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tv   The Rachel Maddow Show  MSNBC  February 1, 2014 3:00am-4:01am PST

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partners best partner. we built it for our members, but it's open for everyone. there's not one way to do something. no details too small. american express open forum. this is what membership is. this is what membership does. today, the chris christie scandal seems to have broken -- hey, guys, seems to have broken wide open. over here. sorry. seems to have broken wide open. there are actually three huge developments in this case today. one the u.s. attorney in new jersey, the federal prosecutor's office appears to have taken a big new step in its investigation of potential abuse of power or other federal crimes committed in new jersey. we learned today of new federal grand jury subpoenas today from federal prosecutors in new jersey. we're going to be getting to
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that a little later. also today, chris christie's campaign manager, the man who led his re-election campaign, who incidentally was the field director for the mccain/palin campaign in 2008, who was tapped immediately before this scandal broke open to be the new head of the new jersey republican party, the man who was widely expected to be governor christie's campaign manager if he runs for president in 2016. that man, bill stepien today announced that he will invoke the fifth amendment and will fight having to respond to the subpoena that he received from the new jersey legislature. he had been due to hand over documents and blackberries and cell phones in response to that legally binding subpoena on monday. this upcoming monday. but today, bill stepien's lawyer said he will invoke the fifth amendment and he does not plan to comply. that development is actually really important for what happens next here. and for the wider political impact here of what is happening to chris christie in this scandal. we're going to have much more on that coming up in just a moment. but the news flash today that rocked the political world and suddenly made the whole
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country remember that there is something else going on in new jersey right now besides the super bowl, that, of course, was this news flash from "the new york times" just before 4:00 p.m. eastern time this afternoon. ex port authority official says evidence exists that christie knew about lane closings. and it's not just any ex port authority official who's saying this. it is the guy who actually carried out the closing down of those lanes on the george washington bridge. the access lanes from ft. lee, new jersey, on to the busiest bridge in the world. closing down those lanes during the first week of school back in september didn't just create traffic trouble at those access lanes on to the bridge, shutting down those lanes gridlocked traffic across the entire town of ft. lee, new jersey. on monday, the first day of school and again on tuesday and again on wednesday and again on thursday. and they finally got called out and had the scheme broken up on friday of that week. that week was a nightmare.
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people's commutes turned into four-hour-long oddities. it was manmade. we learned since then the gridlocking of ft. lee in september was the whole point of the exercise. chris christie's deputy chief of staff sent this e-mail "time for some traffic problems in ft. lee." to which that fore mentioned ex-port authority official said got it. it's the guy who said "got it" and seemed to spend the next few weeks orchestrating how to create the traffic problems in ft. lee. it's the "got it" guy who today alleged in a letter from his lawyer that governor chris christie, himself, knew about this. knew about the lanes being shut down. and here's what's important about that. for governor christie. governor christie is already in trouble, at least it looks like he's already in trouble for what he has said publicly about this scheme. the scheme to use the george washington bridge as a way to punish this town of ft. lee. it was wednesday, january 8th,
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when the e-mails and text messages were first published that showed that the order to hurt ft. lee by shutting down those lanes had come from governor christie's office, had come from his deputy chief of staff. that was also the day we saw these heavily redacted text messages between someone who appears to be the same deputy chief of staff and david wildstein. they're talking about the gridlock they caused. "is it wrong that i'm smiling?" "no, no, it's not wrong that you're smiling." the person responds to david wildstein, "i feel badly about the kids. i guess." to which david wildstein responds "they are the children of buono voters." meaning they're the children of people who vote democratic. do not feel bad they're gridlocked for hours in traffic and cannot get to school because of something we just did. that all came out on wednesday, january 8th. wednesday, january 8th. the day after that, governor chris christie gave a press conference responding to this issue, professing to be angry
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and sad and blindsided about this whole thing. and you know what, the beltway press really loved it. loved his press conference is so long, taking so many questions. he's doing great. the scandal is terrible, but chris christie is doing so great. look at his long press conference. the problem is is that at that press conference, the beltway press may have loved it, but substantively, the governor made claims at that press conference that have turned out not to be true. >> i am confident based upon my conversations with them that they had no prior knowledge nor involvement in this situation. >> what about -- what about the coverup piece of this? >> that's your characterization, not mine. there's nobody on my staff who had any knowledge of this issue until after the issue was already done. >> that is not true. this is an e-mail that was sent on the fourth day of the bridge
