to have been pilfered over a period of 25 months. If we assume conservatively that Mr. Rica took two weeks` vacation and he worked a five-day week that would mean there were approximately 520 total workdays in his stealing zone and that would mean on average Mr. Rica would have walked off with 3,543 quarters every day he was at work -- 3,500 quarters a day. How -- what does that look like? Well, if you poured that many quarters into a big pile, they would look like this times ten. You can play a lot of Pac-Man with 3,500 quarters a day. But he`s stealing 3,500 of them a day maybe he`s rolling them? Maybe stealing rolls of quarters? That`s how he did it? Even in roles of 40 quarters, 3,500 quarters a day is still a hard thing to hide. I mean, could you put them all in your pockets? You could put them all in your pockets. Here`s us trying. But look what you look like. Hey, thunder thighs. Right? Also, 3,500 quarters in your pockets makes it very hard to walk. It`s not a very nice thing to do to your pants every day for 520 days. People would notice you if you looked like this at work every day. The bright side of this crime, though, is fitness. A quarter weighs about an 80th of a pound, 3,500 of them weighs about 44 pounds in total. Figure takes the poor guy from Ridgewood 90 seconds a day to haul the quarters out to his car, another 90 seconds to get them from the car or into the bank, wherever he keeps them. That makes it a total of 15 minutes of walking with 44 pounds of quarters by our corrupt public works inspector every week. If you go to the laborers health and safety fund, that amount of exertion would burn roughly 91 extra calories per week. Over the course of 25 months, that`s roughly an extra 9,500 calories that he burned in this theft. Not to mention the muscle work in his legs. Former Ridgewood, New Jersey public works inspector must have calves like cantaloupes at this point. He also represents the very narrow intersection in the Venn diagram of public corruption and physical fitness. Mr. Rica will serve five years` probation. His plea deal stipulates that he must pay back all the money he stole from the town parking meters. In the end, crime does not pay. But it can be very slimming if you steal from all the right places in all the right ways. That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow night. Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD." THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END