updated 1/27/2014 11:58:26 AM ET 2014-01-27T16:58:26

UP with STEVE KORNACKI
January 25, 2014

Guests: Steve Cohen, Elahe Izadi, John Stanton, John Wisniewski, Bonnie
Watson Coleman, Michael Patrick Carroll, Brian Thompson, Rep. Rush Holt


STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC ANCHOR: Now, the feds are involved.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

KORNACKI: If Chris Christie`s inaugural speech on Tuesday his second
inaugural speech was notable for anything, it was the complete lack of any
reference to any of the scandals now swirling around his administration.

Two scandals now instead of one, this, after the mayor of Hoboken, Dawn
Zimmer, appeared on this show at this hour last weekend to accuse
Christie`s lieutenant governor of explicitly linking her city`s Sandy aid
to approval of a development project that is represented by the law firm of
one of Christie`s top allies and to accuse another high-ranking
administration official of sending a similar message a few days later.

This came after the George Washington Bridge lane closure episode which had
simmered beneath the surface for much of the fall had just exploded into a
full-fledged scandal. And together, these scandals, we learned this week,
have completely eroded the massive popularity that Chris Christie built
with Garden State voters in the wake of hurricane Sandy more than a year
ago. So, Christie finishes his speech on Tuesday. And you can see, there,
he starts to shake hands with some of the dignitaries on the stage, leaders
of the state legislature, and then the ex-governors.

You see -- Tom Kaine Sr., that`s supposedly Christie`s mentor, but there`s
reportedly tension between them. And here, do you catch that? Right
there. Let`s pause and let`s take a closer look, because that picture,
that image right there, there is a lot of history, and there is a lot of
irony in that encounter. You might recognize the former governor who`s
embracing Christie right here, who seems to be offering him an encouraging
word or two.

It`s Jim McGreevey. He was the Democratic governor of New Jersey from 2001
to 2004. And if you know anything about him, if you know him from
anything, it`s probably for this --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My truth is that I am a gay American.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: That was almost ten years ago when Jim McGreevey made that
announcement and resigned as governor of New Jersey. Well, at least that`s
why most people think he resigned. It turned out that he`d appointed his
secret gay lover to a top homeland security position, but he didn`t have
any qualifications for. When McGreevey was told that that man was about to
go public, he preempted him by holding that press conference and ending his
own political career.

That was the proximate cause of Jim McGreevey`s resignation. That was the
immediate trigger for it. That`s what most of us remember when we think of
him. But there was another force that brought about that famous 2004 press
conference. A man whose work over the previous few years had so weakened
McGreevey politically, but by the time the scandal with his gay lover was
about to break, he had no support left to New Jersey to fall back on.

He had no chance to even try to weather the storm, to win back the public`s
trust, to carry on as governor even after telling everyone he was a gay
American. The real reason Jim McGreevey was cornered back in 2004 was
Chris Christie. These were the headlines almost exactly ten years ago in
the late winter of 2004. Federal agents raiding the New Jersey Democratic
Party`s headquarters, searching for records about a key McGreevey fund-
raiser.

That raid was followed a few days later by subpoenas for records from the
governor`s office itself and from the state treasury department. Details
emerged. The fundraiser had been shaking down a farm owner for giant
contributions to the state Democratic Party. The farm owner -- a wire and
McGreevey himself had popped up on it. So, it was a huge story in New
Jersey in 2004, but it wasn`t exactly a surprising story.

Jim McGreevey had been governor for just over two years, but at that point,
he already lost a chief of staff and his chief legal counsel to a federal
investigation. Then just a few months later, in July of 2004, there was
this. This is the all-time most bizarre New Jersey political story I ever
covered. This is the most bizarre story of any kind, any place I ever
covered.

Charles Kushner, he was Jim McGreevey`s top fundraiser, a real-estate
magnate who had raised more money for him, more money than anyone else for
McGreevey. This was the man that Jim McGreevey had tried and failed to
install as the chairman of the Port Authority. Charles Kushner was locked
in a vicious business dispute with his own family members. So, he hired
two high-priced prostitutes from New York City and I am not kidding about
this.

One of them seduced his brother-in-law in a New Jersey motel. Kushner had
the motel room encountered videotapes, then he had copy sent to the man`s
wife. That would be his sister. He ended up doing two years in federal
prison for tax evasion and witness intimidation, witness intimidation
because his sister had been cooperate rating in a federal investigation of
him. And that federal investigation was being led by the U.S. attorney for
New Jersey, Chris Christie.

Just like the investigation of McGreevey`s former chief of staff was being
led by Chris Christie. Just like the investigation of his former chief
legal counsel was being led by Chris Christie. Just like the investigation
of that shakedown scheme involving the farmer and the fundraiser was being
led by Chris Christie.

This was the story of Jim McGreevey`s two-plus years as governor of New
Jersey. Explosive news of one investigation or another by U.S. attorney,
Chris Christie`s office followed by a steady and seemingly endless drip of
damning details, one after another, each one cutting into Jim McGreevey`s
popularity, his poll numbers, his credibility, his basic political
viability. His allies tried to fight back.

A lawyer from McGreevey`s state Democratic Party actually wrote a letter to
Christie`s boss, to John Ashcroft. He`s the attorney general at the time
and that letter blasted the FBI`s raid of the Democratic State Committee
as, quote, "unprecedented and intrusive" and demanded a review of
Christie`s tactics. Not surprisingly, that letter fell on deaf ears.
McGreevey, himself, took to lashing out. He suggested that Christie was
targeting him for partisan reasons.

Quote, "Every change we have made. He told a gathering of Democratic
supporters has been met by resistance from right-leaning Republicans. They
will use every tool against us to win battles they can no longer win at the
ballot box." But the public wasn`t buying it. Christie was drawing blood
with his investigations and not many people wanted to hear McGreevey and
his aides calling it all a witch-hunt.

It was too much smoke. It was too much suspicion. Christie seemed to be
on to something, most people figured and didn`t want him to stop. And this
included, by the way, many Democrats because the New Jersey media in 2004
was littered with stories about how McGreevey was about to be done in by
his own party. How all the scandals, all the investigations were steadily
convincing Democrats that McGreevey was going to lose if they put him up
for election in 2005.

But they wanted him out and that they wanted a new candidate in and they
had a candidate in mind, too. It was the state`s first-term senator, a
Democrat with solid poll numbers maybe more importantly bottomless pockets.
His name is Jon Corzine. That`s the man they wanted to replace McGreevey
with and that was the backdrop for Jim McGreevey`s August 2004 resignation
speech.

Yes, the revelations about his secret life and unethical appointment of his
lover were dire, but he was already so reduced and so weakened by the
endless parade of investigations and revelations by all of the work that
U.S. attorney, Chris Christie, had been doing. He was so weakened by that,
but his party was already on the brink of revolt.

So, yes, that encounter on that stage between McGreevey and Christie this
week came with plenty of irony, came with plenty of history, and it came
three days after the mayor of Hoboken, Dawn Zimmer, had appeared on this
program to accuse Christie`s lieutenant governor, Kim Guadagno of
explicitly linking Sandy aid for her city to her approval of a development
project that is represented by one of Christie`s top political allies.

And it came two days after Mayor Zimmer told that story to members of the
office of the current U.S. attorney for New Jersey. It`s Christie`s
successor, a Democratic appointee named Paul Fishman. And it came just
before the FBI began sniffing around Hoboken, interviewing aides to Zimmer
and a city council member, all who apparently said she told hem of the
Guadagno conversation around the time it happened.

That McGreevey/Christie encounter also came two days before this, news of
subpoenas from Fishman`s office from the United States attorney for New
Jersey, subpoenas served on Christie`s state Republican Party and on
Christie`s re-election campaign. Subpoenas seeking information related to
the other major scandals swirling around, the mysterious closure of those
George Washington Bridge access lanes back in September.

Yes, it appears that Christie is now facing what McGreevey faced when he
was governor, a federal investigation, and he`s facing more than that.
He`s facing what inevitably comes with revelations like this, with doubts
about what kind of operation the governor is running, about whether the
governor himself is being forthright with the public. A deep drop in
public support. Meager numbers with the rule for most of Jim McGreevey`s
tenure, but Chris Christie has avoided them until now.

A Rutgers poll released this week captured it perfectly. You can see it
there. Christie`s favorable rating with New Jersey voters crashing. The
massive and until now impenetrable wall of support he built in the wake of
hurricane Sandy is crumbling apart, that Christie`s numbers are still not
awful, but the fall already has been sudden and sharp and it threatens to
get worse. So, the question is, what`s next?

When this week began, there were two state legislative committees looking
into the bridge scandal with 20 subpoenas outstanding waiting to be
answered. Then those two committees were merged into one. And now that
the U.S. attorney himself is involved, the question is, whether that
committee will get to keep doing its work? Will it get answers to those
subpoenas? Will we in the public and in the press see the new e-mails and
the new texts that those subpoenas produce?

Or will the U.S. attorney politely tell the committee to stand down, to
stay out of his way? And what`s more worrisome for Christie? We`re going
to get to all of those questions and more ahead and we`re going to start
next with the state legislator who is co-chairing that joint investigative
committee, who issued those 20 subpoenas last week and whose work probably
kept this story alive when most of the political world was ready to let it
go.

Will he keep investigating the Christie administration now that the U.S.
attorney is involved? We`re going to ask him right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN WISNIEWSKI, (D) NJ ASSEMBLY MEMBER: 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 have 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 it leads, but we`re not going to switch gears
now and start following another investigation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: That was Democratic State assemblyman, John Wisniewski, who`s
co-chairing that special joint committee, investigating the mysterious
closure of those lanes of the George Washington Bridge.

And at that press conference on Tuesday, he made it known that at least,
for now, his committee will be focusing just on the bridge scandal and not
on the new allegations from Hoboken mayor, Dawn Zimmer, which broken last
weekend during this show involving Chris Christie`s administration`s
allocation of hurricane Sandy aid in a development deal in Hoboken.