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shutdown between top-level staffers and governor christie's office. it was sent from christina genovese renna, director to bridget anne kelly, deputy chief of staff. she's the one who ordered "time for some traffic problems in ft. lee." during the shutdown of those lanes while ft. lee was still a traffic catastrophe, christina renna writes to bridget kelly, "dear bridget, this afternoon evan received a call from mayor sokolich, the mayor of ft. lee. the mayor's extremely upset about the reduction of toll lanes from three to one. not only is it causing backups in town, but first responders are having a terrible time maneuvering in traffic because it's so severe. the mayor told evan that he has no idea why they did this but there's a feeling in town there's government retribution. he can't understand that that would be the case because he's supportive of the governor. evan told the fine mayor he was unaware the toll lanes were
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but would see what he could find out." this was an e-mail during the bridge shutdown. it's to bridget kelly who worked in the governor's office and who we now know ordered the bridge shutdown. it's from christina renna. it references a third person we also believe works in the governor's office, evan j. ridley, an aide to governor christie. that e-mail is during the shutdown. it involves the person who ordered it, three people in the governor's office, discussing the ongoing shutdown. the disaster it's causing. the mayor's worries that it's politically motivated to hurt ft. lee. that discussion is happening among the governor's top staffers during the shutdown. not after. >> there was nobody on my staff who had any knowledge of this issue until after the issue was already done. >> not true. there's also e-mail involving the governor's campaign manager, bill stepien and bridget kelly, again, during the bridge lane shutdown, during the catastrophe
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in ft. lee that shows they not only knew it was going on, but they knew what a disaster it was and a real public safety problem as well and that was during, not after, but during. so it is already a problem for governor chris christie that he has said something not true. that he has said nobody on his staff, no one had any knowledge of this issue while it was happening. he has been disproven on that point already and has not public addressed why he gave that broad exculpatory assurance about his staff when it just wasn't true. now, though, this new allegation hits closer to home. it is from david wildstein, from the man who arranged the shutdown on the bridge. >> could you state and spell your last name for the record? david wildstein. w-i-l-d-s-t-e-i-n. >> and where do you currently reside? >> montville, new jersey. >> okay. and are you currently employed? >> no. >> and most recently, where were you employed?
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>> on the advice of my counsel, i respectfully assert my right to remain silent under the united states and new jersey constitutions. on the advice of counsel, i, again, assert my right to remain silent. on the advice of counsel, i assert my right to remain silent. >> if the attorneys general for new jersey, new york and united states were all to agree to clothe mr. wildstein with immunity, i think you'd find yourselves in a far different position with respect to information he can provide. >> that was david wildstein pleading the fifth when he was called before the new jersey legislative committee that was investigating the shutdown of those bridge lanes. at the end there, you also heard his lawyer saying that if mr. wildstein could be cloaked in immunity, mr. wildstein might have some very interesting information to provide. well, this time last week, because all news in this story breaks late in the day on a friday, this time last week, we were reporting that david wildstein had been cut off by
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the port authority in terms of his legal defense in this matter. even though he was employed at the port authority while he engineered the bridge shutdown, the port authority said he was going to have to pay all his own legal bills for representing himself in this matter. so not only would david wildstein be blamed for the whole problem and lose his job and potentially go to jail, but he'll have to personally foot the financial bill for his not inconsiderable legal defense along the way because the port authority was not going to help him with that. and that detail, which sort of feels like a little detail in this whole thing, kind of feels like process, but that is what led to today's huge "new york times" bombshell. when "the new york times" was the first paper to get its hands on this letter from david wildstein's lawyer, from the general counsel of the port authority essentially appealing the port authority's decision to cut off david wildstein and not help him with his defense. "i would request that you kindly reconsider the port authority's decision to deny mr. wildstein payment of his legal fees and
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indemnification. why should the port authority do that? why should the port authority not cut david wildstein off and make him deal with this himself, ruin him as well as blame him? why should the port authority not cut him off? because according to david wildstein and his lawyer, he did not act alone. look. "it has come to light 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 tieing governor christie, himself, 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." mr. wildstein contests the accuracy of various statements the governor made about him and can prove the inaccuracy of some. and so implicitly, don't you dare hang him out to dry alone. he didn't do this alone and not going to pay the price alone. and although this is a letter that is addressed to the port
