'Up with Steve Kornacki' for Sunday, February 2nd, 2014
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UP with STEVE KORNACKI
February 2, 2014
Guests: Brian Thompson, Heather Haddon, Michael Powell, Paul Mulshine, Mike
Pesca, Selena Roberts, Harry Carson, Johnny Avello, Nick Acocella
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC ANCHOR: Chris Christie goes back to high school
to fight back.
When it comes to the Chris Christie/George Washington bridge scandal,
news has not been taking a break on the weekends. We have two new
developments to tell you about since we went off the air yesterday morning.
First, a statement from Reid Schar, he is the former federal prosecutor who
was brought in by the state legislative committee investigating the bridge
affair. That legislative committee has issued subpoenas, including 20
which are due back tomorrow. But its immediate future has been in question
since January 23. That is when the U.S. attorney for New Jersey, Paul
Fishman, issued subpoenas of his own in connection with the bridge scandal.
Many wondered if Fishman would lean on the committee to essentially stand
down and to get out of his way. But late yesterday afternoon, Schar issued
a statement saying he had met Friday with Fishman`s office, and quote,
"based on that meeting, I am comfortable that the committee`s investigation
may continue. As we proceed," Schar`s statement continues, "we will be
mindful of the need to avoid taking steps that could inappropriately impede
any investigation the U.S. attorney`s office may be conducting."
Left unclear is exactly what steps could impede an investigation by
the U.S. attorney. Will the committee be able to release all of the
documents it receives from this latest round of subpoenas, just like it did
when records submitted by David Wildstein and Bill Baroni came in last
night? Will there be a negotiated release of some documents, or will they
all be withheld from the public? And will the committee be issuing any
further subpoenas going forward? This remains unclear right now, but what
we do know is that in some form, that legislative investigation, which is
the most public inquiry into the lane closures now going on, that
investigation will continue.
The other new development is this. The e-mail that was sent out by
Chris Christie`s office yesterday afternoon to friends and allies of the
governor under the heading, "five things you should know about the
bombshell that`s not a bombshell." 700-word e-mail downplays the
significance of the letter from the lawyer for Wildstein, that`s the former
Port Authority official who oversaw the bridge lane closures in September,
that was released late on Friday.
That letter from Wildstein`s lawyer suggested that there was an order
from the Christie administration to close the lanes, and it asserted that,
quote, "evidence exists that the governor knew of the closures as they were
playing out." The letter also claimed that Wildstein himself has evidence
that can disprove some specific claims that Christie made about him in his
January 9 press conference. The e-mail from Christie`s office suggests
that, quote, "sloppy reporting from the New York Times led the rest of the
media to make too much of the letter on Friday afternoon." The Times story
had originally stated that Wildstein himself was claiming to have evidence
linking the governor to the closures, and was subsequently changed to
reflect the letter`s broader claim that, quote, "evidence exists."
Christie`s e-mail reiterates the governor`s insistence that he had,
quote, "no involvement, knowledge, or understanding of the real motives
behind David Wildstein`s scheme to close lanes on the bridge," that he
first learned of the closures through media accounts, and that until three
weeks ago, he believed the closures were the result of a traffic study.
Then there`s this, item No. 4 in that Christie e-mail. It is by far
the longest section of the e-mail, and it is a full-throated attack on
Wildstein. It`s an effort to undermine his character, to attack his
credibility. "In David Wildstein`s past," the e-mail reads, "people and
newspaper accounts have described him as tumultuous and someone who made
moves that were not productive." And then there`s a series of bullet point
indictments, "as a 16-year-old kid he sued over a local school board
election. He was publicly accused by his high school social studies
teacher of deceptive behavior. He had a controversial tenure as mayor of
Livingston. He was an anonymous blogger known as Wally Edge. He had a
strange habit of registering web addresses for other people`s names without
You can make your own judgment about the material Christie`s team has
chosen to attack Wildstein with, but two things should probably be pointed
out here. One is that every one of those items -- with the possible
exception of Wildstein`s penchant for registering various web addresses,
something that was reported in the last few months -- every one of the
items on this list has been known to Christie and his team for a long time.
Remember, Christie is from Livingston. He grew up in a town around the
same time as Wildstein. These are facts that just about anyone in New
Jersey politics who knows anything about David Wildstein knows.
So the question is, if Christie and his team are so bothered by all of
these things, if they think David Wildstein`s past is so shady, then why
did they give him a job? Why did they create a brand-new $150,000 a year
job for him at the Port Authority in 2010? Why did they make him part of
And there`s also this. Look closely at the fourth bullet point they
cite about Wildstein. Quote, "he was an anonymous blogger known as Wally
Edge." There`s some context I can add here, because the implication in
that bullet point is that Wildstein is a fringe, flaky figure because he`s
an anonymous blogger. Well, if you`ve heard me tell my story at all in the
last month, then you know that I worked for David Wildstein when he was an
anonymous blogger known as Wally Edge. I can tell you that that website
was called politicsnj.com, back when Wildstein and I -- when David
Wildstein was running it and I was writing for it. That website had real
credibility in the New Jersey political and media worlds. We reported on,
we talked to, and we heard from just about every political player in the
In fact, I can tell you that one of those political players we would
hear from was named Chris Christie. This is from November 8, 2005. It was
election day in New Jersey. Jon Corzine beating Doug Forrester in the race
for governor. It`s a boring e-mail. It`s Chris Christie, the U.S.
attorney, reaching out to me, the reporter for Politicsnj.com, during his
work day -- without any prompting, I might add -- to volunteer some
information about his office`s election day hotline.
Like I said, it`s a boring e-mail. It`s not the only one I got from
Christie when he was U.S. attorney. He would read what I wrote. He would
read the site, and he would occasionally send me notes like that one. He
wanted to be on our radar. He was one of our readers. He was one of the
many political leaders in New Jersey who helped make an anonymous blogger
known as Wally Edge the proprietor of a credible, respected, must-read site
for the New Jersey political class.
Again, make your own decision about Christie`s statement and
Wildstein`s character, but I do think you should know that when I was
covering New Jersey, the U.S. attorney Chris Christie seemed to have no
qualms about reading and feeding the anonymous political blog he`s now
Anyway, to talk about the latest developments overnight, I want to
welcome in our panel. We have WNBC television`s Brian Thompson, longtime
New Jersey reporter for the station, Paul Mulshine, a conservative
columnist with the Star Ledger, heather Haddon, a New Jersey reporter for
the Wall Street Journal, Michael Powell, he is the reporter and columnist
with the New York Times.
So, Brian, I`ll start with you. We have this story with Reid Schar
and the investigative committee. I guess we can get to that. But this
statement from Christie`s camp last night, going after Wildstein, digging
up stories about Wildstein in high school, this was supposed to be --
remember at the press conference a few weeks ago, Christie went out of his
way to talk about how little he knew about David Wildstein in high school.
Now he wants to attack him and all he can talk about is high school.
BRIAN THOMPSON, WNBC: This is very dangerous, Steve. This is very,
very dangerous for the Christie administration. He is essentially at that
news conference three weeks ago or so, he threw his people under the bus,
talked about them being -- lying to him, that sort of thing.
What he`s doing now in going after Wildstein, is he is telling all of
these people who were in his employ that he`s not standing by them, and
he`s doing it in a very aggressive way. I mean, yes, the news conference
was aggressive enough. Now it`s going beyond throwing them off the bus,
it`s getting into the driver`s seat and driving right over them. And
that`s what we see in this e-mail.
And of course, when you get hit by a bus, if you can stand up again,
what are you going to do? You`re going to call in the cops. And you say,
I got hit by a bus.
KORNACKI: And, Heather, you have an interesting angle on this, too,
because your paper, the Wall Street Journal, has been covering this whole
traffic story very aggressively and has done a great job on it. Your
colleague, Ted Mann (ph), tweeted out last night after this statement came
out, after Christie attacks David Wildstein this way, Ted Mann said that on
December 19, Governor Christie said to you, Heather Haddon, "you and your
paper will owe an apology to Senator Baroni and Mr. Wildstein." So he`s
gone now in just over a month from telling you you will be apologizing to
David Wildstein to just shredding David Wildstein`s character.
HEATHER HADDON, WALL STREET JOURNAL: It really shows an evolving
strategy of the administration. I mean, going back a little bit when David
Wildstein first stepped down from the Port Authority, Christie`s spokesman
at the time, Michael Drewniak still his spokesman, praised David Wildstein,
said he was a fine public servant, and wished him well, basically. Now we
have an evolution all the way to attacking him very aggressively.
So I think there`s a change in tone in the administration as they see
that the letter was very impactful from Friday. So I think they really are
showing here they need to be aggressive. I think the concern now is what
will the other defendants do? What will the other folks, the Bridget
Kellys of the world. I talked to some of those lawyers on Friday. At this
point, they weren`t touching that letter. But I think this is -- that
statement was meant to have a chilling effect.
KORNACKI: Paul, what do you make of it? It seems to me, I`m just
reading through, and, again, just he had a controversial tenure as mayor of
Livingston, he was an anonymous blogger. It just seems almost to have a
desperate tone to it, this attack.
