ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES
January 16, 2014
Guest: John Wisniewski, Michael Powell, Steve Sweeney, Gabriel Sherman,
Howard Fineman, Tara Dowdell, Michele Goldberg
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes.
Well, the subpoenas are here. We don`t know all of the details yet, but
the next chapter of the Chris Christie bridge scandal started today.
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: I want to assure the people of New
Jersey of one thing -- I was born here, I was raised here, I`m raising my
family here, and this is where I intend to spend the rest of my life. And
whatever tests they put in front of me, I will meet those tests because I`m
doing it on your behalf.
HAYES (voice-over): As Chris Christie struck a tone of defiance in New
Jersey, lawmakers on Capitol Hill were investigating his house of cars.
The Port Authority responding to questions from Transportation Committee
chairman, Senator Jay Rockefeller, had a clear message, David Wildstein did
it. And, oh, Bill Baroni is not so great either. The letter charges the
lane changes were directed by Mr. Wildstein.
As for Mr. Baroni`s November testimony before the New Jersey assembly`s
transportation committee --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This traffic here --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I understand.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- was flowing into the bridge.
HAYES: The Port Authority claims they had nothing to do with it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Excellent point.
HAYES: It`s a convenient narrative since both have resigned in disgrace.
Back in Trenton, both sides are lawyering up. Assembly Democrats have
hired the guy who put Rod Blagojevich behind bars.
ROD BLAGOJEVICH (D), FORMER ILLINOIS GOVERNOR: That`s subject to many
HAYES: And today, Christie announced he would be hiring an entire legal
team headed by Randy Mastro, a former federal prosecutor under Rudy
Giuliani, currently representing Chevron in a multibillion dollar pollution
case. Now, he`s defending Chris Christie.
The flurry of lawyers, a sign of things to come. Here come the subpoenas.
The assembly`s special committee indicated today that 20 subpoenas would be
issued from the assembly for 17 individuals and three organizations. Then
the New Jersey state senate began its investigation today.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator Weinberg, (INAUDIBLE) resolution, Senator
HAYES: State Senator Loretta Weinberg said she planned to ask for
documents from three other Christie officials. But first, the man we`ve
been asking questions about from the beginning, Port Authority David
Back during the traffic jam, Baroni asked Samson if they could talk about
an angry email sent by officials from the New York side of the Port
Authority. Four hours later, Wildstein wrote that Sampson was helping us
to retaliate. Sampson is one of Christie`s closest advisers and one of the
most powerful men in New Jersey politics.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s a pillar of the New Jersey political
establishment. He has an enormous amount of respect, Democrat and
HAYES: Next on Weinberg`s list, Regina Egea. Egea has been named
Christie`s brand new chief of staff. We know at the very least, Egea was
aware that New York officials were angry about the traffic jam. She, too,
was forwarded the irate email from Baroni.
(on camera): Regina Egea, who has been selected to be the chief of staff,
right, she`s forwarded that memo as well.
(voice-over): Next, there`s Port Authority Commissioner William Pat
Schuber. Schuber is another Christie appointee and former Jersey
politician. He was sent a letter with governor cc, inquiring about the
closure by Senate leader Loretta Weinberg on September 19th. Weinberg said
he vows to investigate, then nothing.
If the last round of subpoenas produced time for some traffic problems in
Fort Lee, they are the children of Buono voters and it will be a tough
November for this little Serbian, just imagine what this latest round will
HAYES: Joining me now, New Jersey State Assemblyman John Wisniewski, a
Democrat, and a leader of the assembly committee that`s investigating
I understand you are not going to disclose who has been subpoenaed until
they`ve been served, which makes sense. But explain the logic by which the
committee decided who to subpoena.
ASSEMBLYMAN JOHN WISNIEWSKI (D), NEW JERSEY: There was a lot of material
the committee received from the subpoenas to Wildstein, Baroni and others,
some several thousand pages of documents. And we saw on your screen some
of the e-mails that we looked at.
But all of those e-mails have connections to other people and other
individuals, or the people in those e-mails have bosses or people they
report to. So, we need to get to the bottom of a very simple question.
What possessed Bridget Kelly to say it`s time for traffic problems in Fort
So, we need to know what was the conversation before it? Because you saw
that e-mail. You had to have had a conversation before to understand what
WISNIEWSKI: What was that conversation, and who was it with? That`s what
we`re going to try to find out.
HAYES: We had -- talked about David Sampson. David Samson appears in the
batch of e-mails in the documents, in the first round of subpoenas. He`s
incredibly powerful and well-respected person in New Jersey politics, he`s
the chair of the entire Port Authority.
I read reports and heard from people there was pressure not to subpoena
David Sampson. You don`t have to comment on whether you subpoenaed.