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authority general counsel, if you think about it, it's not really a surprise it also went to the front page of "the new york times" because this is clearly meant as a much more public message. this is clearly meant as a public message that david wildstein has a song to sing about this. and he would happily sing it if only someone would give him a reason to do so. immunity. governor christie, for his part, released this statement tonight. somewhat oddly claiming that mr. wildstein's accusation exonerates the governor. "mr. wildstein's lawyer confirms what the governor has said all along, he had absolutely no prior knowledge of the lane closures before they happened. he had absolutely no prior knowledge of the lane closures before they happened." which is kind of an amazing thing. what david wildstein said today is chris christie knew about this when it was happening. didn't say anything about whether or not chris christie knew in advance. by changing the subject, governor christie is trumpeting this accusation as if it is some
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kind of exoneration, when in fact it is an accusation and specifically an accusation that the governor lied. it's an accusation that the governor at that press conference, the big apology press conference that the beltway press loved so much. it's an accusation from david wildstein that the governor didn't just lie about his staff, which we know he did, but he also lied about himself. >> i had no knowledge or involvement in this issue, in its planning or its execution. i knew nothing about this. 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. >> when the governor that day made similar assertions about his staff, those were not true. david wildstein asserted today that governor christie was not telling the truth about himself there, either. now, governor christie denies that accusation. he says he definitely didn't know about it until afterwards
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and he says oddly that he is somehow exonerated by the accusation that he knew about it during. that would be amazing linguistic judo if it turns out to exonerate him. will that prove true? will either the governor's claims or david wildstein's claims prove true? and how will it be proven? how does this bombshell today change the investigation that's under way already? the man leading the investigation in the new jersey legislature john wisniewski is going to join us, as well as ted mann from the "wall street journal." stay with us. ♪ ♪ [ female announcer ] with five perfectly sweetened whole grains... you can't help but see the good. yeah... try new alka seltzer fruit chews. they work fast on heartburn and taste awesome. these are good. told ya! i'm feeling better already.
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you're not doing anythingyou as fast as you used to,reality. which is funny, 'cause i still do it better than her. you know, i don't think i was meant to sweep. it's a little frustrating. look. [ zach ] i can't help out as much as i used to. do you need help? [ doorbell rings ] let's open it up. it's a swiffer sweeper. it's a swiffer dusters. it can extend so i don't have to get on the step stool. i don't know how it stays on there. it's like a dirt magnet -- just like my kids. [ afi ] this is a danger zone. that is crazy. ah-ha-ha!
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[ zach ] yeah. no, this definitely beats hanging out on a step ladder. what's up, baby? i don't know what else to say except to them them i had no knowledge of this, the planning, the execution, anything about it. i first found out about it after it was over. >> new jersey governor chris christie saying he first found out about it after it was over. that claim contested today by the man who did it, the it in question, which of course is the shutdown of access lanes on to the george washington bridge, apparently in order to manufacture a huge purpose-built traffic jam in the town of ft. lee that lasted for more than four days. david wildstein, the man who made that jam happen said today there is in his words evidence that governor christie knew about that whole thing as it was under way. the governor is denying it. joining us, ted mann of the "wall street journal" published
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this piece saying, watch to see if david wildstein has anything to say if he's granted immunity in this case. thank you for being the huge neon arrow pointing and blinking at david wildstein before the story broke today. >> you're welcome. >> in terms of what he actually said, mr. wildstein's letter is the first time any of governor christie's aides or allies have challenged the governor's statements on this issue. do we know enough yet to know whether this is an important turning point? >> i don't think we know if this is the turning point of the story, certainly it's a sign that this timeline issue that has been really lingering in this story is not going to go away very easily. the last time the governor spoke about when he learned this was happening, which is a legitimate question only because you'd expect he would take some action hearing about how disruptive it was. the story shifted somewhat from in december saying he had learned of this when the pat foye angry e-mail was published to saying he learned of it somewhat earlier when the first
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press reports came out. the governor tonight actually didn't deny directly and explicitly what mr. wildstein's lawyer is saying. he didn't say it on the record, no, i didn't know during. the last thing we have to go on is the public statement from the first press reports, that's when i found out something was up here. that's not going to be specific enough for the lawmakers who are investigating, surely, and probably not specific enough for the media and the public. >> that's an important point, though, is the governor has already given two different and conflicting explanations as to when he knew and now that there is this direct allegation from a guy who's presumably in a position to know that the governor knew during and the governor isn't denying that, is that in effect a third and yet earlier explanation of -- >> i don't think we can say it's a change yet only because the statement, today, was just totally lacking in specifics on exactly when he's saying he knew. i mean, they're saying the press reports but they didn't identify one in that e-mail that was sent to everybody today.
