updated 1/22/2014 10:39:46 AM ET 2014-01-22T15:39:46

THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
January 21, 2014

Guesst: Hunter Walker

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Sometimes a snowstorm is just a
snowstorm. But when a snowstorm makes you cancel your inaugural party
after retaking the oath of office as governor of New Jersey, a lot of
people wonder what you might have to cancel next. Like maybe your
presidential campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: The people of New Jersey have
given me the opportunity to serve.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Christie takes the oath of office for his second
term.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Second inauguration.

CHRISTIE: It`s only fitting in this administration.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But hardly a fresh start.

CHRISTIE: With more hurricanes, snowstorms.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s really coming down in Trenton, New Jersey.

CHRISTIE: We begin the second term in the same way.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It wasn`t supposed to be this way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The first order of business for this committee is
to follow the information that we have.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The formation of a new supercommittee.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He`s fighting wars on two different fronts.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Clearly, she raises serious allegations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s a question of what was said.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Her allegations have to be looked into.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t think she`s going to succeed in shaking
Christie down.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Chuck was talking to a Haley Barbour.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You called her a lady mayor. I assume that`s not
something you meant to say.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn`t mean for it to be taken the wrong way.
Somebody wrote me a note about it, I wrote them back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every mayor in New Jersey is going to be asked,
what were your dealings with this administration?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Governor Chris Christie is trying to reset his
political future.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think you`re going to see a more reserved
Christie going forward.

CHRISTIE: I believe in you, New Jersey. And I always, always will.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O`DONNELL: It`s hard out there for a Republican governor.

Today, the Republican who was governor of Virginia just ten days ago
was indicted along with his wife for illegally accepting more than $150,000
in gifts from a political donor. But Chris Christie cannot count on the
McDonnell scandal to eclipse the far more important Christie administration
scandals.

The McDonnell scandal used to be the most important Republican
political scandal way back when it involved a possible candidate for
president. But the McDonnell scandal knocked Bob McDonnell out of the
running for president long, long before he was indicted today.

So, Team Christie is still number one when it comes to Republican
political scandals. And they continued to emphasize that by hiring some of
the best criminal defense lawyers in the country to protect them.

The latest high profile hire is former Secretary of Homeland Committee
Michael Chertoff who once was the U.S. attorney for the district of New
Jersey and Newark.

If you`re in trouble in New Jersey or anywhere else in America, you
can`t get better representation than Michael Chertoff. And now, Chris
Christie`s favorite chairman of the Port Authority, David Samson has
Michael Chertoff representing him.

Chris Christie`s new team of the best and the brightest defense
lawyers, headed by Randy Mastro, a former federal prosecutor specialized in
organizer crime, will not be able to help Chris Christie with voters, who
in a new Quinnipiac poll out today are turning against him.

In a hypothetical 2016 presidential match against Hillary Clinton,
Mrs. Clinton beats Chris Christie now 46 percent to 38 percent. A big
change from Quinnipiac`s December poll that had Christie actually one point
ahead of Mrs. Clinton, 42 to 41.

The biggest change in that poll is among prized independent voters who
preferred Christie over Clinton in December by 15 points. And today say
they would now choose Clinton over Christie by a point. That`s a 16-point
loss for Chris Christie from the last poll to today`s poll.

And as he loses support in the polls, Chris Christie is getting
precious little public support from fellow Republicans. And today, the
most recent Republican attorney general of Virginia who came in second in
his campaign for governor last year had this to say about Chris Christie`s
chairmanship to the Republican Governors Association.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KEN CUCCINELLI (R), FORMER VA ATTY. GENERAL: I think just from the
perspective of setting aside this as an issue in other races, it makes
sense for him to step aside in that role. He does not serve the goals of
that organization by staying as chairman.

NEWT GINGRICH, CNN: Let me ask you --

CUCCINELLI: And that doesn`t mean any of the charges, political or
otherwise, are substantive or not. It doesn`t matter. Perception is
reality.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now, former White House press secretary and
MSNBC contributor, Robert Gibbs, and MSNBC analyst Steve Schmidt.

Robert Gibbs, when you hear Ken Cuccinelli who`s certainly no longer a
big player in Republican politics, being the first to talk about Chris
Christie should step down from the Republican Governors Association, does
that -- does that sound like the first pebble rolling down that hill?

