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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Monday, February 3, 2014

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February 3, 2014

Guests: Louis Greenwald, David Denby; Brian Murphy

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: We have breaking news tonight on
several fronts in the investigation of Governor Christie and his

Bridget Anne Kelly, the author of the smoking gun e-mail on "the
traffic problems in Fort Lee", has announced through her attorney that she
is invoking the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination.

Governor Christie himself made news tonight in an extraordinary radio
interview which he may soon regret in which he changed his story and in
which he revealed that his office has received subpoenas from the U.S.
attorney investigating the case.

Also tonight, Governor Christie responded to assertions from David
Wildstein made through his attorney that, quote, "evidence exists," end
quote, that Governor Christie knew about the lane closures at the George
Washington Bridge at the time that they were happening.

Eric Scott, the host of "Ask the Governor," the "Ask the Governor"
show, made news with his very first question in which he asked the governor
about his knowledge of the lane closures while they were happening.
Governor Christie gave an entirely, entirely new answer to that question
tonight, which proves now -- which says now and only now that he may have
known about the traffic problem while it was happening.


ERIC SCOTT, ASK THE GOVERNOR: Your former appointee to the port
authority claimed through his lawyer that he`s got evidence to show that
you knew about the lane closings in Fort Lee while they were happening.
Your office put out a pretty strong response to Alan Zigas`s letter.


SCOTT: What in particular do you dispute in Wildstein`s account at
this point?

CHRISTIE: Well Eric, listen let`s make one thing clear right off the
bat which I think is the most important issue and the most important issue
is did I know anything about the plan to close these lanes? Did I
authorize it? Did I know about it? Did I approve it? Did I have any
knowledge of it beforehand?

And the answer is still the same, it`s unequivocally no. And in fact,
no one has ever accused me of that and that`s the thing that I think people
in New Jersey care about the most.

Now, when did I first know about the lane closures.


CHRISTIE: You know the fact is that the first time this really came
into my consciousness as an issue was when Pat Foye, the executive director
of the Port Authority`s email about this incident was leaked to the media
and reported on. And that was the first time that I got a sense of, there
might be some issue here.

SCOTT: And who brought that to your attention? Was that staff?

CHRISTIE: No it was news accounts. I mean --

SCOTT: But you read them personally or did somebody bring it to your

CHRISTIE: No, I read it.

SCOTT: You read it.

CHRISTIE: I read it in "The Wall Street Journal".

And it was that day then when I read that Pat Foye was saying, "This
wasn`t -- I didn`t know about this. It wasn`t cleared through me." You
know, whatever else he said in that email.

That`s when I asked my chief of staff and chief counsel. I said to
them hey, would you look into this and see what`s going on here?

Now if prior to that, I know prior to that that there were press
accounts about traffic issues up there and you know if someone, if I either
read that or someone said something to me about traffic issues up there, it
wouldn`t have been meaningful to me, because I didn`t know that there was
any problem up there because you know I didn`t know that we had actually
closed lanes up there before that.

So, my dispute is two-fold. First, to make clear to everybody in the
midst of all the things that were reported over the weekend that nobody has
said that I knew anything about this before it happened and I think that`s
the most important question.

Secondly, that when this first became an issue for me because let`s
face it, Eric, there`s traffic every day at the George Washington Bridge,
at the Lincoln Tunnel, at the Holland Tunnel. I hear those reports on the
radio. We all hear about them. That`s not something that rises to the
gubernatorial level.

When this first became clear to me that this was a potential issue was
when the Foye email was put out. Now, like I said to you, there were press
accounts before. Whether, you know, I read any of those, if I did or heard
anything from anybody about traffic, it would not have been meaningful to
me, because now we`re looking at it in the prism of knowing everything we
know since January 8. Back then, this was not a major issue. And it
became one to me in terms of finding out what was going on when the Foye
email came out.


O`DONNELL: The Foye e-mail that Governor Christie was referring to is
of course from Patrick Foye, the executive director of the Port Authority,
who was appointed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. In the email, Foye
told the agents he was reopening the lanes. The e-mail first appeared in
the "Wall Street Journal" on October 1st.

