updated 1/14/2014 10:49:45 AM ET 2014-01-14T15:49:45

POLITICS NATION
January 13, 2014

Guests: Ray Lesniak, Krystal Ball, Cynthia Tucker, John McKeon, Michael Isikoff


REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR: Good evening, Ed. And thanks to you
for tuning in.

Tonight`s lead, the Christie investigation widens and the pressure and
rising. Since Governor Christie`s press conference, it hasn`t quieted
down. It`s only getting hotter.

Today, we learned new subpoenas are likely coming this week for Christie`s
former deputy chief of staff Bridget Kelly, and for his campaign manager,
Bill Stepien. Also today, lawmakers preferred contempt charges to
prosecutors after former Christie appointee David Wildstein refused to
answer questions. Those charges carry a maximum penalty of 18 months
behind bars.

And two new investigations were also announced today. The New Jersey
Senate plans a committee to investigate the scandal. And the assembly
announced its own special investigatory committee with full subpoena
powers. It will be led by the lawmaker who helped break this story wide
open. He said today Christie`s story is unbelievable.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ASSEMBLYMAN JOHN WISNIEWSKI (D), NEW JERSEY: When you have so many people
in his upper level senior circle that received information about the
fallout, the traffic jams, and the efforts to spin the traffic jams, in the
context of a governor running for reelection, it strains credibility to say
that all of these senior people whose job it is to communicate and keep the
governor informed did absolutely nothing with these e-mails.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: It does raise a lot of questions. Question for so many people
close to governor Christie. Like David Wildstein, who was held in
contempt, and Wildstein`s boss, Christie appointee Bill Baroni. Bridget
Kelly, the deputy chief of staff who sent the e-mail, "time for some
traffic problems in Fort Lee." Bill Stepien, the campaign manager who
infamously called the mayor of Fort Lee an idiot. Michael Drewniak, the
press secretary who received e-mails about reporter inquiries in September.
And Regina Egea, Christie`s incoming chief of staff who received several e-
mails. Four of these people have been resigned, fired or let go. Two
others appear to have known about the swirling controversy. They`re all
facing tough questions.

That includes Governor Christie, who gives his state of the state address
tomorrow. The mystery is far from over.

Joining me now are New Jersey Democrat, New Jersey state senator Ray
Lesniak and salon.com`s Joan Walsh.

Thank you both for being here.

JOAN WALSH, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, SALON.COM: Thanks, Rev.

STATE SENATOR RAY LESNIAK (D), NEW JERSEY: Glad to be here for sure.

SHARPTON: Senator, the pressure is ramping up. New investigative
committee formed. What questions do you want answered?

LESNIAK: Well, first of all, we want to get down to the bottom of this.
Why was this retaliation taking place? What was the motive? And then, of
course, what the governor knew. But after he knew, what did he do about
it? We know what he did about it. He circled the wagons and concocted a
phony, a false story to really, in my opinion, obstruct justice. So, when
these facts come out and more people from his administration are asked to
testify under oath, it`s going to get closer and closer to Governor
Christie having some serious problems.

SHARPTON: So, you`re saying it is your belief that Governor Christie
circled the wagons, if I heard you right, and he began in effect a cover-
up, which is an obstruction of justice, which could be criminal.

LESNIAK: It certainly could be. But for months, instead of trying to
referring it to the attorney general`s office, reacting to the closures, he
said nothing. He tried to make light of it, like this was a joke. It was
no joke, not only to the thousands of consumers caught in traffic, but
certainly to the emergency response vehicles who weren`t able to get to the
hospital to respond to any emergencies and school children who didn`t even
get to school.

Governor Christie, this is no joking matter. This was serious. And we`re
taking it seriously.

SHARPTON: Joan, you know, the investigators and the widening here in the
investigations, the governmental arms are looking into this, the New Jersey
state Senate is planning to launch a special committee, so is the New
Jersey state Senate. The U.S. attorney`s office in New Jersey has opened
up an inquiry. This is not going away with the almost two-hour press
conference that governor Christie did.

WALSH: The two-hour pity party where he told us how bad this was for him
and how bad he felt about himself, and how he was mistreated by his staff.
I mean, no. He made things much worse for himself, Rev., because as these
e-mails come out, you see you`ve got his staff around him. Every single
person around him virtually in that office was either planning this charade
or they were involved in covering it up, or they were involved in
deflecting reporters` inquiries.