ROBERT GIBBS, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: It certainly sounds like it.
Obviously, as you mentioned, Ken Cuccinelli is no longer in public service,
and it will be very interesting to see if there are other governors that
follow suit, sitting governors that need the help of the RGA.

It was interesting, you know, when Christie was over the weekend in
Florida doing fundraising. None of the events were open to the public.
This was a guy who was partially installed to head the Republican Governors
Association to give that brand of Republicanism to other governors running
for re-election that might need his help. Those doors were locked this
weekend and no pictures were allowed and you have to wonder if that doesn`t
impact his effectiveness to chair the RGA.

O`DONNELL: Steve Schmidt, tell us from inside the Republican Party
about how that Republican Governors Association works. What kind of
abilities do you have to have in running it? And how might Chris
Christie`s abilities in running it be inhibited by what`s going on in New
Jersey now?

STEVE SCHMIDT, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, Lawrence, what the
Republican Governors Association job was going to let Chris Christie do was
to build a national political organization led by his campaign manager,
Bill Stepien. He was going to travel around the country, build
relationships with governors all over the country, people who were running
for governor that would be newly elected governors, meet the donors of
every state around the country. And now, of course --

O`DONNELL: Steve, can I just ask you a question?

SCHMIDT: Yes, sure.

O`DONNELL: Can I ask you a question about that? Stepien had --
Christie had appointed Stepien to a job in the Republican Governors
Association. So, Stepien would be on that payroll, basically his travel
financed to be at Christie`s side through every one of the things that
you`re talking about here.

Isn`t that the way it would work?

SCHMIDT: Yes, absolutely. And look, that would be very easy to
transition. You know, a lot of this organization into the presidential
campaign, or open the PAC when this election cycle was over. Obviously, a
much more difficult road there now.

But until things get worse, until there`s an e-mail incriminating
Chris Christie, very doubtful that his Republican governors will throw him
over the rail and out to sea, effectively ending his political career. He
certainly can`t run for president of the United States if he was forced by
his fellow governors to resign under pressure from the RGA, which is why I
think that`s unlikely to happen until or unless more information becomes
available.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to some of Chris Christie`s inaugural address
today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIE: We cannot fall victim to the attitude of Washington, D.C.,
the attitude that says I am always right and you are always wrong. The
attitude that puts everyone into a box that they are not permitted to
leave, the attitude that puts political victories ahead of policy
agreements, the belief that compromise is a dirty word.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Robert Gibbs, it was one thing to give a speech like that
a month ago. Today, that kind of talk requires an authority that just
didn`t seem present to me.

GIBBS: Well, you have to give him a little credit for the chutzpah to
give the speech he basically would have given or probably basically did
give the night he was re-elected 11 weeks ago. Obviously, a lot has
changed in those 11 weeks.

Look, I think the central problem that he has obviously is what you
just heard is what he wants the people of New Jersey to believe, and
ultimately in 2016, the people of America to believe, that he`s a much,
much different kind of leader. What we see in the polling now, whether
it`s the Quinnipiac poll or the Pew poll that came out today, people are
beginning to see Chris Christie as just another politician, just another
average politician that does the things that average politicians do. And
that`s not the kind of message or biography that gets you elected to higher
office.

O`DONNELL: And, Steve Schmidt, the -- Christie went on with more of
that in the address today. Do you think he should have done something
different? Or is it right for him to try to in effect in public
appearances act as if nothing else is on his mind?

SCHMIDT: Look, he`s apologized and before this is over, Lawrence,
there`s more subpoenas, there`s more e-mails. This will go on for some
time. I said last week, it will get worse for him before it gets better.

You know, certainly, there`s a statute of limitations on the
apologies. I`m not sure that six or seven months from now he needs to be
apologizing in every speech, but this is still in the early days of this.
And to talk rhetorically, at least, precisely like he would have the day
after the election, before all of this happened, I`m not sure at the end of
the day is really consistent with what his new political reality is right
now, because a lot has changed for him. And he`s going to have to navigate
his way through it if he`s going to be a candidate for president.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what his biggest money backer Ken Langone,
billionaire Ken Langone, said about him today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KEN LANGONE, BILLIONAIRE CHRISTIE DONOR: He will survive it if one
thing prevails, that what he said his involvement was what it was. If he
lied, and I`m certain he hasn`t lied, I`m certain what he said is the
absolute truth, I trust the man, this will go away.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Robert Gibbs, that`s the line. If he told the truth, this
will go away. And it`s -- there`s also the -- what you also have to rely
on there is, if there`s nothing -- if there`s no trail that you get to
follow that gets you any closer to Chris Christie in the Bridget Kelly e-
mails and all that stuff, then this goes away. It`s a very big if.