Was there pressure not to subpoena David Sampson?
WISNIEWSKI: I received no pressure on David Sampson one way or another,
but he`s an individual that we need to look at. I mean, clearly, the
response that`s in the e-mails, that he was going to help retaliate, that
Pat Foye, the executive director`s playing in traffic. If this was just a
regular traffic study and somebody stopped it by mistake, I don`t think you
have that kind of level of response. It was an angry response, and it was
really disproportionate to what was going on.
HAYES: And he was -- it is clear, manning the battle. In the e-mails,
whether he knew or not, he was fighting along with them.
HAYES: I want to also bring in "New York Times" "Gotham" columnist,
Michael Powell, who`s been here before on the story, who`s been covering
Michael, I`m going to direct this to you because I understand why you won`t
be commenting on things that have not been disclosed. "Politicker NJ" has
acquired a list of named that are the subject of subpoena. Kevin O`Dowd is
one of them.
Kevin O`Dowd and Regina Egea stick to me. Talk about Kevin O`Dowd`s role.
MICHAEL POWELL, NEW YORK TIMES: Well, Kevin O`Dowd, I mean, he is the
chief of staff, right? He`s also the man who is about to become, by the
way, the next attorney general, seemingly, until his name was pulled back.
I mean, this is a powerful man within this, and pulls that circle very
close to the governor.
HAYES: This is a very important point -- the governor in his press
conference in responding to this, I believe, said he had two direct
reports, right? There were only two people that talked to Governor
Christie and that Kevin O`Dowd is one of them.
Another one of them is Charlie McKenna, I believe, who is the chief
counsel. He`s also in this "Politicker NJ" story, reported to be the
subject of a subpoena.
So you`re now dealing with the two people that talked to the governor
HAYES: By the governor`s own description.
POWELL: Yes. And it`s always been hard to believe that you would have had
a deputy chief of staff in a close-knit circle like that who`s doing this
all on her own. She`s not talking to the chief of staff, she`s not talking
to the governor -- she`s -- it`s just -- this will be very interesting.
HAYES: So, here`s what I do, if I`m Chris Christie right now. I just
lawyer up. I`m a life-long lawyer. I was in corporate law before -- U.S.
I know how to fight -- I know how to fight battles legally. The guy had a
pretty good record in terms of getting convictions, although some of those
cases were very dodgy.
Are you prepared for a drawn-out legal process in which every single inch
of ground is fought, contested, appealed, and you can`t get anywhere?
WISNIEWSKI: We`re prepared. That`s why we brought in special counsel.
That`s why we prepared ourselves legally to have the kind of backup that we
But it`s curious that on one hand, we have the governor lawyering up,
perhaps for a very protracted battle and on the other hand saying that he
wants to cooperate -- of course, it`s curious that he put "appropriate" --
all appropriate inquiries. The assembly committee is an appropriate
inquiry. If the governor wants to get to the truth, he ought to cooperate.
I mean, I think one of the thing that stands out here is the lack of
curiosity. When he was first made aware that there potentially was an
issue, he gave his staff 60 minutes to come clean. I mean, that`s a lot of
people to talk to and a lot of people that could be missing. Then when he
fires Bridget Kelly or has somebody in his office fire Bridget Kelly, no
conversation about why.
HAYES: Every single person who read that e-mail on the day that it game in
my "New York Times" alert on my iPhone, your first thought, any sensible
person, is, whoa, whoa, whoa, how -- if in fact, you had nothing to do with
it, how the heck did this come about? And if you`re the person who can get
to the bottom of it, and what it suggested to me in his explanation there
was, well, I didn`t want to be seen with tampering with witnesses, et
cetera. When you say you`re prepared for a protracted legal battle, are
you expecting one?
WISNIEWSKI: I`m hoping that we don`t have one. This is about public
trust. And public trust was destroyed here because of somebody in the
HAYES: Oh, come on. You`re just a Democrat. You want to get back at
Chris Christie. You want to hobble him for his presidential ambitions,
WISNIEWSKI: This started out as an innocuous investigation into the
operations and the finances of the Port Authority. And while we were doing
that, they closed lanes out of Fort Lee. And we said, well, that`s
operations and we see this e-mail from Pat Foye, saying it`s violates
operations, let`s look at that.
We follow it piece by piece, and when we look up, we`re in the governor`s
office. We didn`t want to be there.
HAYES: Why not just subpoena the governor?
WISNIEWSKI: Well, I think it`s premature. I think we need to -- we know
Bridget Kelly sent the e-mail and she sent them to David Wildstein. Those
are two people, why would you send this and how did you know what it meant?
But there are other people we need to talk to first before we can make any
We don`t want to jump to conclusions. We don`t want to sensationalize it.
We just like to get the answers.