PAUL MULSHINE, THE STAR-LEDGER: I think what they`re trying to do is
set up, trying to set the bar very low, which is they`re trying to say if
Christie didn`t know about it beforehand, he`s off the hook. And I think
this is all engineered, all these e-mails, everything, is engineered
So let`s say on that September 11, when the picture of them was taken
together, Wildstein says, I told him that day the traffic was all backed up
and he got a good laugh out of it. And then it will be Christie`s word
against Wildstein. So I think what they`re trying to do is destroy
Wildstein`s credibility if it comes to a he says/she says, because they`ve
only -- right now we can see in those e-mails that Wildstein -- I guess you
worked with him. Was he a compulsive record keeper or something? Why
didn`t he throw those e-mails out?
KORNACKI: My impression, as I said, we were talking with Brian
Murphy, who also worked for him on the show yesterday, and Brian said he
never seemed like the kind of guy who would be left without a chair when
the music stopped. Somebody who prepares for contingencies. I don`t know.
THOMPSON: I was told -- you would know this better. I was told he
was a pack rat with his papers, and he kept all these e-mails and memos and
everything like that. Do you remember that?
KORNACKI: In my dealings with him, were primarily online, but it was
always uncanny to me that if I had a question about we were working on this
story a year ago, we had this interaction, he always seemed to have it at
KORNACKI: My impression is, he has a pretty extensive --
MULSHINE: -- Drewniak and Kelly feel when they used personal e-mails
to communicate with him, thinking that it was anonymous, which is very
dumb. That`s why they have phones, you know. And then he held on to this
stuff, they probably deleted it from their e-mails and I`m sure they were
shocked when it showed up in his email.
KORNACKI: That`s what I mean about contingency planning. You can see
in a lot of the documents that were subpoenaed and were released, it really
looks strategic to me almost, as if Wildstein is leaving all of these
clues, leaving out all these possibilities, and again, this gets into the
question of looking for some kind of immunity deal, setting himself up as
the guy who can potentially connect all of these dots that are out there.
MICHAEL POWELL, NEW YORK TIMES: Yes, I think this is really the
Christie nightmare, right? Either Kelly or Wildstein, and they`re
certainly indicating -- and it was interesting in looking at Wildstein`s
letter, he kind of danced across a number of subjects. Didn`t say I know
about them, but who knows, right? It was interesting nonetheless the
letter, the lawyer`s letter did that. I think it`s a big -- look, this is
a big danger for them. This is I think the Watergate -- that was exactly
the analogy that came to my mind.
These are the inner circles starting to talk, and I think it`s always
dangerous to go high school on people. There`s a lot more people who were
the nerds of the world than there were the big swinging jocks of, you know,
and class presidents, as the governor has described himself. So I think,
you know, it`s a dangerous thing when you want to play high school. It
brings up a lot of primal emotions.
KORNACKI: That whole thing you hear in high school, if you didn`t
like it, 20 years from now, everybody can forget all about it. You won`t
remember. And the first thing he goes to is his social studies teacher.
Anyway, we`ll talk a little bit more about this Christie statement and
also where the investigation is going now in the legislature now that we
know it`s continuing. We`ll pick it up right after this.
KORNACKI: I just want to show you how the last 36 hours or so is
playing in the newspapers of New Jersey. This is the Asbury Park Press,
this is their front page this morning, Sunday morning. This comes after
David Wildstein`s lawyer letter, on Friday, Christie`s response yesterday,
and there you go, "can he survive?" Just the basic question splashed on the
front of a major newspaper there in New Jersey, and that seems to be, Paul,
that seems to be the level of the conversation right now. A governor who,
again, we talk about it -- I resisted these Nixon comparisons, but you have
a governor who is bent on racking up the biggest possible margin, wins this
60 percent re-election landslide, and now he`s, what, two weeks into his
second term, and the can he survive question is out there.
MULSHINE: And the funny thing is, the reason he`s in trouble he was
running for president, not governor. He didn`t need these Democratic
mayors. He went after them to prove nationally that he could get the
Democratic vote, he could get the Latino vote. Remember, his 51 percent of
the Latino vote was his big bragging point. He did nothing for his fellow
Republicans. He had zero coattails. Didn`t bring a single seat in. His
fellow Republicans resent that. He should have been out there campaigning
in the swing districts, which he ignored, and he kept going after these
places where the votes weren`t going to go to -- they were going to elect
Democratic legislators anyway. So he killed himself nationally by trying
to improve himself nationally.
KORNACKI: That is something I`m wondering about, because you raise an
interesting point. Like, to understand the political geography of New
Jersey, if you don`t know the state that well, South Jersey is the more
Republican friendly part of the state. And if a Republican governor is
going to get 60 percent of the vote in New Jersey, there should be
opportunities for the Republicans to win legislative seats there on his
coattails. But South Jersey is controlled in New Jersey by the Democratic
boss, George Norcross, who Christie has this alliance with. So Christie
basically would not go and campaign against these vulnerable Democrats.
You`re talking about, Paul, that built some resentment in the Republican
Party, and then Christie`s first act after getting reelected was to try to
oust Tom Kean Jr. as the Republican leader in the state Senate, because Tom
Kean Jr. had tried to go after those Norcross seats in the south.
I guess what I`m asking is, given that history, are we looking at
Republicans maybe in the coming days or weeks starting to turn on Christie,
starting to ask more critical questions and raise more critical comments
MULSHINE: I don`t think that they`ll turn on him. It`s just they`re
not that enthusiastic about him to begin with. My Republican friends don`t
call me up and say, gee, why did you write a rotten column about Christie,
they just call me and give me more good stuff.
THOMPSON: Remember, the Democrats have the majority in the assembly.
If they want to go -- they will impeach if there`s a smoking gun. I talked
to the former Governor Cody the other night. He says, yes, Brian, if
there`s a smoking gun, you can look at impeachment if he doesn`t resign.
Democrats in the assembly have the 51 percent to be able to do that.
They don`t have the two-thirds vote to convict in the state Senate. All
they need, I think, and I haven`t done the math, but I think it`s about
three Republican votes if you get unanimity in the Democrats in the Senate.
They do control it, they just don`t have the supermajority. I think it`s
about three Senate votes from the Republicans they need. So can you turn
those three? Right now I think they are in lockstep behind the governor.
I don`t think there`s any question about that, because there`s no smoking
gun. If there is one, then I think it becomes a lot easier to turn three
or four votes. Why are they going to stand behind somebody if there`s a
KORNACKI: If there`s a smoking gun, his poll numbers just collapsed
and nobody wants to be --
THOMPSON: It`s the same thing to use the Nixon analogy.
THOMPSON: Same thing then. The Republicans deserted him when they
saw the gun.
POWELL: The other thing is the Democrats, as you alluded to, the
Democrats are pretty compromised in New Jersey. Right? It`s been a very
sweet arrangement that they`ve had with Christie. They have a political
boss in Newark, in Essex County, they have a political boss downstate.
They`ve agreed to kind of divvy up in a pretty unsightly way the judicial
nominations. They play all kinds of games. It`s been very -- it`s been
very good to them, this whole arrangement with Christie. That is certainly
the southern state Democrats, less so the ones up in Bergen and Essex --
let`s (inaudible) in Bergen, right, in Hudson.
So I mean, one of the interesting things, to me, about this whole
thing is the way in which it`s like a flooded cemetery in New Jersey, and
you have got all these coffins coming up. And a lot of them have
Christie`s initials on them, some of them also have the Democrats` initials
KORNACKI: That bipartisan alliance, right, and of course if, we`re
getting way ahead of ourselves, but if Christie were to go and the
lieutenant governor were to go, the next in line would be Steve Sweeney,
who is the Democratic state senate president, who is a product of that deal
between Christie and the Democratic bosses.
But, Heather, let`s talk more immediately about the subpoenas from the
legislative committee are due back starting tomorrow. We have word last
night from Reid Schar, the counsel to the committee, the committee will go
on even with the U.S. attorney looking into this. What should we be
expecting from that committee? Do you think we`ll actually be seeing some
documents this week?
HADDON: The news that broke right before David Wildstein`s letter and
got overshadowed was Kevin Moreno, the attorney for Bill Stepien,
Christie`s former campaign manager, saying he`s taking the Fifth. So
they`re not going to deliver documents on Monday, and it was a 157-page
legal brief. They are really--
KORNACKI: There were 20 subpoenas out. Do you think he is -- Stepien
is in that weird position where he`s subpoenaed by the committee, but also
the U.S. attorney has subpoenaed Christie`s re-election campaign, which he
was running. So he`s kind of caught up in both of those.
For the people who are only being subpoenaed by this legislative
committee, are you still expecting -- is the general expectation we are
going to get documents from them and will be able to see -- as the public,
we`ll be able to see those documents?
HADDON: I don`t think we`re going to see anything on Monday.
Already, some of the other attorneys are also saying we need more time or
we have yet to see if more will take the Fifth. But I also think that
going forward, that the state committee is going to be much more careful.
So they have been sort of making this as they`ve gone up. When they first
got those thousands of pages of documents, there`s no exact protocol for
releasing them. Now they have legal counsel. They are being much more
careful on how these are going to be released, and they have said they will
only release them once people are called for public testimony. So I don`t
think we`re going to see any documents soon, and we`ll have to see on
Monday if other lawyers are objecting to complying.
THOMPSON: Heather is right. As of Saturday night, nobody else had
taken the Fifth on the document production. I can also tell you that Reid
Schar, the counsel that was hired by the legislative committee, his meeting
with the U.S. attorney`s office wasn`t just with the office, it was with
the U.S. --
KORNACKI: Paul Fishman was there.
