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tv   Hardball With Chris Matthews  MSNBC  January 31, 2014 4:00pm-5:01pm PST

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one thing we do know is thousands of people were caught in a traffic jam for three to four days in new jersey on the busiest bridge in the world. we need to know why. and whoever did it for whatever reasons needs to be held accountable. thanks for watching. i'm al sharpton. "hardball" starts right now. do we have a witness? let's play "hardball." good evening. i'm chris matthews up in new york. let me start with this. as we go to press this week and a potential blockbuster in the chris christie bridge scandal. the attorney for david wildstein, christie's appointment to the bridge authority, has released a letter saying that his client, david wildstein says evidence exists linking christie, the governor, to knowledge of the lane closings on the bridge during
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the time of the deliberate traffic holdup. here is the key part of that letter. "it has also come to light that a person within the christie administration communicated the christie administration's order that certain lanes on the george washington bridge were to be closed, and evidence exist as well tying mr. christie to having knowledge of the lane closures during the period when the lanes were closed, contrary to what the governor stated publicly in a two-hour press conference he gave immediately before mr. wildstein was scheduled to appear before the transportation committee. mr. wildstein contests the accuracy of various statements that the governor made about him, and he can prove the inaccuracy of some." it's clear that the attorney wants to win immunity for his client as a price for delivering this evidence. the question is does this evidence contradict statements made by governor christie. michael isikoff is national investigative correspondent for nbc news and the co-chair of the super committee that is leading the state's investigation into
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the bridge scandal. michael isikoff, when you look at the statement made by christie made in the press conference, he said he didn't know about the bridge closure until afterwards. here you have a statement by the lawyer for wildstein saying he knew about it during it. your thoughts. >> he said he knew about them while they took place. and we just got the statement from the governor's office in which they're making the point that the governor said he read about the lane closures. there was certainly press about them that week. so we don't know exactly what david wildstein is saying here, what he is saying the governor knew and exactly when he knew it. that is key to evaluating this. but taking a step back, it is a pretty breathtaking development to have somebody as close to governor christie basically pointing the finger at him, and, you know, what evidence he's got, what he has to say exactly
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is going to be key to evaluating where this goes from here. >> okay. i want to talk about right now with mr. wisniewski, what the governor has said. and you know what i know he said. in his january 9th press conference, governor christie was asked point-blank by a reporter about why people would have a hard time believing he didn't know about this thing. here was christie's response. now catch the word at the end. "i didn't know about this bridge closures until afterwards." let's watch. >> what i can tell you is if people find that hard to believe, i don't know what else to say except to tell them that i had no knowledge of this of the planning, the execution, or anything about it. and that i first found out about it after it was over. >> after it was over. that is a clear statement of the timeline, assemblyman. after it was over is the first i knew about anything about this. in the letter, from the lawyer for wildstein who could be the key witness in this case, it says the governor knew about it during the event, and he had evidence to that effect. so my question is, is this a significant contradiction? i think it is.
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i guy had two hours to explain what he knew about this thing. he tells the american people in his press conference i didn't know about it until after it happened. we now have a key witness, his lawyer saying we have evidence he knew about it during it happening. >> well, the implication of the lawyer's letter is the lawyer is saying that the governor was not being truthful in his statement. >> right. >> what we don't know, what i haven't seen is i don't know what these documents are that mr. wildstein or his attorney says he has that contradict the governor. you know, chris, my frustration is that the committee subpoenaed documents from mr. wildstein, and he supposedly gave us everything responsive. now somehow these documents surface. i don't know what they are. i don't know if they're different documents that weren't responsive to the subpoena. these are serious allegations, and it certainly adds to the skepticism that many people have had about the governor's statement. but i do think we need to look at what he is talking about, see the actual documents to see whether or not they really say what he says they say. >> well, late today the christie administration released the
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following statement. now i don't think this contradicts or in any way denies what we're talking about. >> right. >> here are the words. mr. wildstein's lawyer confirms who what the governor had said all along. he had absolutely no prior knowledge of the lane closures before they happened. and whatever mr. wildstein's motivations were for closing them to begin with, as the governor said in a december 13 press conference, he only first learned the lanes were closed when it was reported by the press. and as he said in the january 9th press conference, had no indication that this was anything other than a traffic study until he read otherwise the morning of january 8th. the governor denies mr. wildstein's lawyer's other assertion. my question back to you, michael, nobody said he knew about it beforehand. this use of the word prior is totally ex-train use. he is not denying he knew about it during the actual events, and that's what the lawyer for mr. wildstein is saying his client is going to testify. >> right. >> so why is he putting out a statement that doesn't deny the
