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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 1/20/2016

Guests: Matt Katz, Nicolle Wallace

Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: January 20, 2016 Guest: Matt Katz, Nicolle Wallace

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, my friend.

CHRIS HAYES, "ALL IN" HOST: You bet.

MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.

Last night, late in the hour on this show, I did a one-on-one interview live from Iowa with Democratic presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, senator from Vermont.

At the tail end of that interview, in response to a question from me about endorsements in the campaign, Senator Sanders characterized some of the best-known and most influential lefty advocacy groups in the country by using a term that upset a bunch of people in Democratic politics, including the groups he was talking about.

And that has now opened up what appears to be kind of a big new front, a big new point of contention between Senator Sanders and his chief rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, Hillary Clinton. This has ended up being a big point of contention all day, both campaigns have been fielding questions about this and trying to press their advantage on this point all day long today, including direct comments on the subject from former President Bill Clinton today, which we will get to in just a moment.

But because that statement from Senator Sanders, which has caused so much upset today, because it was made on this show and made late in the hour last night, I just want to play it for you now. I want to play it for you in context, without editing, so you can just hear exactly what it is that Senator Sanders said. You can understand exactly the way he meant it, to the extent that that`s possible by virtue of hearing it uncut and with the complete question.

So -- so you know. This is what happened. This is what he said and how he said it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Senator, let me ask you about another issue in terms of the way the campaign is going forward. Your policies on issues like gay rights and reproductive choice are very consistent. They should be very attractive to progressive groups.

But there`s been a series of high-profile endorsements. Groups like Planned Parenthood and NARAL, they`ve gone out of their way to make very early endorsements for Secretary Clinton. Just today, Human Rights Campaign, the gay rights group, announced their Clinton endorsement.

Are you competing for those groups` endorsements and not getting them or are you not trying to get them?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Look -- well, no, Rachel. I would love to have the endorsement of every progressive organization in America. We`re very proud to have received recently the endorsement of MoveOn.org. We have received the endorsement of Democracy for America. These are grassroots organizations representing millions of workers.

What we are doing in this campaign -- it just blows my mind every day, because I see it clearly -- we`re taking on not only Wall Street and the economic establishment, we`re taking on the political establishment. So I have friends and supporters in the Human Rights Fund, in Planned Parenthood. But, you know what, Hillary Clinton has been around there for a very, very long time. Some of these groups are, in fact, part of the establishment.

I will challenge anybody with regard to my record on LGBT issues. You know, I was one of the few, relatively few to oppose and vote against DOMA, et cetera. In terms of women`s rights, I believe we have a 100 percent lifetime pro-choice record.

But, you know, that`s what happens in politics. Look, I`m going to do well and hopefully win not because of establishment support. What we are going to do well at, and what we are doing well at is rallying the grassroots of this country.

We have been going all over the country having just huge turnouts of people coming to our rallies. We have 2.5 million individual campaign contributions, more than any campaign in history.

So, Rachel, I concede -- you know, I`m not going to get establishment support. I`m not going to get the support of the governors and the senators, with few exceptions, many of the major organizations. But the reason that we are doing so well, why we`re ahead now, I believe in New Hampshire, while we`re closing the gap in Iowa, why we`re gaining -- why we are gaining in Nevada and South Carolina, and why we`re doing better and better all over the country is not from the establishment. It is from the grassroots of America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Not from the establishment. That in total is what Senator Bernie Sanders said last night. When I asked him about the fact that Planned Parenthood and the abortion rights group NARAL and the Human Rights Campaign had all endorsed, given organizational endorsements to Secretary Clinton instead of him.

And that line of argument from Senator Sanders, that he would love to have the endorsement of every progressive organization in the country, but he didn`t expect to get the endorsement of groups like that, because those groups are, to quote him, "in fact, part of the establishment," that has led to a sort of furious response, starting late last night and into today. In the first instance from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton herself, she tweeted last night, just after midnight, and this is one of those tweets that signed with her initial at the end, so it`s supposed to mean she wrote the tweet herself.

The tweet says, quote, "Really, Senator Sanders? How can you say groups like Planned Parenthood and Human Rights Campaign are part of the establishment that you are taking on?"

Then, the groups that the -- that Senator Sanders was talking about in his answer last night on this show, they also responded first on Twitter. Planned Parenthood said, "We respect Senator Sanders, disappointed to be called establishment as we fight like hell to protect women`s health."