HAYES: You`re not ruling that out, though?
WISNIEWSKI: We`re not ruling anything out. And we`re not ruling anything
in. We`re going to take it piece by piece, step by step.
HAYES: Do you think that my sense of where the Christie team is going to
go with this is correct?
POWELL: Yes. I mean, look, the person they brought in, I covered him long
ago and far away when he was a deputy mayor for Rudy Giuliani and Rudy
Giuliani was a really hard ball politician. Randy Mastro was a very hard
ball deputy for him.
Yes, I mean , I would think, and he`s a good attorney, by the way. But
he`s a good attorney if you`re in trouble. And I would assume that he`s
bringing in a good, tough attorney, because he feels like he`s in trouble
at some level.
HAYES: Can I ask just one final sort of ignorant question here about the
legal process? That sort of watched everything play out with David
Wildstein. He pled the Fifth. You referred him to the prosecutor to find
him in contempt. If the jurisdiction is challenged, if your ability to
subpoena someone is challenged, if you`re ability to subpoena this person
is challenged, like who is that appeal to? Is that a judiciable question?
Where does that go?
WISNIEWSKI: Well, they tried that. Before Wildstein came to court that
day -- to committee meeting that day, he went to court earlier in the
morning and the judge said, we don`t have the ability to tell the
legislature what they can look into. So, that will continue forward.
HAYES: I think that`s a key part of this. This is essentially not
something the courts have ruled once. It`s not something they have really
WISNIEWSKI: The Constitution gives us this authority. They`re not going
to get in the middle of it. There are other issues they could get involved
in, but not whether or not we could do this inquiry.
HAYES: It is legal battles in their arcane details can be boring, but at
the macro level, legal battles are fascinating and we`re going to see a
very, very big one right now.
State Assemblyman John Wisniewski and Michael Powell from "New York Times,"
gentlemen -- thank you both.
WISNIEWSKI: Thank you.
POWELL: Thank you.
HAYES: Coming up as the subpoenas fly, Chris Christie tries to redirect
attention to Hurricane Sandy. But what happened to 900 of his state`s
residents yesterday who are affected by the storm isn`t good news for him
either. I will explain, next.
HAYES: It`s an exciting day in the bridge scandal saga as subpoenas are
being rumored, reported, leaked and promised all over New Jersey. Doesn`t
it kind of make you wish you had the power to subpoena bunch of people
Well, tonight, I grant you that power. If you could subpoena anyone in
American politics, who would it be and why? Tweet your answers
@allinwithchris, or post to Facebook.com/allinwithchris. I`ll share some
of your answers a little later in the show.
So, stay tuned.
HAYES: With 20 subpoenas going out to just about anyone in Chris
Christie`s inner circle, the Jersey governor tried to get back some of that
old spirit of Sandy magic today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTIE: Tonight is I will govern with the spirit of Sandy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Jersey shore is open.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Word is spreading.
CHRISTIE: Because we`re stronger than the storm.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You bet we are.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: The New Jersey governor was out on his first non-statehouse public
appearance since it became national news his staff ordered traffic jams
that backed up George Washington Bridge for four days, showing the kind of
emotive core he showed in the aftermath of Sandy that endeared him to so
many Jersey voters.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTIE: Folks in my government are going to be focused on getting the
job done for all of you. That`s what you pay us for. That`s what you re-
elected me to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: The official purpose of today`s appearance was to announce that
$817 million of Sandy funds had been given to people in need.
But as we said time and again on this program, there`s a lot less to the
Sandy recovery effort than it appears. The fact that according to the
Ocean County planning board, around 26,000 people were still displaced a
year after the storm, including Andrea Kassimatis who was on our show in
November, and who wrote in this piece for MSNBC.com called "The American
Nightmare: Our Post-Sandy Reality", that she`s living in a trailer with her
family -- staring at, her words here, an empty vacant lot where their home
used to be.
If Christie really wanted to channel populist outrage at red tape and
regulation he could have done something today to get Sandy aid to the
nearly 900 people who more than likely lost their chance for aid yesterday.
You heard me correctly. It`s all because of an arcane bit of paperwork
which needed to be submitted in order for applicants to move forward.
The problem here is that some municipalities, particularly in black and
Latino areas, didn`t realize the letter had to be submitted.
Take note of a letter to Fair Share Housing Center, a public interest law
firm, got its hands on, that was written to someone applying. If you do
not provide a substantial damage letter, the piece of paperwork missing,
for your damaged property by January 15th, 2014, your application will be
moved to the waiting list, depending on availability of funds, may or may
not qualify for funding going forward.
What we know so far about these 900 people is not going to help these
numbers, which we brought you earlier this week. On average, black
residents were denied Sandy relief almost 40 percent of the time, Latinos,
19 percent of the time, and white residents, 14 percent of the time.