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and then it's also important to point out that the person making this accusation has not told us what his evidence is. you know, we don't know if it says what he says it says. that's something who has something to sell which is a client with a good story that's good enough to get him immunity. >> being able to say an unnamed campaign staffer somewhere, i can nail them is not enough incentive to offer the guy who did it immunity in exchange for that testimony. it has to be big fish in order to justify that. >> that's what our story was about this morning, the wildcard nature of mr. wildstein. if he's going out there via his attorney saying i've got a story to tell, you should give me immunity, you're promising not that you can put a low level campaign staffer in hot water, you're saying something really big. >> the letter from the attorney was directed specifically to the port authority, the general counsel at the port authority asking for them not only to cover legal fees but provide him indemnification related to immunity. obviously the port authority wouldn't have that kind of
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authority that would extend to a criminal matter or anything. >> not in law enforcement. that's an indemnification in the port authority bylaws. if you get in trouble for something you did in your official capacity, turn to the port authority and say you're going to have to help cover my legal bills because now i'm in trouble. both david wildstein and bill baroni asked them to cover those bills. there's been no decision announced about baroni. wildstein was eventually denied. they said in effect our policy covers you working for the port authority and we don't think what you were up to qualifies. >> strategically it's an interesting issue because it's going to be hard for them to say no to wildstein, you're on your own and protect bill baroni. if you keep cutting the guys off, there's no reason for them not to turn on everybody else involved in the issues in order to save themselves. >> there you have to consider the people making the decision, they're not discussing the rationale. they work for the port authority of new york and new jersey. they don't necessarily work for the christie administration. they don't necessarily have loyally to either of these guys
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or anyone but the port authority. >> ted mann, "wall street journal" transportation reporter covering the new jersey bridge scandal from the very beginning. thank you for being here. stay in touch. thanks. there was the news bombshell dropped by the lawyers of chris christie's campaign manager, bill stepien who everybody thought was going to be his campaign manager when he ran for president as well. while david wildstein today was threatening to sing, bill stepien was breaking other news doing everything he could to clam up. invoking the fifth amendment. that very unexpected story plus the mayor of ft. lee, new jersey, and more coming up. stay with us. mom, dad told me that cheerios is good for your heart,
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so today the man who arranged the shutdown of those lanes on the george washington bridge, to hurt the town of ft. lee, new jersey, he alleged that governor christie knew about the shutdown while it was happening. despite the governor's repeated claims he knew no such thing. today, also, the federal prosecutors investigating the potential criminal activity in chris christie's new jersey sent subpoenas to the city of hoboken. hoboken, the city whose mayor alleged hurricane sandy relief funds were made contingent by the christie administration on her green lighting a private development project in hoboken to which the governor's allies were connected. both of those things happened today. but what may end up being the most important development today in this story concerns this man. his name is bill stepien. he's chris christie's campaign manager. he was the new hampshire political director for the bush/cheney re-election campaign in 2004. in 2008, mr. stepien worked for the disastrous rudy giuliani
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presidential campaign. before leaving that failed effort to become national field director for the mccain/palin campaign. after that ended in 2008, well, that ended up being a convenient ending time because there was a republican candidate for governor who had to run in an off year election immediately after '08. he was running in 2009. and bill stepien was available and chris christie hired bill stepien to be his campaign manager when he first ran for governor in 2009. when he won the governorship, he brought bill stepien into the governor's office with him. he made him his deputy chief of staff. mr. stepien is reported to have been very closely involved in almost every aspect of the day-to-day running of the office and the christie administration as a whole. he was one of christie's closest confidants for years. mr. stepien was moved out of the governor's office to once again manage the campaign. when he moved to the campaign
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office to become campaign manager for the christie election effort, he was replaced in the governor's office by bridget anne kelly who would go on to send that infamous e-mail "time for some traffic problems in ft. lee." a few months after that, though, after governor christie did win re-election, he had a decision to make about what was going to happen to his campaign staff. he had a decision to make about what was going to happen to his beloved and twice victorious campaign manager he was so close to, bill stepien. everybody expected when governor christie was going to run for president in 2016, bill stepien again was going to be the chris christie campaign manager for that presidential run. but what would mr. stepien do in the meantime? now that the gubernatorial re-election campaign was over, but it's a little too early to start the presidential. what would he do now? problem solved. on tuesday, january 7th, so just a few weeks ago, governor christie announced he wanted bill stepien to become the new head of the new jersey republican party. mr. stepien had already taken up