And now, joining us live at the table is Assemblyman John Wisniewski.
Thank you for taking the time this morning. We appreciate it.

WISNIEWSKI: Good morning.

KORNACKI: So, I`ll start with the question, you know, when I call around
Trenton these days, talk to people in New Jersey politics, they say with
the news this week that the U.S. attorney`s office has subpoenaed Chris
Christie`s re-election campaign and the Republican State Committee and is
looking into the George Washington Bridge scandal, the U.S. attorney office
now looking into that, that the days for your committee may be numbered,
because historically, the U.S. attorney will look at a legislative
committee in a situation like this and say, can you back off a little? I
need space here.

Is that something you expect? Have you had any conversations with his
office that leads you to think he wants that to happen?

WISNIEWSKI: Well, I have no conversations with U.S. attorney`s office, but
I think it`s important to look at what the legislature is doing. We`re
looking at an abuse of power, because ultimately, our role as legislators
is to fix the laws that allowed it to happen, to change the rules of the
game that allowed a Bridget Kelly to send an e-mail to a David Wildstein
(ph) to close the lanes.

There`s a lot of things that have to be fixed to make that not possible in
the future. The U.S. attorney`s office, law enforcement officials, they`re
looking at it for an entirely different reason. And so, what we`re doing
is a separate path than what they`re doing. But, you know, our intention
is to work cooperatively with all the other investigations, but we expect
on February 3rd or shortly thereafter to get answers to the subpoenas we`ve
issued, to analyze that data, and then make the decision as to where the
investigation goes after that.

KORNACKI: Yes. So, what happens? Because I guess the question it raises
is, first of all, if you get the answers to the subpoenas on February 3rd,
first of all, you do expect, you put 20 subpoenas out. How many do you
expect to get back? Do you expect you`re going to get them all back or do
you think some people are just not going to answer this?

WISNIEWSKI: Well, my expectation now is that we`ll get them all back.
We`ll let you know on the 3rd or after if that changes.

KORNACKI: So, if you get them all back, I guess, one of the questions it
raises is, how much is the public going to be able to see now that the U.S.
attorney is also looking at this? Because if the U.S. attorney is looking
at this, I imagine his office doesn`t want a lot of details -- I mean, you
think back to that first batch of releases from Wildstein and Baroni, you
know, "time for some traffic in Fort Lee."

It raised a lot of questions. It also connected a lot of people. I
wouldn`t imagine the U.S. attorney trying to investigate this once that
stuff out in public right now?

WISNIEWSKI: Well, I think, it`s also important to look at, you know, the
tool that they`re using is a tool that we`re using. We`re essentially
asking questions. They`re asking questions. I think it`s important to
note that, you know, whoever issues the subpoena, whether it`s the U.S.
attorney`s office or the legislative committee, the act, the asking of
questions is not a determination of somebody did something wrong.

And so, I think it`s premature to get to that point. But what we expect is
that the 18 individuals and the two organizations will respond. There`ll
be a ton of documents that we get or expect to get. We`re going to have to
analyze those and decide where we go next. But the process we used in the
past, which was the committee received those documents. We, then, issued
subpoenas for an individual, David Wildstein to come in.

At the conclusion of his testimony because of the documents that we
received, we`ve referred to in our questioning then become part of that
record and then become publicly available.

KORNACKI: And what do you make of -- I`ve noticed talking points from some
pro-Christie people in New Jersey, some pro-Christie Republicans in New
Jersey. It seems that in the last week or two when the story really
started to explode, their effort was to discredit your work, to discredit
your committee to try to play out as this is, you know, partisan witch-
hunt. This is a Democratic attack on Chris Christie.

And we had Jon Bramnick, you know, Republican from the assembly, a good
guy. We had him on the show last week and he`s basically saying none of
this is anything that should be dealt with by politicians. This is
something that should be dealt with by law enforcement. Was it the
strategy, do you think, of Chris Christie`s defenders to try to get this
away from your committee and into the U.S. attorney`s office?

WISNIEWSKI: Well, I hope not, because like I said, we have a job to do as
legislators. I mean, we clearly see an abuse of power. We see an attempt
to cover up that abuse of power. We have to change the rules and the laws
so that it can`t happen again. And I think these things can proceed on a
parallel track. I think we have a job to do. The U.S. attorney`s office
has their job to do.

But I certainly hope that, you know, if everybody is talking about this
ought to be bipartisan, then we ought to stop the sniping and saying, you
know, there`s an agenda here that we shouldn`t go any further. Remember,
this started as this inquiry into the George Washington Bridge toll
increase, and the operations of the Port Authority. This committee, the
transportation committee, last session, had no expectation that we`d be
finding e-mails that link it to the governor`s office.

We just followed the details where they led us. And now, we`re at this
point. So, now, we have to finish it. We have to find out exactly what
possessed Bridget Kelly to send an e-mail like that.

KORNACKI: Well, and I think that`s -- you deserve credit for that, because
this was a story that the Christie administration certainly was doing its
best in the fall and early winter just to poo-poo was just, you know, nuts
(ph), so why would anybody pay attention to this. I think a lot of people
in the media, myself included, were very slow to kind of look more closely
at this. And your committee was doing that work, and I think you deserve a
lot of credit for that.

But one more thing I want to ask you is there`s the question -- you say you
expect to get full compliance on all of these subpoenas you said, the 20
subpoenas or so. You already saw David Wildstein come down after you got
the documents. We saw him (ph) come down and basically take the fifth and
refuse to testify. Do you expect if you call any of these witnesses
especially now with the U.S. attorney looking around that they are going to
do the same thing?

WISNIEWSKI: I don`t know. I mean, the honest answer is it remains to be
seen. Most of the information we`ve received in this inquiry has been
through the documents, the papers, not through oral testimony. I mean, Pat
Foye came and said what he did and essentially laid the blame on David
Wildstein, but it was through the documents that David Wildstein provided
us we that got the answers we have today, but not through his testimony.

Clearly, you saw the clips of when he was in front of the committee and he
refused to answer any questions. What other people do in the future? I
certainly don`t want to suggest to them what they should do, and I don`t
know what they will do. I think we`ll cross that bridge when we come to
it, but I think the documents are going to be key, because we know that
there had to be some communication before Bridget Kelly sent that e-mail.

KORNACKI: And that`s what everybody -- the final question. That`s what
everybody -- the big mystery if you can reduce it to one e-mailing here is
Bridget Kelly, August 13th, "time for some traffic in Fort Lee," which is
clearly the middle of the conversation. Everybody wants to know what came
before that. If you do get the e-mail or e-mails that come before that, is
that something you guys are going to be able to publicly release around
February 3rd or is that something now with the U.S. attorney we may not
see?

WISNIEWSKI: I don`t think anybody should expect able to see a public
release of documents on February 3rd. The committee has to digest it. The
members in the committee have to be able to understand it. We have to make
a decision as a committee whether we want to take oral testimony from
anybody. So, I think nobody should be expecting the 3rd, 4th, and 5th.
There`s going to be this pile of documents for the press to go through.

I think at some point in time, as a part of our investigatory process, that
will be part of the public record. I can`t tell you today exactly when it
will be, but ultimately, for us as a legislative body, we want to make sure
the public understands how this happened so that they understand why we`re
changing the laws to make sure it can`t happen again.

KORNACKI: All right. State Assemblyman John Wisniewski, we want to thank
you for taking some time this morning. We appreciate it.

More members of that special investigating committee, a Democrat and a
republican along with the smartest man in Congress. He beat the "Jeopardy"
super computer. I am not kidding about this. The smartest man in
Congress, he joins our panel, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED KID: How do you keep anything -- oh, wait.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE, (R) NEW JERSEY: How do I keep everything controlled?
Not so well sometimes.

(LAUGHTER)

CHRISTIE: It depends on the day, man. It depends on the day.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: That was Chris Christie, making one of his few public
appearances this week, this time, at an elementary school on Thursday. I
wanted to introduce our panel now. We have State Assemblywoman Bonnie
Watson Coleman. She`s a Democrat who`s a member of the joint super
committee investigating all this. She previously served a state Democratic
chairwoman.

WNBC television reporter, Brian Thompson, who`s been covering New Jersey
for the past 16 years at the station, Michael Patrick Carroll is a
Republican who`s a member of the state assembly, also part of that joint
investigative committee, and we have Congressman Rush Holt, a Democrat
who`s also from the great state of New Jersey. Noticing a pattern here in
our panel. It`s like News 12, the MSNBC edition.

But, I`ll start with the two members of the committee here, because I want
to follow-up on what John Wisniewski, the co-chair of the committee, said
in the last segment. Assemblywoman, the question now seems to be, how long
the committee can keep doing what it`s been doing now that the U.S.
attorney has gotten involved?

John Wisniewski was saying, you know, he thinks there`s sort of a dual role
that can be played. Do you think that`s the case or do you think you guys
are going to have to take a step back here the more the U.S. attorney moves
into this?

BONNIE WATSON COLEMAN, (D) NJ ASSEMBLY MEMBER: I think we have a
responsibility to continue doing what we`re doing as it relates to what
happened with the bridge closures. Why did it happen, how did it happen,
who was involved with it happening, and what laws need to be strengthened
or whatever to ensure that something like that doesn`t happen again?

So, I think that that`s the lane in which we should stay. Not to use a
pun. And then the U.S. attorney will be looking at whatever it is that
he`ll be looking at. But clearly, we still have our work to do and we
should continue to do it and take it wherever it leads us.

KORNACKI: And what do you think of that?

MICHAEL PATRICK CARROLL, (R) SPECIAL CMTE (PH) ON INVESTIGATION: I am
concerned. I mean, we have, for example, Iran/contra is an example of what
happens when Congress gets involved and a fishing expedition -- poisons an
ongoing investigation which is a result. Oliver North --

KORNACKI: Oliver North was given immunity by the Congressional committee,
and then, later, was used the grounds to overturn his conviction?

