updated 1/15/2014 12:28:45 PM ET 2014-01-15T17:28:45

THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
January 14, 2014

Guests: Hunter Walker, Ben Barlyn, Richard Merkt, Charlie Cook

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Today, we heard the state of Chris
Christie`s denial.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: The last week has certainly
tested this administration.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Chris Christie is set to deliver his annual
state of the state address. His fourth state of the state address.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today, Chris Christie returned to the stage.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To tout his bipartisan accomplishments.

CHRISTIE: We have chosen to work together. These are our
achievements.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Keeping the focus on all the other issues,
facing his constituents.

CHRISTIE: The state of our state is good and it is getting better.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not everyone is moving on, though.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What you have is political blood in the water.

CHRISTIE: Now, the last week has certainly tested this
administration.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have these mayors claiming these claims.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The super committee is going to convene.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fifty-one percent say Christie hasn`t been
completely honest.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: More subpoenas could come Thursday.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s more investigations now everywhere.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: New Jersey politics is rough and tumble.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Retribution and sort of pay back.

CHRISTIE: Mistakes were clearly made. I know our citizens deserve
better.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today is all about bridge-gate. The scandal
surrounding the lane closures near the George Washington Bridge, enveloping
his administration, whether he likes it or not.

CHRISTIE: Choice -- not chance, determines your destiny. So, let us
choose wisely.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O`DONNELL: This is the most important thing that Chris Christie said
today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIE: Without a doubt, we will cooperate with all appropriate
inquiries to ensure that this breach of trust does not happen again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: But which Christie do you believe? The one who said that,
or the one who said this?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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: So, there was Chris Christie last week, very clearly
saying if he gets a subpoena, he might not cooperate with investigators.

The New Jersey legislature is getting subpoenas ready as we speak for
the Christie gang. And everyone in the Christie gang is surely lawyering
up in anticipation of those subpoena ps. One member of the gang has
already publicly refused to cooperate with the investigation and took the
Fifth Amendment. It is entirely possible that the lawyers for the Christie
gang will advise all of their clients to take the Fifth Amendment.

And when you listen to Chris Christie`s answer about subpoenas last
week, it is possible to imagine the spectacle of the governor of New Jersey
taking the Fifth Amendment instead of cooperating with the investigations.

Joining me now, MSNBC`s Joy Reid, and Hunter Walker, national affairs
reporter for "Talking Points Memo."

Joy, this is an amazing list that`s going to be hit with subpoenas.
Obviously, Bridget Anne Kelly gets subpoenaed. I think, obviously, she
takes the Fifth Amendment.

JOY REID, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I would think so. But she`d be the
person that I`d be interested in getting immunity if I were somebody that
was on the prosecutorial side of this case, because she obviously knows a
lot of what`s going on. Either she or Wildstein would be sort of the plump
person to offer immunity to.

And she`s the person who`s zeroed in on as the scapegoat. Chris
Christie very carefully and very lawyerly fashion said that he terminated
Bridget Kelly because she lied to me, distancing himself even further from
the issues he says he knew nothing about an advance, during the January 9
press conference, saying that she lied to him, that after, during this come
to Jesus meeting, if anybody has the information don`t tell me, tell my
lawyer. Tell my counsel or tell my chief of staff within an hour.

O`DONNELL: He told two different versions of that in the press
conference. That`s the first version. That was the prepared version.
Then, about an hour later in the press conference, he said tell me or those
two. He included himself in that possibility. We don`t know which one is
the true version.

Or if either one of him is true. They could both be false.

But the really stunning thing about the Bridget Kelly thing is, where
would be tonight -- where would we be tonight if Chris Christie upon
reading her e-mail the way he says he did that morning, said to her, called
her, got her in the office, said to her, explain this? Where would we be?

REID: Right. And not only that, but he also was getting e-mails from
the members of the state legislature we now know as well, right? That he
was getting -- clearly people were reaching out to him. Three days into
this, coming forward with the photo of him at 9/11 Commemoration in New
York. Three days into this snarled traffic, people panicking, calling the
Transportation Department, what is going on?

He seems to say he knew absolutely nothing, and asked nothing of his
senior staff while he was being asked, demanded to know what is going on by
members of the state legislature.

O`DONNELL: Hunter Walker, it seems to me the fair -- a fair
interpretation, there could be others of Chris Christie not asking Bridget
Anne Kelly about that e-mail as soon as he read it is, that he did not want
to be exposed to her answer. He did not want to hear what she had to say.