Then, Human Rights Campaign responded thereafter. They said, quote, "We share Planned Parenthood`s disappointment in Sanders` attacks. Human rights campaign has proudly taken on the establishment and fought for LGBT people for over 30 years." That, of course, is funny, because if you`re trying to make the argument that you`re not establishment, never good idea to point out how many decades you`ve been around. But still, I take their point.

Elise Hogue is the president of NARAL. She responded, similarly, but with her own spin o it. She wrote, quote, "Sadly, the establishment is the anti-choice forces out to end legal abortion and contraception. Not our friends, Planned Parenthood and Human Rights Campaign."

Planned Parenthood actually later followed that initial response up with a longer statement, elaborating on the source of their disappointment with what Senator Bernie Sanders said.

The longer statement said, quote, "This country sees attacks against reproductive health, reproductive rights every day, especially from every single GOP candidate for president. It`s regrettable and surprising to hear Senator Sanders describe the very groups that fight on behalf of millions of often marginalized Americans, people who still have to fight for their most basic rights, as representing the establishment. Reproductive health care and rights and the full equality of LGBTQ people are core progressive values that should unite us all."

Honestly, support for abortion rights and gay rights is -- these are not issues on which you are going to find substantive daylight between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. They are both strong supporters of both of those progressive issues. And yes, you can differentiate between them in terms of who got there faster or who has been perfectly consistent or who is now more perfectly sensitive and attentive to these issues.

But broadly speaking, especially when contrasted with the Republicans, both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are on the same team when it comes to this stuff. If you are a voter who is very motivated by LGBTQ issues or if you are very motivated by reproductive choice issues, you are spoiled for choice in the Democratic primary. You`ve got allies on that side without question.

Despite that basic truth, though, this is now, nevertheless, a real point of contention in the fight for the Democratic nomination. And it is in part because Secretary Clinton did get those organizational endorsements and Senator Sanders did not, that`s why I asked in the first place.

But even more than that, it is because of the way he described his disappointment in not getting those endorsements and his characterization last night of those groups as basically part of the system -- part of what he is up against, right? Part of what he is, in his words, taking on in the form of the establishment.

And so, it`s one of the first really big fights on the Democratic side since this primary started. And maybe it was an unfortunate language choice, unfortunate framing by Senator Sanders to have effectively started fights now with these groups that he is a supporter of.

I don`t know. We asked his campaign if Senator Sanders wanted to come back on tonight to elaborate on what he meant to respond to some of the criticism. Senator Sanders was not available tonight. We will try to get him back sometime soon if he does want to have that conversation.

In the meantime, though, the competitive and increasingly exciting Democratic race for president today was in large part about this fight.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT: We got people from Planned Parenthood and the Human Rights Campaign Fund who are campaigning for it. That`s another area of disagreement in the primary. Hillary does not consider Planned Parenthood a member of the establishment. And I don`t see how anybody else could.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Former President Bill Clinton campaigning for his wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, today in New Hampshire.

And in the broad scope of those remarks, he made the sort of closing argument case that has evolved recently in the Clinton campaign, which is basically that she is a candidate who knows how to get stuff done. She is a practical progressive. But in the midst of making that argument, former President Clinton went out of his way there to get right at that point, to swipe directly at Senator Sanders for his remarks that Planned Parenthood and other progressive groups are part of the establishment, and that`s why they endorsed Hillary Clinton over him.

So again, it`s been a source of controversy today. So far, the Sanders campaign is sticking with this line of argument, they`re not backing off at all. It will be interesting to see if that holds up. Particularly if the criticism from groups like Planned Parenthood stays so strong on this issue. It`s hard to imagine that Senator Sanders would want to be seen as having a beef with an organization like that heading into the start of voting in the Democratic presidential primary.

And meanwhile, we just got in the latest spending numbers on the campaign. On the Democratic side of the campaign -- again, uncharacteristically interesting news today. Today`s news on ad spending shows that all told, from the beginning of the campaign through now, Senator Sanders has now surpassed Hillary Clinton in terms of the amount of money that he has spent on ads. It`s close, but he`s ahead.

Senator Sanders, of course, doesn`t have a super PAC like almost every other candidate in the race does, including Secretary Clinton. All of Bernie Sanders` money that he spent on ads has all been spent through his campaign directly. So far, NBC News calculates he spent $12.8 million on ads. That`s just over $1 million more than what has been spent on Hillary Clinton`s behalf, both by her campaign, which is the bulk of her money, but also by a pro Clinton super PAC.

So again, Bernie Sanders at $12.8 million. Hillary Clinton comes in at about $11.6 million. So she`s $1.2 million behind him. And I think that is -- that is surprising. Or at least it would have been surprising looking at this race from the very beginning.

