updated 1/14/2014 11:00:23 AM ET 2014-01-14T16:00:23

THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
January 13, 2014

Guests : John Wisniewski, Frank Pallone, Heather Haddon, Amy Punt

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: After a weekend of impeachment talk, my
first guest tonight will be the chairman of that new committee that will
investigate who is really responsible for what happened at the George
Washington Bridge.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: New Jersey lawmakers press for more answers into the
closure of lanes on the George Washington Bridge.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The storm has not passed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: State subpoenas and investigative committee.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chris Christie`s crisis isn`t going away anytime soon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A federal audit. Also more national headlines.

REINCE PRIEBUS, RNC CHAIRMAN: Thousands and thousands of documents have
been revealed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This sort of drip, drip, drip of information.

PRIEBUS: And not one single link to Chris Christie has been found.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But it gets to a culture in his office that is
problematic.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Former deputy chief of staff Bridget Kelly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Deputy chief of staff Bridget Kelly gave the order.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let`s call it an ill-advised decision.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To have these lanes closed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We also don`t really know why it happened.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why did she order these lanes closed?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The biggest unanswered question is how much Christie
knew.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The assembly has the ability to do articles of
impeachment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John Wisniewski`s mentioned the I-word there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re way ahead of that.

PRIEBUS: Not one single link to Chris Christie has been found.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But it gets to a culture in his office.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If there is a culture --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is problematic.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In terms of what the Republican leaders are doing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have these two competing narratives.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Strategies ranging from silence --

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: We should reserve judgment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- to overt criticism.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People you hire are the policies that are implemented.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ouch.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Personnel is policy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People are now doubting his relationships.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Last week`s obsessive scrutiny of the George Washington
Bridge scandal was at the beginning of the end.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This will take a while.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This could be another tough week for him.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O`DONNELL: Tonight, Chris Christie is being compared to Richard Nixon by a
man who knows what he is talking about, Republican columnist George Will.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE WILL, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: This is not a phony scandal because as
the principal Watergate scholar here knows, John Dean sent a memo to Mr.
Higby, who was the assistant of the chief of staff Haldeman 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)

O`DONNELL: Nixon, of course, resigned the presidency under the threat of
certain impeachment -- a subject that came up this weekend in regards to
Governor Christie.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Could he be impeached or what would be the penalty?

JOHN WISNIEWSKI (D-NJ), ASSEMBLYMAN: Well, I think we`re a little early on
that, bob. I think you pointed out at the beginning we`re at the early
stages of this. But clearly if it becomes known that the governor was
involved and he knew about it and he knew about the cover-up and he was
approving the actions taken by his senior staff, that raises serious
questions that the assembly ought to look at. The assembly has the ability
to do articles of impeachment. We`re way ahead of that, though.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That was New Jersey Assemblyman John Wisniewski, who will be
the chairman of a special super committee the New Jersey legislature will
convene to investigate who is really responsible for what happened at the
George Washington Bridge.

And joining me now is Assemblyman John Wisniewski.

Mr. Chairman, as I suppose we can now call you, as this committee will be
calling you, what is your agenda? How do you see the outline of the way
you will approach this investigation?

WISNIEWSKI: Very simply -- we`re going to follow the facts wherever they
may lead us. This started out as a look into the operations of the Port
Authority. We had no expectation that there was any involvement with the
governor`s office.

But as we looked at the facts piece by piece it became clear that this was
-- the lane closure was an operation that was orchestrated out of the
governor`s office. It was an operation that his senior staff was involved
in trying to spin and obfuscate when the press asked questions and
ultimately it was an operation his senior staff was involved in trying to
cover up.

Those are very serious issues.

O`DONNELL: Now, you`ve already been faced with basically this challenge,
Fifth Amendment challenge in trying to get evidence from people involved in
this. David Wildstein very famously last week on television invoked the
Fifth Amendment. And his attorney basically begged, begged for immunity
from federal or state prosecution.

How are you going to evaluate the best way to approach the possible grants
of immunity here?

WISNIEWSKI: Well, it`s not for the legislature to grant immunity. There
are law enforcement agencies that he was speaking to, U.S. attorney, New
Jersey attorney general, New York attorney general, and they have it within
their province to look at the facts and grant immunity.