Foye wrote, "I believe this hasty and ill-advised decision," to close
the lanes, "violates federal law and the laws of both states."

The next question tonight to Governor Christie was about the subpoenas
due today to the New Jersey legislature.


SCOTT: So today is the day that subpoenas were due to be answered in
the legislative investigation. We know some of those who were served were
granted some extensions. Have you seen any of the documentation that had
been gathered to this point?

CHRISTIE: I have not. We -- the governor`s office has started to
produce things today. We did not ask for an extension. We started to
produce documents today, but we`re doing so on a rolling basis. We`re
working as hard as we can to get through because there was a lot of stuff
asked for from us.

But we didn`t ask for an extension. We started today on a rolling
basis to produce things to the legislature. But I have not seen any
documents that were produced by anybody else, no.

SCOTT: Are you not the least bit curious to know what`s in some of
those documents?

CHRISTIE: Well, I mean, listen, I`ve got -- here`s What I`m curious
about, Eric. What I`m curious about is what happened here. And that`s why
I`ve authorized an internal investigation as I talked about on January 9th.

SCOTT: Mm-hmm.

CHRISTIE: And we`ve hired a law firm to come in and do that internal
investigation. They`re working really hard. They`re working diligently.
And I can`t wait for them to be finished so that I can get the full story,

SCOTT: And this is the internal investigation of your staff to
determine who may have known --


SCOTT: -- what.

CHRISTIE: And get into the situation. I mean, we`re going to try to
get as much information as we possibly can by interviewing folks and
reviewing documents that are in our possession that we have access to. And
then, they`re going to give a report. And so that`s what I`m really
anxious to find out about.

SCOTT: Is there a timeline on that?

CHRISTIE: My timeline for them is as quickly as possible.

SCOTT: Because you made it clear during that press conference if you
find out anybody else on your staff lied that there are going to be

CHRISTIE: They`ll be fired. I mean listen, here`s the thing that I
find so interesting is what`s going on now with all this other stuff? It`s
just a game of gotcha. You know, it -- you know, when did I first learn
about this or that?

Well, the fact of the matter is I`ve been very clear about this.
Before these lanes were closed, I knew nothing about it. I didn`t plan it.
I didn`t authorize it. I didn`t approve it. I knew nothing about it.

Thereafter, and I`ve said this a number of times before, it became
clear to me that this was an issue that I had to have somebody look into
when the Foye email came out. So, in the period of time before that, there
were press accounts. You know, things could have been mentioned to me
about traffic at any point in time. None of it was memorable to me, Eric,
because I didn`t know there was any issue.

So, what I`m curious about -- I`m sure the documents will eventually,
I`ll get a chance to look at them. I mean, I don`t even know if we`ve
gotten copies of them at this point in the governor`s office because they
were produced to the legislature.

But, what I`m really curious about is the folks that I`ve hired. We
hired a national law firm to come in, being led by a former assistant
United States attorney who is leading an internal investigation who has
done a lot of interviews, I know already. And I want to find out what
happened here so I can make changes if necessary.

If there`s anybody else that needs to be held to account, I`ll hold
them to account. And then to make changes hopefully so I can assure the
people of New Jersey that something like this won`t happen again.


O`DONNELL: You heard it here first. Chris Christie can`t wait. He
just can`t wait. You heard him say "I can`t wait", for their own internal
investigation at the governor`s office to find out what really happened
here. An investigation that Chris Christie did not think worth pursuing
himself the day he decided to fire Bridget Anne Kelly without asking her
one word about why she wrote the e-mail "time for some traffic problems in
Fort Lee."

Governor Christie was asked tonight if he knows if anyone else on his
team is still lying to him.


SCOTT: Are you confident at this point in your day-to-day operations
that there is nobody on your staff right now that is lying to you?

CHRISTIE: There`s been nothing that`s been brought to light so far
that would make me believe that anyone is. But I`ll tell you something.
I`m not warrantying anything anymore after what happened before.

And so, I want the internal investigation to run its course and I
don`t want to make any prejudgments on it, pro or con. I think it would be
wrong for me to do that, both for the people who work on my staff and for
the people who serve me.