And it really does strain credulity that a man as accomplished as Governor
Christie, a former prosecutor would not at minimum say we`ve got to get to
the bottom of this, listening to what the allegations were, you don`t just
sit there. You wouldn`t tolerate it on your staff. You don`t just sit
there.

SHARPTON: And there is the senator saying in the middle of a reelection.

WALSH: Right.

SHARPTON: Would you want to do that.

Senator David Wildstein, the former appointee of Governor Christie refused
to answer questions last week and we all saw that. But there was something
interesting I think a lot of people missed that his lawyer said. Let me
play this to you.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALAN ZEGAS, DAVID WILDSTEIN`S ATTORNEY: 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.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s your job. We just want answers to our
questions.

ZEGAS: Understood. I`m suggesting a way you can get there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now, I`m suggesting a way you can get there. I mean, is that
ominous, Mr. Senator? Because it seems that he implied that his client has
a lot that he could say if he was given immunity. Now maybe I`m reading
something into it.

LESNIAK: Well, he`s not the only one who that has a lot that could be said
that could save their skins. There will be other people I believe saying
the same thing. It`s really going to be a rush to who gets there first
with the moistest (ph). But this guy is a sharp operator, and he was right
in the middle of it. He caused the whole thing. And he can save himself
if he is truthful with the law enforcement authorities, maybe.

SHARPTON: Joan, they`ve thrown the contempt over to a local prosecutor.

WALSH: Right.

SHARPTON: And as I said in the opening, maximum could be 18 months.

WALSH: Right.

SHARPTON: With looking at that and looking at the statement that his
lawyers said, does it appear to you that the lawyer at least implying they
may have some things they want to say if given immunity?

WALSH: Absolutely, Reverend Al. The other thing that I hear when you play
that again is that the lawyer is essentially admitting that Wildstein has
not delivered to the truth to this point. He is basically saying if you
want the truth, which you do not have yet, you`re going to have to give him
immunity, and that he is willing to take immunity.

And the other really gratuitously mean thing that the governor did at this
press conference last week is say not only am I not friends with David
Wildstein, we were not even acquaintances with high school. I was an
athlete. I was class president. I don`t know what he was doing. We found
out over the weekend they were both on the baseball team, though Wildstein
was the statistician. There is an element of kind of gratuitous meanness
that is going to backfire on this governor. It already has.

LESNIAK: Joan, how about this, Reverend, I am not a bully.

WALSH: Right.

LESNIAK: I am not a bully. The man is a bully. Everyone knows that, a
big bully.

SHARPTON: The governor gives his state of the state address tomorrow in
this kind of climate, it`s going to be a difficult address at best for him.
What are you hoping to hear tomorrow? Probably little on this case, I
would assume.

LESNIAK: Well, look. We still have to govern. We have a lot of problems.
Unemployment problems. We have crime problems. We have budget problems.
We can`t lose focus. He is still the governor, and we have to work with
him to have these problems solved. So we can`t lose attention from that.
But we can do both at is the same time, and we owe to it the public to do
both.

SHARPTON: Joan, the governor was -- there was a question of whether the
governor`s people was punishing the mayor of Fort Lee for not endorsing
Governor Christie. Last week, the mayor of Fort Lee said he was never
approached for an endorsement. But today, he told the Bergen Record the
idea did come up. Quote, "it got as close as is this something you`d
consider?" The Record said the mayor declined to answer more questions
about the matter. But this does seem to indicate the idea of an
endorsement did come up.

WALSH: It does. But I also think that our colleague Steve Kornacki has a
great set of theories around this having to do with real estate. And in
the end, all politics has to do with retail, Reverend Al.

So I think we`re still untangling a lot of reasons that this might have
happened. And you know, I don`t see how you give a state of the state
address tomorrow night and not deal with this in some way. But I also
think it`s very hard for him to say anything else that doesn`t get him in
more trouble.

SHARPTON: But doesn`t it come back to you, senator, what you said at the
beginning? We know that we`re after a lot of the what, but you also want
to know the why. Was it a retribution based on politics? Was it as my
colleague Steve Kornacki is saying about a real estate deal? I mean, the
why here is very important and could also put into focus the what.