Joining me now is State Senate President Steve Sweeney, a Democrat.
Senator, what grade would you give Governor Christie on Sandy recovery?
STATE SEN. STEVE SWEENEY (D), NEW JERSEY: Well, obviously it`s not a
passing grade right now, because there`s too many people that are
struggling to get their lives back in order. You know, everyone looked at
this storm as an unbelievable devastation that hit the state, but -- and we
knew it would take time, but a year and a half, and you have 8,000 people
on a waiting list. They don`t know if they`re number one or number 8,000.
This is not right, nor is it fair.
HAYES: You`ve introduced or pledged to introduce legislation that would be
a Sandy bill of rights essentially. What would be in there and why are you
SWEENEY: Basically, it`s about transparency. Knowing where you are on the
waiting list. If you got rejected, why? Ensuring that the communications
are in multiple languages.
And we`re doing it for one reason. There`s too many people waiting too
long to get answers, and again, a year and a half. We knew this wasn`t
going to be quick, but now, year and a half later, people can`t seem to get
And now you have another requirement that just came. There`s a letter
that`s required for people that right now, it looks like 900 people might
lose their opportunity to get funding because they didn`t get a letter. We
gave money out beforehand without the letter. (INAUDIBLE) New York state,
New York City doesn`t require it. It`s just another hurdle when people are
trying to figure things out.
So, Sandy Bill of Rights -- what the Sandy Bill of Rights will actually do
is to create opportunities for people to understand what`s going on in much
more simpler terms and know where they are on the list, know why they`ve
been denied. So they can at least go back, if there`s a foul-up
HAYES: There`s a lot of scrutiny on the governor right now, the bridge
scandal, a lot of scrutiny on the behavior of his office in terms of
punishing enemies and rewarding allies.
You were someone who was allied with the governor. You were point man of
much of his legislative agenda. You`ve been called a Christie-crat by
fellow Democrats. Steve Fulop, who`s the mayor of Jersey City, has
basically accused of you being a co-conspirator with Chris Christie in
stonewalling a piece of legislation his city needed, as political
What do you say to that?
SWEENEY: It`s ridiculous. You know, Chris, I`m a big person when it comes
to pension. I`m a union iron worker and I`m the chairman of a pension
fund. And when we took on benefit reform, it was my agenda from 2006 that
Christie took on.
But what the Mayor Fulop was looking to do was take $4 million out of the
most underfunded pension fund in the state and put it in his general
budget. I`m all for pension fund reform, but the money need to go back
into the budget -- I mean back into the pension, not his budget.
We were 41 percent funded in this pension fund. And as someone actually
cares about people getting that promise at the end of their career that
they`re going to get that their pension, I just couldn`t sit back and see
somebody take $4 million a year away from a pension fund that`s 41 percent
funded. It`s not right.
HAYES: So I want to make sure I`m clear because this hasn`t been in the
press. You`re saying categorically, you`re denying that any treatment of
that legislation had anything to do with political retribution for the
mayor`s failure to endorse Chris Christie?
SWEENEY: Chris, absolutely. And the bigger problem was the mayor`s
failure to communicate with me, as the senate president. You know, he
called me the morning of the day the agenda was going on, mentioned the
bill to me.
I said we had two more sessions, I told. One of the senators, there`s two
more sessions that we would address it. But the mayor chose to make
statements that weren`t need because that wasn`t what it was about.
The mayor said there was too much drama surrounding the legislation. Well,
I didn`t create the drama. You know, the one thing I did do was I focused
on the legislation, Chris. And what he was trying to do was not fair to
the workers in that city. He was going to allow more money to go away from
that pension system, when honestly, when you`re at a 41 percent pension
funding formula, that`s scary.
HAYES: One of the things that has been alleged in the wake of the bridge
scandal is that it is part of a larger pattern in which the Christie
administration has punished enemies and rewarded friends. Are you
confident that Democrats in the state, who have allied themselves to Chris
Christie, have endorsed him, can withstand the scrutiny that will come
about what kind of rewards have been sent their way?
SWEENEY: Abs -- listen, absolutely. You know, since, you know, you hear
these comparisons with me because I did benefit reform, which was actually
something I started in 2006. Look, I blocked the Supreme Court nominees
now for three and a half years. We fight where we don`t agree.
But we do have an obligation to the people of this state to find areas of
compromise to get things done, Chris. You know, New Jersey is a state with
a lot of problems. And for me to do what they`re doing in Washington,
where, you know, just do everything you can to stop the president from
getting anything done -- I`m not doing that. I refuse to do that.