CARROLL: Yes. In New Jersey, as I understand it, John was clear on the
statutes being somewhat unclear. But as I understand the laws, if we bring
somebody before our committee, they get use some munity before -- for any
state court proceeding. But it doesn`t bind the United States attorney.

Now, personally, I believe that if the witnesses were called, all then
should do the right thing and should say, I waive immunity. I`m going to
testify. I`m going to tell you everything you possibly want to know and
let the chips fall where they may. Unfortunately, that`s not the American
way where you lawyer up and you go in and you make sure you want to make
sure that your actions don`t come back to haunt you. It`s unfortunate.

But I am concerned that our actions will have an effect upon ongoing
criminal investigations and I`m not totally persuaded. There`s really a
legislative purpose for this. We already have laws that say, thou shalt
not do a lot of the things that were allegedly done. Want to draft more,
you know, which strikes me --

KORNACKI: But you have been quoted -- in the last week or two, you were --
because there are some Republicans who now have been challenging John
Wisniewski`s the way he`s run this investigation, so far. The way he ran
the transportation committee. And your quote is saying you didn`t have a
problem, so far, with that --

CARROLL: No one`s going to mistake John for a republican anytime soon.
But the fact of the matter is is I can`t say anything improper about his
professionalism here to fore. He and I disagree on the direction the
committee should be going, I think, because I think we should be taking a
very restrained view on this subject. But then again, he and I have sort
of history on this committee.

I was originally the co-sponsor, the bill that created the subpoena
authority and was the only Republican to vote for continuing it, because I
think the Port Authority could use a good solid looking at. Something
congress might want to consider as well. But this particular aspect of it,
though, I think we got to be careful. If crimes were committed, we can`t
do anything about them, and we should let the appropriate criminal law
authorities pursue that as far as they go.

COLEMAN: I think we still have a responsibility to continue the work we
did, because first of all, had it not been for the work that the
transportation committee did, we may not be here discussing this today,
because it was the tenacity of the transportation committee and the
information that it sought to get answers to that has even brought us here.
That has opened this up and that the -- now, the U.S. attorney`s office is
definitely interested in it.

I think if we learn to stay in our lane and we look to the laws that are
supposed to protect people from the kind of abusiveness that we saw take
place, then that`s our job. That`s our job as legislators, making sure
that the right laws are on the books, that the laws are being followed.
Now, there`s a whole -- there`s a whole lot of stuff the U.S. attorney can
look into as it relates to this and a few other things that seem to be
perking to the top.

But I think, clearly, we can continue to do our investigation. We`ve got a
responsibility to continue our investigation and the only chaos that will
exist is that which we try to create as a reality that isn`t.

KORNACKI: Well, Brian, you`ve covered Jersey long enough to have seen a
few moments like this. How does it usually play out if there`s tension
between the U.S. attorney and a state legislative committee like this and
what do you expect --

BRIAN THOMPSON, WNBC REPORTER: Well, we don`t have a lot of precedent
here. There has not been a special committee on investigation for Lord
knows how long. I mean, they`ve been going through the statutes and they
admit, they don`t fit today`s contemporary legislature. This is what I`m
really curious about. If you read that last batch of subpoenas, every one
of them in that first paragraph talks about, or any other abuse of power,
in addition to the lane closing, or any other abuse of power.

Now, if you`re a legislator, I`m not. I`ve got three of them here right
now. And you`re on a committee that says, any other abuse of power, and
you find some other abuse of power through subpoenas, through testimony,
through whatever, what do you do with that as a legislator? We know what
legislators do when they find abuse of power. The next step would be
impeachment.

REP. RUSH HOLT, (D) NEW JERSEY: Well, you know, there are plenty of
examples in history of legislative investigative committees that have
performed a real public service, whether it`s the Sam Ervin Watergate
committee, the church committee. The church committee began looking at
CIA`s assassinations, but they had the purview to expand and they greatly
expanded and reigned in the intelligence community that was running amok.

It`s what`s important. And so far, the New Jersey legislative committee
under Chairman Wisniewski has done this well. What`s important is to make
sure that it`s not seen as a political gotcha, that it`s not seen as a
persecution or a prosecution of one or two or three people. And, you know,
Watergate was not just about Richard Nixon. It was about abuse of power
that ran throughout the administration.

And I think Wisniewski is already taking that tack. I think they can take
that tack as Assemblywoman Coleman says, there is a clear need to look at
legislative remedies and legislative protections that should be built in.
So, there is a place for both -- it`s a challenge for them not to -- for
them to be complementary.

KORNACKI: Yes. And I think from the standpoint of everybody watching
this, there`s really two great mysteries that have now emerged from this
story, and the first is the one we`ve all been talking about for a month or
so now about the lane closures of the George Washington Bridge whereas
like, why would such high-level people be taking such incredible risks for
something of apparently such low stakes? There`s a disproportion there.
It creates mystery.

Everybody is trying to figure that out. Now, we have the second mystery
of, OK, this -- the mayor of Hoboken has made these allegations about Kim
Guadagno, about another administration official. Is that actually what was
happening?

So, in terms of finding out what the truth is there, I want to look a
little bit more about how we are most likely to get the truth out, whether
it`s this committee, whether it`s the U.S. attorney for New Jersey, Paul
Fishman, because I think there`s a big contrast between Paul Fishman as a
U.S. attorney and Chris Christie as a U.S. attorney. We`ll get into that
when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KORNACKI: So, I just mentioned at the end of the last segment there`s a
contrast between the current U.S. attorney for New Jersey, Paul Fishman,
and the old one, Chris Christie when he was U.S. attorney. We set this up
a little bit at the beginning. Chris Christie loved Chris Christie, made
his public reputation on the big public corruption case.

We looked at how he just hounded Jim McGreevey, maybe for good reason, but
he hounded Jim McGreevey for his entire governorship, and now, Chris
Christie a bit on the receiving end of this. But Brian, what do we -- what
can you tell us about Paul Fishman, because everybody who tells me about
him says Paul Fishman is 180 degrees from what Chris Christie was as a U.S.
attorney.

THOMPSON: Very quiet, plays it very tight within his office. Christie
was, he`s like a bulldog, I guess you could say, but a very public one.
Fishman isn`t that way at all. He`s indicating so far, though, in his,
what, I guess, three years, three and a half years in office, a very steely
determination, if you will, to go where he decides he`s going to go, and
you never know with the U.S. attorney and all the investigatory powers.

They have yet to release whether or not they have actually kicked this from
a kind of a preliminary investigation into a full-fledged criminal
investigation. And we may not find out for a long period of time. They
can issue subpoenas, which they have. We know that, but it doesn`t
necessarily mean it is a criminal investigation in the sense that we think
of that in the strictures of --

KORNACKI: Right. And we -- that office is a lot more tight lipped than
the U.S. attorney`s office under Chris Christie. I imagine --
assemblywoman, when you were the chair of the Democratic state committee,
not to bring up maybe some bad memories, but it was during the McGreevey
days.

And it must have driven you nuts, the leaks that would constantly come out
of that Christie office, the things that would make their way into the
press, the investigation will be proceeding behind closed doors, but it
would also be playing out in public.

THOMPSON (ph): Didn`t drive me crazy.

(LAUGHTER)

COLEMAN: Well, I`m sure it didn`t drive any of the journalists crazy, but,
for us who expected the U.S. attorney to act like the U.S. attorney
protecting the rights and ensuring that laws weren`t broken, but being a
lawyer, not a politician, was very frustrating, because if there were going
to subpoena records, there were going to send the FBI -- the FBI came in as
the same time as the "Star Ledger." So, how did that happen? You know?

(CROSSTALK)

COLEMAN: Now, Paul Fishman, he`s just seemed to be a very lawyer-like U.S.
attorney. He seems to understand what his lane is, and he`s going to
operate within it, with the highest amount of integrity, and he`s not
trying to up front somebody, and he`s not trying to get his face out there
to be considered for other things.

So totally different personalities, totally different offices, and by any
stretch of the imagination, neither the legislative inquiry investigation
nor the U.S. attorney`s inquiry or investigation is going to be short
lived. If we`re really going to do our work, we`re going to have to be
patient, and diligent, and vigilant and we`re going to have to look to see
where the information is, and then we got to weigh it against what we know.

THOMPSON: Let me just say one more thing about Paul Fishman. He is known,
his reputation is, this is his ultimate job to be the U.S. attorney for New
Jersey. It was not Chris Christie`s ultimate job to be the U.S. attorney.

KORNACKI: Stepping-stone. Right.

THOMPSON: He was -- remember, Chris Christie was a politician.

COLEMAN: And he operated that way.

CARROLL: One term free holder (ph) in Morris County.

HOLT: I have great respect for U.S. Attorney Fishman. I`ve had him in to
my district to talk with minority communities to reassure them about the
fairness of any prosecutions, you know, against Muslim-Americans or
whatever, and this is the job he wants to do. He does it fairly.

Now, we don`t know and we might hope that the U.S. attorney on the other
side of the Hudson River might want to be looking into this, also, because
part of what we should be looking at is the functioning of the Port
Authority, and --

KORNACKI: Which also calls in the question, if you`re talking about the
function of the Port Authority, is there a role for Congress to step in
there --

(CROSSTALK)

COLEMAN: -- committee is looking into this under Senator Rockefeller.

HOLT: That`s right.

COLEMAN: -- has definitely taken this issue on. So, there is an interest
in Congress to try to get at the what of here, the why.

THOMPSON: They are taking a backseat now while the U.S. attorney
investigation is going on. And the other thing, while the congressman
talks about New York, southern district of New York possibly being
interested in this or conceivably could be, but the protocol usually in the
justice department from what I`ve seen over the years is that they will
consolidate whatever multiple interests, multiple jurisdictional interests
they might have into one U.S. attorney`s office and my guess at this point
is, even if that did go where you`re thinking it could, it would still end
up with Paul Fishman.