SCOTT: The -- there`s probably nobody who knows better than you how
this whole process plays out in terms of legal terms. You were the United
States attorney before you became governor. Nobody has prosecuted more
government corruption more successfully than you have.

So, I`m going to ask you to put kind of your prosecutor`s hat on for a

Do you see as a prosecutor possible criminal charges against somebody
like Bridget Anne Kelly or David Wildstein?

SCOTT: You know my standard answer on this, and I`m not going to
deviate from it, which is I hated when I was U.S. attorney when politicians
would give opinions about what should be done or not done by a prosecutor
while they were in the midst of doing their work. And I`m just not going
to do that. I`m not going to sit here and give opinions on that.

One, because quite frankly, Eric, I don`t know all the facts yet. And
so, for me to give an opinion would be irresponsible, not knowing all the

Secondly, that`s not my job now. And it`s not appropriate I think for
me at this point in time to comment or give opinions on what the U.S.
attorney`s office should do or might do. I just think it`s wrong. I hated
it when I was U.S. attorney, and I`m not going to participate in it.

And it`s not a dodge on this particular instance because if you`ve
listened to me over time when they`ve asked me that regarding other people,
I`ve said I`m not going to give opinions on that. I just think it`s not
appropriate for me to do that regarding others. And so I certainly am not
going to do it regarding folks who were previously associated with me.

SCOTT: My last question is this. I mean, you`ve obviously -- this
has obviously taken a toll on your family. This has got to be hard on your
kids who are seeing and hearing -- and some of what people are saying about
you. What do you say to them? What did you say to your kids? And how has
your family been through this?

CHRISTIE: Well, first off, my family is great. And I`ll tell you,
yesterday -- you know, we were all at the Super Bowl together -- and my son
Andrew, who had been away during a break from school to go skiing, I saw
him for the first time in a week this weekend. And he`s my oldest, he`s my
twenty year-old who`s a sophomore at college.

And I put my arm around him and I said, "Are you doing OK with all
this?" And he said to me, "`Dad, stop asking me that question. I`m fine.
I`m fine. And don`t worry about it."`

So my wife and my kids -- they know me and they know there`s nothing
to be worried about because I`ve told them the same thing that I just told
all the people who are listening tonight is that I had nothing to do with
this. And I`m so disappointed that this has happened.

But I`m also determined to get to the bottom of it and to fix it once
and for all if I haven`t fixed it already by the actions I`ve already
taken, and then to move on to do the job that the people of New Jersey
elected me to do, which is to try to continue to control property taxes, to
try to reform education, to try to create jobs.

I mean, you know I had a meeting today with the Senate president and
the speaker to talk about our agenda as we move forward. And we had a
really good hour and half meeting today and talking about all those types
of things and other issues that are on their agenda.

So, I appreciate you asking about my family. You know I love them,
but they`re fine.

I mean, you know, the fact is that things happen like this in public
life sometimes. You get disappointed by people. There are down moments.

And I`m certainly not saying to anybody that we -- any of us in my
family have enjoyed this. But they also know that dad has a job to do.
And my job is to be governor of the state of New Jersey for the next four

And I`m going to do that job. And I`m back to work, Eric. You know,
I can`t afford to allow this to dominate my time the way it dominates the
time of some folks in the media and some partisans. I`ve got to do my job
every day.

You know, when the Super Bowl was going on yesterday and we were
trying to figure out how we are going to deal with 34,000 people moving out
of there, I`m on the phone with my chief counsel, with the DOT
commissioner, with the head of NJ Transit, with my authorities unit chief,
to say, "What`s our plan going to be, guys?"

The thing about this is, while it dominates lots of other folks, it
can`t dominate me because I have the responsibility for 8.9 million people.
And I`ll be damned if I`m going to let anything get in the way of me doing
my job. I took an oath a couple weeks ago.

And so, what the people of New Jersey need to know is two things about
this, one more time. First, I had nothing to do with this. No knowledge,
no authorization, no planning, nothing to do with this before this decision
was made to close these lanes by the Port Authority.