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a consultancy gig with the republican governor's association which chris christie was running but chris christie said bill stepien should also run the new jersey state republican party. governor christie put out this statement saying this, "bill stepien is the best republican operative in the country and new jersey republicans will be fortunate to have him leading our party." okay. that was a tuesday. that was tuesday, january 7th. the next day, wednesday, january 8 th, this happened. the "bergen record" first to publish 22 pages of highly redacted documents showing the order to cause some traffic problems in ft. lee had been sent by governor christie's deputy chief of staff, bridget kelly, who happened to have replaced bill stepien in that job. in addition, stepien, himself, turned up in the 22 pages of documents. a few days after the closures, david wildstein sent a press report about the traffic jam to bill stepien, stepien read it,
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wrote back, "it's fine, the mayor's an it yacht, though." . meaning presumably the mayor of ft. wee lee who had this horrible thing done to his town on orders of the governor's office. david wildstein sent stepien an account from "wall street journal." "port chief fumed over bridge jam." e-mail from the director of the port authority calling the lane closures abusive and appalling and saying he prayed no one died as a result. bill stepien reviewed that e-mail and replied "i saw. ultimately not an awful story. whatever." that's what is publicly known about bill stepien's involvement in the lane closures or reaction to the lane closures in the first week in january when the 22 pages first came out, where tuesday saw bill stepien picked to run the state republican party. wednesday saw the release of 22 pages of e-mails and texts. thursday saw his governor chris christie fire him in public and basically end his career.
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>> i was disturbed by the tone and behavior and attitude, callous indifference, that was displayed in the e-mails by my former campaign manager bill stepien. and reading that, it made me lose my confidence in bill's judgment. and you cannot have someone at the top of your political operation who you do not have confidence in. as a result, i've instructed bill stepien to not place his name in nomination for state party chairman, and he will not be considered for state party chairman. and i've instructed him to withdraw his consultancy with the republican governors association. >> "i told him to not place his name in nomination for state party chairman.
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disturbed by the tone and behavior and attitude displayed in his e-mails." chris christie in his press conference told reporters he fired bridget kelly, deputy chief of staff. he said he fired her for lying to him, knowing nothing about the decision to close the lanes on that bridge. he also said in that press conference that he was ixnaying the whole thing with the campaign manager taking over the state party and him working for the republican governors association. not because of something bill knew about the bridge scheme before it happened. he said he was firing him because of the tone of his e-mails. the e-mails that he sent after the whole bridge scandal thing was over. interestingly, and weirdly, governor christie actually said he fired bill stepien because of this matter even before he fired bridget kelly. bridget kelly is the one who apparently did it. bill stepien got fired even before she did. >> but, you know, there are times when people that you put in those positions make mistakes. they disappoint you.
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you lose their -- you lose your confidence in them. or they lie to you. and when you find that out, the test of leadership is what do you do? i found this out at 8:50 yesterday morning. by 9:00 this morning, bridget kelly was fired. by 7:00 yesterday evening, bill stepien was asked to leave my organization. >> why did bill stepien get canned even before bridget kelly did? bridget kelly is the "time for some traffic problems in ft. lee" orderer. bill stepien went before she did? why is that? in any case, they both got canned. famously and in public. after those 22 pages of documents were leaked to the "bergen record." ultimately, though, importantly, we got more than just those 22 pages. when the committee and the legislature investigating this thing released more than 2,000 pages of what they had obtained by subpoena. in that giant pile of 2,000
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documents, bill stepien turns up yet again. this time it's not after the fact. it's not after the lane closures issue was long over. it's while it is still going on. look at this message dated september 12th. september 12th. this is while the bridge shutdown is in effect. message from david wildstein to bridget kelly, who ordered the shutdown in the first place, but also to bill stepien. a forwarded message. during the shutdown. of the complaint letter from ft. lee's mayor, mark sokolich. the ft. lee mayor explaining the disaster in ft. lee, this decision wreaked havoc upon our community. complete gridlock. our emergency service vehicles are experiencing tremendous response time delays. this part of his letter is underlined, "unquestionably, this decision negatively impacted safety here in ft. lee." what do we do? bill stepien was sent that during the shutdown when he was serving as chris christie's top political operative.