THOMPSON: And they were there roughly an hour. And all the
speculation you put in there, what will he allow? What he won`t? In
effect, my sources are telling me, that the legislative committee was given
a green light not quite full speed ahead, but to proceed as they have been
KORNACKI: Okay. So if you`re in the public and you are interested in
seeing some of these documents, that`s an encouraging sign. Thank you,
Chris Christie as U.S. attorney and governor, a tale of two very
different investigations. We`re going to tell it to you next.
KORNACKI: In the nonstop barrage of breaking news out of the state of
New Jersey in the past 48 hours comes this. We learned this weekend that
New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez has set up a legal defense fund, seeking to
pay some of the hundreds of thousands of dollars he`s racked up in legal
fees. This after the news of one week ago when WNBC`s Jonathan Dientz (ph)
reported that Menendez is under federal investigation for assisting the
citizenship applications of a pair of Ecuadorean businessmen who were
wanted in their home country for allegedly defrauding investors in their
bank. It was noted in the report that a family member of these Ecuadorean
businessmen has donated large sums of money to Democratic campaigns.
Menendez strongly denies the allegations, and says he was only responding
to a request for help from the bankers` family. He also contacted the U.S.
attorney`s office about the leaks. There very well may be something
serious here, and it remains to be seen where, if anywhere, this is going.
But if it seems like the media has been a little restrained in how
it`s covered the Menendez story so far, a little more restrained compared
to how it has covered the dual scandals engulfing the Chris Christie
administration, it feels like the press wants to wait just a little bit
longer to learn just a little bit more about the Menendez allegations.
Well, there might be a reason for that. It`s because the press, myself
very much included, has been taken down this road before when it comes to
Bob Menendez. And it turned out there was nothing to it. And the reason
we were taken down the road, the reason we let ourselves get taken down
that road was because of the actions of the previous U.S. attorney for New
Jersey, someone we all know today as Governor Chris Christie.
Let me explain. It was in September of 2006. Jon Corzine had
resigned his Senate seat to become governor of New Jersey, and in one of
his first acts appointed Menendez, then a seven-term congressman from hard-
scrabble Hudson County, to replace him in the Senate. There was an
election coming up. Menendez was running for a full six-year term, and it
was a close race. Nationally, Katrina, Iraq, Bush fatigue and a spate of
congressional corruption scandals had made the 2006 playing field bleak for
the Republican Party. But in New Jersey, they had what looked to be their
only real chance anywhere to actually pick up a Democratic seat and to save
their Senate majority. So it`s in that context that in September 2006,
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A federal investigation has been launched in New
Jersey into the financial dealings of Senator Robert Menendez and a
nonprofit agency he`s helped over the years. Sources tell News Channel 4`s
Brian Thompson that records of the agency`s dealing with the house once
owned by then Congressman Menendez have been subpoenaed by the U.S.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: That was huge news in the fall of 2006. It`s never good
for any candidate to be the subject of news reports about a federal
investigation weeks before an election. But this story was particularly
ominous for Menendez for two reasons. One is that it dealt with what
everyone believed was his chief vulnerability, his political roots in
Hudson County, a legendary bastion of old Democratic machinery and
political corruption in New Jersey. Hudson County is the collection of
tightly packed cities just across the river from Manhattan. Bayonne,
Hoboken, Union City, that`s Hudson County. Its reputation for political
malfeasance is the stuff of legend. Former governor of New Jersey, Brendan
Byrne, likes to joke that when he dies, he wants to be buried in Hudson
County, quote, "so that I can remain politically active." That`s the
political world that Bob Menendez grew up in, that he mastered, that he
climbed to the top of. It was the Hudson County Democratic machine that he
controlled. And when he was appointed to the Senate, Republicans honed in
on all of the negative associations that suburban New Jerseyans have with
the Hudson machine. They decided they would make those associations stick
to Bob Menendez, they would make sure every voter saw him as the product of
the dirty, crooked world of Hudson County machine politics. This was how
they were going to beat him in 2006.
So when that story broke, that Menendez, the state`s new appointed
senator, was under federal investigation, it threatened to ratify to the
average voter everything Republicans were saying about Bob Menendez. And
then there is the second reason the story was such a threat to him. That
federal investigation was being led by the U.S. attorney`s office, by the
office of Chris Christie, and in September 2006, there was probably no
public figure in New Jersey with a more sterling reputation for integrity
and corruption busting than Chris Christie. He had gained the U.S.
attorney`s job in 2001 after raising big bucks for George W. Bush`s
presidential campaign, and he set about using the job to make a name for
himself, taking down corrupt politicians. Taking them down in very public
ways. The press always seemed to have a heads-up when the next perp walk
was going to be.
As U.S. attorney, Christie took down high-profile members of both
parties. One of his first and most famous acts was to arrest, indict, and
prosecute a man named James Treffinger, who had been a rising star in the
Republican Party, and who, for a brief moment, looked like he might win a
U.S. Senate seat in 2002. But he was felled by a corruption bust, and
Christie got the credit. And, sure, Democrats and even some Republicans
would grumble occasionally about Christie. They`d say he was
grandstanding. He was positioning himself to run for office. He was
picking cases that were most likely to burnish his own image, to score the
most points with the public. Rounding up crooked pols and throwing them in
jail, hard to think of a better way to make a good name for yourself with a
Many of that grumbling in 2006 was more than drowned out by voices in
politics, in the media, even from the general public. Voices that gave
Christie the benefit of the doubt. He was doing important work, most
seemed to agree, and he was willing to go after members of both parties.
It wasn`t like he was on a partisan witchhunt.
This is what Bob Menendez was up against when that story broke in
September of 2006. Not only were New Jersey voters being told that he was
under federal investigation, but the man who was investigating him had a
reputation for never going after anyone unless he had the goods. And I`ll
be the first to admit that I was one of those who fell for it. When
Menendez pushed back against the report and attacked Christie`s office for
apparently leaking it, I wrote in the New York Observer that it was, quote,
"a weak response given the dozens of corrupt Republicans who have been
brought down by Christopher Christie, the U.S. attorney leading the
But a funny thing happened. After word of the investigation leaked,
nothing else happened. This was not what those who had been covering
Christie in New Jersey politics were used to. The rule with Christie, it
seemed, had always been that a leak like that would be quickly followed by
more revelations, more damning details, and soon some kind of action,
subpoenas, arrests, indictments. Menendez loudly and repeatedly denied he
had done anything wrong. And no further details came out for the rest of
That lack of any public follow-up, combined with the strongly anti-
Republican tide in 2006 and New Jersey`s generally blue tint were more than
enough to save Menendez, who ended up winning that election. While the
investigation technically hung over his head for the next few years until
it officially ended in 2011, Menendez never really had to grapple with
questions about it after that brief eruption in the 2006 campaign.
In New Jersey political circles, some quietly asked what had
previously been an unthinkable question. Had Christie been trying to give
a hand to the Republican candidate? Tom Kean Jr., the son of Tom Kean Sr.,
Christie`s own political mentor. Certainly there was no proof of this, and
there still isn`t any. But it was the first time as U.S. attorney that an
investigation by Christie had produced this kind of question.
And suspicions were further raised in the months after the 2006
election, when President George W. Bush`s Justice Department came under
scrutiny for playing politics with its U.S. attorneys.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The attorney general and the firestorm tonight
over the controversial dismissal of several federal prosecutors. Was it
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Revelations emerged that U.S. attorneys around the country
had been ranked according to their loyalty to the White House and its
goals, and a surprisingly high number had been fired or at least placed on
to be fired lists. And it turned out that twice in 2006, Christie had
appeared on informal lists of targeted U.S. attorneys. But that by the end
of 2006, after the Kean-Menendez race, after word of the Menendez
investigation had been made public at the height of that campaign,
Christie`s name was no longer on that list, and he wasn`t fired.
A clear link between the pressure on U.S. attorneys to meddle in
politics and the leak about the Menendez investigation has never been
established. And Christie has steadfastly maintained that politics had
nothing to do with his actions. But it`s an episode that veteran watchers
of New Jersey politics remember, and that they are thinking about now as
news of another investigation of Menendez begins to emerge, and it`s an
episode the New Jersey politics watchers are thinking back to as a story
that received little attention just a few months ago is suddenly getting a
second look from the press and the public.
This is the story of a man named Bennett Barlyn, who for 16 years held
the position of county prosecutor in Hunterdon County, New Jersey. It`s a
quiet, almost bucolic swath of the western part of the state, it`s near the
Delaware River. It is one of the more Republican counties in the state.
And it was big news in 2010 when Barlyn indicted Hunterdon County`s
Republican sheriff, Deborah Trout, and two of her deputies, two of her
deputy sheriffs. He accused Trout of failing to conduct background checks
and requiring loyalty oaths, and accused her team of making threats against
a critic, and supplying a pharmaceutical executive who gave generously to
Christie`s 2009 campaign with a fake police badge.
The reason behind what next happened is in dispute, but there is no
dispute about what next happened, what happened after Bennett Barlyn
secured those indictments in 2010. Christie`s attorney general, Paula Dow,
usurped control of the Hunterdon County`s prosecutor`s office, fired
Barlyn, and went back to court to tell a judge that the indictments
contained, quote, "legal and factual deficiencies." Shortly thereafter,
the indictments were tossed out. The sheriff and her deputies were in the
The Christie administration has long contended that Barlyn was fired
for, quote, "legitimate business reasons." But this past week, Barlyn was
in court asking a state appeals panel to unseal documents that he says will
prove the administration was simply trying to protect its political allies
when it fired him and ended his investigation.