Secondly, that while I`m disappointed by what happened here, I am
determined to fix it. I`ve told people all the time in this job, "I can`t
promise you that we`re going to be perfect. But what I can promise you is
we`re going to do our best and when there are mistakes, that we`re going to
do our best to fix them." And that`s what we`re in the process of doing.

And sometimes it`s going to take a little while, Eric, you know? But
here`s what I don`t want to happen: I don`t want to have some internal
investigation that doesn`t get to the bottom of this and then we find out
more stuff later. I`ve told these guys, be thorough, be efficient, so we
can get to it as quickly as we can, but get me the story as best as you can
tell it with as many folks as we can get to cooperate with talking to us.


O`DONNELL: Every time Chris Christie talks about this publicly, he
says something that is absolutely prohibitive to the possibility of him
running a successful presidential campaign. We will have more analysis on
that later.

And coming up next, one of the New Jersey legislators on the special
investigative committee will react to everything we`ve just heard from the
governor, including the new information tonight from the governor and the
breaking news tonight that Bridget Kelly is going to plead the Fifth


O`DONNELL: You just heard Chris Christie say tonight that he can`t
wait, he just can`t wait to get the full story of how his staff closed
lanes at the George Washington Bridge. This is the same Governor Christie
who refused to ask Bridget Kelly a single question about why she told
Christie`s ally David Wildstein at the Port Authority that it was time for
some traffic problems at Fort Lee. He could have asked her. Could have
asked her all about that before he fired her, but he deliberately did not
ask her a single question.

And tonight, he claims to the people of New Jersey that he cannot wait
to find out why Bridget Kelly did that. And tonight, Bridget Kelly
announced she`s not going to tell anyone. She will not say a word about
this. She will remain silent by invoking the Fifth Amendment right against

One of the New Jersey assemblymen investigating this incident will
join me next.


O`DONNELL: More breaking news out of New Jersey tonight.

Bridget Anne Kelly, the author of the smoking gun e-mails that links
the Christie administration directly to the controversial and possibly
criminal closure of access lanes to the George Washington Bridge, is now
invoking her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and is
refusing to comply with a subpoena from the New Jersey legislative
commission investigating the Christie administration.

In a five-page response to the subpoena, Bridget Kelly`s lawyer wrote,
"The information demanded from Ms. Kelly by the committee related to the
reassignment of access lanes to the George Washington Bridge directly
overlaps with the parallel federal grand jury investigation being conducted
by the United States attorney`s office for the district of New Jersey. As
such, Ms. Kelly asserts her rights and will not produce the information
demanded by the committee."

During an appearance on New Jersey radio, talk radio tonight, just as
that news was breaking, Chris Christie was asked for his reaction to his
former deputy chief of staff refusing to cooperate with the legislature`s


CHRISTIE: You know, listen, it doesn`t tell me anything. I know
everything I need to know from a point of employment for Bridget Kelly when
she didn`t tell me the truth. And I fired her.

And what I`ve said as to all these people are that have lawyers now is
that I hope they would share information with us, but I also understand
that people have rights and they`re going to exercise those rights as they
see fit and as their lawyers advise them to do so. I would hope they share
any information they had that would let me get to the bottom of it.

But on the other hand, they have constitutional rights like everybody
else and if they`re going to exercise them, there`s nothing I could do
about that, Eric. But we`re certainly going to be asking and have asked
for information from folks, and if folks give it to us, great. And if they
don`t, because they say they`re exercising their constitutional rights, I
don`t think any of us could be critical of us for exercising their
constitutional rights.


O`DONNELL: Governor Christie was also asked tonight about subpoenas
directed at him.


SCOTT: Has your office, your office now, the governor`s office, not
the campaign, been subpoenaed by the United States attorney?


SCOTT: And when are those subpoenas due?

CHRISTIE: You know, I don`t know. But I know the requests -- and by
the way, they did that and I understand why they did it. We had already
communicated to them that we would cooperate voluntarily. They decided to
send a subpoena. And that`s fine. We are -- we are complying with that in
the same way we`ll comply with the legislative subpoenas.


O`DONNELL: Of course, Christie suggesting that it would have been
perfectly reasonable for his office to just voluntarily comply with
requests from the U.S. attorney and no subpoena was necessary, he knows is
a ridiculous proposition.