Our job is to get to the bottom of what happened. What`s clear is there
was an abuse of power, that that abuse of power was for political or non-
governmental purposes and that there was an effort to cover it up. We know
it went all the way into the governor`s senior staff, and we know that
senior staff during an election year is not likely to keep the governor
uninformed when there are allegations that laws have been broken.

So, to hear the governor`s explanation that he knew nothing until January
8th just doesn`t make sense.

O`DONNELL: Now, Bridget Anne Kelly is the author of what I guess is the
smoking gun, the hottest e-mail in this collection where she says -- seems
to start it all off by saying it`s time for some traffic problems at Fort
Lee. You would like to get her testimony, surely, and it seems the simple
question to her would be why did you write that e-mail? Isn`t that as
simple as it is in terms of the question to her?

WISNIEWSKI: I think there`s another question. You don`t write that e-mail
out of the blue and expect the person receiving it to understand. There
were discussions beforehand. There was a plan hatched before that e-mail
was fired off.

We`d like to know what that plan was about. We`d like to know what the
meetings were about. We`d like to know what the purpose for this plan was.

We know, for example, that in the week preceding there was efforts made to
set up a meeting between the head of the Port Authority, chairman David
Sampson and Governor Chris Christie.

Did that meeting have something to do with the e-mail that Bridget Kelly
ultimately issued? Those are questions we need to have answered.

O`DONNELL: We have David Sampson now revealed in the e-mails to be
basically threatening the only truth teller we have found in this story,
which is the New York appointee of the executive director of the Port
Authority. And so, what is your confidence level right now as a New Jersey
legislator in Sampson still being involved at the Port Authority?

WISNIEWSKI: Well, we know he`s involved at some level. We know that he
had this disproportionate raging response in which he was going to help
retaliate and express extreme displeasure in the actions of Pat Foye. That
just does not make sense if this was a normal proper government
organization. It really speaks to something much worse. It speaks to an
abuse of power and an effort to cover up that abuse of power.

O`DONNELL: I want to get to your comments about impeachment. It seems to
me that if Ms. Kelly were simply to utter the simple words "the governor
knew," that would raise the governor`s involvement in this to an
impeachable level, wouldn`t it?

WISNIEWSKI: It would be a very serious allegation. I think we need to
know a little bit more than the governor knew. Obviously, if he knew, his
statement the other day is patently false. But did he authorize it? Was
this done at his request? Was this done because his campaign manager
thought it was something that was important to do for the campaign?

You know, don`t forget that not only was Bridget Kelly terminated, he let
go of Bill Stepien, his single biggest political adviser, the man that he
tapped to be head of the state party here, the Republican Party, and the
man he put into a position as a consultant for the Republican Governors
Association. Because of one e-mail in which he called the mayor an idiot,
at least that`s what we`re seeing, he let Mr. Stepien go.

His departure speaks volumes as to his involvement. And if the campaign
manager for Christie`s run for governor was ordering the governor`s chief
of staff to engage in political mischief -- well, that raises this to an
entirely different level.

O`DONNELL: Since then -- since that news conference we`ve read many other
e-mails in which other Christie people are using language much worse than
"idiot", and they`re still on the job.

Assemblyman John Wisniewski, thank you very, very much for joining us
tonight.

WISNIEWSKI: Thank you for the opportunity.

O`DONNELL: Governor Christie is also now facing an investigation at the
federal level. The Department of Housing and Urban Development announced
today that it will review Governor Christie`s use of $25 million of Sandy
storm relief funds to promote tourism in New Jersey through television
commercials that also, as we`ve previously pointed out on this program,
functioned as Christie re-election campaign commercials paid for by
American taxpayers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Jersey shore is open.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: The word is spreading, because we`re
stronger than the storm.

UNIDENTIFIED KID: You bet we are.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now is New Jersey Congressman Frank Pallone, who
first called for an investigation into the bidding process for those ads in
August of 2013.

Congressman Pallone, what`s your reaction to the announcement of this
investigation?

REP. FRANK PALLONE (D), NEW JERSEY: Well, I think it concerns me a great
deal, as it did back in august, because the question again is was there
abuse of power here. In other words, this was money that was allocated for
Sandy relief in a package that I and others worked very hard to get. You
know, it wasn`t easy. It took almost 60 days.

And the governor awarded or the governor`s administration awarded the
contract to a firm that was not the low bidder, that was essentially
spending over $2 million more of taxpayer dollars. And the difference was
that the firm that was chosen agreed to put him and his family in the ads
whereas the low bidder would not do that.