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yes, bill stepien was 1 of the 18 people subpoenaed by the state legislature into the investigation into this matter. those subpoenas are supposed to be responded to by monday. today, bill stepien said he's not going to do that. he's going to invoke the fifth amendment. his lawyer releasing this 19-page letter with 100-plus pages of attachments tonight explaining bill stepien will not comply with the subpoena. he'll invoke this fifth amendment right not to testify. his attorney says bill stepien has not broken any laws. he calls him one of the most well respected political consultants in america. and he says he's taking the fifth. here's the thing, though. that subpoena deadline is monday. is bill stepien going to be the first to invoke the fifth amendment and fight the subpoena or are all the chris christie staffers going to do that now? two days after the subpoenas are due on monday, it's wednesday of next week. wednesday of next week is the subpoena deadline not just for the legislature but federal prosecutors also investigating this issue as a potential
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federal criminal matter and who have sent subpoenas due next wednesday. we know from last week, two of the entities who received the federal grand jury subpoenas due next wednesday are the chris christie re-election campaign and new jersey state republican party. interestingly, in the "i'm taking the fifth" filing from bill stepien today, he said he didn't get a federal subpoena from the u.s. attorney's office, he only got one from the state legislature. we don't really know who else got subpoenaed by federal prosecutors, but look at this. the "bergen record" got ahold of the agreement for what governor christie's office is going to be paying the lawyer who's representing them on the bridge scandal. they're going to be paying the lawyer $650 an hour. rather if you're a new jersey taxpayer, you are going to be paying this lawyer $650 an hour, the deal they struck for him time. more interesting than what he's getting paid is what he's getting paid for. the lawyer's retention letter
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states he'll help the office with "document retention and production in connection with the united states attorney inquiry" which the "bergen record" notes is the clearest indication we've had yet governor christie's office already received or anticipating receiving a subpoena from the federal prosecutors looking into whether a crime was committed. chris christie's campaign manager is invoking the fifth amendment in response to the subpoena from the legislature on monday. nobody is saying officially who also got a subpoena from the feds. but new jersey taxpayers are paying a $650 an hour lawyer for the office of the governor of new jersey to handle some kind of inquiry from federal criminal prosecutors. they're just not saying what. this weekend is the super bowl, and it is in new jersey. and on that occasion, i'm sure governor christie is delighted to be doing sports interviews where no one asks him of the federal grand jury subpoena in
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the scandal. the super bowl is sunday and it will end on sunday. then will come monday and all of next week. right now it looks like all of next week is going to be a real doozy. [ coughs, sneezes ] i have a big meeting when we land, but i am so stuffed up, i can't rest. [ male announcer ] nyquil cold and flu liquid gels don't unstuff your nose. they don't? alka seltzer plus night fights your worst cold symptoms, plus has a decongestant. [ inhales deeply ] oh. what a relief it is.
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[ male announcer ] try campbell's homestyle soup. and i am stunned by the abject stupidity that was shown here. we have nothing to hide and this administration has nothing to hide. listen, i have absolutely nothing to hide. and i've not given any instruction to anymore, yet, but my instruction to everybody will be to cooperate and answer questions. >> that said, the governor's top political staffer, his campaign manager for both his election campaign and his re-election campaign just said he will not comply with a subpoena from the new jersey state legislature on the issue of the bridge scandal, says he's invoking his fifth amendment rights and will not hand anything over. joining us, co-chairman of the new jersey assembly, john wisniewski.