Here`s the thing, though. Even though that`s a lot of money being spent by those two candidates and even though it`s interesting that Bernie Sanders has now spent more than Hillary Clinton, those two are small fries when it comes to overall spending this year, because everybody is spending this year, including theirs, is absolutely dwarfed by Jeb Bush.

To get up to what Jeb Bush has spent, so far, you have to combine the campaign spending and super PAC spending from Hillary Clinton, includes Bernie Sanders, plus Chris Christie, plus John Kasich, plus Ben Carson, plus Ted Cruz, plus Donald Trump before you get up to the stratosphere where Jeb Bush is alone.

Look at Jeb Bush in context in terms of what he spent. The only person spending anywhere near what Jeb Bush has spent and he`s not really anywhere near it is Marco Rubio. Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush combined, if you take them as the sort of outliers here, combined, they have spent $91 million on ads so far.

Contrast that with what Ted Cruz and Donald Trump have spent combined, which is about $8 million all together, I mean, Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio are considerably behind Ted Cruz and Donald Trump in the polls. But they are outspending Ted Cruz and Donald Trump by an 11-1 ratio, which is nuts. That is absolutely nuts.

And the people are winning -- spend $8 million collectively. That`s not even what Hillary Clinton has spent.

Anyway, it`s yet further evidence that money just doesn`t work the way it used to in this year`s presidential campaigning. At least on the Republican side, it doesn`t. And at least it doesn`t work the way it used to when it comes to ads.

To that point, though, Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, the big spenders in the campaign, they appear to be testing what else they might be able to spend their many millions of dollars on to see if other things might work, even if ads don`t. This is amazing.

Today, the Jeb Bush campaign started handing out these glossy 47-page books about Jeb Bush. They`re titled "Jeb`s Plan for America." It`s like a full-on book, glossy magazine all about Jeb Bush. Meet Jeb. It`s like a big biography and his whole campaign plan. This is an expensive thing to make.

That said, nothing compared to this, which the Jeb Bush campaign sent out at the beginning of this week. These apparently arrived in people`s mailboxes in New Hampshire by FedEx overnight mail, which itself is a great way to burn money on shipping.

And what these FedEx overnight packages contained is a Jeb Bush video. And, you know, in campaigns past, it used to be a big deal -- it used to be a big spending showoff expense for a campaign to send out a video to voters in the early states. But what that meant when people used to send out a video, they would send out DVDs. They`d actually mail out disks.

What Jeb Bush has actually done is he`s mailed out not copies of videos that people can play on their home machines or computers. They haven`t mailed out DVDs or disks. They have actually mailed out the machine. What Jeb Bush just FedExed -- overnight FedExed out to voters in New Hampshire this week is a video player, which automatically starts showing his Jeb Bush movie as soon as you open it up.

It`s not the video, it`s the video player. Apparently, it`s too cold in New Hampshire right now to literally light money on fire, so they have decided to do it this way in instead.

It`s almost like Jeb Bush doesn`t know what to do with his $100 plus million, which his super PAC raised for him back when he is supposed to be a competitive nominee. So, now, they have decided they don`t want to have any money left over in the coffers, when Jeb Bush has to drop out of the race sometime soon. And so, they`re just trying to spend all their money as fast as they can, and any way they can so there is none left to be awkward about.

If that is what`s going on, the people of New Hampshire would probably be happier if Jeb Bush just mailed everybody in the state a new set of snow tires or a bottle of whiskey or just gave everybody 50 bucks. I mean, if you really have to get rid of the money, there`s nicer ways to do it. There`s ways that will make people happier than you shipping out video players by FedEx overnight package.

The Marco Rubio campaign is also stepping up its ostentatious but still inexplicable spending. This week, the Rubio super PAC launched an ad which criticizes Ted Cruz for changing his positions for political benefit. The new nickname they have come up with him to support this ad campaign is "Calcula-Ted." "Calcula-Ted".

And just in case that`s too hard to understand, the Rubio super PAC has also been giving out calculators in order to make the point that he is "Calcula-Ted".

I`d rather have -- even one snow tire or like 15 bucks. I`d rather have a gift card to the toad stool gift store in Peterborough, New Hampshire. I love that place.

But instead, you get scientific calculators. We are apparently at that time in the race when candidates who have more money than support have decided to really show off what their money can do.

In addition to the Calcula-Ted ad, and its calculators to help you get the joke, the Rubio campaign has also started running another sort of ridiculous ad, showing Canadian Ted Cruz silhouetted in a maple leaf, trying to make the case that Ted Cruz is a socialist foreigner.