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bombshell that wildstein just dropped? >> well, the key word there is "it." what is it? is it the lane closures? >> but he said i don't know anything about it. >> right. >> anything about it until afterwards. >> right. that's -- that's -- that's true. he did say that, and he may have some political trouble explaining that. >> i think he'll have trouble in the witness chair with that one. what about sitting in the witness chair saying i knew about it afterwards. now it comes out i didn't know about it beforehand. this thing went on for five days. by the way, you and i wondered, i know you did because i did, how can the governor mistake running for reelection to run up to score never talking about it with anybody, never talked about these bridge problems while they were happening. >> right. >> what a denial. and now he says i didn't deny that i just denied i didn't know before the five days. well, that's a totally different denial. >> right. but i think that the assemblyman makes a very important point here, which is that wildstein
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was subpoenaed for all his documents. now he turned over these very damning e-mails that basically caused this whole thing to explode, with lots of redactions. he made those redactions. so he basically was redacting material he was asserting was not responsive to the subpoena. so if it's the redacted e-mails and texts, wildstein may have some culpability here on his own. not just for ordering the lane closures in the first place, but for covering up and obstructing the assemblyman's investigation by concealing the content of those e-mails and texts. >> mr. wisniewski, what do you make of that? you said a moment ago he may not have been forth coming in the evidence he had. he may know. i'm not defending mr. wildstein or his attorney's behavior here. >> right. >> but he said he knows somebody has e-mails. i don't have them in my
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possession. i do know about somebody else. how broad a subpoena did you issue to wildstein to collect everything like this that he now says he''s got? >> chris, the thing everybody has to understand, when we were asking for the documents we had no idea this was going to lead into the governor's office. so we were looking very narrowly at the port authority. in retrospect, there is a lot of other areas we need to look at to make sure we have all the fax. so it is entirely possible that this is not something that we asked for. these could be somebody else's documents that he is now come into possession. my point is these are very serious allegations. they add to the skepticism that everybody has had. but what we need to see is exactly what he is talking about. he needs to make those available to the committee so that we can analyze them and really figure out what mr. wildstein is alleging here and whether or not it goes to the credibility of the governor's statement. >> mr. wisniewski, the question comes down to what would be the smart move on the part of the defense lawyer here, rather the
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witness' lawyer here. would bit to show your best cards first or show some cards now? >> i think it's between two things. clearly, the attorney has an obligation to be truthful and provide the information the committee asks for. but was don't know all of the information he has. we may not be asking the right questions. so clearly, if he is negotiating for immunity from some agency, he's not going to tip his hand automatically and let us know all of the things he has. we don't know a lot about these allegations that were made in this letter today, and we need to see more details about it to really judge it, you know, for its full value. but no matter what, what the sentiment, what the point that mr. wildstein is making is that don't believe the governor. and we need to see the facts behind that so that we can understand whether that is something we need to pursue. >> michael, it seems like there was a buildup for week news.
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mr. wildstein said a while back he was the looking for immunity. this morning in "the wall street journal" there is talk he is headed towards offering up something. and now he has done it. he has given us something about contradictions in time. >> right. i think i said on your show about three weeks ago that wildstein's lawyer might be suggesting he might be the john dean of this affair. and this would seem to -- seem to prove that's the case. but look, let's be clear. for him to get immunity from the u.s. attorney in newark, paul fishman, he is going to have to make a proffer. he is going to have to show the evidence he's got. he is going to have to give his -- his lawyer is going to have to give a statement about what david wildstein has to say. and then the federal prosecutors are going to evaluate whether or not they think that's a credible account or not. i think we're a long ways away from getting immunity. but for him to get it, he is going to have to show a lot more than he is asserting in this
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letter. >> mr. wisniewski, here is the key question from tonight going into the weekend. why did the governor's people put out a statement tonight denying that he didn't know about the bridge closures before they occurred, but did not deny knowing about them during the closures, during that four or five-day period? it seems to me they do not want to admit openly that they knew about those closures while they were going on, because that opens perhaps a can of worms. if they knew about them, what was the governor asking about? who was he talking to about them? go ahead. your thoughts. why was he still not really denying the charge made by wildstein's lawyer tonight which is that he knew about it during, during the closures? >> this really goes to the remarkable lack of curiosity the governor had. i think it was in december he made a statement saying that he had known about the lane closures because he had heard about it in press accounts or newspaper stories. and so the question that automatic of us have is don't you ask questions when you see that there is this traffic jam coming out of the george washington bridge, affecting ft.