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thank you for being back here. >> good to be here, rachel. thank you. >> today, we learned a lot of things. one of the things we learned is bill stepien's lawyer, the christie campaign manager, is challenging your subpoena. he's asserting his fifth amendment rights. he's saying essentially he's not going to comply. what's your reaction to that? >> that's something the lawyers are going to have to work out but the subpoena is valid. remember, david wildstein complied with the document subpoena, did not raise this very same issue. so it's a little curious. we expect compliance with the subpoenas. we're going to meet with counsel beginning of the week to talk about what steps the committee can take to make sure the subpoena is complied with. >> do you expect more of this? do you have any reason to suspect or know other people who you subpoenaed, you subpoenaed 18 individuals and 2 entities, that they'll also do this? >> i don't have reason to expect they will. we've gotten documents not only from mr. wildstein but from mr. foye and others who none of them have raised this very same objections. so my expectation is that people will comply with the subpoenas as they've been issued. >> i'm just going to laze one
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issue to you from mr. stepien's objection. his lawyer says we presume he's subpoenaed because of two documents he sent which shows him commenting on press reports about this matter after it was already done. so obviously they're saying the implication is he wasn't involved in this in any way. they're not referencing the other document you also turned up under subpoena in which he was sent information about the shutdown while it was ongoing. do you think it's possible this is, like, a three's company plot, this is a big misunderstanding and once we get on the same page about the facts it will be resolved? >> it could be. >> yeah. >> i think the key element here is the facts. let's get to the facts. let's get to the documents. if there's absolutely nothing untoward going on here, if this is just a big misunderstanding, then what's the harm in allowing the committee to see the documents and have the committee make the determination on its own? we want to get to the facts so this can't happen again. we're not a law enforcement agency.
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so it seems that the protestation is somewhat overblown in light of what the committee's charge is and what the committee's looking for. >> in a different letter released today, david wildstein's lawyer appears to be referencing some sort of undisclosed evidence that the governor knew about the lane closures on that bridge while they happened. you have already received a number of documents from david wildstein under subpoena. is he referencing evidence that you have seen? do you know what he's talking about? >> i don't know what he's talking about and i think that's, perhaps, one of the most intriguing elements of this letter. i mean, it was buried in a three-page letter that largely talked about his getting his attorneys fees paid. so somewhere in there is this allegation that there's material that mr. wildstein has that refutes the governor's statement. i would have expected that if he had that material it would have been produced as part of his subpoena response. we don't have that. i'd like to know what it is. also i'd like to know under what basis was this material with held from the committee? >> one of the ways mr. wildstein
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withheld material by the committee was handing you documents that had black lines all over them, a lot of things redacted. you talked before about trying to get the unredacted version of the documents. trying to figure out what it was he blacked out. what's the status of that? >> the committee attorney is looking at those documents to determine exactly what was redacted and we'll have a conversation with mr. wildstein's attorney to make a determination as to whether we agree with his redactions or we find issue with his redactions. i think it's too early to say. there's a small number of documents. we're looking at them to make sure the argument was made. these are outside the timeframe, these are not relevant to the subject matter. so we want to make sure that if that's really the case or were there things that were unintentionally or intentionally kept from the committee we should have been made aware of? so far we haven't come across anything that seems to speak to the issue that was raised by wildstein's attorney in today's letter. >> one last question for you briefly. i know you're about to get -- unless everybody pleads the fifth, you're about to get thousands of documents starting on monday. >> possible.
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>> in response to the subpoenas. will they be publicly released? when will the decision be made? >> they won't be publicly released initially because we won't know exactly how complete they are, if they've complied. so the first step, his staff will review them. there will be a determination for completeness. then, what we did in the past with wildstein is when he testified as part of the transcript that was prepared afterwards, those documents were made available as part of the transcript. and so we're way before anybody testifying. we don't know if we need, for instance, to do additional document subpoenas. it will be some time before the documents become part of the public record. >> john wisniewski now accepting new reading glasses as a donation from across the nation. good luck, thanks, sir. >> thank you. all right. we've got lots more to come. stay with us. of the pre-treat soak treat soak? those are fond memories, but those things are amazing. once i saw what they did, i actually started to relax.
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>> think about it. who would close down lanes of the busiest bridge in the world to get to me? first of all, i never thought of myself as that important. how could this possibly be? how could it possibly be? but now reading the e-mails and the texts that we see today, it certainly is the case. and i'm embarrassed for those people. >> joining us now is the mayor of the ft. lee, new jersey, mayor mark sokolich. thanks very much for being here.