HUNTER WALKER, TPM: Absolutely. But, you know, as Joy pointed out,
he sort of said he never heard about this. He wasn`t in touch with the
officials who ordered the closures. And now we`ve seen photographic
evidence. "The Wall Street Journal" had one picture, we had another one
today that showed that he was literally with the two main guys as the lanes
were closed.

O`DONNELL: I think we have one of those pictures that we can put up
as we talk about this. I hope we do. There we are. So, there`s Wildstein
in the red tie there. This is on 9/11, while at that moment, the bridge is
clogged -- thanks to Wildstein and Bridget Anne Kelly and maybe Chris
Christie.

WALKER: Right. So, you know, he previously said he hadn`t seen
Wildstein in ages.

And also, we did a story --

O`DONNELL: There`s that moment. Now, anybody who`s been in politics
around these guys knows that when you`re doing something for the boss,
you`re doing him a favor, you slip that in his ear at that moment, things
are going great in Fort Lee. Things are doing great at the bridge. You
let him know that because you take credit for it.

WALKER: Right. And even assuming they went rogue, which is sort of
the Christie explanation, they were hearing from Mayor Sokolich of Fort Lee
throughout that week saying, hey, we have a huge problem here, help us.

So you think they might go to Christie if this was legitimately a
traffic study and say, hey, by the way, the mayor is complaining about
this. And he says he heard nothing.

O`DONNELL: Joy, David Wildstein, publicly begging for immunity last
week at his hearing. If you did an immunity package with Wildstein and
with Bridget Anne Kelly, you might be able to get the whole story from
those two.

REID: Absolutely, you would. And I think the key to this, too, is
that you do have Stepien out there as well, someone else who could
theoretically know what`s going on.

O`DONNELL: He seems a little off-center. As a prosecutor, if you
have to make these immunity guesses, you want to know which -- who are the
richest ones, the richest sources?

REID: Well, the only reason I bring Stepien back in, because of
think, there`s actually a great piece, of all places, "The National
Review", Chris Christie wouldn`t have had to say to anyone, go out and
close bridges. His prime directive in running for re-election was not to
be governor until 2018, it was to make the case to the Republican Party,
his real constituency, the donor class of the Republican Party, that he had
this great bipartisanship. That these 60 Democrats that endorsed him are
the way he does business, right?

If he`s essentially saying to his political staff, meaning his
political staff like Stepien, and his senior staff, go out and get me the
Democrats, including the Democrat who has a $1 billion development that I
can put my arm around, to say this is another Christie-crat, if he`s saying
do that, I don`t want to know how you`re doing it, but get it done, then
he`s already created the atmosphere for them to have play hardball, super
hardball with any Democrat that resisted.

He already laid the ground work. That`s part of Stepien sort of prime
directive, as his political guy, and I guess you wouldn`t say he`s sort of
henchmen. But it`s also inside of his senior staff, too.

So, there has to be an impetus, and it has to be political, because
the port guys couldn`t have had the passion to do this on their own.

O`DONNELL: But it`s such a peculiar choice to do this. It strikes me
that you wouldn`t want to do this favor for the boss if you weren`t sure
this was the favor he wanted done. This was the way he wanted it done.

I want to talk about Kevin O`Dowd, who is the chief of staff in the
story. He`s the one person who separates Bridget Anne Kelly from Chris
Christie. And Kevin O`Dowd, it was Chris Christie`s plan until now to make
him the next attorney general of New Jersey, and the Senate was prepared to
confirm him until, we started talking about it and others immediately after
his press conference.

It was a routine moment in the press conference where he was asked,
are you going to go forward with O`Dowd for attorney general? He said oh,
yeah, sure. I`m sure others were saying how can it be that the chief of
staff of this gang that has pulled this thing off is now going to be the
chief state prosecutor with jurisdiction over this case? That seems
stopped as of now. It seems like O`Dowd can go nowhere.

WALKER: Right. I mean, it seems like he could go nowhere, except to
a hearing to testify. I mean, I was just speaking with one of the
legislators involved in the investigation and she was saying, you know, on
Thursday, we can expect to start see some of these subpoenas. And the,
quote/unquote, "usual suspects" are going to testify.

O`DONNELL: Well, O`Dowd is going to be subpoenaed. And, you know,
the question is, is he going to take the Fifth Amendment?

WALKER: Well, that`s first point about the Fifth Amendment. I think
one thing that`s really interested here, I spoke to Assemblyman Wisniewski,
who`s been leading the investigation. I talk to him the day before
Wildstein testified.