I`m going to stand for what I believe. And the things I don`t believe in,
we`re going to fight. You know, we just had a major battle over marriage
equality in the state of New Jersey, the minimum wage --
HAYES: A bunch of fights and a bunch of possible agreements coming up.
State Senator Steve Sweeney, thank you so much.
Coming up, back in 2011, Gawker dug up this amazing document called a plan
for putting the GOP on TV news. They found it in the Richard Nixon
presidential library and handwritten in the margins, basically a very good
idea, written by none other than Nixon aide, Roger Ailes, as in FOX News
President Roger Ailes, who is the subject of a controversial new book.
I`ll be talking to the author, next.
HAYES: An unauthorized biography of FOX News president Roger Ailes is out
this week, and as you might expect, it`s caused quite a stir. One of the
most fascinating reactions to this book comes from this guy, Lindsay
Graham, senior senator from South Carolina.
Now, Lindsey Graham wants you to know the provocative new biography does
not tell the whole story. Graham feels so strongly about this, he`s coming
forward to tell his own Roger Ailes story and in doing so, reveals just how
powerful a man Roger Ailes is.
In the new Ailes biography, Gabriel Sherman reports that during a business
meeting last year, Ailes said the quote, "If he were president, he would
send Navy SEAL trainees to the border as part of a certification program.
I would make it a requirement you would have to personally kill an illegal
immigrant coming into the country. They would have to bring home a dead
And it is on this issue that Senator Lindsey Graham has come to Ailes
defense, to say that that`s not the Roger Ailes he knows, that, in fact,
Ailes supports immigration reform, including a path to citizenship for
undocumented immigrants. But it`s not just his gut instinct at work here.
Graham reports having personally met with Roger Ailes on this issue, quote,
"I met with him three to four times in person, talked to him a lot."
Graham also reveals that unnamed others also met and lobbied on the issue
in hopes, as "The Journal" puts it, of toning down what Mr. Graham
described as vocal opposition on FOX in the past.
Graham concludes, quote, "People who observe the debate noticed the tone
was different and not so one-sided. It wasn`t amnesty every 15 minutes."
Take a sit back for a second and think about this. This is a United States
senator. He`s a man who has served in Congress for 18 years, arguably
among the most well known and powerful members of the Republican Caucus.
He`s going to Roger Ailes like a subject before a king, to beg his
And that is just a glimpse of the enormous power of this one individual who
oversees a media empire that produces a billion dollars in profits a year,
is watched by millions of people, and has completely, indisputably, and
irrevocably changed the way American media works, from this building to the
"New York Times" and everyone in between.
Joining me is the author of that biography, Gabriel Sherman, who`s also
contributing editor at "New York" magazine.
The Graham story is fascinating because there`s a question here about, does
the GOP, is Fox a mouth piece for the GOP, or is the GOP a mouth piece for
Fox? This relationship is fascinating and there is a lot in the book about
GABRIEL SHERMAN, AUTHOR, "THE LOUDEST VOICE IN THE ROOM": Yes. The idea
that a U.S. Senator is flacking -- essentially flacking for a news
executive is unprecedented in American culture. I think what it shows is
that Fox has surpassed the GOP has representing the brand of the party.
And Ailes` private views are detrimental to the electoral fortunes of the
GOP. I mean, his extreme views on immigration.
You now have a senator essentially coming out and saying, no, that`s not
what we really stand for. But in private, when the cameras aren`t on, this
is what Ailes says behind closed doors. Graham wants his caucus to know,
listen, you know, we can`t go down this road. I`ve told the Fox chief that
we need to moderate.
HAYES: Let me play devil`s advocate on two of these things. One is that,
you know, I work in cable news now. It`s an incredibly stressful high
pressure environment. It`s like a campaign. People say all sorts of
things all the time. I shuttered to think in our editorial meetings, a
book like this. How much can we trust that this is not cherry-picked?
That this is not basically finding people who have an axe to grind, et
SHERMAN: Well, two things on that. I spent three years on the reporting.
I talked to more than 600 people. Time and again, what the big reveal of
this book is that Roger Ailes is more extreme than the most extreme people
on his network. These are his beliefs. He`s entitled to those beliefs.
But for many years, he`s been able to obscure his true agenda because he`s
had a whole circle of public relations advisers, mercenary PR apparatus
that would suppress leaks. For the first time we see who the man is that
is running this network.
HAYES: So here`s the question about Fox, the question that you want to
answer, why does it work? Again, I do this every day. It`s really hard.
Thank you out there, watching, great. But it`s hard. It`s a behemoth.
Why does it work?
SHERMAN: One simple answer, Roger Ailes. He starts in everything with the
network starts with him. It is a completion reflection of his world. He
has two meetings a day, where he comes in, monologues about the news, gives
his take on the headlines and that radiates through the building, from the
daytime news shows to the pundits at night. Everything works together.