And on that point, I just want -- I have an unexpected observation to make. And I want to bring this to you tonight, because it ends on a shockingly pleasant and complimentary note. You wouldn`t expect that from these guys right now. But this is really, really sweet.

If you have been feeling at all bad about today`s news and today`s politics, I thought it might be nice to give you something shockingly sweet and pleasant from an unexpected place. And that is where this next part of this is going. I swear. It`s really good. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: OK. This has a good ending, I swear. And it`s something you have never seen before, and it`s going to blow your mind. A really good ending.

You won`t think I`m leading to a good ending, but I`m leading to a good ending.

All right. The context here is just how nasty things are between Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio and the Republican presidential fight right now. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz are fighting so aggressively right now and with such almost hysterical focus on each other, it`s almost like their junior high school kids who secretly have a crush on each other.

I mean, there`s those ads from Marco Rubio about Ted Cruz being Calcula-Ted and the scientific calculators they`re handing out to make that point. And there`s the Ted Cruz secretly Canadian foreign socialist. All this stuff from Marco Rubio. Those ads which launched seem to be bothering Ted Cruz a little bit. And I think you can see that on the stump for Senator Cruz.

Look at how Senator Cruz, for example, goes out of his way to swipe at Marco Rubio in the middle of what is otherwise his kind of normal stump speech, in this case being delivered in New Hampshire.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let`s take the issue of amnesty. Everyone today says they`re against amnesty. Well, except for Marco. But the rest of them all say they`re against amnesty.

In 2013, Barack Obama and Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer, joined by a whole bunch of establishment Republicans, including Marco Rubio, pushed a massive amnesty plan.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Did I mention that Marco Rubio was -- you know, establishment Republicans like saying Marco Rubio. Do you know Marco Rubio is an establishment -- these guys cannot leave each other alone right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRUZ: I appreciate your dumping your oppo research folder on the debate stage.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No, it`s your record.

CRUZ: But I will say --

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Do you think they like each other?

CRUZ: -- at least half of the things Marco said are flat out false. They`re absolutely false.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: So that -- just that -- just to set the context here about how nasty things are between mark owe ruin owe and Ted Cruz right now. These two 44-year-old first-year senators just killing each other right now.

And whatever the competitive dynamics are between the two of them, there is a mean-spiritedness in terms of their tone about each other right now on the campaign trail. That`s what`s going on in their part of the political world right now. But I promised you this ended somewhere nice.

And here is the nice part, brought to us by the national treasure that is the C-Span archives. Use this however you like. Do with this what you will. But this is real. We did not make it up. It is not sarcastic. It is not out of context.

This is from 2013. Just let this wash over you and make you happy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUBIO: All we want is for you guys to give us a chance. Isn`t that what this issue is all about, Senator?

CRUZ: The junior senator from Florida is absolutely correct. I agree entirely. And let me say, Senator Rubio, you inspire me.

Senator Marco Rubio is a critical national leader. When Senator Mike Lee began this fight, Marco Rubio was there on day one from the beginning. Despite the how else of protest, despite official Washington, saying that he should know better than to stand up against the D.C. establishment and stand for the people.

And let me tell you, I don`t know that there is any more effective, more articulate, more persuasive voice for conservative principles than my friend Marco Rubio.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: I don`t know if Ted Cruz is going to win Iowa or not. But whether he does or doesn`t, someday, Ted Cruz is going to be the star of a really, really excellent campaign ad for Marco Rubio.

Oh, treachery, oh politics. We`ve got lots more ahead tonight. Stay with us.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRUZ: Senator Rubio, you inspire me. Senator Marco Rubio is a critical national leader.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: So there`s some serious news to report tonight on the terrible accident involving two U.S. marine helicopters which apparently collided in midair off the coast of Hawaii. And this is not just a run-of-the-mill U.S. military training accident. This involves a lot of people. It was 12 U.S. marines on board. Those two Sea Stallion helicopters. They apparently collided while doing a nighttime training mission last Thursday.

Now, the Coast Guard has been leading a search and rescue operation since then, along with help from local authorities, the navy sent two destroyers to help search for survivors of that crash. Earlier this week, officials announced they had found some debris and four life rafts from the choppers. But there was nobody aboard those rafts and they didn`t find any personal items left behind that would indicate if somebody had been aboard one of the rafts at one time.

The sad news tonight after five straight days of searching, including in some very high seas, 30 and 40-foot seas, the Coast Guard now has officially suspended its search for those 12 missing marines. The Marine Corps is leading a recovery and salvage effort, but the search for survivors is suspended.