And I said, I think Wildstein is going to plea the Fifth. He actually
wasn`t expecting that, and the reason was, he said this was a civil matter
up until that point. And you`re not allowed to play defense in a civil
matter. That`s sort of an admission that there might be criminal charges
here.

So, the fact that we`ve already seen one guy pleading the Fifth and we
might see others is sort of a sign of just how serious and potentially
criminal this is.

O`DONNELL: Yes. I mean, that was, you know, I think -- I can`t
imagine a lawyer not telling him to plead the Fifth under those
circumstances. And I mean, when I look at this list, I just don`t know who
can testify.

You know, David Sampson, Christie`s chairman of the Port Authority.
His hands are filthy in this thing. He writes, he`s threatening Pat Foye,
the one honest man at the Port Authority fighting against this thing with
gangster language that we recited here last night about, you know, he`s
playing in traffic. He`s in a lot of trouble.

Joy, I don`t see anybody here other than Pat Foye, who`s a nice guy
who can testify about this without at some point invoking the Fifth. All
these people have real jeopardy.

REID: Have real jeopardy, because remember also, he also is the one
who said Wildstein did it. He pointed the finger at Wildstein who is sort
of compatriot in all of this. So, everyone is pointing a finger at each
other.

Going back to O`Dowd, he`s one of two people in addition to Christie`s
counsel, that Christie reportedly told his staff to go and tell if, in
fact, they`ve done anything wrong.

He was one of the people there. So, you`re saying at the same time
tell this guy, the future attorney general is the one you want to tell what
you`ve done. But for Christie, the broader problem for him is that he`s
built his whole reputation and his whole presidential ambitions on this
idea that he`s got this bipartisanship. If it turns out it was coerced,
that it was coerced through a series of carrots and sticks he was using
against Democrats, that he wasn`t just naturally somebody African-Americans
and urban voters were for but it really was coerced, that undermines his
being a candidate in 2016, apart from the legal matter.

O`DONNELL: Now, he established the standard of, you get fired by
Chris Christie if he doesn`t like the tone of your e-mail, which is why he
fired the campaign manager. He read the e-mails of Michael Drewniak, the
press secretary on this program last night, the tone is much worse -- much,
much worse about this and about the mayor of Ft. Lee.

According to the Christie standard, certainly when those e-mails get
read at these hearings, Drewniak has to be fired on the spot.

WALKER: Right. And, you know, you saw another Christie spokesman
Colin Reed give a statement to CNN today in which he said, you know, these
are wild conspiracy theories coming from left wing blogs. He said that to
CNN.

So, this is their sort of on the books official statement. And that`s
the tone.

So, you know, it makes the idea that Chris Christie has this objection
to impolite communication really preposterous.

O`DONNELL: Yes, I mean, you know, I just think -- I don`t think any
of these people can survive this investigation. David Sampson must be
fired from the Port Authority. Bill Baroni already gone, Wildstein already
gone.

Kevin O`Dowd must be let go for incompetence if nothing else. He`s
the chief of staff of the operation that did this. He was assigned,
according to Christie`s story to investigate this. He failed completely to
find the wrong doers.

Charlie McKenna, the same thing. The chief council assigned to
Christie to investigate it. And according to Christie got fooled and
couldn`t find what he was supposed to look for.

Bridget Kelly, already gone. Drewniak is going to have to go. I
mean, there`s going to be just a wipeout of this whole staff before this is
over.

REID: And think about it, the one completely implausible scenario is
the deputy chief of staff telling no one superior to her cooked up an
entire scheme to shut down part of this bridge going over to the New York
side. The idea that she is the top capo in this operation is so absurd
that it just invites more questions. And all of the answers are superior
to her in that office.

That does bring in O`Dowd. It brings it so close to Chris Christie
that I can`t imagine that he himself wouldn`t also have to testify in the
sort of --

O`DONNELL: He absolutely has to testify. Absolutely. And he`s
probably already engaged private defense counsel in this.

Joy Reid and Hunter Walker, thank you both for joining me tonight.

Coming up, another of Chris Christie`s many scandals.

And later, America`s most experienced and most careful election
analyst, Charlie Cook, the venerable Charlie Cook will join us, along with
David Corn, to discuss what this means for Chris Christie`s presidential
campaign. I insist that Christie`s campaign is now hopeless. And I can`t
wait to hear what Charlie Cook has to say.