And so, the question again is was the higher bidder at a more costly amount
chosen because they agreed to put the governor in the ads?

Now, again, this is money that could have been used for -- to help rebuild
homes or to pay for businesses that were destroyed. And we still have a
lot of people at the shore that I represent that are not getting the money
that they need for rebuilding or to restore their homes or their
businesses.

So, it is a concern -- again, whether it`s an abuse of power or impropriety
on behalf of the Christie administration.

O`DONNELL: Congressman Pallone, I`m wondering where you sit tonight, what
you think Chris Christie could do right now this week to improve, at least
improve the image of the way his office works and the confidence of New
Jersey voters and how his office works. He is at this moment leaving in
place in jobs in that office people who are exposed in these e-mails in
some very harsh light.

PALLONE: Well, I think he has to come clean. I mean, the problem is this
culture or abuse of power. A culture that threatened people, bullied
people, and basically would go to whatever ends were necessary to get re-
elected and to get people supportive of his campaign. Whether it was
spending ad money that was taxpayer dollars to put him on the air with his
family or it was threatening those to try to get them to support him in his
campaign.

This culture or abuse of power I think is the problem. We don`t know
exactly what he ordered or didn`t. But the bottom line is this is the
culture, this -- what I call impropriety that is pervasive in this
administration.

O`DONNELL: Well, we have polls now showing that a majority of New Jersey
voters, the voters in this country who know Governor Christie the best, do
not believe his story thus far.

Congressman Frank Pallone of New Jersey -- thank you very much for joining
us tonight.

PALLONE: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up -- who should Chris Christie fire next?

And what do lie detection techniques tell us about what Chris Christie said
in his news conference last week?

And in "The Rewrite", speaking the Christie gang language.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: And now, here`s one of the stupidest things said about Chris
Christie.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRIT HUME, FOX NEWS: In this sort of feminized atmosphere in which we
exist today guys who were masculine and muscular like that in their private
conduct and kind of old-fashioned tough guys run some risks.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Feminized?

HUME: Feminized atmosphere.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By which you mean?

HUME: By which I mean that men today have learned the lesson the hard way
that if you look like kind of an old-fashioned guy`s guy, you`re in
constant danger of slipping out and saying something that`s going to get
you in trouble and make you look like a sexist or make you look like you
seem thuggish or whatever. That`s the atmosphere in which he operates.

This guy`s very much an old-fashioned masculine, muscular guy, and there
are political risks associated with that. Maybe it shouldn`t be, but
that`s how it is.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: We will have more stupid things said about Chris Christie
coming up. And next, more on the scandal that I believe has already ended
Chris Christie`s political future.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: The mayor of Jersey City is quoted as saying that the day he
declined to endorse you and said he would vote Democrat, as many as 10
appointments between state officials and Jersey City officials were
canceled suddenly, all of them. How would you explain that in the context
of what you now know about what some of your staff did?

CHRISTIE: Listen, all I know is, I don`t know, Brian, is the first answer
I`ll give you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Newly released e-mails and texts seem, seem to support Jersey
City mayor Steven Fulop`s theory that he was also a victim of Christie
administration retaliation. Included in those documents is an e-mail sent
on June 20th by Bridget Kelly, Christie`s former deputy chief of staff, who
was fired on Thursday because of her involvement in the bridge scandal.

She writes to Fulop, "Congratulations, mayor-elect. What an exciting time
for you and the city. We`re looking forward to working closely with you
and your administration. We`d like to get you in a room with the
commissioners and staff that can be most helpful to you as you begin your
tenure as mayor."

Bill Stepien, Christie`s close colleague and former campaign manager who
was also fired last week texted this to Fulop on July 12th, "I know the gov
is sending quite a contingent of his cabinet up to you on July 23rd. Let
us know how we can continue to work closely together."

But six days later, on July 18th around the date Fulop says Christie`s
aides found out that Fulop would not endorse Christie for governor one of
the mayor`s aides e-mailed that several of the meetings had been canceled
within the past hour. By the following Monday, all of the appointments had
been canceled with no explanation.

Joining me now, "The Wall Street Journal`s" Heather Haddon, who has been
following this story from the very beginning.

Heather, do you think of yourself as the Woodward or the Bernstein of
bridgegate?