What may be most interesting about this story is that it has been out
there for a while. It was reported during last year`s campaign. It was a
front page story in the New York Times just a few weeks before the
election. But it barely made a ripple. Now, though, the media seems to be
taking a second look. The image that Christie has long cultivated, the
benefit of the doubt that he has long enjoyed from the press and the
public, the reputation that helped to shield him when he went after
Menendez in 2006 and when the story of Bennett Barlyn was first told,
months ago, that image, that reputation, they suddenly seem up for grabs as
the George Washington bridge scandal and the allegations raised by Hoboken
Mayor Dawn Zimmer play themselves out.
Why was Bennett Barlyn fired? Was the Christie administration just
trying to protect its friends, even if it meant killing a serious
corruption investigation? It seems to be a lot more interest in those
questions now than there was a few months ago. We`re going to talk about
the changing political landscape that Chris Christie is suddenly
navigating, but first we`re going to talk to that Hunterdon County
prosecutor who was fired by Christie`s administration. Bennett Barlyn is
here, and he joins us at this table next.
KORNACKI: Joining us is Bennett Barlyn, the former Hunterdon County
prosecutor who says he was fired by the Christie administration for
pursuing a corruption case against Christie allies. So, Bennett, if you
just take us through what the case was, quickly, that you had built and
then how it fell apart. What happened?
BENNETT BARLYN, FORMER HUNTERDON COUNTY PROSECUTOR: Absolutely. Very
quickly, 2008, the sheriff is elected. She hires as her undersheriff an
individual with a very checkered pass, who is subject to a state
investigative report for wrongdoing in his capacity as somebody in a Warren
(ph) chapter of the ASPCA. That`s the first issue. Immediately after
assuming office, our office, the Hunterdon County`s prosecutor`s office,
starts receiving information from an inside source of various wrongdoing in
the office, and an investigation commences.
What`s interesting, Steve, is the first thing we do is contact the
attorney general`s office, who is the chief law enforcement office in New
Jersey, say we need some help here. There`s a conflict. We have two
county law enforcement agencies who are probably going to go head-to-head
in this investigation. We need your assistance. Several letters were
sent, and all of them were not responded to. So we were really left to
pursue this on our own. And that becomes important later on.
We obtain evidence. It unfolds like any other typical criminal
investigation. We talk to witnesses. A judge signs off on a search
warrant. Searches are conducted. More physical evidence is obtained.
In 2010, after Governor Christie wins his first term, members of our
office go to the attorney general`s office and inform then Attorney General
Dow that this case is ripe for presentation to the grand jury. And the
evidence is presented, and Attorney General Dow, this isn`t really
disputed, gives the green light for the case to go forward. So our head of
special investigations, a very experienced white-collar criminal prosecutor
named Bill McGovern (ph) begins presenting the case to the grand jury. The
case in March of 2010, the grand jury returns the indictment, 43-count
indictment, along with a very lengthy, detailed report called the
presentment, which provides information about wrongdoing that doesn`t rise
to the level of criminal acts.
KORNACKI: You have now got an indictment?
BARLYN: Absolutely. A 43-count indictment.
KORNACKI: So when the administration -- when this becomes news, the
attorney general comes in and takes over your office.
BARLYN: Exactly. The very day the indictments are unsealed, our
prosecutor is compelled to resign. Somebody from Trenton is installed, and
the dismantling of the case begins. Evidence is shipped from Trenton --
I`m sorry, from Hunterdon to Trenton. The lead prosecutor is essentially
removed from the case two weeks before the dismissal, and finally on August
23, 2010, the head of the corruption bureau of the attorney general`s
office marches into court and claims that there were numerous factual and
legal deficiencies with the indictment, it`s dismissed. That day I
complained to the acting prosecutor, said clearly there are political
influences involved. Legally, there`s no way that all 43 counts could be
The next day I`m suspended without explanation. Asked for an
explanation, told I`m not entitled to one. Give my access cards in. Three
weeks later, I get a one-sentence dismissal letter from the Division of
KORNACKI: So you right now are in the process of suing through the
state appeals court, where you want the testimony that you -- you want the
case that you presented to this grand jury to be made public because you
want people to see this was a strong case that did not deserve to be
BARLYN: It`s not just me. Steve, it`s really important, there was
the story you mentioned in the New York Times, you had four grand jurors,
all separately interviewed, who said there`s nothing wrong with this case.
It was a very compelling case. The prosecutor was meticulous, and so were
we. Moreover, that prosecutor, as well as our first assistant at the time,
have all agreed with our contention that the case was improperly dismissed
for political reasons. So it`s not just simply my word. I was the one who
KORNACKI: The situation is you`re trying to get these records
unsealed. If -- I was reading the stories about it this weekend. There
was some skepticism from the judges. So if that doesn`t happen, the
question is, is there -- is there a different way of going about proving
your case? For instance, have you talked to the U.S. attorney at all?
BARLYN: You know, that`s a question -- funny thing on the other side
that I`m reluctant to answer at this point. If I did or didn`t, I assume
that their preference would be that I not disclose that.
We have also been reached out to by this joint legislative committee,
and we`re very eager to cooperate, if, in fact, there are questions posed
about what occurred in Hunterdon. So clearly, we`re willing to participate
in providing a public airing out of what occurred. There`s plenty of
evidence, direct and circumstantial, that justifies, I think, an
investigation beyond the case that I`m presenting in civil court.
KORNACKI: It`s a story, as you said, that`s been reported before.
But what I`m finding is the media and the political world is a lot more
interested in this now than it was a few months ago. So we`ll be tracking
it and we`ll talk to you again as this progresses.
BARLYN: Thank you very much.
KORNACKI: Something to keep an eye on. I want to thank our guest,
Ben Barlyn, for joining us, and we`ll be right back with the panel after
KORNACKI: All right. We`re back with the panel and we`ll talk a
little bit about what we just heard from Ben Barlyn about this Hunterdon
County situation. Michael, I know you covered this story we just told on
the air. You wrote about it for the Times a couple of weeks before the
election. What`s interesting to me is there`s a lot to this story, it
sounds like, and yet it didn`t get much traction when you wrote it back
then. I imagine in this climate now, people are a lot more interested in
this all of a sudden.
POWELL: It didn`t fit the narrative, right? Christie was,
notwithstanding, that the George Washington bridge was happening around
that time, was still very much in control of his narrative, right? So this
kind of a story struck, I think, a lot of people as an outlier. Oh, well,
it`s kind of weird. It`s kind of murky. It seems kind of weird. But
what`s going on? And I think that now, right, now, it kind of feels like
something that`s much more part of the central nervous system of Christie
and his political machine.
KORNACKI: And I wonder, you know, Paul, the Christie image in New
Jersey that sort of brought him to power in New Jersey was this law and
order guy, this guy who was anti-public corruption. He was the crusader
against public corruption. And I ran a piece there. I`ve always been a
little suspicious of what was going on with that Menendez investigation in
2006. But then the story of Hunterdon County also cuts right to the heart
of that image, the allegation here of basically the governor`s office
coming in and killing the investigation to protect -- and you know
Hunterdon County, Republican bastion, to protect Republicans.
MULSHINE: It`s a very strange story because the Republicans
themselves were split on this, and, you know, to me it`s more of an
argument for getting rid of the elective office of sheriff. Because
they`re elected officials, they`re in politics, and they do all these
things. By Jersey standards, Trout was nothing. I mean, Middlesex County,
they`re still finding people who paid to get their jobs from the Middlesex
County sheriff who is still in jail.
But I think that the bigger picture there is that all of these things
are coming back in, and I think the Sandy thing is what is going to kill
them. That`s the federal money, using federal money for local political
purposes is really going to be the problem.
THOMPSON: But there`s a really big picture here that a prominent
lawyer, Joe Hadon (ph), in this state told me about, and that is if you
take -- let`s go back to his history as U.S. attorney. You`re right, big
crime buster, public corruption. But there were the cases that shouldn`t
have been brought. Joe Doria (ph), the former assembly speaker, a
Democrat, had his reputation and his career just thrown through the mud.
He was never indicted, but he had his house searched. You had the mayor of
Ridgefield, Anthony Suarez, who was caught up with some of the other mayors
who were convicted, but Suarez was not convicted. He got off in a trial.
He went to trial and he said, look it, I`m innocent. And that was all part
of that same investigation, that Operation Bid Rig. So now you have to
question, well, how flawed was this whole attack on the political
establishment, this perceived corrupt political establishment? And what
Hadon says to me is, Brian, you are now starting to look at -- if you go
back to that, if you go back to everything, from Hunterdon County, which
we`ve just heard about, from Sandy money, from what happened at the bridge,
from some of these other things that are coming out, and you have to think
is there some overarching conspiracy involved within the Christie
administration to play politics in a nefarious sense? We all know that
there`s politics played. But in a very nefarious sense with the body
politic of New Jersey.
POWELL: And to pick up on that point, it really does go to the core -
- when you look at something like Hunterdon, when you look at the pipeline,
there was a very kind of, if you will, sort of this southern Jersey, there
was kind of this strange thing where the attorney general all of a sudden
comes in and says to -- potentially a swing vote on the commission for this
pipeline, oh, well, you need to recuse yourself at risk of a $10,000 fine,
there`s this highly -- this high politization of things like the attorney
general`s office that I think should concern a lot of people, and does seem
like a real thread that runs throughout the Christie --
KORNACKI: And it`s revisiting, to me, it is revisiting his rise as
the U.S. attorney. We forget he was a politician before he was a U.S.
attorney. He was a big fundraiser before he was the U.S. attorney, and it
really was no secret all along that he wanted to become governor after
being U.S. attorney. And so you start looking back at these cases and what
was the political strategy that was at play? We have to take a break.