It`s one cohesive package. At other networks, shows do their own thing.
Different points of views. Fox, even with different hosts, it`s
essentially one 24-hour product that`s packaged by Roger Ailes.
HAYES: So this is the key because there are two ways thinking about Fox
and the role it plays in America. One is someone would discover a market
for conservatives, right. And Ailes happened to be the person. The other,
there`s something about Roger Ailes that he has some kind of visceral gut
connection to what that viewership wants to see that makes it work.
SHERMAN: Exactly! And this has been a testament to his talent, that his
career spans four decades going back to his work for Richard Nixon in 1968
as a television adviser. He developed a deep understanding of the
frustrations and the resentments of the white middle class audience who
felt left behind by the upheavals of the `60s. He uses that to relate
stories on a visceral level. That`s why Fox works because Roger Ailes
understands that better than anyone else.
HAYES: I also think one of the things that come through in the book and
other reporting on this. If you were to characterize the modern GOP and
particularly a certain part of the GOP, the 1 percent, it`s a combination
of a tremendous amount of power and privilege with a genuine feeling that
they are besieged, that they are surrounded, that everyone is out to get
them. You put those two things together. You get something near the core
of the DNA of the modern GOP.
SHERMAN: I think to unpack that a little bit, Roger Ailes has been a
bridge between the business country club Republicans and the populace blue
collar Republicans, the Reagan Democrats, the union, sort of white
Catholics conservative voter`s because he has worked through moderates.
His political hero was George H.W. Bush. He ran his media campaign in `88
and what he did was he took a country club Republican`s like George H.W.
Bush, and he made him into a fire-breathing, flag-waving conservative.
He hammered Dukakis as soft on crime and weak on foreign policy. He put
that hilarious ad with Dukakis in the tank. He made George Bush palatable
to the kind of populous middle class and so that`s why Fox works because it
brings that coalition together.
HAYES: You know what something I`ve learned, populism, good, effective,
motivating populism is much harder than it was.
HAYES: Gabriel Sherman, author of "The Loudest Voice in the Room." Thank
Coming up, Republican Senator David Vitter comes up with another way to
screw poor people who don`t have photo I.D.`s. That story is next.
HAYES: We begin tonight with the truly stunning decision by the Supreme
Court where, if I may speak metaphorically, I believe John Roberts court
took out a knife and plunged it into the voting rights act soft underbelly
and then dragged the gasping, dying body across the streets on to the steps
of the capital building and left it there with a note to Congress, saying,
it would be a shame if this law were to die.
That was my reaction on the day the Supreme Court gutted the voting rights
act and attempt to get away with it by telling our notoriously
dysfunctional Congress to revive it. Today, members of Congress stepped
up. Senator Patrick Leahy introduced a bipartisan legislation that would
reestablish a formula to determine which states must be cleared by the
federal government before they change their election laws.
The Roberts court ruled that the old formula was unconstitutional because
it was based on criteria established in the 1960s, effectively striking
down the heart of the most important civil rights law ever enacted, signed
by Lyndon Johnson in 1965 in response to efforts in the south to keep
blacks from voting.
The new legislation, proposed today would subject a state to preclearance,
if it has committed five or more voting rights violations over the last 15
years. One of the people behind it is Republican Jim Sensenbrenner who
instrumental in re-authorizing the law with broad bipartisan support in
But to win GOP support this time, the bill was written so that voter I.D.
laws, not be included as one of the five violations that can trigger
preclearance. And as currently drafted the new law would only apply to
four states. None of them are North Carolina, which has undertaken the
most sweeping attack on voting rights in the nation.
Still, this is forward progress from the state of affairs just yesterday.
We`re going to see from the Republican members of Congress, which side they
are on. In fact, just yesterday, one of them announced, he was so taken
with voter I.D. laws, he wants to expand the franchise.
Senator David Vitter introduced a bill requiring that food stamps
recipients display photo I.D. to get their food. Vitter says the bill is
designed to keep fraud out of the program even though fraud is at historic
low and need remains extremely high.
The real impact of this bill would be to make it harder for the people at
the bottom of the economic ladder, the most likely not to have a photo I.D.
to get food stamps they desperately need. Of course, David Vitter knows
that. It is, no matter how he spins it in future, on a bug.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WOLF BLITZER, CNN: Hillary Clinton hasn`t exactly been flying under the
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Clearly when you look at the Democratic potential
nominees, she`s leaps and bounds ahead of everyone else.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The latest edition "Time" magazine`s even asking if
she`s a shoe in for 2016.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can anyone stop Hillary?