GIBBS: Well, I think and I go back to what Steve said a second ago,
it`s going to get worse before it gets better. State and federal
investigations don`t go away overnight. And the question is, how much
brand damage is inflicted upon you during this time period?

And I think that certainly remains to be seen. If he`s not healthy at
home, if he`s under investigation, he can`t launch a presidential campaign.

So, look, in the end, we may find ourselves many, many months from
here with this solved. The question is the amount of damage that might be
done between now and then which, again, I think this is a hit to the very
central narrative of who Chris Christie wants you to believe he is. And
quite frankly, it underscores the negative that Republican candidates and
Democratic candidates alike in 2006 will say that he`s a bully, that he
governs the state of New Jersey as a bully.

And anytime you`ve got a scandal that hurts your central narrative and
props up the central thing that people want to use against you in one fell
swoop, you`ve got a big, big political problem on your hands.

O`DONNELL: And one of the reasons Ken Langone is speaking publicly in
his defense is not a lot of other people are. But one of them, one of the
defenders out there today is Haley Barbour. Let`s listen to what he had to
say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HALEY BARBOUR (R-MS), FORMER GOVERNOR: Christie has sense enough to
walk and chew gum at the same time. He can be an outstanding, and will be
in my opinion, an outstanding governor of New Jersey. And frankly, when
the liberal media elite chase him around like this, some Republicans, it
helps him with and make them get energized to help elect more Republican
governors like Christie who can run for reelection on his record, rather
than having to do like Obama who ran for reelection on what`s wrong with
Mitt Romney.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Steve Schmidt, why aren`t we hearing more Republican
defenders of Chris Christie step up to the microphone?

SCHMIDT: Well, there`s not a lot of them. He`s had difficult
relationships. Obviously, in the Senate, Lawrence, there`s a couple of
high profile senators who view him as competition for the nomination.

Rand Paul being one of them. He took a couple of shots. They`ve had
difficulties in the past.

He has attacked the Republican Congress, has attacked the Republican
congress specifically over sandy funding.

So Chris Christie, as someone who is outside of Washington running
against Washington is now finding that Republican establishment in
Washington, largely silent, largely acting through the prism of their self-
interest and really not a lot of other governors out there who want to get
on point and defend Chris Christie before they know the question that Ken -
- know the answer of the question Ken Langone raised. Is he absolutely,
completely, totally telling truth?

I think he should get the benefit of the doubt here. He`s entitled to
due process. The point that Robert made is now, there`s federal and state
investigators all over this. We`ll find out exactly what happened.

The fact of the matter is, is these people are going to be subpoenaed,
be interviewed, not all of them are crazy enough to lie to a federal
prosecutor. So, you always find out over the course of things, what
happened and who did what? This will be no different and we`ll find out
over the next couple of months.

O`DONNELL: Robert Gibbs, one of the dangers for Chris Christie in
having to talk about what`s going on in New Jersey is one of the many
things he said in his press conference, when he said in his own defense, I
delegate enormous authority -- those are his words -- enormous authority to
my staff and my cabinet. You could see that sound bite being clipped and
thrown into attack ads against Chris Christie by Republicans if he does get
into that Republican primary.

GIBBS: Well, and I think, you know, it`s an interesting line of
defense for somebody that seems so very involved. I mean, this is not the
governor we saw rushing to the shore, clad in fleece (ph), to deal with
Hurricane Sandy. You don`t get the image of somebody who simply defers to
other people down, a few offices down.

And I think that`s why again in the Pew poll today, I think 60 percent
of the American people don`t buy the excuse, didn`t know what was going on.
Whether or not it did or not, again, I think it shows that in many ways,
the perception of him as this hands on bipartisan tell it like it is, fix
things governor, is in a lot of danger because all of those things are now
being questioned.

O`DONNELL: Robert Gibbs and Steve Schmidt, thank you very much for
joining me tonight.

GIBBS: Thank you.