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lee? where was the curiosity about why this was happening. >> what do you mean? what is your implication? he didn't have curiosity or he knew damn well what was going on and didn't want to be caught talking about it? >> at a minimum, a curious lack of curiosity. i mean, it gets worse from there. we just don't have all the answers to that, question. >> same question to you, michael. last question for you. why would he say tonight i didn't know about it prior to the events, but he wasn't aed of that in the latest story. why the distinction there? why does he avoid denying the charge itself? >> well, it could be that the charge is a little bit vague, as i think we've been making that point. we don't know exactly. >> the lane closures during the period when the lanes were closed. that's pretty clear. >> right, right. it's clear that knowledge of the lane closures, but the issue here is were those lane closures ordered for political reasons, were they done as part of some political vendetta. and that's -- that's the key question here.
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it is worth noting that they were together that week, wildstein and christie on september 11th. there are photographs of them together at an event. and so clearly one would think that part of what wildstein has to say here is what his conversation was with governor christie while these lane closures were taking place. >> we still have to get a statement from the governor there is all kinds of contradictions in what he said so far. thank you, michael isikoff, and they've been brought to life tonight by wildstein's attorney. and assemblyman wisniewski, thanks for joining us. we're going to stay on this. this story is big going into the weekend. one angle, rudy giuliani now said he did not say or mean to say he thought it was 50-50 that christie talked to his deputy chief about tying up that traffic in the first place. but check this quote. we did. it seems as if that's not exactly what he said. plus, that right-wing freak-out over president obama's promise to bypass congress that refuses
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to work with him. lawless, a tyrant, like a king. well, let's be clear. these right wingers want one thing, to delegitimize the obama presidency and basically erase him from the history books. also, the late night comedians are also having their say about the state of the union. speaker john boehner, well, he takes it here from leno and letterman. let me finish with where the facts in the christie investigation may be leading us. this is "hardball," the place for politics. so i deserve a small business credit card with amazing rewards. with the spark cash card from capital one, i get 2% cash back on every purchase, every day. i break my back around here. finally someone's recognizing me with unlimited rewards! meetings start at 11, cindy. [ male announcer ] get the spark business card from capital one. choose 2% cash back or double miles on every purchase, every day. what's in your wallet? i need your timesheets, larry! he was a matted messiley t? in a small cage. ng day.
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it might seem like today's big accusations from david wildstein's attorney came from out of the blue. but the you were following these things closely, there were clear signs something big was building from wildstein's attorney. alan zegas told new jersey
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lawmakers at hearing the scandal that his client, david wildstein had one heck of a story to tell, but there was a price for that story, his immunity from russian. here is mr. zegas. >> those documents only tell part of the story. >> if the attorneys general for new jersey, new york, and the united states were all to agree to cloak mr. wildstein with immunity, i think you would find yourselves in a far different position with respect to information he could provide. >> that's your job. we just want answers to our questions. >> understood. i'm suggesting a way you can get there. >> that's pretty clear there. and today "the wall street journal" this morning teased that wildstein's attorney might be making moves. quote, statements from wildstein's attorney alan zegs made mr. wildstein something of a wild card in the unfolding
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allegations. mr. zegas has said mr. wildstein has a story to tell. prosecutors don't grant immunity lightly, and the lawyer's request for immunity suggests he believes mr. wildstein has information that could be valuable enough to prosecutors as they determine if any laws have been broken here. an msnbc political analyst and the co-author of "doubledown down" and jonathan capehart is a contributor for "the washington post" and an msnbc contributor. he didn't know about this whole bridge problem until afterwards, after it happened. then we get a claim from his lawyer for wildstein that he knew about it during it and has evidence to prove that the governor knew about it during the events themselves. and then we got a rather obscure, rather oddly written nondenial denial by the governor late this evening saying i didn't know about it prior to the events. well, no one said he knew prior. they said he knew during.