BLITZER: Can anyone stop Hillary. There you see it right the.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This shows Hillary Clinton and, can anyone stop
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: The job of a person who designs magazine covers is to get that
magazine cover on television so the person who designed that cover, mission
accomplished, congratulations. Cover of "Time" magazine fueling continued
speculation about Hillary Clinton`s political future, every single day
until she declares she`s running for president. Some say she`s not made up
her mind yet and I believe them.
Hillary Clinton has not made up her mind. But what`s remarkable watching
this whole thing unfold, it doesn`t really matter what Hillary Clinton
wants. Because as in a Greek tragedy, the fates have ordained what she`s
supposed to do, the Chorus is lifting her up and is walking her towards the
podium where she`ll make her announcement.
Hillary Clinton may be thinking about what she wants to do, but every day
the circle of people who are invested in Hillary Clinton 2016 grows bigger
and bigger, donors, the media, the list gets longer and longer. Imagine
for a moment a bride a few months before her wedding, the caterer is
booked, the invitations are sent out, and she says, I don`t know if I want
to get married. Sorry, it`s too late because the refundable deposits have
already been put down.
And Hillary Clinton right here in this moment, about to audition to be the
most powerful person in the world, but she`s lost control over the single
most important decision she will make in her life.
Joining me now, political consultant, Tara Dowdell, NBC News political
analyst and editorial director of "Huffington Post" media Group, Howard
Fineman and my colleague, Michelle Goldberg, senior contributing writer for
"The Nation." What do you think of the theory?
HOWARD FINEMAN, NBC NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: Should I start?
FINEMAN: I don`t think she`s the puppet or victim of the fates. I don`t
go with your Greek analogy.
HAYES: You think she wants this and this is all.
FINEMAN: I don`t usually say this kind of thing, but what the heck? I`ve
known Hillary for 30 years and she`s not the puppet of anybody`s fate. She
made a deal with bill Clinton a long time ago, speaking of marriage, get
married, she lost Washington, and she left the business in Chicago, a law
firm that she was going to go to instead she turned south and joined up
about Bill Clinton.
But I felt about her from the beginning that she believes in her own
leadership ability, her own service to the country, and I don`t think
there`s any doubt in my mind that if she runs, and I think she will, it
will be because she wants to, not because she was painted into a corner to
HAYES: Here`s why I don`t think that`s the case because there is I guess
here`s my point. Were it to be the case that she woke up tomorrow and
decided she didn`t want to run, I think it would be really hard not to. I
really think that. I think it matters, the infrastructure is being built.
It matters people are going to say to you, you`re the best candidate. We
don`t have anyone else who`s very good. What are you going to do to the
country? There`s momentum that gathers around these decisions particularly
with the network of people they`re associated with that over determines?
FINEMAN: This is a network she and her husband built.
HAYES: That`s right.
MICHELLE GOLDBERG, THE NATION: She the power and presumably she`ll have
the power to direct that network behind an heir apparent if that`s what she
wanted to do. To me, it`s more, even if she doesn`t want to run, not that
there`s a super structure that`s been built, it`s that she`s been building
to this her whole life, it`s been handed to her on a silver platter, how
do you say no to your one last chance?
TARA DOWDELL, POLITICAL CONSULTANT: That`s a great point. I think it kind
of reminds me of your metaphor and they decide to get married because they
went through so much with that guy, when someone is about to get married.
They decide to get married because they went through so much with that guy,
or that woman. Been through so much together, even though this
relationship is terrible, we`re going to get married. I think that`s a
similar dynamic. This is something you work for your whole life. You
built this. I also think she feels she earned this.
HAYES: I just think in the world of democratic politics, I think there`s a
discounting of the possibility she could lose frankly. I think there`s a
bizarre overconfidence. All speak at once. They`re related in this sense.
This is someone who has had a remarkable career in American politics, which
has had way more ups and downs than your average career.
Some of the most brutally difficult moments from a person can experience.
I think about my private life being splashed across anywhere. I don`t
think anyone would want that. The idea that all of it was building towards
the moment in which she runs again and doesn`t win, that also seems tragic
GOLDBERG: Well, it`s bizarre there`s such a sense of, have we learned
nothing? That we`re all talking about her as the inevitable nominee. That
HAYES: "People" ran the same cover.
DOWDELL: I don`t think she`s inevitable. I`m in the camp that she may
have a difficult time in 2016 because there`s this push for a new face,
fresh blood, the party wanting someone who`s much more progressive and her
record is not very progressive, per se. In some senses, you can make the
case, some of the interventions were progressive in that they were
humanitarian in scope.
But there were underlying reasons for that besides humanitarian. So I
think while she`s clearly going to be a strong contender, the notion that
she`s inevitable is a dangerous one for her team to adopt again.
FINEMAN: I agree with that. I don`t think she`s inevitable, but that will
not stop her, I think, from running. Because I`ve not met anybody in
politics with more inner strength as a person than Hillary Clinton has.