SCHMIDT: Good to be with you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, the New Jersey legislature has created one
supercommittee to investigate the scandals in Chris Christie`s
administration. That`s next.

And it turns out the Republican Party`s new platform for 2014 sounds
an awful lot like the Republican Party`s platform for 2012. Krystal Ball
and Jonathan Capehart will join me on that.

And then in 1944, the state of South Carolina executed a 14-year-old
boy for the murder of two girls. A judge is now considering reopening that
case, to see if that boy was actually guilty. Joy Reid will join me on
that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is now admitting he actually is the
person in a video posted on YouTube and he admits that he was drinking
alcohol Monday night which actually happens to be about two months after he
said he`s given up drinking.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROB FORD, TORONTO MAYOR: (INAUDIBLE) trying to tell me (EXPLETIVE
DELETED) you know what I mean, he`s hiding here, I`m hiding here.
(EXPLETIVE DELETED) (INAUDIBLE)

No. Money, money, money. And you know, I am going to I swear to God,
man, honestly, man.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s the goal, man.

FORD: It`s serious (EXPLETIVE DELETED) man, serious (EXPLETIVE
DELETED) bro.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The mayor told reporters at city hall today, "I was with
some friends. What I do in my personal life and my personal friends,
that`s up to me. It has nothing to do with you guys. It`s on my own
time."

The New Jersey legislature now has one supercommittee to investigate
the Chris Christie situation. The latest on the investigation is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN WISNIEWSKI (D-NJ), STATE ASSEMBLYMAN: I`m glad we were able to
come to this agreement where we could bring the assembly together to work
for a common purpose in getting to the bottom of a very thorny question
about abuse of power and attempt to cover up that abuse of power. The
ability for both houses to work cooperatively and share the resources, Reid
Schar, makes our work much more efficient, and certainly eliminating any
questions about two houses competing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The New Jersey legislature announced today it`s gotten
over its differences and will work together to investigate the growing
scandal around the Christie investigation.

The newly formed joint committee is comprised of 12 members, eight
from the assembly, four from the state senate, and will consist of eight
Democrats and four Republicans. When asked if the newly formed super
committee will investigate, Mayor Dawn Zimmer`s investigations that
Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno tried to tie Hurricane Sandy relief money
to a redevelopment project in Hoboken, the co-chair of the New Jersey
supercommittee said this --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WISNIEWSKI: Clearly she raises serious allegations. There`s a lot of
facts swirling about in terms of who said what when. The first order of
business for this committee is to follow the information we had to date,
where we had somebody in the governor`s office abusing power and we see an
attempt to cover up that abuse of power. We`ll follow that trail wherever
leads, but we`re not going to switch gears now and start following another
investigation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now, Ari Melber, co-host of MSNBC`s "THE
CYCLE," and Hunter Walker, national affairs reporter for "Talking Points
Memo."

Ari, there was a little bit of controversy about why are they running
a committee in the assembly, a committee in the Senate. And they`ve
responded to that by consolidation.

That does seem like a sensible approach at this point, doesn`t it?

ARI MELBER, THE CYCLE: Yes, I do think it`s sensible. I think some
of those differences related originally to local New Jersey politics. The
bottom line is it streamlined their inquiry. We all remember Governor
Christie`s original press conference about all this. He made a big show he
would respond to all, quote, "appropriate investigations."

The rubber is going to hit the road on that soon, Lawrence, because
he`s going to have to figure out not only whether he continues to encourage
people that he employs to testify, but something you see in a lot of
investigations and that I`ve seen in private practice, which is do you wave
privilege? Do you allow for a total review of the materials you have
because you have nothing to hide? Or do you get pretty obstinate about how
you define cooperation?

O`DONNELL: Hunter Walker, the opportunity for leaks now from the
investigations in the legislature has just been cut in half. So, reporters
must be -- who are hoping for leaks out of the two committees are now going
to have to work much harder to get the leaks out of one committee. I think
we can safely anticipate that as the subpoenas unearth demeanor documents,
there will be some leakage about at least what is in some of those
documents.

HUNTER WALKER, TPM: Yes, you know, so far, they`ve kept it pretty
tight. That shocking 22-page package with the "time for traffic problems"
quote was really the only thing that came out before the hearings.

But I do think that we may see some sort of advanced previews of these
especially juicy tidbits like that in the future.