You`ve been on this from day one with some of the crucial reporting,
including in the "Wall Street Journal" did the article that provoked a lot
of the e-mail flow in here where these guys start complaining about the
coverage, worrying about the coverage and ultimately attacking Pat Foye,
who was the one person at the Port Authority who seemed to react to this
the right way.

HEATHER HADDON, WALL STREET JOURNAL: Yes, that`s correct. And the
revelation today was really interesting. I mean, we`ve heard some
anecdotal information from Democrats who chose not to endorse Mr. Christie
that they lost a certain amount of access. But these documents that were
released today showed some evidence of that.

So, like you said, there was constant communication between Mr. Fulop and
the Christie administration aides in June and July saying we`re arranging
all these commissioners, we`re so happy you won your election. And on July
18th when Mr. Fulop said he declined to endorse Mr. Christie, those
communications were severed.

He continued to e-mail Senator Bill Baroni, who was one of the officials
who was fired in the wake of this.

O`DONNELL: Not as a senator. He was working in the Port Authority, a
former senator. People use that title on him, Senator Baroni. I think it
confuses some people out there.

HADDON: Yes.

O`DONNELL: Yes.

HADDON: And said I would like to continue to discuss our business with the
Port Authority, he does not respond. And Mr. Fulop in one of those e-mails
says I think there`s some political overtones in that.

Now, that is very -- in keeping with what Mark Sokolich, the mayor of Fort
Lee, said in a letter to Bill Baroni that we first reported on that said
there`s something punitive about this.

So, there does seem to be some traction to this theory that Democrats who
actively chose not to endorse Mr. Christie faced some issues.

O`DONNELL: And people who don`t know how government works, especially at
this level, which is to say most people, hear -- oh, well, he had some
appointments canceled, big deal. But this is the essence of the workings
of government. And this is what we heard George will talk about in the
previous segment, where he said that what this shows is they are using the
machinery of government as a weapon. Those commissioners wield tremendous
power in terms of what can happen in a place like Jersey City.

HADDON: Right. And this was a new mayor. This was an incoming mayor.
He`d never held citywide office for him.

This was the keys for him to understand state government. So, Department
of Transportation, economic development, the commissioner who oversaw Sandy
aid and reconstruction for the state. And these meetings were all lined up
for him and this would have been a big deal and they were canceled.

O`DONNELL: Let`s look at Christie last week talking about Kevin O`Dowd.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIE: Kevin`s, you know, confirmation hearing will go forward on
Tuesday. And I expect, you know, he`ll be vigorously questioned like any
candidate for attorney general should be, and I expect he`ll get swift and
certain confirmation because he deserves it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: This was one of the stunning moments for me at that point.
Kevin O`Dowd is his chief of staff -- the one person that separates him in
the organizational chart from Ms. Kelly, who is the author of the smoking
gun memo. And he still thought last week that he was going to get his
chief of staff confirmed to be the attorney general of the state of New
Jersey, move his chief of staff from suspect status in the middle of this
story into one of the prosecutor`s with jurisdiction over this
investigation.

HADDON: That`s correct. And that is not happening. No.

So, we currently don`t know when that hearing will be held, if it will be
held. Democrats have said that they will in light of all this question,
Kevin O`Dowd with increasing scrutiny. Now, Kevin O`Dowd is actually
someone who Democrats and Republicans both like. He`s been a trusted,
mild-mannered member of the administration. But he was the one who
Governor Christie said I want you to interview all my senior staff and make
sure they know nothing more about this issue before I go out and face a
press conference in December.

So, he is a key figure in this role right now. And the question is what
does he know?

O`DONNELL: They can like Kevin O`Dowd, but they can never confirm him.
There is absolutely no possibility. He`s going to withdraw that
nomination. No doubt about it.

Heather Haddon of "The Wall Street Journal," thank you very much for being
on the case. Thank you for taking the time to join us tonight. Really
appreciate it.

HADDON: Thanks so much.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, is Chris Christie lying? That`s the big question.
We will use lie detection methods to try to figure that out.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: In the spotlight tonight, five reasons Chris Christie might be
lying. That`s the title of a piece by "Salon" writer Amy Punt, who applied
lie detection techniques from the book "Lie Spotting" to Chris Christie`s
press conference last week.

Here are the five items: Too much detail regarding unimportant issues,
evading questions, a lack of genuine emotion, personal leaks, and
contradictions.