Also tonight, you will hear some of your favorite and some of your
least favorite politicians reading mean tweets about themselves. You will
not believe your ears when you hear what Claire McCaskill says.

That`s coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIMMY FALLON, COMEDIAN: Speaking of Chris Christie, tomorrow he`s
expected to unveil his agenda for this year. When asked what he`s planning
next year, he says I`ll close that bridge when I get to it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIE: Ultimately, I am responsible for what happens under my
watch, the good and the bad. This is not the tone that I`ve set over the
last four years in this building. It`s not the environment I`ve worked so
hard to achieve. And so, I am extraordinarily disappointed by this. But
this is the exception. It is not the rule of what`s happened over the last
four years in this administration.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And here`s another exception -- the Christie
administration interfering with the prosecution of a New Jersey sheriff.

In 2008, before Chris Christie was elected, governor and prosecutors
began investigating Sheriff Debra Trout and two of her staff for
allegations that Trout forced employees to sign loyalty oaths and failed to
conduct mandatory legal background checks.

Five months after Christie took the oath of office, a grand jury
handed down a 43-count indictment against Sheriff Trout and her two
staffers. And according to "The New York Times," "When the charges became
public, the indicted under sheriff, Michael Russo, shrugged off. Governor
Christie, he assured an aide, would have this whole thing thrown out,
according to `The Hunterdon County Democrat`. That sounded like bluster.
Then the state killed the case."

Chris Christie`s attorney general, Paul O`Dowd, made the unusual move
of assigning a deputy attorney general to take control of the Hunterdon
prosecutor`s office, and then the indictments were dropped, and three
career prosecutors were forced out of their jobs.

Joining me now, one of those former prosecutors who lost his job, Ben
Barlyn, and Republican Richard Merkt, a former New Jersey assemblyman who
ran against Chris Christie in the 2009 Republican gubernatorial primary.

Before we get into the details of this case, which I think is very
important, given what we`ve been hearing for the last week, and what the
governor saying this is an exception, not the way we work.

Ben, first to you. I just want to get from you, your reaction to the
last week and how surprised and unsurprised you are.

BEN BARYLN, FORMER ASST. PROSECUTOR: That`s a great question,
Lawrence. The people that were aware of what happened in Hunterdon, my
fellow prosecutors, investigators, people who worked on the case, I suspect
are not surprised at all what happened.

In fact, there are very strong parallels between what happened in
Hunterdon four years ago and bridge-gate now.

To begin with, most importantly, you`re dealing with a really
egregious misuse of governmental authority for political ends. In
bridgegate, you`re dealing with the Port Authority. In New Jersey, the
attorney general is the chief law enforcement officer, charged with
impartially and fairly enforcing both the criminal and civil laws in New
Jersey.

O`DONNELL: And unlike a lot of other states has direct control over
county local prosecutors.

BARYLN: That`s true. There`s a statute called the Criminal Justice
Act of 1970 which confers that authority on the attorney general. But
typically, that power is invoked very sparingly. Typically, when there`s a
conflict, say, for example, someone in a prosecutor`s office who`s accused
of a crime and there`s a conflict where it doesn`t seem appropriate for the
prosecutor`s office to be pursuing that particular individual, the state
will come in.

Typically, however, cases that are brought in the counties remain in
the counties. So, you`re correct, but that power is very rarely used.
That wasn`t the case in Hunterdon, however. What`s interesting about
Hunterdon is that when evidence of wrongdoing arose with respect to the
sheriff`s office, we actually requested the assistance of the attorney
general.

This was during a different admiration.

O`DONNELL: Pre-Christie.

BARYLN: The Pre- Christie.

O`DONNELL: And this sheriff is a Christie supporter in the campaign,
sending her staff to work on the Christie campaign.

BARYLN: That`s what e-mails certainly suggest pertaining to an Open
Public Records Act.

More importantly, the sheriff also was involved in a group of law
enforcement that basically obtained donations for the Christie campaign.

So, yes, there is a strong connection between Sheriff Trout and the
administration, particularly the lieutenant governor, Kim Guadagno, who was
also a sheriff. She was the sheriff of Monmouth County at the time Debra
Trout was the sheriff of Hunterdon County. So it`s true.

What happened is we -- like, any typical case, diligently acquired
evidence over a period of time. At one point, we`ve obtained a judge`s
authorization to conduct a search of both the sheriff`s office and
residences based on the accumulation of evidence.

What`s interesting about that and what`s so important, that was the
first finding by a neutral, detached magistrate that there was, in fact,
evidence of wrongdoing that our office had obtained. That`s the first
finding. The second will be the grand jury determination.