In the absence of finding any of those marines are alive or even finding their bodies, a memorial for the 12 lost marines is planned for Friday at the Marine Corps base in Hawaii. But again, the search for them right now suspended. We`ll keep you posted as we learn more.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: In a nutshell, this is how Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey wants you to think of him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let me tell you something: after you graduate from Wall Street, you conduct yourself like that in a courtroom, your rear end is going to get thrown in jail, idiot.

I sat here, stood here and very respectively listened to you. If you what want to do is put on a show and giggle every time I talk, well then I have no interest in answering your question.

Good, good. I`m glad you do. Either sit down and keep quiet or get out. One or the other.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: It was town hall events like those and the tape of those town halls which was highly promoted by the governor`s office, which helped make Chris Christie nationally famous.

The governor`s office still promotes these things online, on their YouTube page. But in these clips, he seems so real, right? So off-the-cuff, so unrehearsed, especially when he encounters the naysayers of his state. Well, now we know, thanks in part to reporter Matt Katz of WNYC, just how rehearsed those video moments actually were. And what it cost the taxpayers of New Jersey to produce them, literally to produce them, like producing a TV show.

For Matt Katz`s very timely new book, Chris Christie doubled his communication staff, reaching a taxpayer-funded payroll of $1.4 million a year. He hired an extensive team to staff town halls, including videographers and a guy with stage management -- with a stage management degree to set up professional lighting that made him look approachable, but in charge.

That was in 2010. And within months of launching his taxpayer-funded professionally staged and lit traveling floor show, the governor was already reaping the rewards for his very expensive on-camera performances. He was being touted as a huge threat for the 2012 presidential nomination. Governor Christie basked in that attention all year long in 2011 before finally saying, no, that he wouldn`t run in mid-October of that year.

Now, though, Governor Christie has decided that it is his time. He`s also having trouble recapturing the old glitz that made him seem like such a catch four years ago. Governor Christie has been mired at the bottom of national polls. The latest national poll out today has him at 3 percent, tied with Mike Huckabee.

And his popularity in his home state of New Jersey is at an all-time low. And now less than two weeks before the Iowa caucuses, now there is this new book out by a reporter who has basically shadowed Governor Christie for five years. And the book includes lots of new details on a lot of things about Chris Christie, but those include the scandals that emerged mostly in Governor Christie`s second term in office, which turned him from a presidential shoe-in to basically a presidential asterisk.

Here`s the scenario, right? An Iowa or New Hampshire Republican is considering Chris Christie. They see this new book, just out, about Governor Christie. It`s called "American Governor," it has this flattering photo of him on the cover. They pick it up at the airport or at their local bookstore because they want to learn a little something about this guy who is asking for their vote.

In so doing, they may, for example, stumble upon Matt Katz`s fairly lured reporting about how Governor Christie`s office used steel remains from the Twin Towers as well as flags from a 9/11 memorial basically as political gifts to grease the political skids for himself and open doors. Quote, "Through the governor`s political appointees, the Christie administration collected shards of steel that had burned when the World Trade Center Twin Towers exploded into fire. They gathered American flags that had flown over Ground Zero during a ceremony for the 10th anniversary of the attacks. The steel and flags were then distributed to New Jersey mayors."

Quote, "This was no casual operation. More than 50 World Trade Center flags from distributed, all came with letters from the governor. One source at the Port Authority acknowledged to me, quote, `They leveraged 9/11 to the max.`"

Matt Katz`s new book also breaks new ground on the very famous bridge scandal. The bridge scandal that led to multiple criminal indictments of the governor`s staffers and appointees, the scandal the governor initially dismissed to Matt Katz as all one big stupid joke.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIE: I worked the cones, actually, Matt. Unbeknownst to everybody, I was actually the guy out there. I was in overalls and a hat. So, I wasn`t -- but I actually was the guy working the cones out there. You really are not serious with that question.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Joining us now is that Matt Governor Christie was addressing in 2013.

Matt Katz, reporter of WNYC and New Jersey Public Radio, and author of the new book, "American Governor: Chris Christie`s Bridge to Redemption."

Matt, it`s great to have you here. Congratulations on the new book.

MATT KATZ, AUTHOR, "AMERICAN GOVERNOR": Thank you, Rachel. Appreciate it.

MADDOW: We have talked a lot about Chris Christie in the last couple years. You have meticulously crafted a 130-page-long time line of bridgegate in this. I know you`ve gone through hundreds and hundreds if not thousands of documents, lots of interviews flushing out this timeline.