The contradictions that she cited were the same contradictions exposed on
this program last Thursday. First, Christie`s contradiction about what he
said to his senior staff.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

CHRISTIE: I brought my senior staff together, I think about four weeks
ago, tomorrow. And I put to all of them one simple challenge. If there is
any information that you know about the ability to close these lanes in
Fort Lee, you have one hour to tell either my chief of staff, Kevin O`Dowd,
or my chief counsel Charlie McKenna.

Four weeks ago, when I had them all in that office, and I said if any of
you have any information about this that I don`t know, you need to tell me,
Kevin, or Charlie now.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

O`DONNELL: Did you catch that change in his story? The first prepared
version of it said you have one hour to tell my chief of staff, Kevin
O`Dowd, or my chief counsel, Charlie McKenna. Then, about an hour later in
the press conference, he emotionally leans in and says you`ve got to tell
me, Kevin, or Charlie, right now. Change of story.

And, his contradiction about whether he would cooperate with investigators.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIE: Of course, we`ll work cooperatively with the investigations.

REPORTER: If you were to get a subpoena for whatever reason, what would
you do?

CHRISTIE: I`m not going to speculate on that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now, "Salon" writer and screenwriter, Amy Punt.

Amy, I think us screenwriters look at these things the same way. I`m very
glad you caught those contradictions the same way I did. I want to look at
the other items that you highlighted. And you use this book about lie
detection as your guide in putting this piece together. You went to the
issue of evading questions.

And let`s look at the example. We`ll look at the video example of what you
used there. Let`s look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: So I`m just asking, what do you ask yourself about? They either
thought this is what the boss wanted or as a group they were willing to go
rogue and do this and then try to cover it up.

CHRISTIE: What does it make me ask about me? It makes me ask about me
what did I do wrong to have these folks think it was okay to lie to me?
And there`s a lot of soul searching that goes around with this. Believe
me, John, I haven`t had a lot of sleep the last two nights, and I`ve been
doing a lot of soul searching. I`m sick over this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Amy, his sleep pattern is not particularly relevant, but we
heard a lot about it.

AMY PUNT, SALON: Yes, we did. And the thing is that he also said in that
section that he was soul searching. So, he`s saying this multiple times.
And as a persuasive speaker he knows how to get on the side of our
emotions. He knows what he needs to do to win us over. And he`s doing
that there. He`s not answering the question. What he`s saying is I`m so
sorry, I don`t know what went wrong, how could you suspect me?

O`DONNELL: Let`s go to another item that you have here. The first one,
actually, on your list -- the unimportant detail. This is great. I didn`t
realize that is one of the indicators of possibly lying.

Let`s look at your example of how he used the unimportant detail. Let`s
listen to the video.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIE: 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Seems like he`s being very detailed there.

PUNT: He`s being very detailed. And what happens is those details really
stand in the way of actual information, because what he should be talking
about is the inquiry. Like if he finds out -- first, he mentions his
workout earlier, at 8:55.

O`DONNELL: And he tells us that the trainer just left.

PUNT: Yes. I forgot about that. He did. But it`s standing in the way of
the information of did you question Bridget Kelly? Like he`s just sort of
trying to reposition it so we don`t ask that question.

O`DONNELL: Now, the other item here that indicates untruthfulness is the
lack of genuine emotion. Now, let`s look at the video example you used for
that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIE: I`m heartbroken about it. And I`m incredibly disappointed. I
don`t think I`ve gotten to the angry stage yet. But I`m sure I`ll get
there. I don`t know what the stages of grief are in exact order, but I
know anger gets there at some point. I`m sure I`ll have that, too.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: We`ve seen him be a lot more emotional than that in the past.
There was a sort of perfunctory -- using emotional language but not really
being emotional. I want to get through to the last one. This thing you
say in here, what you refer to as personal leaks and the concept of a leak
being a facial expression or something that is leaking information that
doesn`t sync up with the words.

Let`s look at the video example you gave of that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIE: I think what you all have seen about me over the last four years
in my dealings with you is that I deal with you directly. And I say
exactly what I think. And I think over time, I have developed a reputation
for telling you all the truth, as I see it. There could be disagreements,
but the truth as I see it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Amy, what`s the leak there?

PUNT: Well, it`s the "as I see it." that is strange. Why is it the truth
as I see it? Why isn`t it just the truth?