LESNIAK: Well, for sure. And I think Steve Kornacki is on to something
here. This was a billion dollar development. There are a lot of players
involved that are close to Christie, that are enemies of Christie. This is
something that we`re really going to have to look very, very closely at.

SHARPTON: Wow. We`ll be watching it. Let me put that it way.

New jersey state senator Ray Lesniak, and Joan Walsh. Thank you both for
your time tonight.

WALSH: Thanks, Rev.

LESNIAK: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Coming up, did governor Christie know more? Can he survive this
politically? Former governor Ed Rendell joins us.

Plus, we`re learning more about a history of political retribution. The
lead investigator is talking about an enemy`s list.

And you got to hand it to these Republicans. Somehow this scandal is about
President Obama. And one is blaming a, quote, "feminized atmosphere."

We have some very good news about Obamacare tonight. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: The New Jersey bridge scandal with more subpoenas coming, one
key question is did governor Christie know more? Governor Rendell on that,
next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Did Governor Christie know? It`s the key question of the bridge
scandal. Inside the thousands of documents released is an e-mail from the
executive director of the port authority saying, quote, "I am appalled,"
and saying that, quote, "hasty and ill-advised decision violates federal
law and the laws of both states."

That e-mail was forwarded to a senior staffer in Christie`s office, the
incoming chief of staff. We told you there are several there are several
people in Christie`s circumstance whole are somehow involved in the story.
These people are facing some very tough questions. So what happens if the
governor did know?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WISNIEWSKI: Using the George Washington bridge of public resource to exact
a political vendetta is a crime. Having people use their official position
to have a political gain is a crime. And so if those tie back into the
governor in any way, it clearly becomes an impeachable offense.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Governor Christie is the GOP`s biggest hope for 2016. Instead,
he is fighting what might be the toughest political battle of his career
right now.

Joining me now is former governor Ed Rendell, Democrat from Pennsylvania.

Thank you for joining me, governor.

ED RENDELL (D), FORMER GOVERNOR, PENNSYLVANIA: My pleasure.

SHARPTON: Let me put this graphic up again. All of these people who may
have some knowledge of the closing. As a former governor, you know how
this works. Do you believe his story that he didn`t know what his staff
was up to?

RENDELL: It stretches credulity enormously, Rev.

When I was governor, no one in my staff, particularly my deputy chief of
staff whose desk was 25 yards from mine, no one in my staff ever would have
done something of this magnitude without clearing it with me fist. And I
was the same type of hands-on governor that governor Christie is. But
there is an even bigger problem for governor Christie.

Let`s assume that he wants us to believe that he never was notified of
this. Well, Governor Christie, like I, knew everything that goes on in his
state at the end of every day. He, I`m sure learned of that traffic jam on
the George Washington bridge, and he said he was told it was a traffic
study. Well, look, don`t you believe that you`re running for reelection.

SHARPTON: Right.

RENDELL: It`s a traffic study. It`s causing all sorts of headaches. The
first thing I would do if I`m governor, I would pick up the phone and say
what is going on. They say it`s a traffic study. The next thing I say is
take that traffic study and stick it in the can. We are opening the bridge
in 30 minutes. Get those cones down. We are opening the bridge in 30
minutes. I do not want people inconvenienced.

SHARPTON: Right.

RENDELL: That`s the first thing an active governor would have done. How
does he let it go for four or five days of incredible inconvenience and
danger to public safety to the citizens?

SHARPTON: So you`re saying he must have known?

RENDELL: He had to know. Because if he didn`t know, the first day he
hears about it, he says traffic study my rear end. We`re going to open
that bridge now, and you have to come to Trenton and explain to me why a
traffic study necessitates closing lanes for four days. Get those cones
down. Get the traffic flowing again. That`s what a governor does
particularly an activist governor like Governor Christie.

SHARPTON: Let me ask you something you said earlier. You said your deputy
chief of staff was how far away from you? I mean, is it customary for the
deputy chief of staff to be in that close proximity to the governor in
terms of their desk and offices?

RENDELL: Sure, because you`ve got your chief of staff almost always next
door, sometimes there is a side door that you can enter into with the
deputy chief of -- with the chief of staff. And the deputies are down the
hall, 25, 30 yards away.

So what I`m saying is Governor Christie said he has 65,000 employees. He
can`t be accountable for all of them. Well, that`s true. But deputy chief
of staff is among the four or five most important people that you have in
your administration. And they`re not going to do something like this
without informing you that it`s going on without getting your approval.