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my question, does this site up to a problem to a governor who still hasn't gotten his story straight, meaning he has already been caught in a situation where he has been contradicted. instead of admitting it, he has moved back to a nondenial denial saying i didn't know about it prior. well, every print reporter and tv person watching this can see through that screen. he is not answering the question. your thoughts. >> well, chris, i think there is a big problem here, which is with the vagueness of the letter from wildstein's lawyer, right? there is two claims he is making, one which is written in a passive voice, where he says evidence suggests. he doesn't claim he has that evidence, but it exists. >> evidence exists. >> there are some things i can prove that christie has said about me that are false. not necessarily about the bridge and the bridge closings, but things that christie has said. so it's a little hard at this point. what we know is wildstein is apparently trying to cut a deal, and he is trod turn on christie. >> yes. >> and i think he is willing to
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give up whatever he has to get himself in a better place in terms of strike an immunity deal that is bad news for christie per se. this is the first rat so, to speak, who is fleeing the punitively sinking ship. so that's bad news in itself. but the question of how bad the news is totally depends on what this evidence actually is. and we don't know that until right now. but christie cannot be feeling comfortable right now with this turn of events. >> well, some rats talk the truth. ondean, whatever you think of his loyalty to nixon, told the truth. >> yes. >> here is that key part of the letter that said that wildstein's lawyer released tonight. and it's also come to light that a person within the christie administration communicated the christie administration's order that certain lanes on the george washington bridge were to be closed, and evidence exists as well tying mr. christie to having knowledge of the lane closures during the period when the lanes were closed, contrary to what the governor stated publicly in that two-hour press conference immediately before mr. wildstein was to appear before the committee. mr. wildstein contests the
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accuracy of various statements the governor made about him, and he can prove the inaccuracy of some. jonathan capehart? >> wow. that right there, as john said, the governor cannot be comfortable with this. and his statement doesn't tamp down anything. if anything, i think the governor's statement is a bit of playing for time here. i'll be very curious to see what comes of -- what happens on monday. the one thing we haven't talked about in all of this is the environment in which this wildstein letter drops. on monday, february 3rd is when those subpoenas from the legislative investigative body, that's when those subpoenas come due. and that's when we're going to find out a whole lot of other things, documents, e-mails, text messages, that the committee will have, will suddenly be public. and then i think once we all get a chance to comb through at least some of those, that maybe a fuller picture will come 20
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life. and maybe what mr. wildstein has, maybe it's in earlier batches of e-mails, or maybe, maybe he'll drop something again on monday. >> well, again, in his january 9th press conference, which we all watched here, christie was asked by a reporter about why people would have a hard time believing he didn't know about this whole thing. here is christie's rather complete response. >> what i can tell you is if people find that hard to believe, i don't know what else to say except to tell them i had no knowledge of this, of the planning, the execution or anything about it. and that i first found out about it after it was over. >> first found out about it when it was over. now, that question, john heilemann, i first found out about it when it was over. does that mean he didn't know about the bridge closures no now he is saying in the letter tonight, i didn't know about the bridge closures prior to them happening. he is moving them even further back. not only -- so the accusation from wildstein's lawyers that wildstein will 2e6 he has evidence to prove he knew about
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it during it. now the governor instead of denying that has moved back saying i didn't know about it prior. why this skipping away from the denial by the governor's people? refusing to deny the charge that was made here, that he knew about it doctoring it happening. if he didn't know about anything, why didn't he just say that? >> i think that's a very good question. if you were just reading this from a distance, on the basis of no reporting whatsoever, what it sounds like, the way you would hear what they're saying now they're trying to get themselves in a position where they can say that governor christie did not order the lanes closed, right. that's one question people have. did governor christie order this. that would be the worst crime or sin, if not illegal crime, the worst political sin he could have committed blue. there is a whole bunch of other questions. and as you know, in december he went much further. >> two things possible here. totally possible. one thing he did find out it was going on and did nothing to stop it. said good idea, boys, or said