O`DONNELL: And, Ari, you know, there`s also an issue certainly in the
Washington version of this, about -- you know, well, if the Congress
investigates while there`s a criminal investigation, that interferes with
the criminal investigation and there`s always that issue of -- well, should
the congressional committees defer to the prosecutors and just not try to
get involved with these witnesses.

Is that kind of dynamic likely to come up in this New Jersey
situation?

MELBER: Well, I think allies of Governor Christie may raise it, and
if there are potential improprieties -- I mean, what we`re talking about
with leaking, if not done, you know, in an appropriate way or put on the
public record, that can be something that hinders what can be seen as a
more political investigation.

But the fact is as a legal matter, look, they have overlapping
jurisdictions. And they have a role in overseeing the -- the legislature I
should say, has a role of overseeing the governor`s office, although New
Jersey is a strong governor`s state. It`s only one of a handful of states
that doesn`t have an elected attorney general. Many people would argue
that makes it all the more important for a robust oversight from the
legislature.

And then you have potentially a state investigation. And then, as we
know, an inquiry at this point from the U.S. attorney, the very office, of
course, as we`ve reported, that Chris Christie used to hold.

I don`t think there will be serious calls for them to back off because
there`s another inquiry going on. Indeed, some of what the U.S. attorney
is looking at, federal in nature, federal only, is limited and different
than the potential sort of state misconduct violations that you could see
within jersey.

O`DONNELL: Ari Melber and Hunter Walker, thank you very much.

MELBER: Thanks, Lawrence.

WALKER: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up next, Republicans are going to meet tomorrow to
discuss their platforms for the next year. But first, they`re going to
march against women`s reproductive rights, of course.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: In the spotlight tonight, the Republican Party`s new
strategy looks a lot like their old one. Tomorrow, Republicans will gather
in Washington, D.C. for their winter meeting and the first item on the
agenda is the annual march for life on the national mall.

The anti-abortion rally that both Republican national committee chair
Reince Priebus and House majority leader Eric cantor will attend this year.
South Carolina senate candidate Richard Cash, who is running against
Senator Lindsay Graham in the Republican primary appears to have already
adopted this resolution as he delivered his own special version of the I
have a dream speech on Martin Luther King Day at the South Carolina tea
party convention.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD CASH, SENATORIAL CANDIDATE (R-SC): I have a dream. And what
is it? I have a dream that one day each and every unborn baby created in
the image of God will enjoy the same constitutional protections that you
and I receive. That`s our promise, that`s what the Republican Party stands
for.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now, Krystal Ball, a co-host of MSNBC`s "the
Cycle" and "Washington Post" columnist and MSNBC political analyst,
Jonathan Capehart.

Krystal, the Republicans, try as they might, have a real struggle
trying to work on that gender gap.

KRYSTAL BALL, MSNBC HOST, THE CYCLE: They really do. And I mean, the
sort of rhetoric that you just heard and the overwhelming focus on
controlling what women do with their bodies, and even the attacks on family
planning, these really, really turn off women voters.

And look, the American public, they are much more in the middle on
this issue, and they tend to gravitate towards the party that seems more
reasonable to them. So when you see states like Texas that have really
launched an all out war on, not just on abortion, but on family planning.

And even in a state like New Jersey, a blue state where we think of
Chris Christie as a quote "moderate governor." He`s also launched an
attack on family planning. This is a huge problem for women who want to
make their own decision about their bodies and how and when they`re going
to have a family.

O`DONNELL: Jonathan Capehart, after the big Mitt Romney loss, which
the Republicans were convinced were going to be a Mitt Romney win, there
was really instantaneously, it seemed, even including on FOX News, with
some of the people there, a very quick change of heart about how
Republicans should approach campaigning. There was that instant, virtually
instant call well, we better do something about immigration reform. And
that just seems like ten years ago now.

JONATHAN CAPEHART, OPINION WRITER, THE WASHINGTON POST: At least,
look. In March, Reince Priebus and other members of the Republican Party
got together and put out what euphemistically call the GOP autopsy. And
you know, one thing that we know, autopsies are done on dead things. And
the Republican Party knows folks to put that autopsy together knew and
wrote rather bluntly in it, that if they did not do something that would
attract Latinos, African-Americans, women, lesbians and gays, a whole bunch
of people who fled the party in the 2012 presidential election, that they
were going to be in serious trouble.