SHARPTON: There are some that claim she was even with him the first day of
the bridge facing the closing of these lanes.

You know, assemblyman John Wisniewski expressed his own doubt that the
governor didn`t know what was happening. Watch this, governor.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WISNIEWSKI: These people travel with him. These people discuss things
with him every single day. He knew there was an investigation. He knew
people were looking at it. And his senior staff was involved. And yet he
expects us to believe that he knew nothing. I just find that implausible.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: He says what you`re saying, it`s just implausible.

RENDELL: And especially because we`re finding out that so many different
people knew. And at different points way before Governor Christie says he
was blindsided and he learned about it just a couple of days ago. Well,
that simply, it defies credibility. It defies credibility with that many
people. And again, Governor Christie is a tough guy and I mean that in a
good way. He gets thing done. He moves people around. He takes care of
problems in his state. There is no way that he would have let this problem
in his state fester for four or five days. If someone told him it was a
traffic study, he says without any question, come to Trenton and explain to
me why we need a traffic study. But in the meantime, open up those lanes.

SHARPTON: Now governor, if one were to compare this to Watergate, that
would be something that would catch everyone`s attention. But the fact
that conservative "Washington Post" columnist George Will did is even more
troubling if I`m Governor Christie. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE WILL, COLUMNIST, WASHINGTON POST: John Dean sent a memo to Mr.
Higby, who was the assistant of the chief of staff alderman saying we
should use the machinery, the federal machinery of government to screw our
enemies. That`s what this was about up there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: That`s what this was about up there. This is George Will, one
of the most respected right wingers or conservative journalists in the
country saying this. That`s big trouble for Christie, isn`t it, in terms
of his national political career, no matter what happens here?

RENDELL: There is no question. And even just as bad as "the New York
Post" poll today which shows well over half of New Jersey think the
governor is not telling the truth. That`s just a logical inference to be
drawn from the facts. And George Will has drawn it. The people of New
Jersey have drawn it.

And I think the governor has a tough road to hoe to try to convince people
that he didn`t know about it. Because the only thing that he can say is
well, I knew there was traffic problems, but I thought it was a traffic
study. So I let it go on for five days.

SHARPTON: If it comes out that he knew about it, Governor, then what?

RENDELL: Well, then it would be up to the prosecutors, both state and
federal, to take a look at this and see if there have been any laws that
have been violated. But it certainly would be grounds there, at least,
consider some form of impeachment action as the representative said.

But again, I think we`re jumping ahead of ourselves here, Rev. I think we
have to let the facts play out. But again, they have a lot of explaining
to do about how this is possible. It just doesn`t seem credible,
particularly with a governor so involved in everything that happens in the
state as Governor Christie was.

And that`s one of the things that he did well. He was always on top of
issues in his state. He always knew what was going on. Before I went to
bed at night, I knew every major incident that was happening in the state
of Pennsylvania and I know governor Christie did the same.

SHARPTON: Yes. Particularly when he is running for reelection at the same
time.

RENDELL: Absolutely. Would you want people ticked off for five days in
northern jersey, one of your strongholds? God, that would bother the heck
out of me.

SHARPTON: Former governor Ed Rendell.

RENDELL: It doesn`t make sense.

SHARPTON: I`m going to have to leave it there. Thank you for your time
tonight.

RENDELL: Thanks, Rev.

SHARPTON: Coming up, somehow Governor Christie`s bridge scandal comes back
to Benghazi. Yes, that`s how worried they are.

Plus, we`re learning more stories of political payback and retribution from
the Christie administration. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Conservatives are pulling out all the stops to defend Chris
Christie. But here is a new one.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In this sort of feminized atmosphere in which we exist
today, guys who are masculine and muscular like that in their private
conduct and are old-fashioned tough guys run some risks.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Feminized atmosphere? The right wing spin is just spinning out.
It`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Did you hear? The Chris Christie bridge scandal isn`t really
about a bridge at all. Nope. It turns out the real story is about 5,000
miles away in Libya. That`s right. Republicans say that even though the
bridge is in New Jersey, the real focus should be on Benghazi.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Frankly, you know, he was in campaign mode at the time.
During campaign mode, you miss a lot of things. You`re not paying as much
attention. We see that with Benghazi. And I give you plenty of examples.