The reason the U.S. attorney issues subpoenas is that any tampering
with any of the evidence under subpoena would instantly become a federal
crime. There were no subpoena, that jeopardy would not exist.

Today was the original due date for responses to 20 subpoenas issued
by the legislature`s investigative committee. But the committee announced
that it has granted several extensions to that deadline.

One of the requests granted was to Governor Christie`s campaign

Joining me now is Assembly Majority Leader Louis Greenwald, who is one
of the members on the special committee that is investigating the bridge
lane closures.

It was really an extraordinary interview on the radio there tonight.
You have the governor now saying that -- his phrase was, "I can`t wait to
find out what went on here." In other words, I can`t wait to find out what
Bridget Kelly knows. And he`s saying that on the same night that we
discover Bridget Kelly isn`t going to tell anyone, she`s not going to tell
you, she`s going to invoke her Fifth Amendment right.

And then the governor says that her invocation of her Fifth Amendment
right tells him absolutely nothing. What does it tell you?

Lawrence, I have to tell you, I know Bridget Kelly`s attorney. He`s -- I
have tremendous respect for him. And the governor`s not wrong in what he
said that they`re going to take advice from their counsel and they have
rights of themselves as citizens.

I would also point out that Mr. Wildstein had taken the Fifth
Amendment early on when he first appeared before the committee. But as
those weeks have gone by, he has started to share more information, as you
have seen, publicly. And I think the most important thing here is we want
to know who knew what. We want to know who ordered this. We want to know
where it began. And I think as this -- this investigation and the
discovery period we are, in it`s just that. It`s a discovery period.
You`re trying to discover that very critical information.

And this is -- this is going to be a long process and a methodical
process. But I think as we start to gather the documents, which will be
shared, and that those documents come in, that we will learn more. And in
addition to that, our counsel has as in any case, any legal matter, really
started to interact with the counsel of the people that have received the
subpoenas and started to have some very good conversations and share the
beginning of sharing information back and forth.

So, I can`t stress enough, Lawrence. I`ve said this a number of times
on your show and others. The subpoenas is not an indication that we think
someone has committed a crime. It`s not an indication we think someone is
guilty of something. It is a discovery tool to gather information and find
out what was the root of this abuse of power and where did it go.

O`DONNELL: Do you think your investigation would be much farther down
the road tonight if governor Christie had asked Bridget Kelly why did you
write that e-mail about time for traffic problems in Fort Lee? If he just
asked her that one question before firing her?

GREENWALD: Well, look, I think obviously, Lawrence, if the governor
had asked that question and she had been forth coming in her information,
that would be information that the governor`s office would be able to share
with us. And, obviously, just fundamentally, we`d be farther along.

But trying to go back and play Monday morning quarterback as to would
should have asked what and when, why didn`t they have the curiosity or what
curiosity did they have, is not going to help us move the ball forward from
where we are today. It`s why we took the extraordinary step, much like the
governor did, we hired a nationally recognized firm with a very well-
respected former U.S. attorney, who is very active in this case.

O`DONNELL: New Jersey Assembly Majority Leader Louis Greenwald, thank
you very much for joining us on this breaking news night.

GREENWALD: Lawrence, thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, where all this leaves Governor Christie in
terms of a political future? I`ve said already, it`s over. He has no real
chance of running for president. Tonight, he made it even worse. That`s



GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: I understand that it`s a
distraction. Believe me, nobody understands that better. It`s not like I
can say OK, listen, everybody, I need a few months off to deal with this,
I`ll be back to you. And you know, that`s not the way life works. And
what the people of New Jersey need to know is I don`t need a few months off
to deal with this because they know the truth. They know me. They just
reelected me resoundingly. And they know I`m going to do this job. And
that`s it. And anybody who tries to distract me from doing this job is
going to be disappointed because I won`t be distracted.


O`DONNELL: And the people of New Jersey in a recent Farleigh
Dickinson poll said that 53 percent of them think it is very unlikely that
Chris Christie did not know about the lane closures according to the story
he is telling.