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>> thank you, rachel. >> you talked about this story and what was going on in your town initially when it happened, then you stopped talking about it publicly for awhile. >> i did. >> why did you stop far while and why are you talking to us tonight? >> my decisions is what i believe to be in the best interest of my community, bottom line. when this happened on that monday on september 9 and for three or four months, i didn't view there being any benefit. there were fact finders that were investigating, you know, senator weinberg and the assemblymen and the committee looking into the facts. i didn't view it to be a benefit for ft. lee to enter that fray, number one. the only time i really spoke publicly during those four months when i believe the governor made reference that if it was such an important issue to me i should have called pat foye. i didn't know who he was until he wrote that memo on thursday. because we were told to talk to new jersey employees because it was a new jersey problem. >> he said you didn't say anything when it happened initially?
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>> it's not possible. >> we now know. we have seen the letters, the text references and the e-mails. >> 20 or 30 of them. >> david wildstein asserting there was evidence that governor christie knew this was happening while this happened. what do you think about that? >> it's an artily crafted letter. written by a lawyer, well-trained lawyer. it talks about legal fees and conflict of interest and he says during the lane closures. that needs to be a defined term. if during the lane closures is monday, september 9 an then four more days thereafter, that's a problem for me. it's a problem for ft. lee and a problem for the state. >> if the governor knew about it and didn't take steps to stop it. >> that's correct. if during means tuesday or wednesday, it gets a little less worse as you get to problem or thursday when the memo surfaces from executive director foye. but if, you know, if we were -- if it was allowed to continue that's a problem. but, you know what?
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i said i'm taking the governor at his word. i'm not rooting for the governor to be part of this, but there's still many chapters still not yet read on this issue. >> when governor christie did stop attacking people for asking about this and minimizing this as an issue, and he did apologize and take some responsibility for it, one of the things he did was come to ft. lee to apologize. did he say anything 20 you then to assure you that he didn't have -- that he didn't know about it at the time or didn't know about it ahead of time? >> that 25, 30-minute meeting, maybe 40-minute meeting was basically a recant of the two hours of statements that were made earlier that day. there were unconditional assurances there would be no further retribution. you can rest assured nothing like this will ever happen again. it was a specific question i had asked. what do i tell my residents? what can i say to my residents to give them an assurance that this won't happen again. and we were assured it wouldn't happen again. >> have you heard from the governor or his office since then? has there been any further intercourse between the two of you?
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>> there's been no further intercourse between the two. i did reach out and there's a meeting we set up for the new deputy executive director with the port authority, which i'm really looking forward to meeting. we initiated that. and she graciously agreed. so we're really looking forward to meeting with her and talking about how ft. lee can be a great host community to the busiest bridge in the world. >> you've been through a lot on this. thank you for talking to us. >> my pleasure. >> we'll be right back. stay with us. the conversation about her mortgage didn't start here. it began on her vacation in europe on the day she arrived in london. someone set up a bogus hotspot, stole her identity and opened some credit cards in her name. but she's not worried. checking her credit report and score at
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know what we have to talk about tonight, but there's something else going on in the story. and steve kornacki is going to break it tomorrow. remember i told you that and it turns out the next day steve kornacki blew the whole story open with the dawn zimmer claims and hoboken and the superstorm sandy relief funds tied to a development project in the town, how that changed the whole story. and steve kornacki broke that story? well, steve tomorrow has another scoop. it is a different angle than what we've learned about tonight. chris christie knew about it while it was happening. today we've learned that the campaign manager is going to invoke the fifth amendment and refuse to comply on monday. today we have evidence, not direct evidence that chris christie's office has probably also received a subpoena and is expected to receive a subpoena from federal prosecutors looking into this matter for this
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potential criminal issue in new jersey. all of that broke today. but something different on this story is going to break tomorrow. from long time new jersey reporter and now msnbc anchor steve kornacki. 8:00 a.m. tomorrow morning. weekends with alex witt starts now. what did he know and when did he know it? new questions today about new jersey governor, chris christie and the lane closures with the george washington bridge. amanda knox and another guilty verdict overseas. will the u.s. government send her back to italy? who might be behind a series of false alarms days before the super bowl. why would schools take away kids lunches? i will talk to a parent whose child went through that. good morning,el