CARROLL: And also -- remember, there`s also the county prosecutors and the
state attorney general. Both of whom have concurrent jurisdiction over
this -- no federal crime, there might still have been a state crime. And
so --

KORNACKI: And we`re in a situation of Chris Christie`s appointed attorney
general.

CARROLL: Or county prosecutors --

HOLT: And even if there`s no crime, there might be politicization of
things like the Port Authority, which decades ago, was a very non-partisan,
very professional organization. It has become politicized over the years.
Maybe no illegality, but the legislature or the Congress may want to do
things to make it --

(CROSSTALK)

KORNACKI: We have started to look a little closer at the Port Authority
and what`s been going on there. That`s a little teaser tomorrow because we
have some information on that for tomorrow. But, we`re going to pick it up
after this with the other piece of this, this sort of twin scandals. We`re
going to look at the Hoboken piece, Mayor Dawn Zimmer`s allegations, Lt.
Gov. Kim Guadagno`s response. We`re going to look at that right after
this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LT. GOV. KIM GUADAGNO, (R) NEW JERSEY: In short, 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. Any suggestion
-- any suggestion that Sandy funds were tied to the approval of any project
in New Jersey is completely false.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: That was Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno responding to Hoboken mayor, Dawn
Zimmer`s, allegations on our show last weekend. She made those remarks on
Monday. It got a lot of attention for interesting presentation style
there. Nobody knew quite what to make of that. Certainly attracted a lot
of attention.

You know, assemblyman, just as a Republican, I wonder now sort of a week
after Mayor Zimmerman made her allegations. You`ve seen, you know, Kim
Guadagno`s response. You know, we`ve seen denials from Richard Constable,
that`s the other official that Dawn Zimmer sort of implicated in this,
haven`t heard much else in terms of a full explanation of what was said
between them, but at a basic level, what do you make of Dawn Zimmer`s
allegations? Do you find them credible?

CARROLL: Well, my personal perspective is that most of the money, at least
I think most -- anticipated to go to the shore. I understand Hoboken got a
little bit of money and such like that as it should have. In fact, I
think, I actually voted for a bill that included giving them money for a
walkway or something along those lines. But the simple fact of the matter
is that it strikes me as a bit much to take that at that face value.

KORNACKI: Take what? Take the idea that Hoboken didn`t get --

CARROLL: Yes. I mean, it`s because -- it doesn`t seem -- from what I
understood from reading what other mayors had to say is that the delays in
getting stuff is not unusual. That doesn`t surprise me from government at
all. They got, what, $300,000 for a backup generator. A lot of money for
a generator.

KORNACKI: But it seems -- a couple of things jump out at me. One is that
the structure of the program that was created by the Christie
administration for the money that they had control over was geared towards,
it was geared towards the shore, it was geared towards putting, you know,
razing houses that were on the shore and buying back land.

It was geared towards things that don`t really apply to Hoboken where you
got this one square mile city that`s on the banks of the Hudson River,
fourth most densely populated in the country, 80 percent in the water. And
so I think -- it seems like one of the complaints from the mayor is simply
that this program was never set up to really help our city in the first
place.

And then, I watched the Christie administration`s response this week. It
seemed a little disingenuous to me, to be honest, because they`re taking
credit for a lot of money they don`t control. They`re saying, oh look,
there`s no problem here and they list all of these bullet points of money
that`s going to Hoboken, and it`s $43 million in flood insurance.

It`s things that Christie administration had nothing do with, and they seem
to be trying to almost distracting the issue by taking credit for (ph)
money they didn`t control.

CARROLL: Well, it`s my understanding that much -- many of these programs
are ongoing, that many of the places that are putting requests -- still
haven`t seen it. There haven`t been decisions made for everything on this.
Again, there was one pot of money. It was $250 million and another $1.2
billion or something like that? I`ve forgotten exactly what the amount
was, but -- and it`s still ongoing.

I mean, like I said, I have a house in Lavallette. I know what they went
through down there. Perhaps, Hoboken suffered under water, but it didn`t
get a tidal surge that wiped out like three quarters of Fort Lee beach and
another part of North Lavallette. And again, when you were seeing the
images from Sandy, they weren`t showing Hoboken for the most part. They
were showing --

HOLT: But you were just showing some of Hoboken. It was bad. A lot of
the money was -- excuse me, please, go ahead.

CARROLL: No, no. Finish.

HOLT: Well, a lot of the money was under federal guidelines. But there
was a lot that was under the governor`s discretion, and the public gets
this. I mean, just -- you know, the last election, the gubernatorial
election was all about whether people relate to and like Christie`s style.
Now, because of this Bridgegate, people -- they can feel it personally.

They understand what it is for EMS response to be delayed for twice as
long, for the police search for a missing child to take longer because of
traffic jams, and they also understand withholding aid for disasters.

And I think that`s why, you know, we can now begin to look at the issues
that were pushed aside during the last election where Christie left federal
money on the table for building a tunnel, where he left federal money on
the table for public education, where he left federal money on the table
for promoting health care enrollment.

I mean, he said, no, I`m not even going to accept that money. I`m not
going to do those things. Important policy issues. And we want to make
sure those don`t get lost in the personality and the politics --

KORNACKI: And the other issue, though, is -- when you`re -- but when
you`re having this argument about did Hoboken get enough and the governor`s
office is strongly saying, oh, no, they got all this money. What`s sort of
getting lost here, I think, is look, clearly, publicly, the mayor of
Hoboken has been saying consistently, we did not get enough.

We badly need more and the allegations she`s making is that the two top
people in the governor`s administration basically came to her and said, OK.
You don`t think you`re getting enough. If you want more, you`ve got to
approve this development deal, this development deal with ties to Chris
Christie`s closest political --

THOMPSON: You know, Steve, it raises a curious observation. If you look
at how many mayors, many of them Democrats, Democrats and Republicans, but
if you go to the opposite party, the Democratic Party, along the shoreline,
who endorsed Christie or at least said good things about him, when you talk
to them, there is a lot of sincerity there. There`s no question about it.
I would be the last person to deny that, and there`s also, off the record,
some of them will also say, I have no other choice.

And, even if Dawn Zimmer cannot ultimately prove her allegation, and
there`s been a lot of pushback even behind the scenes from the Christie
administration, I can tell you that. I`ve been subject to some of that,
like, Brian, come on. This isn`t the way we operate. But even if you give
the administration the benefit of the doubt on this, you can`t deny the
feeling of some Democratic mayors, I don`t want to make a blanket
accusation here, who played ball, because they felt that was the only way
they were going to get their fair share.

(CROSSTALK)

KORNACKI: We have to take a quick break and do it as soon as we come back.

THOMPSON: But that`s politics, too.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KORNACKI: All right. Just a little time left here, but Assemblywoman, I
know you have something to say. Go right to it.

COLEMAN: Yes. I don`t -- the Dawn Zimmer issue is coming out now. I
don`t know a lot about it. I haven`t seen anything. I only know what I
heard. I`m comfortable in believing that she felt bullied, or threatened,
because that`s the way this administration is. I mean, I think that we
have endless cases of looking at the governor bullying every day citizens,
bullying legislators. He bullied me.

One of the reasons that I have problems with, you know, accepting
credibility on his part now as to what he says is that he got up there in
the press conference and said, I`m not a bully. He is a bully. I am and
was the chairman of Barbara Buono`s campaign for governor. And I know that
people were afraid of the governor, were afraid to support her with money,
were afraid to endorse her, is because this was a very bullying --

KORNACKI: In the capacity of chairing Barbara Buono`s campaign, you were
talking to mayors, Democratic mayors who were expressing that feeling to
you?

COLEMAN: Yes. I was talking to, not only mayors, I was talking to a lot
of different people. They just did not want to be associated in any way,
shape or form with the campaign for fear of retribution. I mean, that`s
sort of the hallmark of this administration. You -- you may reward your
friends, because I think that`s a question we`re trying to get answered to,
but you doggone sure do punish who you thought to be your enemies.

KORNACKI: Very quickly, do you think those people who are telling you that
during the campaign are -- do you expect some of them may come forward now?
They may feel the climate is safer to come forward?

COLEMAN: May and some may have already. Who knows?

THOMPSON: We`ve tried. It`s hard to get them to do so.

KORNACKI: Yes.

THOMPSON: He`s got four more years.

COLEMAN: Yes.

KORNACKI: Right.

THOMPSON: If they feel that way.

KORNACKI: Well, that`s the other thing. There was the expectation that
he`d be leaving halfway through his term to run for president if that`s off
the table now and that`s an "if," but if it`s off the table now, then he`s
actually maybe he`s in Trenton longer. That brings us to something we`re
going to talk about next segment.

But for now, my thanks to State Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, WNBC`s
Brian Thompson, Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll, and Congressman Rush
Holt.

It is not just the U.S. attorney`s office that will weigh in on the
Christie administration. There is also the court of public opinion and
well beyond the state of New Jersey. That part of the story is straight
ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KORNACKI: Republican leaders gathered this week for their party`s annual
winter heating in Washington, D.C. These get-togethers are often largely
bureaucratic ceremonial events driven by party protocol.

But, yesterday, members of the Republican National Committee endorsed two
headline-grabbing changes for their party. By a voice vote, they approve
the resolution that calls on Republican lawmakers to, quote, "immediately
take action to halt current unconstitutional surveillance programs and
provide a full public accounting of the NSA`s data collection programs."
The resolution goes on to urge Congress to amend the section of the Patriot
Act that allows bulk collection of Americans` phone records as a rebuke of
surveillance programs that was started under George W. Bush.

It wasn`t long ago at the very same winter party meeting back in 2006
during the Bush administration that then-RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman blasted
critics of NSA surveillance.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KEN MEHLMAN, THEN-RNC CHAIRMAN: Did Nancy Pelosi and Howard Dean really
think when the NSA is listening in on terrorists planning attacks on
America, they need to hang up when those terrorists dial their sleeper
cells inside the United States? Ladies and gentlemen, President Bush
learned from September 11th that we must change to protect ourselves. And
his reforms are keeping us safe every single day.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: Now, we don`t yet if one resolution is going to change the
agenda of congressional Republicans. But we do apparently know where rank-
and-file GOP activists from around the country now stand. They apparently
stand with Senator Rand Paul, who is the leading the libertarian wing of
the party in an effort to rein in domestic spying.