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: We haven`t spent this much time in a
press conference on four Americans dying in Benghazi.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: You`ll notice we haven`t been hearing a lot from the
Clinton camp about this, both the contrast with President Bill Clinton and
with Secretary Clinton`s handling of Benghazi.

REINCE PRIEBUS, RNC CHAIRMAN: He stood there for 111 minutes in an open
dialogue with the press. Now only if Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton
would give us 111 seconds of that, would we find out some things we want to
find out about ObamaCare, Benghazi, the IRS.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Oh, excuse me, Chairman Priebus. Christie bridgegate is really
about ObamaCare, Benghazi, and the IRS? In fact, some Republicans think
the president should take a page out of the Christie playbook.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: His handling of this, being straight forward, taking
action, saying I`m responsible, firing the people, probably gives him some
street cred with Tea Party Republicans who say that`s what we want in a
leader.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: How about that? This whole mess has been a model of leadership.
Is it just me, or have the Republican contortions gotten a little extreme?
I mean, what will they come up with next to defend Christie?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: In this sort of feminized atmosphere in which we exist
today, guys who are masculine and muscular like that in their private
conduct and kind of old-fashioned tough guys run some risks. If you act
like kind of an old-fashioned guy`s guy, you`re in constant danger of
slipping out and saying something that is going to get you in trouble and
make you look like a sexist or make you look like you seem thuggish or
whatever.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Feminized atmosphere. Chris Christie is a victim of a feminized
atmosphere. Folks, if right wingers think Americans will buy that, I`ve
got a bridge to sell them.

Joining me now are Krystal Ball and Cynthia Tucker. Thank you both for
coming on the show tonight.

KRYSTAL BALL, MSNBC CO-HOST, "THE CYCLE": Thanks for having us, Reverend.

CYNTHIA TUCKER, PULITZER PRIZE WINNING COLUMNIST: Good to be here,
Reverend.

SHARPTON: Krystal, let me start with you. Why are people picking on poor
Governor Christie? He is just a victim of a feminized atmosphere?

BALL: It`s really not fair. This excuse, I mean, at least it`s creative.
The Benghazi thing, the IRS scandal thing, they always blame Obama. That
was all kind of predictable. But blaming the feminists for Chris
Christie`s problem is pretty unique. And on the contrary, I have to say I
think his sort of his swagger and his alpha male posture has been part of
what his appeal has been in terms of the right. It is what brought him to
prominence. They all imagined him taking on President Obama --

SHARPTON: Right.

BALL: Really taking it to him tough. But his actions as a bully, whatever
happens with the bridge scandal, those are well documented. Berating
school teachers, yelling at constituents, chasing people down when they
challenge him, that part of his whole ethos is well established.

SHARPTON: But Cynthia, did they miss the fact that the one who sent the e-
mail saying it`s time for a little traffic problem on the bridge is a
woman? And all of this other stuff, I mean, is dealing with e-mails of men
and women, and it hasn`t even got to Christie and his attitude or him being
this hard man. In fact, he is saying he wasn`t involved. So, I mean, I
don`t even know how you try to contort this to make sense.

TUCKER: Reverend Al, you`re looking for logic here. And there is
absolutely no logic. You know, one of the funnier things about listening
to these Republicans talk is that right-wingers don`t really like Chris
Christie anyway. He is too moderate for their tastes. You remember during
the Hurricane Sandy episode actually put his arm around Obama. They hate
that. But he is a republican. He has been spoken of as a major
presidential candidate in 2016.

So they think they have to defend him. And the contortions that they have
gone to try to defend him are laughable. It makes no sense at all. This
has nothing to do with Benghazi, nothing to do with the IRS. They`ve
talked about, well, Obama won`t give us 111 seconds on Benghazi or the IRS.

SHARPTON: Yes.

TUCKER: We know everything we need to know about those two episodes.

BALL: Oh, and how many hearings did we have?

SHARPTON: Yes. How many hearings did we have, plus, you don`t have anyone
sitting in the west wing of the White House that was involved in the IRS,
any of that. But the far right, you know, they just can`t help themselves,
Krystal. Now they`re putting out conspiracy theories. Glenn Beck`s
website, the blaze, it says that lane-gate and Governor Christie are
helping Obama again.

BALL: Everything is seen through like these Obama lens glasses. Every
story.