Joining me now, the "Washington Post`s" Jonathan Capehart and Brian
Murphy, a professor at Baruch College, and a former political reporter in
New Jersey. Brian worked for David Wildstein. We`re in the full
disclosure section. Brian worked for David Wildstein in 2002 as the
managing editor of And the full disclosure goes on to say
that Bill is also a friend -- you`re also a friend of Bill Baroni.


O`DONNELL: So, as a friend of Bill Baroni can you get him on the
phone and find out when he`s going invoke the fifth amendment?

MURPHY: I wish I could. I haven`t talked to him actually in a couple
of years. But he did come to my wedding. But I haven`t been in touch with
him in a while. So I unfortunately can`t do that.

O`DONNELL: So Brian, the way this has played out and tonight with
this extraordinary interview by the governor, we see a new opening in this
story where he is now allowing for the possibility that somewhere around
him and within earshot was the knowledge of the traffic jam while it was
happening and then he leans on the phrase "it didn`t come into my
consciousness." until that famous Foye memo arrived.

MURPHY: Right. It`s a curious -- this bar keeps moving. And that
gets journalists very curious, and it gets, you know, someone like me, a
journalist turned historian and my superpower in life is that I can read
documents very closely. And when I look at this, I just see these press
availabilities that he`s done -- and he hasn`t done many. But the January
9th one and now tonight this just raises more questions than it answers for
me. This is not clarifying things.

O`DONNELL: Jonathan Capehart, that is the big problem. Brian has
identified it. It is that these stories, in order for these kinds of press
moments to work, you want them to not create any new news, and the way they
create new news is you, Chris Christie, give us a new story which he did

giving that little window. The one place where he has been consistent is
saying that he didn`t know about it really until the "Wall Street Journal"
story about the Patrick Foye e-mail saying stop the lane closures. He said
this during a press conference on December 13th of last year.

But even then the "Wall Street Journal" reported that there were --
that because of what the governor said there were now two timelines out
there from the governor about when he learned about these traffic -- this -
- the traffic lane closures and even in that story it said that he might
have heard about it from press reports before reading about Patrick Foye,
the Patrick Foye e-mail. So I am as confused by the moving goalposts as
anybody else.

O`DONNELL: You know, I said when he did his big long news conference
that he absolutely killed any possible presidential campaign right in the
language of that news conference when he said, I delegate enormous
authority to my staff and my cabinet. And then he says, of course, they
have humiliated and embarrassed New Jersey and him and all that.

Then tonight, he said this thing about I can`t warranty anything that
they say. I can`t warranty anything that my staff says which is, you know,
they can throw that at him if he ever dares to step on a presidential
debate stage. It just seems like there`s no way -- Brian, I don`t see any
way he can talk about this where he doesn`t have to put down in his own
defense, some statement that makes him unelectable as president.

MURPHY: He left himself so little wiggle room, and now he`s trying to
create some. I don`t think he knew that he asked his chief of staff and
counsel to look into this after he learned about the story in the "Wall
Street Journal." I don`t think we knew that before.

I`m surprised that he`s still talking about a traffic study. And
"shenanigans" is the word he uses that might have arisen out of it. As a
matter of -- I mean, as someone who observes professional politicians, you
know, I thought between what happened on Saturday night and what we`ve
heard tonight, I`m not really sure what the image -- I`m not sure what
image he`s trying to convey here. But it`s not -- it doesn`t seem
consistent with what you would want to put out if you were trying to run
for national office.

O`DONNELL: And the big defense he put out this weekend against the
Wildstein`s lawyer`s statement is that -- his big defense is I, Governor
Chris Christie, appointed to the port authority a completely untrustworthy
liar. That`s what I did at the port authority. That was his big defense.

Jonathan, sorry. We`re out of time. We have much more Christie radio
stuff to use than we thought. We`re out of time.

Jonathan Capehart and Brian Murphy, thank you very much for joining me

MURPHY: Thanks very much.

CAPEHART: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Up next, a pause for a very special "rewrite" and a


O`DONNELL: Tomorrow night Bill Nye the science guy will take the side
of evaluation in a debate with Ken Hamm, the founder of the creation museum
in Petersburg, Kentucky. The debate will stream live on Web site
from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. eastern. And then the winner of that debate, Bill
Nye, will be my guest on "the Last Word." That`s tomorrow at 10:00 p.m.