Heather, we`ll give you the final word as soon as we come back right after
KORNACKI: All right. It`s my fault we ran way too long this hour.
We have to call it quits right here for the hour. We`ll be back with new
material starting at 9:00. I want to thank columnist Paul Mulshine from
"The Star-Ledger." For our next trick on UP, we are going to be trying to
condense 2,000 pages of documents, 200 pages of testimony, into what we
hope will be the clearest, most concise timeline of the five days in
September that started the biggest scandal Chris Christie is now facing.
That is next.
KORNACKI: The George Washington Bridge scandal has exploded in two
stages, at least so far. The first came when officials at the bridge and
at the Port Authority testified before the New Jersey Assembly`s
transportation committee back in December. And the second came in early
January with the mass release of emails and text messages that have been
subpoenaed by that committee. It was a massive document dump full of open
political scheming against the community by top Christie staffers. Just
one problem, though. The pages are not in chronological order and there
are 2,000 of them, which is a lot to comb through and try to make sense of.
One important thing can happen on page 577. The next event as it occurred
in real life, chronologically, or you`ve got to go all the way back to page
19 to find that. While the assembly committee testimony is in
chronological order, it`s also very, very long.
So this week we embarked on our own bold project to try to put all of
those pages and emails and texts and testimony into a chronological and
comprehensible timeline to walk you through exactly what happened that
fateful week of September 9 through 13 of last year when Fort Lee`s traffic
was deliberately ground to a halt. To return to the root of the scandal,
to really understand what was going on in real time and to identify all of
the questions that this chain of events raises. And there might still be
more shoes to drop, 20 subpoenas were issued last month by the
legislative`s new joint investigative committee. They`re due back starting
tomorrow. What we`re about to show you is from the most extensive public
record that currently exists. As you no doubt have already seen by now,
there is Bridget Kelly`s "time for some traffic problems" email that went
out last August 13. David Wildstein replied to that email, "Got it."
Publicly available records offer a few clues about how we got from that
exchange to the actual closure of the lanes a few weeks later on August 21.
Wildstein asks to talk with Robert Durando. He is the bridge`s general
manager and he later tells the assembly committee that Wildstein asked him
on that day whether there was ever a formal written memorandum of
understanding with Fort Lee about the three access lanes. By August 28, a
week later, Wildstein has requested, and chief traffic engineer Jose Rivera
has prepared a mockup of three different traffic scenarios including
cutting down Fort Lee`s lanes from three to two. Chief engineer Peter Zip
forwarded it to Wildstein noting that an additional scenario could be to
merge Fort Lee down to only one lane. That`s, quote, "if needed."
And Friday, September 6, according to testimony from both Durando and
Cedrick Fulton, he is the director of the Port Authority`s bridges,
tunnels, and terminals department, according to that testimony Wildstein
directs them to go ahead with the test. And he has a condition that they
not inform officials in Fort Lee. Supposedly because talking to them about
the sudden change would taint the experiment. On Sunday, September 8,
Wildstein emails Durando to tell him that he will be right there at the
bridge. Early Monday morning, he will be there to view this new lane test.
The traffic Monday morning was predictably slow and jammed. And the
initial reaction from the locals was swift. Member of Baroni staff,
Matthew Bell emails Baroni at 9 a.m. that Monday morning that Fort Lee
Mayor Mark Sokolich is calling about, quote, "an urgent matter of public
safety in Fort Lee." Baroni forwards that email to Wildstein who replies
simply, "radio silence." 11:24 a.m., Port Authority staffer Tina Lado
emails Wildstein, Baroni and Fulton that a Fort Lee Borough Council
administrator is calling to say that police are having problems responding
to calls including one about a missing child. And that ambulances can`t
get through either. Traffic is at a complete standstill in the city of
Fort Lee to dangerous effect. One hour later, the bridge director Durando
is writing his chief traffic engineer about angry calls from drivers and
the Fort Lee police chief that the test is, quote, "a monumental failure."
Now it takes us to Tuesday morning, day two, the test continues anyway.
Baroni sends Wildstein a copy of a text he`s received from Fort Lee Mayor
Mark Sokolich about those four lanes merging into only one toll booth.
Writes "The bigger problem is getting kids to school. Help me, please.
It`s maddening." Wildstein forwards it to someone else who wonders, "Is it
wrong that I am smiling?" Wildstein replies, "No." When the other person
says back, "I feel badly about the kids, I guess." Wildstein writes, "They
are the children of Buono voters, as in Barbara Buono, the Democrat
challenging Christie for governor.
Thursday, September 12, this is now day four of that test, and on that
day three very big things happen. First, a preliminary version of some
sort of traffic study of this supposed test is being prepared. You can see
it there. A capital letters "Early Assessment of the Benefits of the
Trial." All in all an estimated 11,592 vehicles on the highway approach to
the bridge saved a total of 966 vehicle hours of travel time. The same the
local drivers using the Fort Lee Lane lost an estimated 2,800 vehicle hours
of delay. That is the equivalent of 117 days of time spent snarled in
traffic. Second major thing to happen on September 12 is Fort Lee Mayor
Mark Sokolich writing a very pointed letter to Bill Baroni. He writes only
to Baroni, not to anyone else, and says he hopes that the lane closure will
be, quote, "reversed quietly, uneventfully, and without political fanfare."
"I have incessantly attempted to contact Port Authority representatives to
no avail," he writes. "Would you please be good enough to please have
someone contact me or police chief Bendul to discuss the basis of this
recent policy change and what we must do to reverse it. Plain and simple.
Query, what do I do when our $1 billion redevelopment is put online at the
end of next year?"
Meanwhile, a traffic reporter for the "Bergen Record" is starting to
ask questions for his "Road Warrior" column, sign that the lane closures
are becoming a big story. Pat Foye will later tell the assembly committee
that word that the press was looking into the lane closures on the bridge
on the fourth day was the first time he had ever heard that they were
happening, which brings us to Friday, September 13, when the whole stunt
will finally come to an end. Foye sends out this now infamous email, which
has become known as the Foye memo at 7:44 a.m. He tells agency officials
he is canceling the closures, which he believes actually violate federal
and state laws and that, quote, "I will get to the bottom of this abusive
decision which violates everything this agency stands for." But the
narrative isn`t quite over. The first thing that Bill Baroni, New Jersey
Port Authority official, the first thing he does in response to Foye`s memo
at 7:51 a.m. that morning, is to email Port Authority Chairman David Samson
on the side asking him to call him about this. And at 8:04 a.m., bridge
director Durando emails Pat Foye and others back to notify him that the
lanes have been restored. A little over 20 minutes later Foye says,
thanks, he wants to set up a meeting to get the word out. At this time
Baroni is apparently very concerned about what might be made public. So he
emails Foye, quote, "Pat, we need to discuss prior to any communications."
Foye simply responds, quote, "Bill, we are going to fix this fiasco." And
Baroni reiterates, "I am on my way to the office to discuss. There can be
no public discourse." To which Foye replies, "Bill, that`s precisely the
problem. There has been no public discourse on this."
By midafternoon they will agree on a statement for their press office
to deliver about a traffic study that they are working with local law
enforcement. About the same time as all of this is going on "The Bergen
Record" is running its story on Friday morning, "Closed Toll Booths Causing
a Commuting Disaster." And Mark Sokolich is starting to air his suspicions
in public. "I`ve asked the Port for an explanation, but they haven`t
responded. I thought we had a good relationship. Now I`m beginning to
wonder if there`s something I did wrong. Am I being sent some sort of a
message?" And finally, on Friday, this. Wildstein emails Bridget Kelly
that "lanes were given back to Ft. Lee. We are appropriately going nuts,"
he tells her. Samson helping us to retaliate. 20 minutes later he tells
her this. "Fixed now." The question what exactly was fixed now? It`s not
like the lanes were taken away again. We do know that in the days to come
David Samson was not happy about how the lane closures played out. That he
was very angry with Pat Foye and emails to the Port Authority board member.
Samson seems to be convinced that Foye is responsible for leaking stories
to "The Wall Street Journal. "Very unfortunate for New York/New Jersey
relations," he writes. "Reckless, counterproductive behavior," that he
rides in on a white horse to save the day. Again, all of that talk about
reckless behavior and being bad for cross state relations has to do with
the way Foye has stopped the traffic experiment and allegedly talking to
the press not with the lane closures themselves.
There are more subpoenaed documents that could be coming out in the
next few days and next few weeks including from both David Samson and
Bridget Kelly. So, there is still a lot more to learn. When it comes out,
we`ll be combing through all of those pages, too. But here to discuss this
time line, what we know now, what questions it raises, where it all leads
us, we have WNBC`s television reporter Brian Thompson, Nick Acocella, he is
the editor and publisher of "Politifax," New Jersey, a weekly insider news
report on New Jersey politics, Heather Haddon with "The Wall Street
Journal" joins us, her paper pops up in some of those net time line we just
read, and Michael Powell from "The New York Times". And, Heather, I`ll
guess, I`ll just start with you, reporting this story sort of from the
beginning, if you can take us back to that time to the closures themselves,
to the days after the closures, the kind of interactions you were having
with the New Jersey, with the New York side of the Port Authority. What
was that like?