SHARPTON: I`m not finished. Rush Limbaugh claims that this whole story is
a distraction to take the attention off Robert Gates` book. Listen to the
head of the Republican.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LIMBAUGH: The left right now is very excited over what we just learned
about Governor Christie, because what we have just learned about Governor
Christie is helping to take the gates thing off the front page. But the
point is, the media is just glommed on to that. Like bees in honeycomb so
that they don`t have to talk about the Gates book.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Maybe I missed something in the Gates book, but there was no
allegations there that there was some kind of mood that would do what was
done to the motorists in New Jersey and the using of government and public
institutions and agencies to do it.

BALL: Right. And the real driver of the timing on the story around Chris
Christie is Chris Christie. Because he tried to push off the allegations,
not really look into it himself. So, you know, this is coming out now
because he failed himself to look into it when the problem was first
noticed and first brought to light by Democrats in New Jersey. I think
Chris Christie may have a bigger problem even coming down the pike with the
allegations that he misused funds for the Sandy relief effort, which I
think is going to be even harder for Republicans to defend since they are
supposed to be the party of fiscal responsibility. And since they had had
some issues with Christie in the past over the Sandy relief funds. So,
that`s another piece that they`re going to have to try to defend. And you
can already see how they`re turning this into a liberal media versus Chris
Christie kind of a story.

SHARPTON: Yes. Well, you know, Cynthia, on the New Jersey shore as the
governor`s office has taken heat for promoting these adds, and it features
Christie and his family. But a Christie administration defends ads by
saying, quote, "The stronger than the storm campaign is just one part of
the first action plan approved by the Obama administration." So they`re
going to run back to President Obama. But in fact they`re looking at
whether -- one mayor said that their request for a lot of aid and help was
reduced to a minimum of what they had requested after she said she wouldn`t
endorse him for governor. All of these questions are going to be very
difficult to answer easily.

TUCKER: Absolutely. There is a lot here that is going on. And Christie
has been able to, as Krystal said, sweep this under the rug, say there is
nothing to it. This is just my political enemies complaining. But now
there will be lots of investigations, lots of hearings. Other mayors, as
you said saying that there was retribution against them too. And all of
these things need to be investigated. They`ll get a thorough hearing. And
so Republicans can only hope that at least Chris Christie was telling the
truth during his 111 minutes up there talking, talking, talking.

SHARPTON: Yes.

TUCKER: They better hope everything he said was true.

SHARPTON: But not only do they need to hope that already we know Krystal,
despite the fact that he had such high favorabilities among the 2016
contenders, I think he was at 52 percent. The closest was only at 40. But
now over the weekend the one poll says most of the people in New Jersey do
not believe he is telling the whole truth on this matter.

BALL: Yes. Well, I think it`s hard for people to believe that all the
people around you knew something about it and you that`s take charge guy
who has promoted yourself as such as strong leader was absolutely
completely blindsided, that you had no inkling. Whether or not they think
that he is the one that ordered it or not, I think it strains credibility
to think that he had no inkling that this could possibly have been going
on.

SHARPTON: He is in a feminized atmosphere.

BALL: Well, that`s his problem.

SHARPTON: Krystal Ball, Cynthia Tucker, thanks for your time this evening.

BALL: Thanks, Rev.

SHARPTON: Be sure to catch Krystal on "THE CYCLE" weekdays at 3:00 p.m.
right here on MSNBC.

Coming up, bully politics. We`re learning more about the pattern of
retribution. Michael Isikoff has been working this story all day. He has
some news for us. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Politics ain`t beanbag. OK? And
everybody in the country who engages in politics knows that. On the other
hand, that`s very, very different than saying that, you know, someone is a
bully, because I am who I am, but I am not a bully.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Does the Christie team operate based on political payback and
retaliation? A new story from Jersey City suggests the answer is yes.
Documents obtained by NBC News support claims from Jersey City Mayor Steve
Fulop that he was cut off after refusing to endorse Christie for governor.
The documents show that disgraced Christie aide Bridget Kelly arranged for
top state officials to meet with the mayor last summer. But all of those
meetings were canceled without explanation after Fulop chose not to endorse
Christie.