But in the midst of this investigation, we sent numerous letters to
the attorney general`s office saying there`s a conflict here. We shouldn`t
be investigating another county law enforcement officer and moreover, we`re
dealing with systemic corruption. Those requests were rebuffed. We never
received any assistance despite these requests. That changed dramatically
when the indictment --

O`DONNELL: As soon as you got indictments.

BARLYN: As soon as we got indictments, boy did things change.

O`DONNELL: Right. Richard, you`ve been in Republican politics in the
state for a long time. I want to get your surprise level to the last week
of revelations.

RICHARD MERKT (R), FORMER NJ ASSEMBLYMAN: I was stunned to see this
kind of stupidity displayed. I really was.

O`DONNELL: The stupidity. But what about the power plays and the
attempts at apparent retribution, that sort of thing?

MERKT: Well, there is a history, as you know, of this administration
playing hardball with folks, brass knuckle politics, take no prisoner, let
your enemies bleed, that kind of thing.

So, I still can`t speak to the actual motivation, whether it was or
whether it was something else. All I know is that there was clearly an
abuse of power in Fort Lee by Port Authority people. I also know that
someone in the governor`s office, who has now been fired knew about it, and
I know that a growing circle of people who are high level Christie
administration appointees were aware of the situation.

O`DONNELL: Knowing, as you do, the way it works in Trenton, knowing
the Christie operation, what is your sense -- and we understand this is a
guess. What is your sense of the likelihood that a Bridget Anne Kelly, a
deputy chief of staff, would be doing this without the knowledge of the
chief of staff and that it could happen without the knowledge of the
governor who`s just a couple of steps away?

MERKT: It seems very unlikely and it seems so unlikely that I
personally can`t believe the governor`s explanation.

O`DONNELL: Yes. Ben, the -- the way you lost your job was absolutely
stunning with this. Deputy attorney general who came into town and just
wiped you guys out. You empanelled a grand jury that returned these
indictments. And those grand jurors were quoted in "The New York Times" as
being outraged at what happened. They thought they did careful work on
what was a very clear cut case of abuse.

BARYLN: Absolutely. I should point out that the -- I was not the
prosecutor who presented the case to the grand jury. His name is Bill
McGovern. He was an experienced prosecutor both with the attorney
general`s office, the Monmouth County prosecutors, 20 years of experience.
He knew what he was doing.

Michael Powell, who wrote "The New York Times" story, deserves a
tremendous amount of credit for locating these jurors, because that`s what
makes the case. Don`t have to take our word for it. Listen to these four
jurors who were questioned separately and say that McGovern did a
meticulous job, and that the evidence presented was overwhelming. There
was unanimity among the grand jurors that serious crimes had taken place.

And with a two-page letter, the attorney general basically disparaged,
not only the work of McGovern but the grand jurors. I think that`s why
they`re upset.

O`DONNELL: And, Richard, I want to get your reaction, as a
professional politician in New Jersey, here`s a guy, this guy Russo, who`s
the assistant to the sheriff, who`s indicted. And his reaction is, "no
problem. Chris Christie will take care of it.

MERKT: That`s a pretty remarkable statement, indicates a lot of
confidence on his part.

O`DONNELL: And he was right, parentally.

MERKT: Again, all I can do is look at that statement and say it`s
really surprising to me that anyone would have had that kind of cock-sure
attitude.

O`DONNELL: Well, it turns out he had nothing to worry about.

Former Hunterdon County assistant prosecutor Ben Barlyn and Richard
Merkt, thank you both very much for joining us tonight.

BARYLN: Thanks for having me.

MERKT: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, what has the last week done to Chris Christie`s
presidential campaign? And Republicans blocked a Senate vote on extending
emergency unemployment insurance today. Can Harry Reid figure out a way
around that? Ezra Klein will join me.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Four balanced budgets passed
with bipartisan support. Pension reform passed with bipartisan support.
Teacher tenure reform, passed with bipartisan support. A cap on property
tax, passed with bipartisan support.

We acted and we acted together even though the competition among
states is fierce. The record on this is clear. No state in this country
has shown more bipartisan cooperation and governance over the last four
years than New Jersey and our people are proud of it.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That was Chris Christie today saying what you could expect
to hear in Chris Christie`s acceptance speech at the next Republican
national convention where he would be accepting the next Republican
nomination for president.