Also yesterday, the RNC voted to dramatically overhaul their presidential
nomination process by condensing the primary calendar. The idea is not to
have another endlessly dragged out fight that bloodies the ultimate
nominee, like we saw with Mitt Romney back in 2012.

So, in 2016, first primary season contest is now scheduled for February.
It`s a month later than in 2012. And only four states will be permitted to
hold elections that month, Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada.
The other 46 must wait until after March 1st. They will suffer serious
penalties including fewer delegates to the national convention.

So, big changes this week at the annual Republican winter meeting, which
may be distracted them from the other big changes this week involving the
Republican governor of New Jersey.

Chris Christie`s administration is now dealing with not just one but two
big scandals. He`s already under fire for those mysterious lane closures
on the George Washington Bridge and then last weekend, the mayor of
Hoboken, New Jersey, came on this show and accused Christie`s lieutenant
governor`s explicitly linking her city`s Sandy aid to the approval of a
development project that`s represented by the law firm of one of Christie`s
top allies. She`s also accused another high-ranking administration
official of sending a similar message a few days later.

So, Christie`s troubles raise the question of another possible change.
Will he stay on, can he stay on as the chairman of the Republican Governors
Association? The person in that role as the national face for the party`s
effort to take control of executive branches around the country, in
statehouses around the country. The job requires extensive campaigning and
fund-raising to help Republicans eke out tight governor`s races.

Until recently, it seemed Governor Christie was the perfect fit for that
job. But lately, not as much.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KEN CUCCINELLI (R), FORMER VA ATTORNEY GENERAL: 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.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me ask you --

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: Now, Ken Cuccinelli may have his own beef with Governor
Christie. He lost narrowly to Democrat Terry McAuliffe in the Virginia
governor`s race last November, and MSNBC`s Chuck Todd reported that
Christie declined the Cuccinelli`s camp plea for the wildly popular
governor to campaign for him in the waning days of that race.

But still, Cuccinelli`s remarks made waves and observers wondered who would
be the next Republican to call for Christie to step aside as the chairman
of the RGA and clamoring to step up, party leaders did their best to stop
the attacks. There`s RNC Chairman Priebus who said he didn`t know of a
better governor right now to lead the RGA. Thursday, the RGA announced
that Christie will continue to travel around the country to raise money for
governors in close races, that he`ll hit Illinois, Texas, Massachusetts,
Georgia, Connecticut, and Utah in the coming months.

But will those want Christie by their side? His fund-raising trip to
Florida last week, Christie made zero public appearances. He wouldn`t even
tell the media where the events were held and there are no photos from that
trip. No grip and grins of Christie and the Florida Governor Rick Scott
together. These were the closest the media could get to finding Chris
Christie. See the shots of big, dark SUVs right there.

So, there is the question of what Christie`s own constituents will tolerate
as well. Will New Jersey residents want the governor whisking around the
country while his administration is under investigation and if Christie
ever does have to resign as RGA chairman, would that mean conceding any
shot of the presidency? If things start to crumble for Christie, who does
the establishment turn to for its candidate next?

Well, to discuss all of these questions, we are joined by Congressman Steve
Cohen. He`s a Democrat from Tennessee. With NBC political producer Kasie
Hunt who is reporting from the RNC winter meetings this week, Elahe Izadi,
she`s politics writer for "The National Journal", and John Stanton,
Washington bureau chief for BuzzFeed.com.

Thanks everybody for joining us.

Kasie, I`ll start with you. Since you are -- you probably spent the most
time this week with Republicans than anybody at this table.

KASIE HUNT, NBC NEWS: A lot of time together.

KORNACKI: Your observations on just the conversations you had this week in
Washington with Republicans about Chris Christie, what were you picking up
on?

HUNT: Chris Christie is still somebody who Republicans view as a potential
candidate in 2016. I would say that he`s gone from sort of being the one
who sits at the top of everyone`s list when you ask. So, hey, who do you
think going to be best in the running for 2016? It used to be, first
answer, all our governors, Chris Christie in New Jersey, for example. Now,
well, look at all our governors, Scott Walker in Wisconsin, for example.

So, there`s still a lot of willingness to give Chris Christie the benefit
of the doubt. But it`s still coming with the caveat that this is a case
only if there`s not another shoe to drop. And the reality is, as you were
walking through with all those numbers from New Jersey earlier on the show,
there`s going to be a long time and a lot of paper and a lot of testimony
before we figure out whether or not there`s another shoe. And that`s going
to be a lot of distraction for Chris Christie in all of his roles, whether
it`s serving as governor of New Jersey or trying to raise money for the
RGA.

KORNACKI: Do we have sense, just to put this in perspective, a couple of
poll numbers we can show. This is a national poll. This is the head to
head from Quinnipiac. Christie versus Hillary for 2016. You can see a
month after, back in December, I should say, it was 42-41 Christie. Looks
like the Republicans` best bet, all of that. Now, Tuesday, as these storms
are sort of gathering, Hillary Clinton now up eight points in that head to
head. This again supposedly was Republican`s best bet.

There`s also the scramble among Republicans in the Quinnipiac poll this
week. Again, back in December, you know, these are small numbers here, but
Christie was out in front at 17. You know, he`s lost about one-third, down
to 12 percent now. Just a jumble of names right there.

But, Elahe, I guess I`m thinking of that Florida trip last weekend, and the
Christie people heading into last weekend were talking about, he`s come
out. He`s given his nearly two-hour marathon press conference. It`s now -
- this is about moving beyond this. He`s going to have his inauguration
and we`re moving past it.

He goes down to Florida, and Rick Scott, who`s an embattled gubernatorial
candidate. I mean, somebody who`s chairman of the RGA has to care about,
doesn`t want to be seen with him, there`s no public appearances with Rick
Scott, there`s really no public appearances with Christie at all, how under
this cloud can he function in that role? How can he go into Massachusetts,
a blue state where they have a shot of winning the governor`s race, how can
he go in and campaign? How can he go down to Texas? How can he go to
these states where Republicans really have a shot? And are these
candidates going to want to be associated with him until and unless this
has cleared up?

ELAHI IZADI, NATIONAL JOURNAL: Well, one of the ways he can have the
biggest impact is maybe not being publicly campaigning with these
candidates, and being shown with them, because as was said, there could be
another shoe that drops. You don`t want a photo op of you next to someone
and then, a week later you find out it was way worst than everyone thought
it was going to be.

But what he can do, privately raise money behind closed doors, although
that`s still a little problematic, because if donors are concerned, having
those same concerns about another shoe dropping, will they want to put a
lot of money on the table and have that kind of tie? But he can still
raise money. And that`s a big -- that`s a big role that he has to play for
the RGA.

KORNACKI: And that`s -- that has been part of, a big part of Chris
Christie`s political base, really, I call it the "Wall Street Journal"
crowd. I mean, it`s the big bucks, sort of New York-centric people, they
were the ones who are really trying to recruit him into to the race at the
last minute for 2012. Do we have a sense how they`re -- I mean, are they
sticking with him or having doubts?

JOHN STANTON, BUZZFEED: I think, initially, there were definitely some
doubts. From what I`ve heard about the fund-raisers doing in Florida,
though, for instance, at the last minute, a number of these guys came
forward saying I`m not on the list. Can I get on the list? I`d like to
come down.

You know, one person said it may be a bit of rubber necking at the dead guy
kind of a deal, but it also could be that there are Republicans looking at
him saying he`s getting beat up really bad. The conservatives that have
been -- on his side for years are suddenly no longer at least attacking him
constantly, some of them are now coming to his defense and some of the
money people are saying we`re going to put money on him and at least give
him some cash at this point.

So, it doesn`t seem like it`s hurting that side of his operation right now.

KORNACKI: And, Congressman, how do you -- how do you look at this as a
Democrat? Because -- did you accept sort of, as of a month ago, as it
before this all sort of exploded, in your mind, was Chris Christie the
Republican you didn`t want your party to face in 2016?

REP. STEVE COHEN (D), TENNESSEE: I think so. Because he does go to the
middle better and claims to have had Democratic support, and he has -- an
understanding -- got out with Obama. He wasn`t afraid to touch him. And,
yes, I think he would have been a more difficult candidate than a right
wing extremist.

KORNACKI: And what`s your assessment of how -- where it is right now,
obviously, he`s embattled. Do you -- are you looking at this, though, and
saying, yes, I have a feeling he`ll come through this and be fine six
months from now? What`s your sense and the sense of Democrats in
Washington about how serious this?

COHEN: I think most think he`s toast. You know, I don`t think -- people
want their president and their politicians to care about them. It`s about
the people, and the constituency, not about the candidate or the
officeholder.

And I think what`s come out of this is Chris Christie cares about himself a
lot. He is the center of everything. And he was when he was U.S. attorney
and appointed all of those monitors, which we really saw how good he was at
raising money and catering to people who have money and the ability to
raise money. He`s a political animal.

And I don`t think the American public will want somebody as president --
think about foreign policy. The way he talks about people. If he`s talked
that way about the North Korean president, he`d say, you know, he`s stupid
or something else, a bomb falls. You know?

You can`t have somebody with that type of demeanor dealing in foreign
policy with some people who are pretty crazy.

KORNACKI: You know --

COHEN: You have to have one sane person in the room.

KORNACKI: How much of this is, like, so much of this, of these scandals,
to me at least harks a only in jersey feel to it, right? I always say,
Christie sort of traded on nationally a positive image of New Jersey. The
image that New Jersey is home to a lot of -- you know, people who are rough
around the edges but they give you, you know, straight talk, and they`re
not going to B.S. you.