Additionally, what Pamela Meyer points out in the book, is that he -- the
fact that someone has to tell you that they`re going to tell you the truth
indicates they may be lying.

O`DONNELL: Amy, I`m telling you the truth. We`re out of time for this
segment.

Thank you very much for joining me tonight, Amy.

PUNT: Thank you very much.

O`DONNELL: Coming up -- Chris Christie said he fired his campaign manager
because he didn`t like the tone of his e-mails. We`ve already referred to
that earlier in the program. If he didn`t like that tone, there are plenty
more people who should be fired tomorrow. That`s in "The Rewrite".

And can Chris Christie still run for president? I say no. Steve Schmidt
says yes. We will discuss.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Time for another one of the stupidest things said about Chris
Christie. The "New Jersey Star Ledger" quotes former Mississippi Governor
Haley Barbour saying, "The liberal media elite continues to treat this like
the Lincoln assassination."

Up next, who should Chris Christie fire next? The answer is in tonight`s
"Rewrite."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: In tonight`s "Rewrite," readings from the gang that couldn`t
slur straight. That`s what "New York Times" columnist Jim Dwyer called
them after reading the e-mail in which they attacked the mayor of Fort Lee
and referred to him as, quote, "This little Serbian", even though Mayor
Sokolich is of Croatian descent. The e-mails of the Christie gang indicate
that not one of them did the right thing or said the right thing at any
point in this story.

David Wildstein, who took the Fifth Amendment last week while his lawyer
publicly tried to make a deal for immunity from prosecution, is the author
of the famous "This little Serbian" e-mail. He is deeply involved in the
bridge conspiracy in his e-mails along with Bridget Anne Kelly, who wrote
the now most famous of the e-mails to Wildstein, "time for some traffic
problems in Fort Lee." It was the public revelation of that e-mail that
forced Chris Christie to fire Bridget Anne Kelly -- a long 24 hours after
he read that e-mail for the first time, according to his story.

Chris Christie also got rid of his campaign manager, Bill Stepien, because
he didn`t like the tone of Stepien`s e-mails.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIE: 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Stepien was agreeably on the receiving end of the "little
Serbian" e-mail. David Wildstein told Stepien that he was worried about a
"Wall Street Journal" article about the bridge, so worried that he came to
work that day with empty boxes to pack up his office because he feared he
might be fired on the spot by Chris Christie when that article came out
that morning. Not for anything he did wrong but for getting bad press for
the governor.

But Bill Stepien read the article and told Wildstein not to worry, "It`s
fine. The mayor is an idiot, though. Win some, lose some."

As far as we can tell, "The mayor is an idiot" is just about the worst
thing that Stepien said in his e-mail. That is the tone and attitude of
callous indifference that got Stepien fired. Michael Drewniak is still
Chris Christie`s press secretary. But listen to his tones in these e-
mails.

In an e-mail to David Wildstein about Patrick Foye, the executive director
of the port authority, he wrote, "That is deeply F-ed up. What a piece of
excrement."

Drewniak is playing it classier there than David Wildstein, who had
referred to Patrick Foye in an e-mail as "a piece of crap." Patrick Foye
is the only person in this story so far who does the right thing and says
the right thing. Patrick Foye is, of course, not part of the Christie
gang. He was appointed to his position at the Port Authority by New York
Governor Andrew Cuomo.

It was Patrick Foye who wrote the e-mail saying, "I am appalled by the lack
of process, failure to inform our customers in Fort Lee, and most of all by
the dangers created to the public interest. I believe this is hasty and
ill-advised decision, violates federal law and the laws of both states."

Michael Drewniak got an e-mail from the "New Jersey Star Ledger" reporter
Steve Strunsky asking him "is the governor aware of any plan last month to
close the George Washington Bridge access lanes in retribution for Mayor
Sokolich`s failure to endorse the governor for re-election?"

Drewniak`s response to the reporter was, "No, for goodness sake, the
governor of New Jersey does not involve himself in traffic studies."
Drewniak then forwarded that e-mail exchange to himself at his private
Gmail address and from his private Gmail address he forward the entire e-
mail to David Wildstein in Wildstein`s private Gmailmail address. And in
the note to Wildstein said, "Such a f-ing mutt."