The speech he could give only if he could somehow survive attacks
against him by other Republican candidates in the Republican presidential
primaries, attacks that would now surely include reference to the out of
control Christie staff.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now, Charlie Cook, editor and publisher of "the
Cook Political Report" and MSNBC political analyst David Corn, Washington
Bureau chief for "Mother Jones" and MSNBC political analyst.

OK, Charlie, nobody brings a more sober and careful look at these
kinds of election prospects for the House of representatives as a whole and
the individual race, the Senate as a whole and the individual race and of
course, the presidency. And so, I`m dying to hear what Charlie Cook thinks
about Chris Christie`s prospects for the presidency now.

CHARLIE COOK, EDITOR, PUBLISHER, THE COOK POLITICAL REPORT: Well, I
mean, I think it`s a convenient narrative to say well, the front-runner has
now been derailed. But I defy anybody to go to the Iowa straw poll back in
2011 or spend time around Republican primary voters in 2012 and tell me
that Chris Christie had a decent chance of winning a Republican nomination.

I mean, when you think of Michelle Bachmann, Herman Cain, Rick
Santorum, Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, I mean really? Chris Christie? I
mean, I think Republicans would be smart to move to a center right
candidate, but that`s not where the Republican primary electorate is. And
I don`t think they were going to be there. So I don`t think this has
changed Christie`s odds of being the nominee that much. I don`t think they
were high to begin with.

O`DONNELL: David Corn, I completely agree with all of that. I`ve
never seen a way for Chris Christie to get the Republican nomination. But
now, I`m starting to doubt whether he can even mount a campaign.

DAVID CORN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you know, I think we all
agree here. I mean, Chris Christie was really the candidate for Karl Rove
and the Koch brothers and, you know, the funding community base, the
funding base of the Republican party.

The gravitational pull of the Republican voting electoral has moved so
far to the right that Chris Christie by talking about bipartisanship as we
just saw him would almost disqualify himself in a lot of states -- in Iowa,
in South Carolina, throughout the south.

And, you know, I think there was a way he might have been able to
thread the needle if there are a couple of good tea party-like candidates,
Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz. They divide the tea party vote.
Maybe he could survive the first couple of state, and come in second and
third and hang in there.

You know, this is what Rudy Giuliani thought, didn`t work out too well
for him. It sort of the holy grail of the Republican non-extreme caucus,
which is relatively small, that you can do this. And, you know, Christie
had a -- you know, had as good a shot as anyone, but indeed as Charlie
said, it`s not much of a shot. And I`m still in the camp that I think they
would always be health issues with a Christie candidacy. And after the
week, he`s had this past week, I can`t believe his health is any better
than it was a month ago.

O`DONNELL: Well, let`s listen to how it would go for Christie or will
go for Christie out there on the campaign trail. Let`s listen to Rick
Santorum who might be out there on the campaign trail running against him,
or someone just like Rick Santorum will be out there. Let`s thereon what
he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK SANTORUM (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Personnel is
policy. And the people that you hire are the policies that are
implemented. And what we`ve seen is two, three, four, I mean, there`s now
more e-mail, I don`t know how many more have come out, that`s very clear
that the personnel there was not sensitive to what seemed to be a fairly
obvious wrong thing to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: All right. Let`s play this like a Republican debate stage
and we will now play Chris Christie`s response to that, which is one
sentence that he gave in his press conference last week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIE: That I delegate enormous authority to my staff and enormous
authority to my cabinet.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Charlie Cook, we can imagine a lot of Republican TV ads
against him with that I delegate enormous authority to my staff line.

COOK: Well, I mean, to think is put aside the whole bridge thing.
It`s not that Christie is that -- is ideologically -- I mean, yes, he`s
ideologically incompatible with where the Republican base is, but it`s not
just incompatibility, they hit him. They viscerally hate him. And so, I
mean, and this was not going to be pretty. Forget the bridge.

CORN: I mean, after all Christie did dare to make physical contact
with Barack Obama.

O`DONNELL: Yes.

O`DONNELL: It`s almost like case closed. And, you know, he`s
attacked the shutdown in Washington. And you know, he is a conservative in
many ways. He`s not a moderate. To call him a moderate is a misnomer.
But his temperament is such that he`s not an outright Obama hater and
that`s enough to say, you know, you can`t survive in this shark tank of the
Republican primary electorate these days.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what Jon Huntsman said this morning on
"Morning Joe" about this. Because he is also someone who might very well
be on the Republican primary presidential debate stage. Let`s thereon what
he said about this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JON HUNTSMAN (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have to tell you
that having run a governor`s office, and Joe has done the same thing, and
every governor`s office, whether your state is large or small, it`s pretty
much organized the same way. Your neighbor is the chief of staff and your
deputy chief of staff is right down the hall. And everybody knows day in
and day out what`s playing out in your state down to, you know, a minuscule
detail.