HADDON: Well, and also with the Christie administration, right, there
was a lot of pushback about this story, they are characterizing it as
ridiculous, basically. But you really see the split between the New York
side and the New Jersey side of the Port Authority here. Obviously, Pat
Foye being very angry about these closures. And being very explicit about
it in that email. I mean that email was written, I think, for a reason,
when he was talking about breaking state and federal laws and needing to
reverse that immediately. So, yeah, I mean there was a lot of ambiguity
and when you see those documents it`s really interesting to see their
internal communications about this. I mean the New Jersey side of the Port
Authority really being upset about this coming out and blaming the New York
KORNACKI: And there is - I mean there are long-standing tensions at
the Port Authority and there are all bi-state agencies, between two - there
always are these turf wars going on. But one of the things that comes
through to me when I`m reading these documents is, you see the idea of a
traffic study or a traffic test when people on the New York side in some of
these documents are referring to it, they are often using the quote marks
like "the test." "The study." Like it`s a sarcastic thing. They know
it`s not really a test or really a study.
HADDON: And if you go back and read those documents, there`s also a
lot of confusion that you can see about why they are conducting this study
and what it is proving. There`s emails where they are saying, we`re not
quite sure what we`re documenting here. So, there are slides in there that
seem to document some kind of evidence from this traffic study, but what it
means they don`t seem to know.
THOMPSON: Here is the thing that I still find confusing and if
anybody can help me out on this I`d really appreciate it and I make this
appeal to the Christie administration as well.
THOMPSON: There was data that was formalized. You showed a slide of
the cover sheet of it and they had reams of, seemed like, information about
cars and time frames. Now they also broke it down into political
legislative districts in one of those breakdowns. But this was within
three days of the first shutdown. And it was the 12. That is when they
had that early assessment you emphasized. What was that all about? If
they were trying to mess around with somebody, whether it was the
development, whether it was a politician, whether it was the mayor, why did
they go to the effort? And I think, you know, whatever role Governor
Christie did or did not have, I think he was clearly referring to that in
his two-hour news conference a few weeks ago about, well, I don`t know.
Maybe there was a study. Well, there was something.
KORNACKI: Well, yeah. And it raises the question. To collect data
on a daily basis here, no matter what whether there`s a test or a study
going on or not, the question it raises to me, was - was there -- did they
want to have some kind of test in place so if they get caught they can say,
hey, look, we were having a test, or did they want to have some kind of a
collection of data that they could then use for some other purpose?
NICK ACOCELLA, POLITIFAX, NJ EDITOR: Far be it for me to accuse
anybody of covering up, but ....
ACOCELLA: But -- the Port Authority -- everybody misunderstands the
Port Authority. It is a massive bureaucracy. Studies don`t just happen.
Studies are in the planning stages for five years before they`re
implemented. No, no, this was ad hoc. And the Port Authority doesn`t do
things ad hoc.
KORNACKI: No, this was not - right, this was not a traditional
ACOCELLA: Not at all. Not at all.
KORNACKI: And especially we say there were tensions between the two
sides. But I mean everything you see in the testimony, everything you see
in these emails about just like keep the New York side out of this
completely, keep Fort Lee out of this completely.
ACOCELLA: You have to understand the level of, how shall we say,
hatred that existed between Foye and some of the people on the New Jersey
side. And Foye is one of the great bureaucratic infighters of all time.
If there were a hall of fame of bureaucratic infighters he would be a
first-round pick. And they were just -- completely outmatched by him.
THOMPSON: Have they made up by now?
KORNACKI: We`ll pick it. We have more questions -- this raises more
to get to from this timeline. But we will pick it up right after this
KORNACKI: Something else that jumped out at me looking back overall
at the testimony -- in some of these documents is that one of the bridge
officials, I forgot whether it was Fulton or Durando testified, that he had
had several interactions with David Wildstein over the course of the three
years that Wildstein was there, you know, with him. And he said multiple
times in those few years Wildstein had brought up, had raised the issue of
what he called these Fort Lee only lanes. Now we know that`s a misnomer.
This is not just Fort Lee traffic. This is not a special deal for Fort
Lee. This is a vital way of getting across the bridge for people who live
-- the locals who live all around that area. But it -- we keep asking the
question of why. It seems to me that this thing might go back a lot
farther than the August 13 "time for some traffic" emails if such a small -
- relatively small detail for Port Authority official is on his mind for a
MICHAEL POWELL, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, yeah. I mean you have this
billion dollar development, right, that is talked about down there. And I
must say I, when I first heard that, you know, go with the easy conspiracy,
right? I mean it made sense. But on the other hand you do start to
wonder. I mean real estate is, particularly in New Jersey, kind of the
root of all ...
KORNACKI: Evil. Evil.
POWELL: All evil. That is the word I was looking for. So it is the
root of all evil. You`ve got a ton of money sitting down there and you do
wonder why is this political operative thinking about cutting lanes at a
time that there`s enormous development. In other words, there`s going to
be more and more traffic on that side of the river. There`s all kinds of
little pressure points you can put on trying to get mezzanine financing.
You`re trying to arrange this. You`re trying to arrange that. And all of
a sudden they`re starting to play with the traffic. It certainly begs a
whole series of interesting questions. It`s that my why thing.
ACOCELLA: My problem with that theory is that I still only see dots.
I don`t see a picture. It doesn`t look like a picture yet. There are lots
of dots, but they`re not connected for me yet. I`m with you. Your
original position, the simplest answer is very often the real answer. And
it could just be a rogue operation. It could be a whole lot of things. We
don`t know. Everyone at the table keeps asking what? We don`t know what
KORNACKI: And I`ve tried like - we did a thing on the development on
the show a few weeks ago, and I tried it very hard to say this is not a
theory. And I know some of you picked it up, it`s Steve Kornacki`s theory.
It`s not a theory because no, I don`t have the motive and I don`t connect
those dots. I just say Mark Sokolich and Fort Lee becomes a lot more
interesting to a lot more people when you can attach a billion dollar
redevelopment project to it. So I think it raised some questions worth
getting into. But the other thing, and we are talking about this a little
bit in the break, Brian is, the role of David Samson in all of this. And
David Samson basically, we show some of the emails there, you know, Samson
is retaliating. Samson is firing off this furious email to Foye. The
first thought Baroni has when he sort of realizes, whoa, we might be into
it here, is just go running to David Samson, because David Samson is the
chairman of the Port Authority, Christie`s top ally, his fingerprints are
all over this.
THOMPSON: Samson, the former attorney general of New Jersey under a
Democrat who has played both sides of the political parties in New Jersey
very well over the past ...
KORNACKI: And nobody else has ever done that.
THOMPSON: Thank you.
KORNACKI: I mean, come on.
THOMPSON: Well, let`s put it this way, he`s gotten rich off of it.
KORNACKI: Nobody else has ever done that either.
THOMPSON: You keep shooting me down.
KORNACKI: I`m sorry. I`m sorry.
THOMPSON: But this is what I find interesting in this kind of like
cone of silence that has developed since all of this has been breaking is
that the chairman of the Port Authority who has refused to respond to
Loretta Weinberg, the state senator who is now co-chair of the
investigative committee, refused to respond to her, refused to give her any
kind of lip service whatsoever, all we have on him are, in essence,
incriminating communications. He has yet to come out and say, you know,
this was wrong. We`ve heard him say ...
KORNACKI: We`ve heard him say that the leak ....
THOMPSON: The leak was wrong.
KORNACKI: Pat Foye is wrong, Pat Foye was playing in traffic, I think
was the term he used.
THOMPSON: I`m waiting - I`m waiting for the former attorney general
of New Jersey to say, this was wrong.
KORNACKI: We`re going to get that chance because he`s been
HADDON: And also, the Port Authority board meeting is coming up in
February. And the Port Authority, you know, the ripple effects of this
controversy is already happening. So, in Hoboken, which has also been
linked with this, his legal firm has been severed from that development.
Now, we have the Port Authority saying, commissioners saying they might
take some action against David Samson. So, you know, he`s going to face,
if he goes to the meeting, he is going to face some real scrutiny.
KORNACKI: Yeah. That`s right. We`ve had Loretta Weinberg has been
religiously showing up at those Port Authority meetings. I think it`s
going to be a lot of media people, that`s going to be the most heavily
attended Port Authority meeting in the history ever. It`ll be very
interesting to see David Samson try to chair that. I want to thank this
morning`s New Jersey panel. We have the "Wall Street Journal`s" Heather
Haddon, Michael Powell from "The New York Times," WNBC`s Brian Thompson,
Nick Acocella with Politifax, New Jersey.
The winter Olympics are just days away. To get us in the mood, I
strapped on my skates. Actually they were rental skates. We`re going to
talk about politics. I also made a complete fool of myself for some reason
we`re going to show you next.
KORNACKI: The miracle on ice when I was a little kid, is that I
actually made it through an entire year of youth hockey. This week my
producers asked me to try to get them a photo of my days in the Groton,
Mass. Mosquito hockey program. But I was too lazy to look. So, this is
our executive producer`s cousin, Zach Miles (ph) instead. Now, here he has
got some real talent. Anyway, the reason this all came up has to do with
the Winter Olympics, which are set to start next week in Sochi, Russia, and
hockey obviously will be one of the marquee events with the best players in
the world competing for the glory of their nations. Some of those Olympic
events will be airing right here on MSNBC, so we figured is a way of
wetting your appetite we tried to combine hockey with politics. And who
better to help us with that than Congressman Mike Quigley of Illinois. He
represents a Chicago-based seat. It`s the seat that Rahm Emanuel used to
hold, and he sits on the appropriations committee. But more importantly,
he is also the co-chairman of the congressional hockey caucus. Yes, there
is a Congressional Hockey Caucus. John Kerry used to play in their games.