Chris Christie would go to these Republican events, you know, in Iowa,
wherever it was, tell them, I`m going to talk to you guys Jersey-style and
they love it, because it would be blunt -- seems the other image of New
Jersey is reinforced by all this.

Kasie, when talking to Republicans this week, were you picking up on any of
that at all? Like, who, this is New Jersey. We don`t want to touch this?

HUNT: For sure. Well, you know, I mean, it wasn`t just appearances in
Iowa and New Hampshire. It was his whole convention address. If you
remember when he gave that evening speech at Republican National
Convention, all of these graphics, New Jersey, the whole focus. It`s a big
part of what he`s selling.

But there is and was discussed a lot of concern about how, you know, his
personality is a wild card. This is something any candidate that is making
the jump from a small -- even a big state like New Jersey.

I mean, Rick Perry ran head-long into this running from Texas. He thought,
oh, I`ve been elected governor of Texas easily. This is not going to be a
problem.

Stepping on to this bigger stage is an entirely different enterprise. And
if he gets into a situation where, we`ve seen him confront members of
teachers unions, for example. If something like that happened in an early
state like Iowa or New Hampshire and it turned out the back story was
something turned out to be problematic. I mean, there were several I spoke
to at the winter meeting that raised questions whether or not his
personality while on the one hand could be his biggest selling point could
be a huge weakness in a presidential campaign.

STANTON: I`ve always been skeptical, frankly, on the notion that he could
win a primary. Because he`s not going to win in South Carolina, and he`s
not going to win most of the Southern states because --

(CROSSTALK)

COHEN: -- in Louisiana.

STANTON: Because he is Tony Soprano to those people. Whether he likes it
or not, that`s the truth. They`re not going to vote for him. He`s very
much an outsider, an alien to them.

HUNT: Senator Lindsey Graham raised that issue with me. He said, you
know, I`m not sure he can win in the South. It`s like, well, we like our
politicians to be people who speak truth to power, they also -- you know,
they want somebody who`s polite. And does Christie come across that way to
these Christian evangelical voters that he would have to win over in some
of those states?

KORNACKI: That`s true. We`ll pick this up on the other side. You know,
we`ll start to look at, you know, if not Christie, who question, and who on
the Republican side nationally has been sort of -- we`ve had a few quotes,
some interesting quotes from Republicans maybe trying to capitalize on this
moment for Chris Christie. We`ll look at that and raise that question
right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: I don`t know who e-mailed who, and who works
for whom, and I have been in traffic before, though, and I know how angry I
am when I`m in traffic and I`m always wondering, who did this to me?

REPORTER: Do you think it says something about his leadership style he
didn`t know?

PAUL: Yes. Other people have to judge that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: You know, there are just certain politicians you know when
they`re enjoying a moment. They`re just loving the moment.

There is this history now between Chris Christie and Rand Paul, and Chris
Christie has been really, you know, hard on Rand Paul. And now, Rand Paul
gets a chance to return the favor and gets to play this sort of, play at
the populist outrage around this. But I played that moment not just
because of the Rand Paul/Chris Christie rivalry but in the context of what
happened at the RNC meeting, with the NSA resolution that was passed at the
RNC meeting.

And I`m wondering if -- you know, again, we always talk about the
Republicans. Invariably, they nominate Bob Dole. They nominate George W.
Bush, McCain, Romney. They never seem to go to the true believer Rand
Paul-type candidate.

I know it`s early but I start looking at this, I`m like, boy, but if this
leads to Christie taken off the board and you look at the Republican Party
shift a little bit more towards libertarianism, is it Rand Paul one of
those who`s positioned to pick up the pieces?

IZADI: Well, what`s really interesting especially about the poll numbers
that you showed, is that despite Christie losing ground versus Hillary
Clinton, he still performs better than other potential 2016 candidates
against Hillary Clinton. He performed better than Rand Paul.

So the question is, can he survive a primary to get to a general? And
there is a concern among moderates that with this whole scandal that we
will end up with a Rand Paul as the Republican candidate. He won`t be able
to beat Hillary Clinton.

KORNACKI: He can`t win the general election. So, that`s the question.
Besides Chris Christie, who else is out there who can play that sort of
moderate role? Who could be the electable George W. Bush in 2000?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jeb Bush.

STANTON: Yes.

IZADI: His brother.

STANTON: Marco Rubio potentially, but Rubio`s problem is that he clearly
gets skittish, right? On immigration, he came out very hard and instead of
continuing to force the issue backed away. And they pounced on him, the
conservatives. And that I think hurts him.

You know, if you look at politics right now, Terry McAuliffe is governor.
If Terry McAuliffe can be governor, then Rick Santorum can definitely be
president.

KORNACKI: But the story of how Terry McAuliffe became governor is
basically the Republicans nominated a Santorum-like candidate and people
were like, oh, we don`t want anybody like Terry McAuliffe but we don`t want
-- that`s why Virginia is such a valuable bellwether for 2016 because it
sort of showed there is a too far that Republicans can go, and without
Christie, you say Jeb Bush. The thing I remember about Jeb Bush that jumps
out of my mind is he has not actually run, he`s actually been on a ballot
since 2002. It would be a 14-year gap from Jeb Bush runs in 2016.

HUNT: And some of thing Hillary Clinton has faced as she has stepped sort
of into the Twitter universe, as you -- the way, the speed with which you
have to respond. I mean, Jeb ran into it a little bit. He gave a speech
to conservatives. And all the reaction in the room was great, reaction
among conservatives, the blogs. I mean, the entire landscape of how
campaigns are conducted has changed.

And he also while he`s seen his brother and obviously his father campaign
for the presidency, the world is so different, and he himself has only won
statewide.

STANTON: And he has been slowed. If you look at his book for instance on
immigration. He knew the landscape changed and instead of going in and
making some changes to the book, they sort of came out with it and he now,
all of a sudden, ended up further to the right than most of his party was.

KORNACKI: He seems out of practice. His mother every other day out there
saying he shouldn`t run. That helps it all. But, Congressman, you`re
saying you saw Christie before all this as the biggest threat to your party
in 2016. Who do you see at the second biggest threat?

COHEN: I wouldn`t use biggest, but, go ahead.

KORNACKI: Sorry.

COHEN: I did think about the Hindenburg in New Jersey years ago and that
was a great deflation as well.

KORNACKI: Well, he was the gravest threat. We`ll go with that. I`m going
to try to avoid getting in trouble. Who`s the second gravest threat?

COHEN: I think the governor of Ohio did allow for Medicaid to be expanded
in the state and said it was the right thing to do, and I think there are
certain governors. In my state they haven`t done it. We have $1 billion
we`ve given away and people -- hundreds of thousands, people not getting
health care. I think it`s a mark of a person who is not being fiscally or
morally responsible, not taking the money and Kasich was one of the first
to do it, and I think Ohio is an important state, and I think he`s somebody
who could come forth and be a responsible candidate.

I think Portman is a possibility. I think there are several people. I
don`t think people want to see a Bush/Clinton election. I`m for Hillary
Clinton and I want her to be president again, but I don`t think people want
to see Bush/Clinton in 2016. We have Bush/Clinton in 1992, and I think the
Republicans want to see something different, they`ll go, this is different.
We want to move forward with a new generation. I think they`re better off
with a new face.

KORNACKI: Well, it`s just when you start looking at the names, it becomes
who is that? Is it Rand Paul? Is it Ted Cruz? You know, it is it Marco
Rubio? We talked about his problems.

There`s a quote, though, from Katon Dawson, former Republican chairman in
South Carolina, ran for the national party chairmanship a few years ago,
talking about the Christie scandal and his future.

"This all has a potential to affect the RGA and governor`s races if it
grows more legs like it has with the Hoboken mayor. Sanford is a guy who
resigned and didn`t want scandal embroiled around the RGA. Now, nobody has
called for that from Christie. But if we`ve got two, three more scandals,
that`s concern I`ve got."

You raised that earlier, Kasie. It seems like this is the first test of
Chris Christie`s 2016 viability, is can he make it through 2014 with this
job? Because if he loses this job, if he`s forced to resign from this job,
that`s such a public rebuke. I can`t imagine him turning around and
running for president.

HUNT: Well, in fairness, he did not disappear while on job for days with a
mistress on the Appalachian Trail. So, you know, we still have yet to see
exactly how this is going to shake out for Chris Christie.

But that really is -- look, the invisible primary, early as it is, is
already starting. Obviously, people are already making connections to
donors. Rand Paul is making visit after visit to Iowa, New Hampshire,
South Carolina. You know, if Christie is serious about this, obviously,
it`s pretty obvious that he is -- you know, he does need to be focusing on
that.

Now, his RGA job will allow him to do the groundwork. He`s going to be
networking in states with donors, but the issue is that his focus is going
to be so splintered while he deals with all of the subpoenas back home, and
if it affects the way he governs New Jersey that affects the record he has
to run on if running for president.

KORNACKI: It was the whole issue, too. And we reported on this show
where, this might have affected -- a whole debate that goes back and forth
between unnamed Christie people and unnamed Romney people about why wasn`t
Christie actually on the ticket in 2012? The Christie people like to have
the story out there, because of these SEC rules, Security and Exchange
Commission rules that would have made it impossible, you`d have to resign
as governor to be raising like Wall Street money, big money for the
campaign.

And this supposedly would get in his way in 2016. So, there was sort of
this expectation in New Jersey, a re-elected Chris Christie would resign as
governor within two years or so to go off and run nationally. It now, if
the national campaign is taken off the table, this is a guy with four more
years left in New Jersey.

STANTON: You know, the party has had this problem. Very like
schizophrenic almost. Remember in 2012, every week was a different person
that was the front-runner. And then this last year, Ted Cruz came out, the
savior of the party. Now, no one remembers who Ted Cruz is practically.

And, you know, these guys, like Christie, making these big plans about four
years from now should keep that in mind. That you`re going to be the
flavor of the month at least one week over the next couple years. That may
be it.