So there is something here that just does not connect fully in terms
of how communication was handled, and the issues that were put forward to
the governor.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: There is Jon Huntsman coming as close as he can to saying,
come on, of course, Chris Christie knew. He said everybody knows in that
little office space what you`re all doing.

Charlie Cook, as you say, put the bridge aside, could this party,
could the Republican party really nominate a governor from New Jersey,
especially after their experience with nominating a former Massachusetts
governor, another northeast governor next time?

COOK: Well, I think there is a natural suspicion in each party for
any statewide elected official who can win a lot of votes from the other
side. It`s -- there`s sort of a suspicion that they`re tainted. And
obviously coming from the northeast, and winning a lot of Democratic votes
in New Jersey made him suspect.

But to part of Huntsman`s point, and I`m not nearly as enamored with
this story as a lot of people are. But to me, let`s just assume for a
second that Christie didn`t know, OK? Let`s assume that for a second.

The fact is that there was an environment, a culture in the office
that convinced some high level people to think that there was OK and
acceptable. That sort of is enough. I mean, and that`s, you know, to me,
that`s probably more likely than Christie said hey, shut down five lanes or
three lanes or whatever on the bridge. But the thing is that this was not
going to happen. This really wasn`t.

O`DONNELL: Yes. I mean, you`re right, Charlie, obviously. It would
be enough. And also there`s the simple fact that even if Chris Christie
didn`t know, voters would expect him to know. They would be electing
someone who they would want to be in a position where he would know what
his staff was up to.

Charlie Cook and David Corn, thank you both very much for joining me
tonight.

CORN: Sure thing, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, readings from twitter. The meanest things that
we can say on television. Coming up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Claire you really suck a pig`s (bleep).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Mitt Romney went on stage this weekend at a Mormon young
singles conference. We don`t know exactly what he said. But we do know
that he did this.

(VIDEO CLIP PLAYING)

O`DONNELL: Not bad. Who knows what Mitt could do with a little
rehearsal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mitt Romney style Mitt, Mitt, Mitt Romney style
Romney style Mitt, Mitt, Mitt, Mitt Romney style

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can`t figure out if Elisabeth Moss is
attractive or not. Does this help you figure it out?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That, of course, was the lovely and talented Elisabeth
Moss reading her me tweet for Jimmy Kimmel.

Now, thisnews.com took the same idea to Capitol Hill and got senators
and representatives to say things that you will not believe you are hearing
from their mouths.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Claire CMC, you really suck a pig`s (bleep).

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE BUDGET COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Paul Ryan has
such pretty blue eyes. Sometimes it`s easy to forget he`s Satan incarnate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, I can`t decide whether you`re stupid or
willfully deceitful. Can you help me out?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When was the last time you heard voices. It`s
important to take your medicine regularly. What was that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s a (bleep) bag on real world MTV. He`s a
(bleep) now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I saw David Vitter in Starbucks this morning.
#loser.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Damn, you suck. OK. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chris Murphy, CT, your ignorance is overshadowed
only
by your naievta (ph), #lmao, which I assume means legislators make America
outstanding.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE). Of course you would, you`re a
typical #democrap. #resign.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At Jason in the house, you are proof that this
country has gone to hell in a hand basket.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: @sen.schumer. Yes, you`re about as original as an
old pair of shoes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Is Lawrence O`Donnell really an idiot or does he just play
one on TV? Well, that`s not really for me to answer. Bernie, what do you
think? Is Lawrence O`Donnell really an idiot or does he just play one on
TV? You want to take more time?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, yes.

O`DONNELL: Maybe check with the guys on this one? All right, we`ll
go to a commercial.

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Republicans blocked the extension of long-term
unemployment benefits today. And for every week that they do that, 70,000
more people lose those benefits. Ezra Klein joins me next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think we all know
that there are a lot of hardworking Americans out there who are desperately
looking for a job. And unemployment insurance is not only good for them
and necessary for them, but it`s also good for our economy as a whole and
will actually accelerate our growth if we go ahead and get that done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: After the president said that this morning, Senate
Republicans blocked an extension of unemployment insurance for nearly 1.5
million Americans whose benefits have expired. Unless the Congress acts,
the number of jobless Americans losing unemployment compensation is
expected to increase by 72,000 people per week.