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damn it you guys are crazy, but i can't say anything now. it's too late. it's all possible you went too far or something like this, but it's so nixonian that way. >> right. >> jonathan, you're too young to remember. but i got to tell you, nixon created this monster, and then he created the tape recording machine to catch it all. and he couldn't stop the damn thing. >> either way, chris, whether he knew ahead of time or didn't know, it says a lot about him, about his management style. what made chris christie a national star? it was the fact that he was a hands-on governor, he was take charge, he would get in your face if you didn't agree with him or he didn't agree with you. so now all of the sudden we're supposed to sort of pretend that something this egregious, something this spectacular in that it's on the world's busiest bridge and happening around the september 11th, the anniversary of the september 11th terrorist attacks, that he didn't know
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about this, that his staff had gone so roy, what's your name? jonathan? jonathan, it's none of your business. >> right. >> that's how the guy talks to people. he wants to know your name first. now we thought that was kind of like, oh, faux toughness. john, i think you know what i mean. certain mannerisms, like archie bunker is really carroll o'connor who is the big liberal from montana. he is really archie bunker here. he really is the guy he was seeming to be, not pretending to be. and i think that's a problem. john? >> well, yes. it certainly is a problem. and i'll say more than what jonathan said. i think it's a problem in the sense that he has made a very dramatic set of claims. not just that he didn't order this thing, but as we all know, he claimed that until january, until that press conference, the famous operatic press conference that he didn't really know his office was solved in this in any way for all of those months. and boy, that's a very dramatic claim, that to go that far, you know, he could be perfectly
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innocent having never ordered this thing, but could still have been caught in a lie by many different people under many different scenarios and many different pieces of documentary evidence that might be coming in now wildstein might have about that larger blanket claim. >> last question for both of you. you know giuliani. he said yesterday it's 50-50 whether the governor knew about all this stadium. today he had to backtrack and said i'm 100% behind him, blah blah blah, and all this. why do you think he said it yesterday? that was the key giveaway. why would he say out of nowhere? he even said later in the same interview, he made it pretty clear, i don't know who is telling the truth. we won't know until the investigation is over. >> i do not know, chris. but it certainly has been dramatic how far rudy giuliani has been out on a limb for chris christie. >> he is crawling back. >> he has had a lot of people who have been -- who are from the giuliani campaign from 2008 who are now with chris christie. maybe there is some residual loyalty to staff and advisers
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who are working with chris christie. i certainly peel like he got -- he was so far throughout on the limb and yesterday the things he said to geraldo, if you read the interview in both of the instances you're talking about and read it in context, there is no doubt what he is saying. he is trying to backtrack and trying to backtrack in the other direction today when the interview became big news that it seemed like he was also abandoning the sinking ship. >> i think a lot of it, jonathan, is the new york media sipgt the sitting up there and reading the "new york times." it must scare the bejesus out of this guy. all the effort is to find the truth and i'm not sure he wants that out. >> for mayor giuliani to step way out there and defend chris christie is pretty interesting in that mayor giuliani is the only republican of any kind of stature who has been out there doing this. >> and he is not really out there. >> well, not anymore. and now with today's news, he looks really foolish.
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>> i think he was right the first time yesterday with geraldo. anyway, good work by geraldo, by the way, on that question. thank you, john heilemann, thank you, jonathan capehart. have a nice weekend. we'll be right back after this.
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coming up when "hardball" returns, the right wing is once again challenging president obama's legitimacy, calling him lawless and a tyrant for promising to do something every other president, including ronald reagan, has done. that's ahead. you're watching "hardball," the place for politics. month? $45 a month. wow...no annual contract. no annual contract. no long-term agreement. no long-term agreement. really? really. ok, so what's the catch? there is no catch. ok, i'm obviously getting nowhere with you. i'm gonna need to speak with the supervisor. i am the supervisor. oh, finally someone i can talk to. [ male announcer ] it's not complicated. new smartphone plans starting at $45 a month, with no annual contract. only from at&t. [ male announcer ] what kind of energy is so abundant, it can help provide the power for all this?