It is a bit unclear who the mutt is, whether it is Steve Strunsky, the
reporter, or Mayor Sokolich, but we do know that tone did not get Drewniak
fired. Chris Christie says he fired his campaign manager for calling the
mayor an idiot but his press secretary is still on the job after calling
the mayor an f-ing mutt and doing it in his private e-mail account, an
account Drewniak obviously uses for his official Christie gang business as
opposed to his official government business.

David Wildstein also used his private Gmail account to forward an e-mail to
Drewniak`s private e-mail account about the Port Authority receiving a call
from "The Star Ledger" editorial board wanting comment about their upcoming
editorial calling on the state to issue subpoenas.

Michael Drewniak`s response to Wildstein about the caller from "The Star
Ledger" was, "F him and `The Star Ledger`."

But that tone was not offensive enough to Chris Christie to get Michael
Drewniak fired, Michael Drewniak who regularly uses a private Gmail account
to conduct Christie gang business is still Christie`s press secretary.

Chris Christie said in his news conference that he had no idea his gang
uses private e-mail accounts for gang business when they want to say things
they don`t feel comfortable saying on their official government email
accounts.

The highest-ranking Christie gang member at the Port Authority is Port
Authority chairman David Sampson and no one -- no one talks like a gangster
better than David Sampson. He was one of the nine people who received
Patrick Foye`s outraged e-mail about what was happening at the George
Washington Bridge that included Foye`s order to stop the lane closures
immediately.

Sampson now claims that that e-mail was the very first time he learned what
was happening at the George Washington Bridge. Here is the chairman of the
Port Authority saying that he had absolutely no idea there were lane
closings at the most important bridge in the world until he read an e-mail
at the end of the week about those lane closures, and objecting to what was
happening and saying the lane closures violate federal laws and the laws of
both states.

Now, what was David Sampson`s reply to this e-mail? He`s chairman of the
port authority. Did he immediately write, hey, thanks for heads-up, Pat?
Thanks for saving us from this potentially dangerous problem, both
dangerous to public safety and legally dangerous?

No. That`s not what he said. David Sampson wrote an e-mail to a Port
Authority vice chairman, Scott Rechler, complaining about Patrick Foye and
saying in pure gangster language, "In this case he`s playing in traffic,
made a big mistake."

The recipient of that e-mail threatening Patrick Foye was not a member of
the Christie gang. Scott Rechler was appointed to the Port Authority by
Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York. So, Scott Rechler did not write back
that Foye is an idiot. Scott Rechler wrote back, "I don`t agree with your
assessment of Pat`s involvement."

We have a very, very simple picture here. The Cuomo gang does the right
thing and says the right thing. And the Christie gang does the wrong thing
and says the wrong thing. Every single time the Christie gang is on the
wrong side of the truth.

Was Chris Christie horrified by David Samson`s gangster threat about
Patrick Foye? "In this case he`s playing in traffic, made a big mistake."

Since Chris Christie is not willing to fire people because of their tone in
e-mails, shouldn`t David Samson be in a lot of trouble right now?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIE: I sat and met for two hours yesterday with Mr. Samson, General
Samson. And again, I`m confident that he had no knowledge of this based
upon our conversations, and his review of his information.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: So what you have right there is Chris Christie, the easily
duped boss, Chris Christie the guy who anyone working for him can lie to,
and he`s fooled. Or maybe, maybe you just have Chris Christie not telling
the truth. Maybe Chris Christie is just not telling the truth when he
says, "I`m confident that David Samson had no knowledge of this."

Even if we take Christie at his word and he believes that David Samson had
no knowledge of the lane closures and even if we take David Samson at his
word that he had absolutely no prior knowledge of the lane closures, what
we do know is that when David Samson was told about it by the only truth
teller in this story, who was trying to make things right, David Samson`s
reaction was to threaten the truth teller. To say, "He`s playing in
traffic, made a big mistake."

Chris Christie fired his campaign manager last week based on just the tone
of his e-mails, but Chris Christie thinks he can keep his personal chairman
of the Port Authority in that job when his e-mails reveal a much more
ominous tone, much more disturbing tone. David Samson should be the next
resignation demanded by Chris Christie. But he should not be the last.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIE: I am embarrassed and humiliated by the conduct of some of the
people on my team.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIE: My priorities as RGA chairman and most important thing for me to
do is to be able to gather the resources, help my colleagues up for
election in 2014 and the challengers who are in states where we don`t
currently have Republican governors in, and to make sure that I`m on the
ground for them as much as I can be when it`s helpful.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: "The National Journal" reports that Chris Christie still plans
to travel to Florida on Friday and campaign for Governor Rick Scott
Saturday at fund raisers in Ft. Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Orlando.
Governor Scott, who had four submit resignations in scandals, is currently
trailing former Florida Republican governor-turned-Democrat, Charlie Crist,
by 7 percent.