COHEN: It could be somebody, you totally don`t think. Tennessee has a
history of senators who have ambitions as president. You have (INAUDIBLE),
Albert Gore Sr. even, Jr., obviously, Lamar Alexander. Bob Corker, right?
Does a good job in the senator.

KORNACKI: There`s the Corker `16 (INAUDIBLE) by Democratic Congressman
Steve Cohen. We`ve made some news.

About three minutes, a couple minutes left to finish this discussion, and
at the end of it, an exciting announcement about what`s coming at the end
of the show. Stick around. Be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He uses, allegedly, hardball, sometimes bullying
tactics, against people who cross him. Have you never experienced that
side of him?

MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No. Chris and I get along
very well. I watched a president known as LBJ push through civil rights
because he was a strong leader knew to you to make things happen. We`re
watching right now a Washington that can`t get the job done. Chris does.
That`s one of the reasons he`s as popular as he is.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: That`s Mitt Romney asked yesterday about Chris Christie`s
troubles. He was also appearing, Mitt Romney, on the Jimmy Fallon show,
there`s this new "Mitt" document. It`s a huge Mitt Romney weekend in
America. I hope you`re all prepared for that.

But that quote there is so interesting to me because he`s being asked by
Savannah Guthrie about bullying from Christie and his response as well, you
know, LBJ was a bully and got civil rights through. But obviously, the
danger of the story is that, especially the allegations of the mayor of
Hoboken, we`re not talking about using bullying for a grand purpose. The
idea, using Sandy money as leverage to get a development project through
that one of your best friends, his law firm, represents. I don`t think
people equate that on the same level of civil rights.

But I guess that`s one thing I`m wondering about, Kasie, though, is that
like that image of bullying. It sort of has cut both ways, I think, and a
lot of Republicans received it one way the last few years, because he`s a
tough, he`s a strong leader, sort of like what you`re hearing from Mitt
Romney. But I wonder if Republicans themselves are starting to rethink
that? Definitely a sense that.

HUNT: I think there`s definitely a sense that while on the one hand
Christie`s personality has been something that`s appealed to even some
elements of the Tea Party. I mean, he has problems with conservatives.
But that sort of anger among the Tea Party that want to take it to
Washington and wanting somebody who`s going to stand up there and speak the
people`s voice.

Christie has spoken to some people in those groups in the past. I think at
this point it`s pretty clear that it`s starting to turn on itself and that
it`s something that could easily be a weakness.

And as we were sort of discussing before, you know, it`s something that
could lead him to make mistakes, if -- in a very high -- in a high-profile
setting or in a presidential race.

KORNACKI: It all depends how the mistakes are interpreted when they
happen. It can be, oh, the tough-talking Jersey guy, or Christie the bully
again. That`s sort of one of the risks here.

STANTON: And local politics is always a bit unseemly. You well know, New
Jersey local politics is very unseemly in a lot of cases. This is I think,
has always been, his biggest risk is that, if there are other incident,
even not scandals like this but the day-to-day operation of politics in New
Jersey, if other Americans start looking at that, that could become a big
problem for him, because he fills that entire space.

Can`t just be him and everybody else doing it. It will become him being
the guy behind some crazy project.

COHEN: You know, Mitt Romney compares him to President Johnson. There`s
no comparison really. President Johnson became president in the most awful
circumstances imaginable, and then he was re-elected in `64, such a --
Goldwater and the Kennedy impetus.

But Lyndon Johnson didn`t win an election with all the media you have today
and the social media, and Lyndon Johnson couldn`t win with Steve Kornacki
on him breaking a story about what he did on this TV station or something
in Austin. You`d have it. And the media would have it now.

So many stations. It used to be, you know, Nancy Dickerson. He knew he
had to deal with Nancy Dickerson.

HUNT: Johnson was a legislator at heart, you know?

KORNACKI: Right.

HUNT: We can`t forget that if comparing leadership with Chris Christie,
and axiom in politics. Never do anything crooked that the average person
can understand. And that`s where -- you know, we don`t know whether Chris
Christie actually did anything crooked, but he was clearly, or the people
who worked for him were involved in something that every voter understands.

I mean, Rand Paul crack a joke about it, but everyone in America knows what
it`s like to be stuck in traffic, and, you know, that regardless of how
this shakes out, that could be the problem with this for Chris Christie.

KORNACKI: Well, I`m tempted to dwell on this idea I could have taken down
Lyndon Johnson --

(LAUGHTER)

KORNACKI: And that and a list of other presidents. William Henry
Harrison, I would have been out in 15 days. No. I don`t know.

COHEN: I`ll take his coat away from you weeks, month.

(LAUGHTER)

KORNACKI: But it is amazing that, we`re talking about -- look, I have the
background in New Jersey, an interesting story for me to cover, but I`ve
never seen an example of a lane closure on a bridge in one state becoming a
scandal that`s almost covered a presidential level and it`s because
Christie is such -- I was trying to think what accounts for it, because,
you know, at the start of the show, we went through Jim McGreevey, a former
governor of New Jersey, all his investigations when he was governor.

It`s big news in New Jersey. Nobody cared outside of New Jersey.
Everybody cares about this. It`s because Christie is such a national
figure and it`s such an understandable and mysterious scandal.

IZADI: Definitely. And it plays to this image or idea people have of him
he is a straight talker but maybe perhaps can be a bit of a bully. One of
the things that people -- especially moderates and independents like about
him, is that he`s not afraid to go against the Tea Party and the
conservative base. You know, he rebukes the House of Representatives when
they wouldn`t approve Sandy aid and he put Republicans in Washington on
blast.

So -- but the traffic element is fascinating to me, because everyone
understands traffic, and nothing -- it`s the most mundane thing that could
become a scandal.

KORNACKI: Exactly.

IZADI: Really.

KORNACKI: But, of course, now that he`s embroiled in it, reverts to
classic, I think the classic sort of conservative playbook where the first
statement last weekend was, attacking the liberal media for its vendetta.
So, I wonder if there`s a shift in their strategy there.

Anyway, coming up, if it felt your life was missing something last weekend,
you weren`t alone. We felt it too. Our attempt to fill that void and
return to normalcy -- it`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KORNACKI: With the Christie administration embroiled in controversy, the
George Washington Bridge has received a lot of attention recently. But
let`s not forget that there are other ways to travel between New York City
and New Jersey.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tunnels for $2,000.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Connecting midtown Manhattan with Weehawken, New
Jersey, it`s one of the busiest vehicular tunnels.

Rachel?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is the Holland Tunnel?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.

Jerry?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is Holland`s Tunnel?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: I think the answer they were looking for there maybe was the
Holland Tunnel or the -- a French pronunciation. I don`t know what it is.
But just kidding anyway because the real answer there was the Lincoln
Tunnel, which connects Weehawken and Midtown Manhattan.

This is a kind of fact that was probably meaningless to you a month ago if
you don`t live in a New York/New Jersey area, but it`s become a central
knowledge for helping to understand and unwrap the George Washington Bridge
scandal. But we`re going to take a quick pause from all that in a minute,
because it is time to dust off the podium, shine the buzzers and play an
all-new edition of America`s favorite abbreviated weekend morning made for
basic cable politics and/or current events quiz show. "Up Against the
Clock" returns from hiatus, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: Live from Studio 3A in Rockefeller Center, USA, it`s time for
"Up Against the Clock."

Originally from Middletown Maryland, in the scenic Middletown Valley, a
place George Washington is said to have called one of the most beautiful
he`d ever seen, it`s Elahe Izadi.

We`re told he once performed Elvis` "Don`t Be Cool" in front of his entire
school at the age of 7. From Memphis, where he represents Tennessee`s
bucolic ninth district, please welcome Congressman Steve Cohen.

And from Wayne, Pennsylvania, she`s a mainline native making it big in
Washington, D.C. Say hello to NBC`s own Kasie Hunt.

Right now, the host of "Up Against the Clock," Steve Kornacki!

KORNACKI: Thank you, Bill Wolff.

Thank you, studio audience and at home for tuning in. This is "Up Against
the Clock." And welcome, contestants.

And thank you for braving this mini polar vortex of sorts gripping New York
City in bitter cold.

Congressman, probably don`t see many temperatures like this in Memphis, I`m
guessing, but thank you for dealing with it.

I hope everyone is ready and familiar with the rules. We`ve been off a
week. Hopefully you remember. We have three rounds of play. There are
100 seconds in each of those rounds. The questions are going to get harder
was we go along. Contestants, you may ring in at any time, but beware, you
will be penalized for any wrong answers. There are also some instant
bonuses scattered throughout these questions.

As always, I will remind our live studio audience to please remain
absolutely silent during the rounds. With that, I will ask you
contestants, are you ready?

COHEN: Ready.

IZADI: Yes.

HUNT: Ready.

KORNACKI: This is the most ready group we`ve ever had. Hands on buzzers,
please?

A hundred seconds on the clock, the 100-point round begins with this -- a
group of local leaders headed by billionaire donor Sheldon Adelson are
seeking to convince --

HUNT: Las Vegas.

KORNACKI: Yes. Las Vegas is the next site of the Republican convention --
100 points for Kasie.

Next question, it was reported this week that the Treasury Department is
looking into this washed up celebrity for reportedly violating -- Elahe.

IZADI: Dennis Rodman.

KORNACKI: Yes, they`re looking into Dennis Rodman for violating the ban on
bringing gifts into North Korea. That`s correct.

A hundred point question -- this Republican U.S. senator who survived a
prostitution-related scandal -- Elahe.

IZADI: David Vitter.

KORNACKI: David Vitter announced this week he will run for governor for
Louisiana -- that was correct. And, Elahe, this is an instant bonus
question. Only you may answer this bonus. Vitter briefly ran for governor
in the 2003 Louisiana election cycle, only to quit the race early on. For
another 100 points, name the Democrat who ultimately won that election.

IZADI: Oh, I`m so embarrassed. I don`t know. Landrieu? I don`t know.

KORNACKI: Incorrect. It was Kathleen Blanco.

IZADI: Yes. I should have know than that.