You thought that then would start the moment when they would start
reaching out seriously. They have done some things but they would
seriously change tone, change demeanor, change or moderate policies. And
what we`ve seen ever since that report came out, the Republican party Doing
things to tick off women, Latino, African-Americans, and to a lesser
extent, the lesbian and gay community. But they haven`t done anything to
ensure that the GOP goes from dead to alive.

O`DONNELL: Yes.

Krystal, from that autopsy that Jonathan is mentioning, there`s
actually a line in there where they say they have to figure out a way to
appeal to women who agree with us on some but not issues. I wonder what
those issues are they`re talking about.

BALL: Interesting.

Well, I mean, the fact of the matter is it`s very simple math. You
can`t sort of write off half the population and expect to win elections.
The problem for the Republican Party, too, is one of image. It`s one of
substance and it is one of image. Women do not want to be told by a bunch
of old white men, what they should be doing with their lives. So when you
have folks coming out and saying how things should be and what bills
they`re going to push forward and they overwhelmingly impact women, that`s
going to be extremely distasteful.

I mean, one more stat for you. In the past three years at the state
level, because this is happening at the federal level and it`s happening at
the state level and at the local level. In the past three years, we`ve had
more restrictions on abortion than in the previous decade. So this is
something that is ramping up.

O`DONNELL: Krystal Ball and Jonathan Capehart, thanks for joining me
tonight.

BALL: Thanks, Lawrence.

CAPEHART: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, a judge in South Carolina is considering
reopening a murder case that ended with the execution of a 14-year-old boy
seven years ago.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: If a more obscure governor was suspected of creating a
traffic jam, we probably would not be talking about it. If that same
governor and his lieutenant governor were accused of trying to manipulate
federal disaster relief money for political purpose, we still probably
wouldn`t be covering that story.

If Butch Otter was at center of such a multi fascinated scandal, the
national media would not be covering it. Butch Otter as we learned last
week is the Republican governor of Idaho. I discovered that when I was
looking for the name of a governor I had never heard of to make the point
that the national media is covering this story because it involves Chris
Christie. And of course, I chose Butch Otter because he has the coolest
name of all the governors I had never heard of.

We are covering this story with the intensity of a presidential
campaign because this is a story about a presidential campaign. It is
specifically about Chris Christie`s presidential campaign, which was going
very smoothly until he had to say this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: I delegate enormous authority to
my staff and enormous authority to my cabinet.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That is Chris Christie`s defense in the scandal that has
stopped his presidential campaign before it could really get started. And
that defense may be good enough legally, but it has no chance of working
politically. Candidates for president simply cannot be caught saying I
delegate enormous authority to my staff and enormous authority to my
cabinet.

In my experience in government, from my observation, it is often a
very good thing that an elected official delegates enormous authority to
staff. But I have never met a voter who thinks so.

As I said last week, if Christie continues his run for president,
Republicans will use those words against him in attack ads and then
Christie Republican opponents would join that statement about delegating
enormous authority to his staff with this statement.

(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: Republicans would use those statements to hammer away at
Christie in 30-second ads about delegating enormous authority to his staff.
And they would hammer away at his being embarrassed and humiliated by his
staff. And Chris Christie would have no political answer for that, because
the worst thing, the very worst thing that can happen to you in a political
campaign is for your opponents to be able to use your own spoken words on
video against you. Just ask retired politician Mitt Romney.

Here`s how Republican Rick Perry attacked Republican Mitt Romney, or
put another way, here`s how Republican Rick Perry used Mitt Romney to
attack Mitt Romney.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With the White House has pointed to Massachusetts
law for the model for Obamacare.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I agree with Romney.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Follow the path that we pursue will find it the
best path.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I like mandates. I stand by what I wrote.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Doing the same thing for everyone in the country
has been deleted.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why if it`s good for Massachusetts and it`s
working for Massachusetts wouldn`t you apply it to the rest of the country?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Romney has flip flopped on some of the issues.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I changed my mind. I`m running for a different
office.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`ve taken a mandate approach.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are lots of reasons not to elect me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s right.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: When I made this point last week, since this is not a
newspaper or radio show, I of course used the audiovisual tools at my
disposal and actually created a 30-second video that showed what a
Republican attack ad against Chris Christie might look like using Chris
Christie`s own words.