Joining me now is Steve Schmidt, senior adviser to the McCain `08 campaign
and MSNBC political analyst.

OK. Steve, Christie`s giving a State of the State Address tomorrow. So
that takes care of Tuesday. He`s got Wednesday and Thursday to announce
that he is canceling the Florida trip. When this week do you expect him to
announce the cancellation of that trip?

STEVE SCHMIDT, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I would think he would have
canceled it already, Lawrence. It`s a very easy excuse, obviously, to say
he has business to tend to in the Garden State, that he`s got to get on top
of this situation, that he owes that to the taxpayers of the state of New
Jersey to continue to work with the legislative branch as that
investigation continues.

But he`ll be dealing with this for some time. And it certainly neuters his
ability to be out there effectively on the campaign trail. I think it`s a
mistake for him to go to Florida.

O`DONNELL: Yes, at this point it is. Governor Rick Scott is going to be
out there Saturday with a guy who`s muddled in scandal and all the
questions are going to be about a scandal in New Jersey. I can`t imagine
that thing not getting canceled between now and then.

But I want to go to something that Senator Barrasso said on "MORNING JOE"
this morning just to show how things are going for Christie within the
party. Let`s listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN BARRASSO (R), WYOMING: I think he stood and answered questions
for two hours, he was forthright about it, and by the time 2016 comes about
this isn`t --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think he`s a contender for 2016 still as much
as he was before bridgegate?

BARRASSO: Well, I think there are over a dozen Republicans who I think
would all be good contenders for 2016.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. Very, very -- what`s the word? Adept.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Adept.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Adept answer.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Steve, Mika couldn`t get him to say a positive word about
Christie in this predicament. I`ve said already that I just don`t see how
he mounts a presidential campaign after this.

Is your view still that he can hang in there and weather this?

SCHMIDT: Look, I think resiliency is one of the prerequisites to surviving
a presidential campaign and getting the nomination, ultimately getting to
the presidency.

And this is a big challenge for him. There`s no doubt about it. I think
it`s premature to say that this is going to take out his ability to be a
serious candidate for president.

That being said, when you do the asked and answered, stand up there for
two-hour news conference, one of the ways you judge its effectiveness is
not in the immediate aftermath, because he did a fantastic job in my book
by all measure. But what leaks develop out of that while you react in the
days after?

And when you look at the e-mails that are coming out, when you talk about
the standard he laid out for Stepien and for the deputy chief of staff.
How do you not apply that to other officials in the administration?

So, he`s just opening himself up to more questions. There`s not a lot of
great answers. There`s going to be hearings. Someone`s going to get
immunity.

So, in order to run for president he has to survive this scandal as
governor of New Jersey. And this scandal, and with all respect to members
of my party, and I`m a fan of Chris Christie`s, but this is going to become
a bigger thing before it becomes a smaller thing. And he`s going to have
to weather it becoming a bigger thing.

And I`m not sure if you look at the body language, you look what`s going
on, that necessarily they`ve accepted the fact that this is going to become
a lot worse before it becomes better.

O`DONNELL: Steve, I`ve been trying to predict exactly what Republicans
would say on a presidential campaign debate stage about this, and we now
hear from Rick Santorum, we don`t have time to run this up. But he said --
but what he said this weekend is "personnel is policy, and the people you
that hire are the policies that are implemented."

Rick Santorum did a very effective job, in 20 seconds, of using this in a
very hard shot against Chris Christie.

SCHIMDT: No doubt. Look, one of the things that Chris Christie has done
very effectively as a political leader is he`s gone out and he`s given
lectures about leadership. He said this is how you function as an
effective leader. These are the shortcomings of the president. These are
the shortcomings of Republicans in congress.

Very difficult to see a scenario where Chris Christie can deliver that
lecture in the way he has in the past, which really undermines his
effectiveness I think going forward as a candidate.

O`DONNELL: I think it`s over for him, Steve.

Steve Schmidt, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

SCHMIDT: Good to see you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: And now, a special live New Jersey edition of Chris Hayes show
is up next.

END

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