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i'm milissa rehberger. here is what is happening. california officials say they won't be able to provide water to millions of people and many pharmacy because of severe drought. it is the first time the state water project has been unable to provide supplies. a state department study on the keystone xl pipeline says the project would have little impact on the environment. and president obama signed an executive order today that directs federal agencies to make sure unemployed americans get a
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fair shot in hiring. now back to "hardball." welcome back to "hardball." president obama's decision to go around congress and use executive action to do things like raise the minimum wage for federal contractors may not seem like the end of the world be, new the right wing clown car, it came close. ted cruz wrote in "the wall street journal," quote, of all the troubling aspects of the obama presidency, none is more dangerous than the president's persistent pattern of lawlessness, his willingness to disregard the written law and instead enforce his own policies via executive fiat. marco rubio called it borderline unconstitutional. congressman randy webber tweeted about the socialistic dictator. steve stockman took it a step further, walking out of the state of the union and later saying, quote, i could not bear to watch as he continued to
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cross the clearly defined boundaries of the constitutional separation of powers. his colleague michele bachmann told reporters, quote, he is the president of the united states. he's not a king. he may think he's a king. he may declare himself king. but that's not what he is under our constitution. and tim y huelskamp echoed her saying obama's speech reads like dictates from a king. my colleague rachel maddow called him out on that one. >> the release of the speech reads like dictates from a king, #lawless. what did he say in the speech that was lawless. >> 14 different points where the president said i don't like the american people, who they elect. that's what the president was saying. i don't like congress. i don't like the american people that sent these people up here. so he listed 14 different dictates. >> dictates? >> yes. >> executive orders are lawless? >> an executive action without authority is lawlessness. >> executive orders by
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presidents are lawless? >> if there is no authority. >> well, why is the right wing freaking out over the president issuing a series of relatively modest actions, something he is far from the first president to do? sadly, if it's a pattern from the right in dealing with this and calling into question as they often do his legitimacy, dana milbank for "the washington post" and sam stein's a political editor for "the huffington post." dana, this word lawless seems lawlessness like he is some cowboy maverick out there in the saddle somewhere, breaking the law, shooting up a town. where did the word lawless first originate? i think it's a second term birtherism. he was illegitimately elected. now he is behaving illegitimately. this goes back to the whole notion that the right has. they want to put an asterisk next to this good night. he wasn't a law-abiding or even legitimately elected president. your thoughts -- your own thoughts. >> i think what is going on
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here, this is one of those episodes when it flares up, chris. and the republicans from the very beginning have been seeking to discredit obama. not saying we disagree with his policies, but to say this guy is bad. this guy is other, this guy is something else. you know, there has been this sort of latent obama derangement syndrome. the virus remains in the blood. and it seems to flare up from time to time. but it's not necessarily something they're calculating, i think. it's just there is some sort of reflexive hatred that drives us from time to time. >> let me go to sam on this. maybe you don't agree, but i see these words as unusual in the american discourse. certainly we've had our red baiting periods and all that in the '50s and earlier, and we've had all kinds of periods of the words corrupt. jim wright was corrupt. these teems terms so-so third world in their over the tops, the kinds of things you hear in
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countries a lot less stable than this one. your thoughts. >> i agree with you in part. but i think it's a little bit more an excuse of convenience for the republican party. what they are saying, and what they have done is well, this is such an imperial presidency that we cannot trust him, or we cannot pass policies because he will then change it. if you look at any of the excuses that they have given recently for their unwillingness to pass immigration reform, it always comes down to we can't trust the president to enforce the laws that we pass because he is an imperial presidency. he makes the laws as he sees fit. it's an excuse of convenience in some respects for republicans to accuse him of being above the law because it excuses them from doing anything legislatively. >> well, the president was asked about the right wing reaction in an interview on cnn. sheer what he said. >> well, i don't think that's very serious. the truth of the matter is that every president engages in executive actions. in fact, we've been very disciplined and sparing in terms of the executive actions that we have taken.
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we make sure that we're doing it within the authority that we have. under statute. but i'm not going to make an apology for saying that if i can help middle class families and folks who are working hard to try to get in the middle class do a little bit better, then i'm going to do it. >> what we're talk about here isn't exactly a power grab. the white house issued a list of 12 executive actions the president plans on taking this year. they include, as i said, raising the minimum wage for federal contract workers, as i said. creating a new savings account to help workers prepare for retirement, convening a meeting with ceos to try to figure out a solution for long-term unemployment and setting new fuel efficiency standards for trucks. back to you, dana. i think there is something here that goes out there to people not necessarily on the fringe, but the ideological people in the republican party who vote in the primaries especially and the caucuses. this notion that the federal government sought of control, that there is a tenth amendment that has been ignored, that the
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government is grabbing power that hasn't been there before, and that somehow we better be scared in river city. and this seems to be based upon ideology rather than events or even behaviors of the president. they grab at these behaviors. but they really believe this long before he came into office. and now they're using him as the worst case scenario. >> right. it feeds into that paranoia. and it also has the effect of shutting down debate. in that clip you played of tim huelskamp, he couldn't come up with anything that he thought was lawless. but once you call the guy a dictator, when you compare your opponent to hitler, it shutt downs the debate. they don't have to have the argument. look, we can point out this president has made fewer executive orders than george w. bush did, than ronald reagan did. and we can also point out that the reason he is doing these small executive actions he had no -- the congress isn't willing to pass anything. but we're not going to have that debate because it's the idea of saying we're not going to talk about it, you're a dictator.