Team Christie didn`t like what they saw and they cited that 30-second
video as one of their grievances against this network in a press release on
Saturday in response to the brilliant reporting by Steve Kornacki on
Steve`s program Saturday morning including his interview with the mayor of
Hoboken in which the mayor said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR DAWN ZIMMER (D), HOBOKEN, NEW JERSEY: The fact is the
lieutenant governor came to Hoboken, she pulled me aside in the parking lot
and said I know this is not right. I know this thing shouldn`t be
connected but they are. And if you tell anyone, I`ll deny it. And so, I
mean, the bottom line is it`s not fair for the governor to hold Sandy funds
hostage for the city of Hoboken because he wants me to give back to one
private developer.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Team Christie`s press release in response to Steve
Kornacki`s reporting could not have been longer and could not have been
stranger. It essentially amounted to a complaint about this network`s
coverage of the affairs of state in New Jersey and some quotes from
positive things the mayor of Hoboken had to say about Governor Christie in
the past.

Remarkably, the very long press release did not include an actual
denial, not one word of denial of what the mayor of Hoboken had told Steve
Kornacki. Not one word of denial from the governor himself, not one word
of denial from the lieutenant governor. The lieutenant governor waited two
very long silent days before she finally saying this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LT. GOV. KIM GUADAGNO (R), NEW JERSEY: Mayor Zimmer`s version of our
conversation in May of 2013 is not only false, but is illogical and does
not withstand scrutiny when all of the facts are examined. The suggestion
that anyone would hold back Sandy funds for any reason is wholly and
completely false. I am very surprised by the mayor`s allegations and I
deny whole heartedly those allegations.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Team Christie`s very long press release on Saturday
strangely did not bother to say that the governor and lieutenant governor
deny the mayor`s accusation. They certainly had room in their very long
press release to say that. In fact, Governor Christie still hasn`t denied
the mayor`s accusation. I`m sure the governor will eventually get around
to that, but on Saturday upon first feeling the heat of the Hoboken mayor`s
accusation, team Christie had much more to say about me and others at this
network than it said about the mayor`s accusation.

The press release accused me of, quote, "taking the unprecedented step
of airing a nearly three-minute attack ad against him this week." The
three-minute attack ad the press release refers to was actually 30 seconds
and it was not an ad. It was a video showing what an attack ad might look
like using Chris Christie`s own words.

I delegate enormous authority to my staff and enormous authority to my
cabinet and, quote, "I am embarrassed and humiliated by the conduct of some
of the people on my team." Now, not all 30-second videos are ads. An ad
is something you purchase time for on TV.

Now, one thing I do on this program with some frequency is make
prediction, political predictions. In fact, cable news programming on all
networks is littered with political predictions from hosts or guests every
hour of the day and night. It`s what we do.

And last week, because this is television, I used 30 seconds of video
as the basis of my prediction about Chris Christie`s presidential campaign.
My prediction about Chris Christie was and is that he has absolutely no
chance of winning the Republican nomination for president, and the reason I
believe he has no chance at that nomination is that Republicans can craft
devastating 30-second attack ads, using Chris Christie`s own words against
him. And no one does that better than Republicans trying to destroy
Republicans.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t think I`ve ever hired an illegal in my
life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We hired one company to my lawn and they had
illegals immigrants who are working there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m running for office, for Pete`s sake. I can`t
have illegals.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: The youngest criminal defendant sentenced to death in the
United States was a 14-year-old African-American boy in 1944. Joy Reid
will join us next to tell us how that case has been reopened

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: A South Carolina judge could reopen the case of the
youngest person ever to be executed for murder in America. Judge Carmen
Mullen began hearing arguments today in the case of George Stinney who was
executed when he was 14-years-old from nearly 70 years ago. George Stinney
was found guilty of killing two young girls in the small town of Alcolu.
But his family insists he didn`t do it and is trying to have his case
reopened to clear his name.

Columbia, South Carolina`s NBC affiliate WIS-TV`s Megan Norman has the
story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MEGAN NORMAN, REPORTER, WIS-TV (voice-over): On 1944, in Alcolu, two
young girls were murdered. 7-year-old Mary Emma Thames and 14-year-old
Betty June Benniker (ph). The next day, 14-year-old George Stinney Jr. was
taken into custody.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was always so (INAUDIBLE) and we has a little
girl and that`s not a chain (ph).