And next, tonight`s "rewrite" space is reserved for the work of a
truly great artist.


O`DONNELL: They will dim the lights on Broadway on Wednesday night at
7:45 p.m., all the lights on all the theater marquees. The theater world
does this in moments of great loss. This is such a moment.

On Wednesday night Broadway will dim the lights for Philip Seymour
Hoffman, who died Sunday at the age of 46. His last stage performance was
in Mike Nichols` brilliant Broadway revival of Arthur Miller`s "death of a
salesman." I had the privilege of being in the audience for one of those
performances. But the truly lucky ones were those few who got to see
Philip Seymour Hoffman`s first turn as Willie Lehman in 1984, when his high
school drama director decided that the school play would be "death of a
salesman" because they finally had a high school senior who could handle
the lead role.

It`s impossible in a few minutes here to summarize a 25-year brilliant
career that includes 50 movies, Oscar nominations, Tony nominations. Let`s
just watch him work. First in "Boogie Nights."


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wait, wait, wait. How much time is there?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What the hell is the matter with you?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why did you do that, Scottie?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You look at me sometimes --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to know if you like me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, of course -- yes, I like you, Scottie. I



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please, can I kiss you on the mouth?




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m really sorry. I didn`t mean to grab you like
that or scare you or anything. Do you want to kiss me or --



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What`s the matter with you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, forget it. I`m really drunk. Really,
I`m just -- I`m out of my head. I`m so -- I`m really wasted. Really,
dirk, I`m really just wasted. I`m crazy right now. I`m really crazy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you want to go back inside?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you like my car, dirk?




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because I wanted to -- you know, I wanted to make
sure you thought it was cool or else I was going to take it back. Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s great, Scottie.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Happy new year.


O`DONNELL: In "almost famous" he offered words to live by.


O`DONNELL: Good-looking people, they`ve got no spine. Their art
never lasts. Then they get the girls. But we`re smarter.

O`DONNELL: Yes. I can really see that now.

O`DONNELL: Because great art is about guilt and longing and, you
know, love disguised as sex and sex disguised as love. Hey, let`s face, it
you`ve got a big head start.

O`DONNELL: I`m glad you were home.

O`DONNELL: I`m always home. I`m un-cool.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re doing great. The only true currency in
this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you`re un-
cool. This is my advice to you, and I know you think these guys are your
friends. If you want to be a true friend to them, be honest and


O`DONNELL: Philip Seymour Hoffman was nominated for the Oscar for
supporting actor three times. First in "Charlie Wilson`s war."




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Swiss make an anti-aircraft gun called the

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Listen, Charlie --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 20-millimeter cannon --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know the Helicon. Don`t forget the limo driver.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you mean?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You took a limo from the casino to the airport.
Maybe it`s easy enough to track down a limo driver, hand him a subpoena,
ask him if anything happened in the back seat. In terms of cleaning up
this --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were you listening at the door?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was listening at the door.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were you standing at the god (bleep) door
listening to me?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s a thick door. You stood there and you
listened to me?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wouldn`t stand at the door. Don`t be an idiot.
I bugged the scotch bottle.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s got a little transmitter on it. I`ve got a
little thing on my ear to get past it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t believe this. Who the (bleep) -- who the
(bleep) are you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s not in my ear right now. Take it easy. I
was going to tell but it but I`d leave the room for a second because you`re
getting indicted.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there a camera in there?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s a little paranoid.


O`DONNELL: If he had a favorite among his films, based on his public
comments, it seemed to be Paul Thomas Anderson`s "Magnolia."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know this sounds silly, and I know that I might
sound ridiculous, like this is the scene in the movie where the guy`s
trying to get hold of the long lost son, you know, but this is that scene.
This is that scene. And I think they have those scenes in movies because
they`re true. You know, because they really happen. And you`ve got to
believe me, this is really happening. I mean, I can give you my number,
and you can go check with whoever you`ve got to check with and call me
back. But do not leave me hanging on this. All right? Please. I`m just
-- please. See, this is the scene of the movie where you help me out.