Specifically on the bridge issue, did you get any closer to knowing what Governor Christie knew while the bridge thing was unfolding?

KATZ: Closest I was able to figure out, and this is based on a picture that was actually taken by a photographer for the Port Authority, the agency he oversaw, was that he had a conversation with David Wildstein, who is the guy from the Port Authority who has since pleaded guilty to being involved in the scheme, to actually running this scheme. He -- he and the governor actually had a conversation while the lanes were closed, while people were stuck in traffic on day three of the lane closures at a 9/11 -- September 11th ceremony at Ground Zero.

And we see them laughing and chatting together, and spending time together at the ground zero ceremony, while Wildstein is checking his BlackBerry. I have no other evidence that the governor knew during or before the lanes were closed.

The second piece I was able to put together, and lay it out in there is the number of -- the amount of noise that was going on within the administration that something shady had happened at the bridge. And people knew about this. There were people floating names to the governor.

A few weeks -- a couple months after the lanes were closed, before anybody knew that anybody in his administration had their fingerprints on it, he was being told that he should look at certain people.

MADDOW: Look at certain people as potentially culpable for what had happened.

KATZ: People who had evidence, e-mails indicating information about how this scheme came about. And he had several federal prosecutors working for him. He`s a former U.S. attorney, federal prosecutor himself.

And there were some interviews conducted. People that he did direct his staff to, you know -- check up on this. But they were -- they were pretty shallow. And they didn`t go very far, and there were leads that were not followed up on.

And if it wasn`t for a dogged reporting by reporters in New Jersey, and a subpoena from the Democrats in the legislature, we would have never gotten this e-mail tied for some traffic problems in Ft. Lee and that`s how we know about the scandal.

MADDOW: Matt, in a couple weeks, one of the things we have been keeping an eye on in terms of Governor Christie`s career and also in terms of the scandal, there is going to be a court hearing scheduled over whether a list of unindicted co-conspirators in the bridge case, people who prosecutors say helped organize the lane closures, will be made public.

Do you have any sense of the odds that Governor Christie might be on that list?

KATZ: I don`t know the odds. It is plausible that the governor or other people close to him are on the list. Anybody who was in the administration at the time could be on the list. We have no evidence from the governor that we have ever seen -- we have lots of e-mails from other people. The governor has only released one e-mail ever about anything from his time as governor.

And that was a resignation statement when -- while this guy, Wildstein, who has since pleaded guilty, when he resigned as things were heating up over there, the governor made his resignation statement a little laudatory. And we got that only through a subpoena.

But other than that, we have never seen any of his correspondence with any of his top aides while this was going on. There were text messages that we knew he sent to a chief of staff, an incoming chief of staff as a legislative hearing into this affair was going on. But that text exchange was deleted, and he says his phone --

MADDOW: Never recovered.

KATZ: Exactly.

MADDOW: And there`s been one e-mail in total released from this thing.

KATZ: Yes, or from anything involving this governor, yes.

MADDOW: Matt Katz, reporter for WNYC and New Jersey Public Radio, author of the new book, "American Governor: Chris Christie`s Bridge to Redemption" -- congratulations on the book and on excellent, excellent timing. Well done.

KATZ: Thank you.

MADDOW: We`ll be right back. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sit like this right here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You sit right on my knee here, cutie pie! We`ll snuggle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. So your name is --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Laurie White.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Spell both names.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: L-A-U-R-I-E, white like the color.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, great.

And you`re a registered Republican?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. So Palin endorses Trump. What does that do for your view of his campaign?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think when Palin ran, she had a lot of supporters. So I think that that just brings her following into kind of into the running as well. If you support her, you`re going to back, you know -- back her choices. You believe in her --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How about you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I -- it doesn`t affect me either way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Give me your sense first of all about the Sarah Palin endorsement. What do you make of Sarah Palin endorsing Donald Trump, and what that does for the Republican Party?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I say it sends a pretty strong message to the propaganda media that tries to make it out that Donald Trump is alienating himself from the women voters. I think Sarah Palin coming out and speaking send a strong message that the country is becoming unified behind a candidate, and the women are standing behind that candidate as well.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People that don`t like Palin, that it might hurt Trump`s chances, is that what you`re saying?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Maybe, possibly. Personally, I like her. So it`s not going to -- it doesn`t matter to me. But there are some people that don`t like her. I mean, she doesn`t work for FOX News any more.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Former Republican vice presidential nominee, Sarah Palin, has endorsed Donald Trump for president. Voters` opinion on that is one thing.