NORMAN: Betty June Benniker`s nieces say the only injustice is that
they never got to know their aunt.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe he got what he deserved. He was put to
death. He was old enough to know better.

NORMAN: A medical report claims the girls were bludgeoned to death.
Their bodies left in a ditch. Officers at the time claim Stinney
confessed, but there`s no written record of it. The trial lasted about
three hours.

According to reports, Stinney`s defense presented no witnesses, no
physical evidence and did not file an appeal. It took a jury of 12 white
men 10 minutes to decide Stinney`s fate, just three months passed from the
murders to Stinney`s execution by electric chair.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They had no choice in how they died and he did.
And I think that justice was served according to the laws in 1944 when this
happened.

NORMAN: Attorneys for Stinney`s side think differently.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that George Stinney could not have
committed these murders. I think George Stinney saw those children, but I
don`t think he was the last person to see those children.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now is MSNBC`s Joy Reid.

Joy, what happened in court today?

JOY REID, MANAGING EDITOR, THE GRIO/MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: So,
essentially you had the attorneys working pro bono for George Stinney`s
family arguing he did not receive a fair trial in 1944 for various reasons.
They actually put his two sisters who are now their 70s on the stand to
testify they were with him, that they knew his whereabouts at the times of
the killings. His brother who lives in Brooklyn but it is ill and is in
his, again, in his 70s testified by videotape.

And so, the interesting dynamic here is that the solicitor general,
the guy you see in the tape whose name is Ernest Chip Finney. He is
actually the son of the first African-American Supreme Court justice in
South Carolina. So, you have this sort of irony that it`s an African-
American solicitor arguing against the Stinney side. And essentially, his
argument boiled down to 12 jurors who are unrelated to the case, heard the
case, a jury is verdict was rendered, case closed.

But there`s a lot of problems with the case the family and their
attorneys have uncovered. I mean, starting with the fact that you had a
14-year-old boy in 1944 in South Carolina who his father who worked in this
mill town. This is a lumber mill town, the dad actually helped in the
search for these two girls when they disappeared. And he, George Stinney
admitted having seen the girls because they came by the property of the
family.

The family was run out of town. He didn`t have his parents with him
either at the questioning or at the trial because the family had to leave
the town for threat of lynching. He, himself, had to be moved. And he was
questioned by two sheriff detectives alone by himself. And this was pre-
Miranda, 20 years or more before the Miranda warnings were instituted. So,
he was never read his rights and he was alone. He is 14-years-old. So,
that`s the basis upon which the family is seeking a new trial. Notices
were made today, there`s a second hearing, part two, tomorrow at 10:00 a.m.

O`DONNELL: And Joy, what it sounds like from this distance is that as
far as they knew, the law enforcement people, George was the last person to
see these kids, and that was, at least as we sit here tonight, possibly the
chief and maybe even only basis of their suspicion.

REID: Well, there was that and also you have to realize the times as
well. The original sort of circulating rumors that actually wound up
coming up were these allegation that he tried to rape the older girl, the
Benniker girl, and that he killed the younger girl because she was in the
way and that he wound up killing both girls. These allegations of rape
that were leveled against young men and black boys were obviously
incredibly deadly. This was 1944, 11 years before the Emmett Till
lynching.

And also, you had this issue of this town that was a mill town was
sort of bifurcated racially. These girls were playing near a railroad
tracks near the black side of town. And he admitted to having talked to
them and told them where they could find flowers they wanted to pick. But
there`s weird things about the physical evidence in the case, which was
very little. The one thing they found was a supposedly a railroad spike
that was the murder weapon that detectives say that George Stinney pointed
out to them. But he weighed 90 pounds. He was five feet tall, maybe 5`1"
weighed 90 pounds. The railroad spike was huge and it alone weighed 20
pounds. So one of the pieces of evidence the Stinney family is trying to
put forward was at this boy couldn`t have possibly killed two girls.

Their skulls were fractured, in one case in four or five pieces.
These girls were brutally beaten in the head, each of them. And that for
him to have done that alone, a little small 14-year-old boy, the Stinney
lawyers was saying was not possible. They`re also disputing there was any
evidence of sexual assault.

O`DONNELL: Joy, I know you`ve been following this case before today`s
court session. And thank you very much for joining us tonight.

REID: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Chris Hayes is up next.

END

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