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you're violating the constitution, end of discussion. >> sam, i just think that's right. >> yeah. >> it's almost like a trump card. you say once you say somebody is a dictator, you really don't have to lay it out much. because i think they think his very election was giving the guy too much power. the guys on the right. where did he come from anyway? wait a second, are you sure he is legal? and remember the guy i had on the other night. i thought it was interesting on "hardball" the other night this week. i had someone on, an activist, a local republican figure who was pushing this petition in arizona to get rid of john mccain and some sort of lefty. >> oh, yeah, i saw that one. >> i asked him, do you think this president was elected legitimately. >> he said i'm not going down that rat hole. i knew you would take me there. why do they insist on this most primitive approach to obama which is he is not really president, and i'm not making this up you. ask these guys, you throw it off the board, they could say of course he is legitimately elected. they don't. they sayly not answer your
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question because i don't think they go back to their crowd at home, wherever they are, people the far right of them, did you say obama was legitimately president of the united states? how dare you say that. is that too primitive to say that's where they are at? that they don't want to accept him as president, let along executive orders? >> i'd say it's a bit of an overgeneralization. but i would also say every bit of evidence, every shred of evidence suggested the president has been pretty modest when it comes to executive orders. >> how many people do you think i can get on this show who say i'm not going to answer your question who he is legitimate matt or not? what do you think the percentage would be? >> i would have to ask your bookers what what the percent e is. >> we don't know ahead of time what these guys are going to say. i'm always amazed. i'm always amazed at the no, ma'am who say i'm not going to say he is legitimate. thank you, dana milbank. good thinking, sam stein.
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up next, is mitt romney thinking about making a comeback? when you listen to him, the answer is no. that's the smart answer. times are tough for the democrats. anyway, this is "hardball," the place for politics. so you get your fico® score on your monthly statements now, for free! that's nice of you! it's a great way to stay on top of your credit, and make sure things look the way they should. awesomesauce! huh! my twin sister always says that. wait...lisa? julie?! you sound really different on the phone. do i sound pleasant? for once in your life you sound very pleasant. at discover, we treat you like you'd treat you. free fico® credit score. get the it card at discover.com.
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new polling shows two big state republican governors in real jeopardy this year. let's check the "hardball" scoreboard. first to florida, where a new quinnipiac poll shows former governor charlie crist, now a democrat, beating his successor, rick scott by eight points. it's crist, 46, scott 38. in pennsylvania, a new poll shows that less than a quarter of voters say governor tom corbett deserves reelection versus 63% who say it's time for a change. we'll be right back. [ male announcer ] campbell's homestyle.
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perfectly paired savings. now, that's progressive. we're back. the have been everywhere since the release of that netflix documentary about mitt's two presidential campaigns. earlier today on fox news, in fact, ann romney lamented it was the country that lost out as a result of the 2012 election. >> i believe this. i really believe this. you know, we lost, but truly country lost by not having mitt as president. >> how do you think president obama is doing? >> oh. >> a year into the second term? >> i think i'll be polite and nice and not comment on that. >> but even mitt romney, himself, acknowledges earlier this week on fox news that he was the problem, himself. let's watch. >> frankly, the biggest problem in my campaign was me and my campaign. >> and despite a campaign with
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errors, mitt romney could be the gop's best chance in 2016 with the implosion of chris christie's national political prospects. john feehery, republican strategist. ed rendell is the former governor of pennsylvania. let me go to your party, john, for a second. we'll start with you. the history of the republican party is to ask whose turn it is. it's been a very stable selection process going back, to nixon in '52, he's on the ticket for 5 out of 6 years. it just seems to me they're -- romney might be joining that m team of regulars. if i were romney, i'd be saying what he's saying, i'm not runs again. if i were romney, i'd be thinking i was so close to winning ohio, if i can win ohio, i can win this thing. i would win ohio right now. this economy is not getting that much better. i can win it next time. is he going to be thinking about running again, mitt romney? >> you know, i watch that video of mitt and i thought, this is a