KORNACKI: No penalty, though. That was the instant bonus -- 100 toss-up
question. This Republican congresswoman will deliver the official --

HUNT: Cathy McMorris Rodgers.

KORNACKI: Kasie, that`s correct. She will deliver the official Republican
response to the State of the Union address on Tuesday.

A hundred point question. This one-time rising conservative star whose
2012 anti-Obama film -- Elahe.

IZADI: Dinesh D`Souza?

KORNACKI: Dinesh D`Souza, whose 2012 anti-Obama film was slammed by the
president`s campaign was indicted this week for a role in a fraudulent
campaign. That is correct, 100 point question.

First Lady Michelle Obama on Wednesday enlisted the help`s this sandwich
restaurant chain to get kids to make healthier food choices?

Elahe?

IZADI: Subway?

KORNACKI: Subway is correct, at the buzzer. A hundred points for Elahe at
the end of the round.

With the score, Elahe with 400, Kasie with 200, Congressman -- at zero.
We`ve seen worse scores on this show. Believe me.

It`s easy to make it up, because we now move to the 200-point round.
Questions are a little harder but they`re worth twice as much. We will put
100 more seconds on the clock.

When I see those seconds, I will begin with this question -- it was
revealed Thursday that this giant liberal super PAC has begun raising funds
--

COHEN: The majority PAC.

KORNACKI: Incorrect.

HUNT: Priorities USA.

KORNACKI: Priorities USA will begin raising funds for Hillary Clinton`s
possible 2016 campaign. It`s 200 point of Kasie.

Two hundred-point toss-up. Reince Priebus and Eric Cantor were among the
many prominent conservatives who took part in this annual rally -- Elahe.

IZADI: March for life.

KORNACKI: Who took part in the march for life in Washington on Wednesday.
That`s correct.

Instant bonus, Elahe, for 200 more points, the first march for life was
held when who was president?

IZADI: Ronald Reagan?

KORNACKI: Incorrect. It was Richard Nixon. But no penalty on that. That
was the instant bonus.

Two hundred-point toss-up question. It was reported this week that Jim
Messina who previously managed President Obama`s reelection campaign --
Steve?

COHEN: He`s going to head up the Priorities PAC, head up the campaign for
Hillary Clinton in the --

KORNACKI: Incorrect.

Kasie?

HUNT: Charlie Crist.

KORNACKI: Will be joining the campaign of 2014 gubernatorial candidate?.
Charlie Crist.

Your correct information there, Steve, but not what we were looking for.
That is the risk of ringing in early.

HUNT: I would have said that first, too.

KORNACKI: Two hundred point tossup. In an interview published on Tuesday,
this tech industry billionaire said he voted for legalizing marijuana in
his home state of Washington.

Elahe?

IZADI: Bill Gates.

KORNACKI: Bill Gates did say that. That`s correct.

Two hundred-point question. This Republican governor announced this week
he is taking steps towards decriminalizing the use of marijuana in his
state?

Kasie?

HUNT: Rick Perry.

KORNACKI: Rick Perry of Texas. That`s correct.

Two hundred-point question. On Monday, this nine-time Olympic gold
medalist alleged new jersey governor Chris Christie tried to dissuade him
from running for the state senate in New Jersey in 2011.

We can call time on that.

Casey?

HUNT: First name Carl?

KORNACKI: Can we accept that, judges?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.

KORNACKI: We`re going to need more. Anybody -- incorrect. Anybody else?

HUNT: I can`t believe I can`t come up with the last name.

KORNACKI: Carl Lewis is what we were looking there. Carl Lewis, no half
credit at "Up Against the Clock"

That means the score --

HUNT: Can I at least get not docked?

KORNACKI: Elahe, 800. Kasie, 600. That knocked you of a tie for the
lead. Congressman, negative 400, but still not out of it because we move
to the 300-point round. This is the championship round. This is where we
will crown a new winner. We put 100 seconds on the clock. These are our
hardest questions.

The first one starts now -- Lee Bright, a pro-gun state legislator, who
announced this week he is auctioning off a brand new AR-15 to raise
campaign funds will be challenging what two-term U.S. senator in Republican
primary this year?

Time. Lindsey Graham.

Three hundred-point question. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio`s call to
raise taxes on the wealthy to fund universal pre-kindergarten was echoed by
this nationally prominent progressive senator who spoke at a rally in New
York City on Thursday.

Time. It`s Elizabeth Warren.

Three hundred-point question. Told you these are the hard ones. Former
governor of Virginia Bob McDonnell and his wife Tuesday charged with
illegally accepts gifts from this Virginia businessman -- Kasie.

HUNT: Johnny Williams.

KORNACKI: Johnny Williams is correct. And, Kasie, this is an instant
bonus question.

If convicted, McDonnell could potentially face imprisonment, which would
make him the first governor, active or former, to receive prison time since
whom?

HUNT: Oh. I don`t know.

KORNACKI: Need the answer? No answer?

HUNT: No answer.

KORNACKI: Rod Blagojevich is the name we were looking there.

HUNT: Of course.

KORNACKI: No penalty, though.

Three hundred-point question. In an interview published in "G.Q." magazine
this week, this singer who performed at a rally for President Obama days
before last year`s presidential election said she, quote, "might have won
Wisconsin for him".

Elahe?

IZADI: Katy Perry?

KORANCKI: Katy Perry, she says with confidence. It is correct. It is
Katy Perry.

Three hundred-point question. John Boehner this week said he is not yet
endorsing anyone for the 2016 --

IZADI: Jeb Bush?

KORNACKI: But he thinks this man would make a great president, Jeb Bush.

Three hundred-point question. Quote, "The wife is to voluntary submit just
as the husband is to lovingly lead and sacrifices" is how this -- Steve.

COHEN: Huckabee?

KORNACKI: Incorrect. Is how this --

HUNT: Steve Pierce.

KORNACKI: Steve Pierce of New Mexico wrote that in this new book, 300
points for Kasie at the wire.

The final score 1,400 for Elahe, 1,200 for Kasie. Almost but not enough.

Congressman, not quite there, negative 700.

COHEN: Congratulations.

KORNACKI: And with that, Elahe, congratulations on your win. And Bill
Wolff is going to tell you what you get for it.

ANNOUNCER: As our champion, you`ll have your name printed in exquisite
Sharpie on the coveted "Up Against the Clock" gold cup. And you get to
take it home and show it off to friends, family, and local school children
for exactly one week.

You will you also receive an appearance this coming week on MSNBC`s "THE
CYCLE", airing weekdays, 3:00 to 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

You`ll also get to play in our bonus round for today`s grand prize of $50
gift certificate to Rutt`s Hut in Clifton, New Jersey, serving up the best
franks in the greater Meadowlands area. The relish is on us.

Back to you, Steve.

KORNACKI: That always looks delicious.

Elahe, we have some unfinished business for that gift certificate. This is
your instant bonus -- your jackpot bonus question. What is the name of the
tobacco derived dietary supplement that Johnny Williams allegedly wanted
Governor McDonald`s help in promoting?

IZADI: Oh, I -- I can`t remember it. But Kasie wants to answer it.

KORNACKI: Kasie is playing Eleanor Cliff (ph) over here.

HUNT: I know about all of the dietary supplement.

KORNACKI: Can you guess? Give me the answer.

HUNT: Herbalife.

KORNACKI: It was not Herbalife. It is --

HUNT: Anatabloc.

KORNACKI: Good, because I couldn`t pronounce it. But that`s the correct
answer. Unfortunately, nobody gets the gift certificate for that. But you
are a winner, Elahe. It puts you in contention for the tournament of
champions. We thank you.

Congressman, thank you for being a good sport. If it means anything, it`s
been worse. So, don`t worry about that.

Kasie, thank you for playing. You, too, will not leave empty-handed. You
will get the "Up Against the Clock" home edition. There`s fun for the
family, fun for kids of all ages.

Take it. Enjoy it. It`s yours to keep. Thanks for playing "Up Against
the Clock".

And up next, we will return with some final thoughts with our panel on the
real show.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KORNACKI: All right. I want to find out what my guests know now that they
didn`t know when the week began. We will start with my new champion, Elahe
Izadi.

IZADI: Well, this week, we found out that in Florida, 10,000 people missed
out on unemployment checks for a month because of a computer glitch. So,
now that long-term unemployment insurance has ended around the country,
some places, they weren`t getting those checks for a while anyway because
of computer problems.

KORNACKI: Stanton?

STANTON: We have a story this week, it`s a great story, about the murder
of Killah P, a wrapper in Greece was killed by the Golden Dawn. They are a
neo-Nazi fascist that is also a political party and it`s a fascinating look
at sort of divisions within Greece and the problems I`m having with fascism
right now.

KORNACKI: All right. And, Congressman?

COHEN: I think the polar vortex coming back and telling Republicans and
other deniers if there is climate change, Coca-Cola now knows there`s
climate change and that we need to deal with this issue as well as
evolution and some of the other things they deny.

KORNACKI: And, Kasie?

HUNT: I learn this week that Reince Priebus was throwing his weight around
a little bit at the Republican National Committee. So, it will be
interesting to watch how the next year plays with him at the helm.

KORNACKI: All right. I learned this week that Carmelo Anthony last night,
62 points for the Knicks and they benched him with time left. He could
have 70 if they keep him in there, keep it going. Let`s see big numbers.

I want to thank Elahe Izadi, John Stanton, Congressman Steve Cohen and
Kasie Hunt -- thank you for getting up this morning.

And thank you for joining us today for UP.

Tomorrow on the show, my report on the development site at the heart of the
scandal. Then we`ll be joined by members of the city council and one of
the members who says that Mayor Dawn Zimmer`s allegations against the
lieutenant governor hold true because she told him about it right after it
happened. That is tomorrow morning at 8:00.

Don`t go anywhere right now though because "MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY" is up
next. Actor, activist, singer and humanitarian Harry Belafonte joins her.
An MHP" interview you will not want to miss.

Stick around, Nerdland is next.


END

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