O`DONNELL: And of course, as everyone knows Philip Seymour Hoffman
won. His much-deserved Oscar for "Capote."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s all right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I did everything I could.






O`DONNELL: Philip Seymour Hoffman leaves his mother and father, his
brother and two sisters. And he also leaves his three children and his
partner and mother of his children, Mimi O`Donnell, who issued this

We are devastated by the loss of our beloved Phil and appreciate the
outpouring of love and support we have received from everyone. This is a
tragic and sudden loss, and we ask that you respect our privacy during this
time of grieving. Please keep Phil in your thoughts and prayers.

When he won his Oscar, he thanked his mother, who was with him that
night at the Oscars, for taking him to see his first play. He told her, be
proud, mom, because I`m proud of you and we`re here tonight and it`s so



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What`s your problem with me?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`ve found in my business that when people with
time on their hands get involved in politics, I start forgetting who I`m
supposed to be shooting at.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you blink, we go back to the start.
Infringement. You blinked. Starting now. You`re not to blink. If you
blink, we go back to the start. Do you often think about how
inconsequential you are?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you believe that god will save you from your
own ridiculousness?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you ever had intercourse with someone inside
your family?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you ever had intercourse with someone inside
your family?




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you killed anyone?




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you killed anyone?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How many times did you have intercourse with your


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where`s your aunt now?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you like to have intercourse with her again?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you regret this?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where`s your mother?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Infringement. (bleep) back to the start.


O`DONNELL: Joining me now, David Denby, film critic for "the New

David, I asked you what clips you thought you might want to see
tonight. That was one of them. Why "the Master"? Why that part?

DAVID DENBY, FILM CRITIC, THE NEW YORKER: Well, he`s a public man for
a lot of it, but what you saw there was a very intimate moment with Joaquin
Phoenix. And at other times he betrays all kinds of anger, lust, rage. I
mean, the guy had an ability to open up his soul. I mean, he wasn`t the
romantic actor. He wasn`t a physically heroic actor, but he was the
soulful actor of his generation, par excellence.

I mean, the Truman Capote thing that you showed, he`s breaking up in
that scene, but that movie -- in that movie you get all kinds of guile and
calculation and ambition. It`s an extremely rich performance, as so many
of them were.

O`DONNELL: I want to show another clip that you suggested that we
show tonight from "Capote." let`s look at that.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re not so different as you might think. I was
abandoned repeatedly as a child. My mom would drag me along to some new
town so she could take up with another man she`d met. And night after
night she`d lock me in the hotel room alone. Mom would turn the latch and
tell the staff not to let me out no matter what. And I was terrified. I`d
scream my head off. Until finally I`d collapse on the carpet next to the
door and I`d fall asleep.


O`DONNELL: David, it was one of the most deserved best actor Oscars
ever awarded.

DENBY: Yes. You see the brilliant technique. That high, thin sort
of goose quill voice, you know, of Truman Capote`s, but also this anxiety
and this sadness. This guy really understood loneliness and defeat. And
you showed that in some of your earlier clips. He understood what it was
to be a loser. And he was one of the great winners of the acting
profession of all time.

He never lost his touch for that and his understanding of it. So it`s
a loss, Lawrence. It leaves a hole that cannot be filled. There aren`t
many dramatic actors in Hollywood. There are a lot of clowns. There are a
lot of buffoons. And there are some very good young women. But there are
not many dramatically capable young males. So when a heath ledger dies or
when this guy dies, I mean, I`m just, you know, devastated. The movies are

O`DONNELL: And he was one of the wonderful good guys of the business.
Never an entourage. Always kind of unassumingly off in a corner, wherever
you would see him.

DENBY: Rumpled, completely an actor. You know, completely
unpretentious but completely serious all -- and as you indicated, an
enormous theater career. Chekhov, O`Neil, Sam shepherd. You know, he
would have gone on and done things in the theater and been brilliant there
also. I don`t know how --

O`DONNELL: He will be missed. But he`s left us an enormous treasure
to keep looking at for years to come.

David Denby, thank you very, very much for joining us on this sad

David Denby, the New Yorker, gets tonight`s Last Word.

DENBY: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Chris Hayes is up next.



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