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really nice guy. he was right. he didn't run a great campaign and he was his own worst enemy. i just don't know if he has the patience or if he wants to go through this again. but, you know, watching the counhris christie things and ot candidates who flame out, if he's patient and holds off, you never know. the biggest challenge for him, if jeb bush decides to run, i think he would automatically be the front-runner. if no one else runs, you know, why wouldn't he give it another shot? >> i think mitt romney has a better chance than jeb. governor, you know how it works. gene mccarthy once said it's easier to run for president than to stop. once you've run, it seems like you go back and run again, whether you're vance harkey, arlen specter, they run for president. you ran. governor when you were 23 years old and lost and came back and won the thing big-time. you must have kept your eyes on it and it seems to me mitt romney's eyes are on the presidency. your thoughts? >> yeah, i think the previous
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analysis is right. i think mitt romney probably down deep would love to have another shot, but the best strategy for him is to wait and see and to see if everybody implodes. i think the ball, assuming governor christie's out, and i think that's fairly likely, the ball goes to jeb bush. if jeb bush steps up, i think he, then, becomes the moderate in the race. and he's running against some extreme conservatives and i think the moderate end of the race has a very good chance to win. if jeb decides not to run, as you think, chris, there's a huge gap. maybe a scott walker gets in. scott walker compared to mitt romney in ability to raise money, national profile, isn't close. if jeb bush takes a pass with christie imploding, i think there's a very good chance for mitt romney if he wants to do it. i think he wants to do it, but the big we is, can he convince ann to do it one more time? >> here's a lollipop for him to run. the bipartisan purple strategies firm released a poll this week
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that shows romney as the 2016 front-runner in new hampshire. 25% of new hampshire republicans chose romney as their preference for 2016. rand paul next with 18%. governor chris christie at 17% and dropping i assume. jeb at 13%. ted cruz way, way down. think that's a lollipop. he's looking, wait a minute saying, please -- you and i know, john and the governor, this is name i.d. he's thinking i haven't turned anybody off. i did a classy concession. i walked away. i did it with style. i ain't looking any worse now than i looked after that second debate. i'm still up there after the -- he's not as good as the first debate but looks as good as he did in the second debate. >> well, you know, i think ann romney said it best. they spent a lot of time in new hampshire, from the next door state. and you're right, chris, there is still a lot of name i.d., and in these type of early kind of contests, if you will, it's really all about name i.d. and
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everyone knows mitt romney and they don't know any of these other characters. so, you know, the other person who i think is very intriguing is his running mate, paul ryan, who has been taking some pretty impressive decisions and positions in the house and he's really, really up there -- >> he didn't strike me as president. >> -- as a possibility. >> he doesn't strike me as presidential term. romney looks like a president. romney runs again, by the way, has to run as romney. stop all the bs in pretending you're a crazy right winger when you're not. it hurt you. people could tell wyou were a fraud. not a bad fraud. thank you, john feehery. thank you ed rendell, governor. thank you for joining us. we'll be right back after this. e shelves. and you...rent from national. because only national lets you choose any car in the aisle... and go. and only national is ranked highest in car rental customer satisfaction by j.d. power. (natalie) ooooh, i like your style. (vo) so do we, business pro. so do we.
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let me finish tonight with this. we began tonight's program with this letter from the attorney for davidchristie's appointee to the authority. this letter suggests evidence to tie the governor to knowledge of the lane closures during the four-day period of the traffic tie-ups. does this mean the governor knew there was a deliberate move by his people to close down the traffic lanes or simply that he was aware there were traffic tie-ups in the first place? it's not clear in the lawyer's letter released late today. it is clear that the man at the center of the bridge scandal right now wants prosecutors to know he has evidence to offer and wants immunity from prosecution as a price tag. this explains why he put out a letter suggesting he does, indeed, possess such evidence. this case is moving. people are moving to protect themselves. the only weapons they possess. those weapons are evidence.
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that the prosecutors and legislative investigators believe is useful to getting the whole truth and placing the blame where it belongs. as high as that goes. and that's "hardball" for now. thanks for being with us. "all in with chris hayes" starts right now. good evening from new york. i'm chris hayes. and there is big breaking news and rapidly unfolding new developments today in the scandal surrounding governor chris christie of new jersey. this one pertaining to the original "time for some traffic problems in ft. lee" bridge-gate scandal that kicked it all off. as we await the production of documents due monday from 20 different subpoenas, many of them to governor chris christie's inner sicircle todayn the words of "the new york times" comes this stunning development. export authority official says evidence exists christie knew about lane closings. governor christie's office today

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