Take my word for it.
HAYES: I absolutely believe that.
FINEMAN: And I also believe she thinks she has more to offer the American
people as a leader, and I think she will try it, whether she decides it`s
risky or not. She`s taken lots of risks in her life.
HAYES: I want to go back to where competition might come from in the
Democratic Party; right after we take this break.
HAYES: Earlier in the show, we asked you if you could subpoena anyone in
American politics, who would it` be? Got a ton of answer`s like Janice
from Facebook says President Bush and Dick Cheney to explain the advantages
of the Iraq war. Wayne says I would like to subpoena Darryl Issa because
there`s so much abuse of power he has to answer for.
HAYES: We`re back with Tara Dowdell, Howard Fineman and Michele Goldberg.
We`re discussing the question posed by "Time" magazine`s latest cover
story, can anyone stop Hillary? Brian Schweitzer thinks he can. Switzer
is a former two-term Democratic governor of Montana. He believes he could
be a viable contender in 2016, running as an alternative of the left of
Hilary Clinton, but as a rejection of the Obama Presidency.
When asked, is there a single thing President Obama has done that you
consider a positive achievement? He paused then said, my mother told me,
if you can`t think of anything nice to say about someone, you shouldn`t say
anything. I could generate good things George W. Bush did, those are
small, but I mean, what are you doing? This makes me think this is someone
who is not serious about pursuing.
GOLDBERG: Or it`s someone who spends too much time reading a white male
group of bloggers. The same people who thought Jim Webb would be the hope
of the Democratic Party years ago, they love this macho, red state
populace, but they have very little appeal to.
FINEMAN: I think it is that, I agree with you there. But I think there`s
something else here, which is the fact that with Hillary standing astride
this whole thing, with her seeming inevitability, with the fact that she
does represent, not only the present, but the past, there`s room out there
for some kind of new voice and new approach. And all Schweitzer is doing
HAYES: Right! The point about that.
FINEMAN: He`s making the point that. There`s got to be something other
than Hillary out there.
HAYES: I agree. But the point is as a descriptive matter, 84 percent of
liberal Democrats the job approval rating for President Obama. That`s who
votes in Democratic primary.
FINEMAN: He`s on the corner trying to get attention.
DOWDELL: Nor is there any great hunger in the Democratic Party for a pro-
gun, pro death penalty. Exactly! That`s not what people are looking for.
I have a different theory about guys who throw their hat in the ring. I
think they have no intention of becoming president of the United States.
It`s become a business to run for president of the United States. You say
the most insane things. You get on TV.
GOLDBERG: That`s more effective on the right.
HAYES: The Republican primary, I agree with you on the Republican side.
DOWDELL: But there`s still that sliver in our part too and there`s nothing
more than the Republicans love than a Democrat who will criticize Barack
HAYES: I don`t want to skew his motivation. He`s a smart guy, able
Politician; he won big in a Republican state. He`s had a lot of good
DOWDELL: But for him to say that, that`s not a smart thing to say. If
you`re a serious candidate, you don`t say something like that, not now. If
this was a period of time during George W. Bush`s low point when
Republicans started to criticize him and his policies, which would be
HAYES: But if it is the case that the Obama presidency is such a failure
that the way to win the Democratic primary in 2016 is to distance yourself
from the president, there is no way that nomination is worth anything
because you`re not going to be president of the United States because if
the Obama Presidency is that much of a failure, a democrat will not being
elected in 2016.
FINEMAN: And I think the person with the best mix to take what`s good
about the Obama presidency and marry it with things going forward; she
knows how to do it. She`s going to get attacked on Benghazi and various
things, but certainly in a Democratic primary, she can portray herself as
someone who was loyal to the president, who has her own ideas, who comes
from her own policy shop in the Clinton world. Don`t forget you have the
HAYES: Let`s say this. We are now; this is going to be a post Citizens
FINEMAN: For sure!
HAYES: Money, networks, who in the 1% people know and how deep those
pockets are, that is going to be massive three determinative here. That`s
the reason Hillary Clinton is the frontrunner because no Person`s in
politics is as hooked up with those people as the Clintons.
FINEMAN: Unless a Democratic billionaire decides he likes Ryan Spirtzer --
DOWDELL: There could be some kooky guy out there that will decide that.
HAYES: There`s a case for the foster freeze effect, which is that post
Citizen United, a few Eccentric billionaires could decide to back people
and you may get a race that`s turned upside down by it. Political
consultant, Tara Dowdell, political analyst, Howard Fineman and Michelle
Goldberg from "The Shanon." Thank you. That`s ALL IN for this evening.
"THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts now right on time, right now. Good
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>