Republicans in the Senate say they are not finished trying to come up
with a compromise and now some of them realize they have an incentive.
They have discovered that Republicans receive unemployment benefits, too.
The AP reports the standoff infuriates people, such as Lita Nest who lost
her job as a civilian contractor at Peterson air force base in August 2012
and just received her final check from the unemployment office. I`m
registered as a Republican, but if they continue to use this not extending
our aid, I`m probably changing to democrat, nest58 said, as she took a
break from a computer training class at the pikes peak work force center.
People in our district who vote no on this, I`m not going to support them.

Joining me now, "the Washington Post`s" Ezra Klein.

Ezra, so it turns out, Republicans have discovered that Republicans
receive unemployment benefits, too.

EZRA KLEIN, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, we`ll see how much
they`ve actually discovered it, right? I mean, they haven`t actually
extended them yet. It`s actually worth saying a compromise was offered on
the floor today.

So typically, unemployment benefits, emergency unemployment benefits
for these which are only for the long-term unemployed are offered under
rule where is they don`t end up being paid for because it`s emergency
funding. It happens during recessions and you want to increase the amount
of money going into the economy, in order, as President Obama said, to
juice growth.

Now, what happened today is Democrats agreed to a compromise in which
they would be paid for. But what happened is sequestration cuts to
Medicare providers would be extended for an additional year after 2024.
That is the deal that got knocked off the table today, can one in which
Democrats took the step and said fine, we`ll break with normal traditions,
we`ll get this done. And that turned out to not be enough either.

O`DONNELL: So Ezra, is there a possible move here for Harry Reid? Is
there a pay-for they can find in the Senate that they can get a majority
vote on?

KLEIN: It just depends on what Republicans want to do. I mean,
sometimes I think we have this tendency to take sort of the rhetoric
lawmakers offer as if it`s sort of like laws of physics, right? As if
there`s something out there that makes the mathematics work.

In the Bush years, the Republicans extended unemployment benefits five
times. And up until now, in the Obama years, they`ve been extending them,
too. So, it`s not, I think, really a Harry Reid question. It`s a GOP
question, it is a Mitch McConnell question, whether or not they decide to
do this and move forward with it.

And of course, after they do it in the Senate, if they do it in the
Senate, it has to pass John Boehner`s house and that`s going to be a much
tougher battle on its own. But this is one of those things where there`s
not some pledge they`ve all signed. There`s not some sort of law of
political physics that is keeping them from doing it. If they just decided
to extend jobless benefits to people who had the misfortune to be on the
bottom rung of the labor force during the worst financial crisis, which is
not, by the way, caused by ordinary workers in the last couple of
generation, if they decide to just keep helping those people out, they
could just change their vote and keep helping them out.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell kind of
describe their standoff.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NY), MAJORITY LEADER: We have a filibuster before
us again another one. First, Republicans claimed they were filibustering
these essential benefits because the extension was not paid for. So Reid
of Rhode Island came forward with a pay-for amendment. Then Republicans
explained that they were filibustering because they have not been able to
offer amendments.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: We`ve been on this bill
a week. A week. No amendments have been allowed. It is pretty clear that
the majority leader is not interested in having an open amendment process.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: There is McConnell wanting an open amendment process. And
Harry Reid, obviously, is willing to have a basically a closed amendment
process, where he accepts one where that he thinks will get enough votes.

KLEIN: Right. And so, I mean, this is sort of a classic majority-
minority fight. The majority wants a more closed process in order not have
the minority put forward a bunch of amendments meant to embarrass them.
And obviously, the minority wants the amendments -- wants an open process
so they can show that the majority, if they could just get the unemployment
done, if only they would repeal Obamacare, whatever it is they want to do.

But I actually I do want to take a step back because I do think this
is like a sort of cheap Washington trick, right? To enwrap all of this in
a thicket of process. There is a simple question on the table here, which
is, is Congress question on the table, is Congress going to help keeping
the folks who are at long term unemployed just barely afloat in this
economy. And they can just decide to do that. And it is not about
amendment. It is not about anything else. They can just decide to vote
aye as they did with Bush and under Obama, and those folks will continue to
get help.

O`DONNELL: Ezra Klein gets tonight`s last word. Ezra, thank you for
getting me out of my New Jersey state of mind tonight.

KLEIN: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Chris Hayes is up next.

END

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