Anthony Weiner, too, actually. And recently, Congressman Quigley was nice
enough to take me out on the ice at the LeFrak Center at Lakeside that is
an outdoor rink in Brooklyn`s Prospect Park. I think I held my own, but
I`d better let you be the judge of it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: OK, here we go. Now we`re moving. I feel like I should
have brought a helmet.
MIKE QUIGLEY: You`re not going to learn if you don`t make mistakes.
KORNACKI: Oh, boy. Here we go.
QUIGLEY: Nice, smooth motion. Like you`re going to run.
QUIGLEY: You want to have that same burst.
KORNACKI: All right.
QUIGLEY: We formed the hockey caucus, the congressional hockey caucus
to advance the game and, for me, principally that means providing greater
access to the sport for all kids. Arthur Ashe said something that struck
me when I thought about hockey. He said, tennis shouldn`t be a country
club sport. Kids in the inner city should be able to play. Men and women
who have come back from Afghanistan or Iraq with purple hearts, legs
missing, arms missing. The USA warriors. Those folks use hockey as
therapy, as fun, as exercise. We play them in a game once a year. We try
to advance the issues and causes that they`re facing.
KORNACKI: Why is it so hard to work with House Republicans today?
QUIGLEY: Just -- I think the rank and file. It`s not -- I mean, we
were meeting with the no labels folks and, you know, Charlie Dent and we
had meetings all during the shutdown with the bipartisan working groups.
And I think there were solutions there. There was a willingness. I just
think that the Tea Party skewed things to the right. I`ve talked to Tea
Party folks before the shutdown and I said what`s the speaker going to do?
And they disdainfully said, it`s not up to him. Right? So he said on
national TV he`s not the leader. He just follows what people want. Well,
if it`s just the majority vote, then he ought to go with the rank and file.
KORNACKI: Last year we have all the stats about like what an
unproductive year it was for Congress. What would change -- what would
make 2014 any different? Do you think anything will?
QUIGLEY: I think that if you -- it just depends how far Speaker
Boehner will take what he said at the end of the year when he pushed back
on the Tea Party and said, you know, we passed this budget bill with
Representative Ryan`s help because it was the right thing to do. OK.
That`s the case, let`s pass it on the bus. Let`s get back to regular
order. I`m an appropriator. Let`s appropriate. Let`s have some relevance
KORNACKI: By the way, I think we`re picking up speed.
QUIGLEY: It is all time on ice.
KORNACKI: I feel like I should challenge you a race here.
QUIGLEY: When I tore my hamstring ....
KORNACKI: I fell the way you told me to fall.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Congressman Mike Quigley is not just a sportsman, but a
really good sport. And up next, the big event that`s probably bigger than
Sochi. We`ll be placing bets, some really weird and unusual wagers on
tonight`s Super Bowl between the Broncos and the Seahawks. That`s right
KORNACKI: The Super Bowl has become one giant national collection of
rituals and traditions. There`s the game itself. Tonight`s
Broncos/Seahawks game will be the 48th. Then there are the commercials.
This maybe the one night out of the year when Americans actually turn up
the volume when the ads come on. And there are all the parties at homes,
at restaurants, at bars. A Sunday night in the middle of the winter
transformed into an excuse to socialize, to drink, to stuff yourself silly.
And, have I mentioned the betting? Not that I know anything about that,
but since everything about the Super Bowl is bigger, tonight offers not
just a chance to place a wager on the outcome of the game between the
Broncos and the Seahawks, but if you`re interested the Broncos are
currently a two-point favorite. Millions of Americans, some legally in Las
Vegas, most not so legally, with bookies or online sport books, will be
making bets on that line tonight. And that`s the least of it. If you have
a taste for betting, the Super Bowl offers you the chance to make hundreds
of side wages, what are knows is prop bets. Some are fairly
straightforward like how many touchdowns will Broncos quarterback Peyton
Manning throw? How many total yards will the Broncos rush for? Or how
many will the Seahawks run for? Or how many will each individual running
back collect? Will Manning himself score a touchdown? And it if he does,
will it be a rushing touchdown or will it be a receiving touchdown? You
can probably get some pretty good odds on that second one. Or how about
this -- how many times will Peyton Manning`s brother, Eli, be shown on TV?
And that right there is about where the prop bets start crossing over into
the absurd. Something that from a betting standpoint gives the Super Bowl
its unique flavor. And check out some of these from the online gambling
site, Bovada, "Will any members of the Red Hot Chili Peppers" be shirtless
during their half-time performance? You can apparently bet on that. Will
opera singer Renee Fleming be wearing gloves when she starts the National
Anthem? Whether the word marijuana will be said during the game since
recreational pot use was legalized, or will soon be legalized by the home
states of both teams in Colorado and in Washington. Last year, a record
$99 million was bet in Nevada on the Super Bowl. More than any other
If you can`t make it out to Vegas or you don`t want to place bets
online, there`s also the ever-present office pool. It`s basically a bet of
chance. Buying a square that if you`re lucky is assigned two numbers that
match the final score of the game. Just might take home enough to afford a
couple of meals at my favorite Mexican restaurant, or so I`m told. It`s
the office pools and the bets and the point spreads that come with Super
Sunday that bring to the surface an aspect of the sports enduring
popularity that league officials don`t necessarily like to talk about. How
neatly the game of football syncs up with another old American tradition.
Gambling. Joining me to talk about the intersection of the two right now,
we have Selena Roberts, she is a former sportswriter with the "New York
Times" and "Sports Illustrated." Now, she is the founder and CEO of
Roopstigo.com, a digital sports network. We have Hall of Famer Harry
Carson who played with the New York Giants for more than a decade, which
does include a Super Bowl win. Congratulations on that. Mike Pesca is a
sports reporter for the NPR, still waiting for his first Super Bowl
victory, I think.
KORNACKI: In Las Vegas we have Johnny Avello, he is the executive
director of the racing sports operations for the casino Wynn Las Vegas.
So, thanks, everybody for joining us. And I - I guess I was interested in
looking at the gambling aspect of Super Sunday, because it seems to me,
I`ve talked to so many people this week who aren`t just talking about do
you think it`s going to be the Seahawks or the Broncos or talking about but
what about the point spread, what about the two-point spread? And it
occurs to me that more than any other sport football seems conducive --
it`s a once a week event. You know, you can go to any bar and every single
game is going to be on. And it seems to me that this sport, more than any
other, this is a sport that where -- a lot of good charity interest
probably does come from gambling.
SELENA ROBERTS, SPORTS REPORTER: Well, it`s so easy. I mean I have a
hippie young sister. She knits, she grows vegetables. And when she
started playing fantasy football, her life changed. She is suddenly
calling me up, saying, is LaDainian Tomlinson a good pick for me this week?
What do you think? So, I think that It really is almost a bonding thing
that people do now. That whether it`s fantasy football or they are looking
at the spreads, that they want to place a fun bet. I mean you didn`t
mention Bruno Mars` hat. What selection is he going to make? You know,
that`s a prop, too. So, I think in a way that it`s really brought in a
huge, broad audience that can have some fun to have a little skin in the
game. And to a lot of people, that makes the game more exciting. It`s not
something NFL likes to talk about. It`s sort of the dark side. They are
the prohibitionists who like to run the moonshine on the side. You know,
but I think in many ways for the NFL, you know the Gambling is kind of a
foundation they don`t like to talk about, but it`s certainly there.
KORNACKI: Well, it`s something I notice if I go to a sports bar on
NFL Sunday, Mike, everybody - not everybody, but a good chunk of people
here talking about, well, I`ve got this parlay going or I`ve got this team
in this game of four points. And if you are there for an NBA game in the
middle of the week, you`re there for a Major League Baseball game in the
middle of summer, they might be talking about the fantasy teams, but they
are not talking about gambling the way they are with the NFL.
MIKE PESCA, NPR: Right. Now, first of all, I think that with the
fantasy football, the NFL has embraced that. And they know that it`s
driving and they have official fantasy leagues, but you`re talking about
the illegal except in Las Vegas form of gambling. I`m of the opinion that
the reason that people bet on football, NFL football, is because they love
watching NFL football. Whereas something like the NCA tournament, I think
people watch the NCAA tournament because they like betting on the NCAA
tournament. So, it`s a chicken and an egg thing. I take the chicken plus
two and a half.
KORNACKI: Here, how about - from the players` perspective? Because I
mean obviously ...
HARRY CARSON, PRO FOOTBALL HALL OF FAMER: You`re asking the wrong
KORNACKI: You know, I`m not saying.
CARSON: I`m not really into gambling. Actually at my age now I still
don`t know what over and under is all about. But as a player, you always
shy away from the betting aspect of the game.
KORNACKI: Well, it`s dangerous territory for players. But is it
something that -- I will ask you this, though. When you were playing, were
you aware, were your teammates aware like hey, you are playing the Cowboys
and you were seven-point underdogs? Was there even an awareness of that?
CARSON: It was more of who is the underdog and who is the favorite.
And so, if you`re the underdog, there`s more of an incentive to go out and
kick the other team`s rear end and you don`t even understand where that is
coming from. You know, Las Vegas or whoever. You just understand that you
are the underdog and people are going to be either betting for you or
betting against you. But feeling or assuming that underdog role, you know,
you want to go out and prove people wrong.
KORNACKI: So, it`s year - I mean it`s a motivation ...