That echoes the experience of the mayor of Fort Lee, the town that was
brought to a halt by lane closures at the GW Bridge. Today he confirmed to
"The New York Times" that Christie`s re-election team did seek his
endorsement. Months later, subpoenaed e-mails show that he begged one of
Christie`s allies at the Port Authority to call him about the horrible
traffic created by the bridge. Bridget Kelly e-mailed. Quote, "did he
call him back?" The man who ordered the lane closures, David Wildstein
wrote, quote, "radio silence."

His name comes right after Mayor Fulop. The other mayor who refused to
endorse Christie. Democrats investigating Christie say all this adds up to
a kind of enemy`s list, targeting anyone who didn`t go and do what the
governor`s team wanted.

Joining me now is New Jersey Assemblyman John McKeon and NBC News national
investigative correspondent Michael Isikoff, who obtained these new
documents. Thank you both for joining me.

ASSEMBLYMAN JOHN MCKEON (D), NEW JERSEY: Thank you for having us. Good to
be here.

SHARPTON: Assemblyman, do these new revelations match your experience with
the Christie team?

MCKEON: Well, first of all, Reverend Al, I hope you`re nice and toasty in
the studio. It`s getting a little cool out on this side of things. And
the answer to that is yes. You know, in my own personal experiences before
Governor Christie was sworn in, relative to a piece of legislation I had in
play having to do with senatorial succession, he went out and called me a
quote-unquote, "liar." And that was the first of taking the patriarch of
the Senate and saying, she should get a bath taking to her. Calling
another one of my colleagues numb-nuts. So it`s just a culture of
disrespect, of a lack of comedy. And I guess maybe that might have leached
its way into senior staff.

SHARPTON: Now, you know, when you hear him call people these kinds of
names, Michael, liar and all of that, then you can see he really was trying
hard to get crossover party votes last year. For example, Mayor Fulop, who
is a Democrat, Christie was eager for his support. And he spoke at his
inauguration, which he doesn`t have to do. And he made a major gaffe.
Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIE: To the mayor`s parents and grandparents, to his siblings, to his
children and his wife, I congratulate you on your accomplishment. I
congratulate on your accomplishment.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now, that seems nice. What is wrong with that, Michael?

MICHAEL ISIKOFF, NBC NEWS NATIONAL INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: You can
see the mayor laughing there. The mayor is not married and he doesn`t have
any children.

SHARPTON: So he was really trying hard.

ISIKOFF: But look, name-calling is one thing. What these e-mails and
texts show, though, is something that probably goes a bit beyond that. The
mayor had just been elected. The governor`s people had said they want to
help him. They said they were going to set up a mayor`s day meeting with
six top officials of the Christie administration, cabinet members and Bill
Baroni from the Port Authority, the head of economic development, the
secretary of transportation, the state treasurer. It was all set up for
the same day, meetings with Mayor Fulop, the new mayor. Then the mayor
declined to endorse Christie`s reelection. And then on one day, July 18th,
within an hour, four of those top Christie aides call up the mayor`s
office, cancel the meetings, citing scheduling conflicts.

SHARPTON: Within one hour.

ISIKOFF: Within one hour, and don`t propose any other dates, according to
the e-mail. The next day, Baroni cancels. And then two days after that,
the only one left on the schedule, which was the head of economic
development canceled as well. So everybody in the Christie administration
canceled the meeting.

SHARPTON: Once the mayor would not endorse him.

ISIKOFF: And the e-mail showed the mayor asked his scheduler to go back to
these people, see if they could find an alternative day, and they hear
nothing back. At one point back in August, Fulop writes a letter or e-
mails Baroni saying look, it`s hard for me to conclude anything other than
some connection between the political conversations we were having and the
cancellation of these meetings.

SHARPTON: Right. Now assemblyman, did this -- let`s be clear. This
involved services for the public. I mean, we`re talking about they were
meeting to do things that would have service to people in the city. All of
that is canceled just immediately after he tells the Christie people he
will not endorse the governor for reelection. This is the kind of
disregard for the citizens that is so outrageous to me.

MCKEON: Well, you know, I think, Reverend, at the end of the day, a lot of
people say oh, it`s politics as usual. You pay back those who support you,
et cetera. You know, it`s one thing if it`s a discretionary grant to a
city. It`s another when you affirmatively seek taxpayer dollars and to put
people at risk. And, you know, I just think this level of conduct that we
now know occurred, that we know was ordered by a senior aide is outrageous.
I give the governor the benefit of the doubt that he had not an idea that
that was happening, but it`s going to be quite interesting and frankly
surprising that there isn`t any knowledge subsequent to that, as we know
among other senior staff since these e-mails have come out is indeed the
case.