The man who picked her to be his vice presidential nominee back in 2008, that`s quite another thing. And that story is ahead. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: Tesla, best known for being an American auto company. They design and manufacture really high-end, fast electric cars. I`ve never driven one, but I would love to, thank you very much.

The company is named after legendary pioneering electrical engineer and physicist and inventor, Nikola Tesla.

Tesla also happens to be the name of these guys, California band formed in the `80s. They apparently found Nikola Tesla so inspiring that they ditched their original band name, which was City Kidd. Kidd with two Ds and pitched that and decided to go with Tesla instead.

Neither Tesla the car company nor Tesla the band formerly known as City Kidd should be confused with Tulsa, the Oklahoma city where Donald Trump held a campaign rally today. At first, we all thought that Mr. Trump was going to Tulsa, the second-largest city in Oklahoma, but then we saw the media credentials handed out for today`s event and there you have it.

This press pass is good for access at today`s "Make America Great Again" rally in Tusla, Oklahoma.

Today`s rally in Tusla was the second day that former Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin joined Mr. Trump on the campaign trail, just one day after endorsing him in Iowa.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: Now, it`s funny to be here in Oklahoma. Here the land of red dirt with your red bud trees. And here we have got a red head from the big red apple running for president.

And yet the GOP machine all of a sudden, they`re saying we`re not red enough. We`re not conservative enough. And I say, what in the world do they know about conservatism?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Referring to Donald Trump as a red head. Kind of like calling Tulsa Tesla, right, just a shade off.

More broadly though, Sarah Palin is critiquing the Republican establishment and her decision to endorse Donald Trump has hit one particular part of that Republican establishment in a way that`s different than everybody else.

And that`s the person of Senator John McCain, the man who chose Sarah Palin to be his vice presidential running mate in 2008. And in the years, since he has never wavered in his loyalty to Governor Palin, regardless of how badly that `08 race ultimately turned out and her role in it turning out badly and regardless of whatever Sarah Palin has or done since then, John McCain has stood by her over and over again, even insisting recently that picking her was the best decision he ever made, even after all she turned out to be.

Despite that unswerving loyalty, Sarah Palin has endorsed Donald Trump, who has famously refused to apologize for saying that senator McCain was, quote, "not a war hero," and that he, Donald Trump, prefers people who weren`t captured.

Even now, even as Sarah Palin aligns herself with the man who said that about Senator McCain`s military service about his years as a tortured prisoner of war in Vietnam, John McCain will still not say a bad word about Sarah Palin.

When asked about the endorsement today, McCain told reporters, quote, "I have great affection and appreciation for her. I respect what she does," quote, "I respect her view." Amazing.

Joining us now is my friend Nicolle Wallace, former McCain-Palin campaign senior strategist, somebody who I think it`s fair to say still has a little stress left over from that time years ago. Fair enough?

NICOLLE WALLACE, FOREMR MCCAIN-PALIN CAMPAIGN SENIOR STRATEGIST: Rosie O`Donnell on "The View" diagnosed it as PTSD and it just might be.

I have to say, though, as I said on "MORNING JOE" this morning, we were talking about Flint and I know it`s not what we`re here tonight. But I said everything I know from watching that story, and the whole world is covering Flint, you deserve a lot of credit --

MADDOW: Oh, thank you for saying that.

WALLACE: -- for months and weeks. I know I`ve e-mailed you to find out about the charities. Now, everybody knows how to help. And I think the fact that all the policymakers are there this week, you should feel some satisfaction that at least everyone is at the beginning for helping these people.

MADDOW: Thank you for saying that. We`ve got an update on Flint, because the governor`s e-mail came out and stuff. So thanks.

WALLACE: On to more important things.

MADDOW: You are the person I want to know. You obviously have a different perspective on Governor Palin than others.

But this particular point, I don`t need to -- I don`t necessarily need to know your pundit opinion ever whether this is going to help or hurt Donald Trump.

WALLACE: Because pundits have never been more relevant than 2016.

MADDOW: Oh, definitely. The crystal ball has never been clearer.

But what about this loyalty issue?

WALLACE: Yes, listen, you make a great point and I believe above all else, that politics is the giant X-ray machine that reveals everyone`s character, his and hers. And, listen, that`s out there.

But Donald Trump isn`t making a character play in Iowa, right? Donald Trump has done three really interesting things that to me I have to say impress me. He has abandoned control of his campaign message for the first time in a year for 30 minutes last night, he was totally out of control of his campaign message --

MADDOW: Just standing there and taking it on the stage --

WALLACE: Yes.