CARSON: Oh, yeah.
KORNACKI: To be -- Nobody believes you`re a ten-point underdog and
anything like that. Well, let me ask Johnny Avello out in Las Vegas, who`s
probably the biggest day of the year in Las Vegas, I guess, Johnny. But
tell us a little bit about what kind of action you guys are going to be
taking today on this game?
JOHNNY AVELLO, WYNN LAS VEGAS: Well, we opened the game a couple of
Sundays ago at Seattle a one-point favorite and it has swung to the Broncos
now, the two and a half point favorite. And I`ll tell you what the
progression is of that move. It goes from Seattle one to Denver one. That
was the first move, you know, on significant money. And then from one to
two and from two to two and a half when that move happened about a week
ago, eight days ago, it has stayed at two and a half. And the influx of
Denver money has been overwhelming versus Seattle money. At this point
here we are on Super Bowl Sunday, about 25 to 30 percent of all the money
is in and today we`re going to take the biggest share. So today is the day
that`s going to decide who we`re going to need by a kickoff.
KORNACKI: And I think a lot of people wonder when they look at how
does the sports book like you make money on a game like this, is it because
the -- do you have to get lucky? Are the bets, you know, weighted towards
one team, you need the other team to win, or is it these proposition bets
we were talking about at the beginning, you know, you know, what color
shirt is the half-time show person going to wear? I mean is that where you
guys make the money? How you guys actually make money if you`ve got, you
know, something you can`t really control who is betting which team?
AVELLO: Well, we`re actually going to have - you are just going to
have to be fortunate or lucky as you said. What we have going for us in
the sports book, any sports bettor knows, is that the house has its bigger
issue or juice which where if you`re going to bet on either side of the
game, you have to put up 110 to win 100. And over the course of time that
bigger issue or juice works for us. It doesn`t necessarily have to work
for us on a particular day like today. So we -- I`m going to go back to
your statement and say that the books need to get a little lucky today.
KORNACKI: OK, well, we`ll find out what it would take for you guys to
get lucky today. We`ll ask about that and we`ll ask a little bit more
about some of these - go through some of these fun side wagers. And get
you guys thoughts on the game tonight when we come back. We`ll pick it up
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Lisa Simpson, would you like to read your essay?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The happiest day of my life was three Sundays
ago. I was sitting on my daddy`s knee when the Saints, who were 4 1/2-
point favorites but only up by three, kicked a meaningless field goal at
the last second to cover the spread.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dear God.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: One of my favorite Simpsons moments. I got to tell you,
the Super Bowl with Peyton Manning involved, I do have to share one of my
favorite family stories. When Peyton Manning, I believe, was last in the
Super Bowl against the New Orleans Saints, I think it was 2010, my
grandmother was still around at that point. She was 88 years old. And
grandma had always been a football fan. And Grandma, we don`t know exactly
why, became a big Peyton Manning fan in her last couple of years. And so
she called around on super Sunday and said she wanted to put $100 on the
Colts in that game. And the Colts did not win the game, but I don`t think
anyone ever collected that money from grandma.
But I wonder, from a player`s standpoint, you guys, as a motivational
tool, the point spread is there. There`s an awareness of it. Is it
something you hear from the fans? Like if you guys didn`t cover the spread
but won the game, would Giants fans say, hey, oh, why couldn`t you put in
that late touchdown, that late, that meaningless field goal as time
CARSON: Occasionally, you will have people who will slip up and say,
you bums, you know, you won the game, but you didn`t cover the spread. And
they are angry because they had money invested in the game. But for us as
players, we don`t care. We just go out and play and could care less what
the final score is. We have to win by one point. And that`s sufficient
for us. But there are some people who really get very, very upset because
they`ve lost money.
KORNACKI: Yes, yes. And, like I say, it seems more in football than
other sports. Let`s take a look at some of these proposition bets, though.
Some of these I get a real kick out of. This one is, what color will the
Gatorade or liquid, be that is dumped on the head coach of the winning
Super Bowl team? Orange, clear/water, yellow, red, blue, green. Do we
know? Is there a smart bet here?
PESCA: One of the online sites will give you hot chocolate as an
option, which would be--
KORNACKI: Third degree burns.
KORNACKI: And then you have a secondary, what hospital will the coach
be rushed to after.
CARSON: You have to have a variety of flavors, you know. When I got
Parcells (ph) in Super Bowl XXI, I got him with orange Gatorade first, and
then I came back with a second, and it was ice water. Really to just sort
KORNACKI: To wash out the orange?
CARSON: It was the best free publicity anyone could have gotten.
KORNACKI: Gatorade in the off-season give you guys like--
KORNACKI: I always felt poor Parcells, late in the season, those
CARSON: You know what? He loved it because he knew that if he was
getting a Gatorade shower, the team was winning. It`s better to have a
shower than not have a shower.
KORNACKI: Better to be wet than dry. Here is another one that I
like. It`s a prop bet on who the Super Bowl MVP will mention first in his
speech. The odds on this one, teammates, even money there; God, 3-1; fans,
11-2. Other team 10-1. Family 12-1. Coach, 14-1. Owner 25-1. None of
the above, 9-2. A lot of options there. What would you go with?
ROBERTS: I don`t want to bet against God. That`s probably not a good
thing. But I`m surprised, in NASCAR they would name their sponsor first.
So I think that they have their certainly order and priorities. Usually it
is the family, they`re going to thank their team mates, things like that.
But to place a bet, I mean, that`s a tough one.
KORNACKI: Sounds like you want better odds on God.
KORNACKI: Johnny, let me ask you about these side bets. How do you
guys come up with these odds that you assign to them? Where are you
getting them from?
AVELLO: Well, firstly, although those bets you just mentioned are
very cute, they are not the bets that we do in the state of Nevada. In the
state of Nevada, we are governed by the gaming control board. So any
proposition bet we put up has to be played out on the field. Those bets
you just mentioned, someone knows the outcome before we do. So that`s a
problem for us here in the state. So, the bets that we do are formulated
by stats that happen during the course of the year, through maybe -- maybe
games during the year or games in the playoffs that have already been
played. And so it`s basically all on stats.
We do have our share of different bets. One of mine would be all the
average jersey of all the players to score a touchdown. But that is going
to be played out on the field, and you might find a bet like LeBron James
versus Manning. Now, LeBron James played against the Knicks last night,
and the prop was his total points, rebounds and assists versus Manning`s
attempts. And LeBron was a 1.5 point or unit favorite. Well, last night
he had 30 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists. 45. So, Peyton Manning has to
reach 44 today to beat that total. And, so, they`re the type of props we
We do crossovers. But everything needs to be played out on the field
and there needs to be a stat sheet at the end.
KORNACKI: I think I`ll take LeBron in that bet. But Mike, you said
you actually did some research on one of these about the length of the
national anthem. And you can offer your lock of the week here, I guess.
PESCA: Yes, lock of the week, not an endorsement of MSNBC. But Renee
Fleming, everyone thinks she is an opera singer so she`s going to go long,
she`ll stretch out the notes. 2:25 is the length of it. But she`s singing
to a backing track. That`s already been recorded. So, every member of the
New Jersey Symphony knows the answer. I think they should go online. They
know exactly how long they played for. This is not even in the future,
this is actually all baked in, and that`s why Las Vegas can`t take a bet
KORNACKI: That`s not going to be determined on the field. I want to
thank Johnny Avello of Wynn Las Vegas for joining us. Good luck out there,
big day for you guys.
What should we know for today? Our answer, well, we`re just going to
ask for Super Bowl predictions. But we`ll do that when we come back.
KORNACKI: All right, the Super Bowl now, we should know, we`ll go
around. I guess we get predictions if you want. Go against that two-point
spread or not. But, Mike, we`ll start with you.
PESCA: I`m going to say that, if you look at Super Bowl history, the
team that turns the other one over more than they give it up has won all
but four Super Bowls. Seattle is really good at winning the turnover
battle. So I think they will have more turnover, win the turnover battle,
therefore, I think they`ll win the game, but really close.
KORNACKI: All right, Selena?
ROBERTS: I like a good redemption story. And I mean Wes Welker in
this one. Two years ago, he dropped a huge pass and the Patriots could
have made and won the Super Bowl with that pass play. So I think this
time, Peyton to Wes Welker, setting up a game winning field goal, so going
CARSON: Often during the regular season, winning a game comes down to
one yard. When you get to this point, winning a game comes down to an inch
sometimes. And, so, I don`t know which team is going to have that
advantage. So, I`m just going to stay neutral as a former player and enjoy
what I see this afternoon with the guys on the football field.
KORNACKI: Close game, though.
CARSON: Won`t be a blowout, definitely.
KORNACKI: I don`t really like either team, but I like the underdog.
So I`ll go with the Seahawks in this one.
I want to thank Mike Pesca, Selena Roberts and Harry Carson. Thanks
for getting UP. And thank you for joining us. We are off next week,
sadly. Some sporting events take over from 8:00 to 10:00 a.m. Saturday and
Sunday, I think it`s the Olympics bumping us. But, first, Melissa Harris-
Perry, who will be here next weekend, on today`s MHP. Naturally this
Saints fan has a full show about sports, politics and culture. Plus,
Melissa and I will revisit the moment that occurred on live TV after I
rubbed it in a little too much that my team beat her team this year. Of
course now neither of our teams are in tonight`s game, but still, it`s a
sports bar discussion you won`t want to miss. Stick around, sports style
Nerdland is next.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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