SHARPTON: You know, Michael, Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer told WNYC that she
refused to endorse Christie, and afterward was denied most of the funding
she wanted for Hurricane Sandy relief. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR DAWN ZIMMER (D), HOBOKEN: With 20/20 hindsight, in the context we`re
in right now, you can always look back and say like, OK, it was
retribution. So I think probably all mayors are reflecting right now and
thinking about it. But, you know, I really hope that that`s not the case.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now, you`ve been doing a lot of reporting in New Jersey. Does
this track along with some of the other stories you`re hearing?

ISIKOFF: Look, yes. We`re hearing more and more stories like this. Now,
should it be pointed out there is a political culture in New Jersey that is
pretty hardball. And things like this do happen from time to time. There
is certainly a long history of that. You know, the question is at what
point is the line crossed. And certainly I think people think in the
George Washington Bridge closures that sort of raise a lot of questions
where you`re really jeopardizing the public safety because there were
emergency responders who they were having trouble responding to problems.
There was, you know, the executive director of the Port Authority warning
that laws may have been broken. So the question is this all part of a
pattern? And at some point, was the line crossed? And I think clearly --

SHARPTON: And is there a cover-up?

ISIKOFF: And is there a cover-up. Given subpoenas.

SHARPTON: That works with the cover-up.

ISIKOFF: Yes.

SHARPTON: Let me ask you this, Assemblyman. What is the mood there among
your colleagues? What are you hearing? What is the mood? I know there
are more subpoenas that are supposed to come out this week. What is the
mood in the legislature?

MCKEON: Well, I have to be honest with you, Reverend. No one is doing
cartwheels. I mean, this isn`t good for our state regardless of whatever
party somebody is from. And there is a lot of disbelief there is the
stupidity factor. And frankly, it`s again one thing as your guest was just
saying not to get a discretionary, you know, grant, whatever it might be,
for someone to be fired because they weren`t on the right team, that
happens in politics. But when you affirmatively use taxpayers` money to
create a problem, the very antithesis of what government is supposed to be
about, now that`s an outrage, let alone the public safety risk component of
this. So, we all want to know. And right now we know excess facts and
we`re not going to stop, as will our U.S. attorney until we do.

SHARPTON: All right. Assemblyman John McKeon and Michael Isikoff. Thank
you, Assemblyman for standing out in the cold. But I have a feeling it`s a
little hot inside. Thank you for your time tonight.

MCKEON: We`ll come and see you in the studio.

SHARPTON: All right. Up next, LeBron James tribute to his MVP. His
single mother.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: There is good news to report tonight about the president`s
health care law. 2.2 million Americans have signed up for the Affordable
Care Act.

Plus important progress towards the administration`s goal of signing up
young people. Twenty four percent of enrollees are between 18 and 34.
Remember those creepy Uncle Sam ads encouraging young people to opt out of
ObamaCare? Looks like the right wing scheme is on life support. And
that`s good news.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Finally tonight, NBA superstar LeBron James and his moving
tribute to the single mother who raised him. LeBron writes, quote, "My mom
worked anywhere and everywhere, trying to make ends meet. She was my
mother, my father, my everything. Gloria James was a working single mother
who struggled and got the job done. And for that I say I love you mom."

That tribute is part of a new study showing that there are millions of
women like Gloria James all across the country. Forty one percent of all
households with kids feature women as the primary, if not the only
breadwinner. Forty one percent. Well, I know what LeBron is talking
about. I was raised by a single mother. My mother picked up the pieces
when her and my father broke up when I was nine years old. We went from a
comfortable middle class existence to being in the middle of Brownsville,
Brooklyn, trying to make it.

And we had all of the social maladies you could face. But I never knew I
was underprivileged until I studied sociology at Brooklyn College, because
my mother never raised me as to what I didn`t have. She raised me as to
what I could be. And a lot of single mothers compensate by giving double
love. And they ought to be congratulated, not castigated.

Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. "HARDBALL" starts right now.

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

Transcription Copyright 2014 ASC LLC ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is
granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not
reproduce or redistribute the material except for user`s personal or
internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall
user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may
infringe upon MSNBC and ASC LLC`s copyright or other proprietary rights or
interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of
litigation.>

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,