MADDOW: -- while she talked and he was motionless.

WALLACE: And he has never ceded has campaign control of his campaign message to anyone. He gave it up to her because he and Ted Cruz, I described them as two tarantulas in a bowl. Only one is coming out alive in Iowa.

And it is shrewd on his part to cede control to Sarah Palin, to try to gain advantage over this rather small pool of evangelicals.

MADDOW: Because Ted Cruz is never going to attack Sarah Palin in the same way because it`s a distraction.

WALLACE: He can`t, he can`t.

And Trump is playing this sort of three-dimensional chess game and there`s a sheer political call shrewdness about it that is impressive.

MADDOW: Let me ask -- we`ve got interesting evidence that some of the establishment, particularly some of the donor class in the Republican Party, is coming around to the idea of Donald Trump.

(CROSSTALK)

MADDOW: We`re getting close to acceptance.

Yes. And I wonder if this might interrupt that in some ways. Just because Sarah Palin is a reminder of what happens when candidates get thrown into very high stakes elections, but also because of the John McCain issue on this, particularly given the dignity and unswerving loyalty in which he`s treated her.

WALLACE: Yes. You know, John McCain`s former campaign manager Rick Davis did an interview tonight that I think sort of sent a signal that John McCain is sort of unbothered by this, that Sarah Palin, though he`s had permission to be Sarah Palin, this is sort of another step in this.

You know, his guy, Lindsey Graham is out. John McCain`s single most important issue is foreign policy. So I`m guessing that until and unless someone impressed him on that front, he won`t endorse anyone else now that Lindsey is out.

But he has never sort of given up his affection and whatever debt of gratitude he feels for the excitement she brought to his campaign. Rick reminded me tonight that the day before she was there, crowds, you know, were 10,000. The day after they were announced, there was 60,000 people in the arena.

So, John McCain still seems to feel loyal for her for that excitement that she brought to his campaign.

MADDOW: He is modeling personal loyalty in a way that is out of this time.

WALLACE: Yes.

MADDOW: Nicolle Wallace, former McCain/Palin campaign senior strategist and all around good egg. Thank you for being here.

WALLACE: Thanks for having me.

MADDOW: We got much more ahead. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: Today, Barack Obama himself weighed in on the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. And the governor of Michigan released two years of his own emails relating to Flint and to that crisis, and that news that he was going to release those e-mails, it seems like it might be really illuminating, might be a big new day in terms of us understanding what happened in this crisis. That was until we saw the first e-mail in that release.

Ahh, the things that we`ve learned. Hold that thought.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know, I am very proud of what I`ve done as president. But --

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

The only job that`s more important to me is the job of father. And I know that if I was a parent up there, I would be beside myself that my kids` health could be at risk.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: President Obama speaking in Detroit about lead-poisoned Flint, Michigan, where he`s pledging federal help.

Also today, as promised, Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan released his own e-mails about Flint from the past two years. His office says the 274 pages they released today are all the e-mails the governor sent or received about Flint this year and last year.

It begins with an e-mail in which every single line is redacted. That was an auspicious start. But there`s lots to see in the rest of the document, especially by the time outside researches have proved that Flint really did have a problem with lead in its water and the Snyder administration was trying to figure why everybody was blaming them.

This is to Rick Snyder from his chief of staff in late September. The subject line is Flint water. It says, quote, "I can`t figure out why the state is responsible."

I can help you with that. It`s because the state was in charge of Flint and everything that happened in to it.

The whole time this crisis was brewing, Flint was under control of state- appointed city managers, one after another. They didn`t report to voters. They reported to Governor Rick Snyder, which brings us to one more big answered question.

Governor Snyder today released his e-mails from 2014 and 2015. You can tell how much pressure he`s under just by his decision to reveal anything from his inbox.

But he hasn`t revealed everything. The governor`s own time line of the crisis shows key decisions in this, including decisions to switch Flint`s water source, the decision were made in 2013. The switch was enacted in 2014, but Flint`s emergency manager made the decision to do it in 2013.

We asked Governor Snyder`s office last night whether he would, therefore, release his e-mails on Flint from 2013. His office replied to us, "The governor`s e-mails will be available Wednesday at michigan.gov/snyder. This is an unprecedented move."

Well, yes, but we would like to see the e-mails from the other year of the crisis. If what the governor wants is full transparency, then he is 2/3 of the way there. The final third when the decisions were actually made to do this, I think that would probably be the doozy here.

That does it for us tonight. We will see you again tomorrow.

Now it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL".

Good evening, Lawrence.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END