THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
March 27, 2014
Guests: Andrea Bernstein, Alfred Doblin, Bob Ingle
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Chris Christie`s lawyers issued a
344-page report today saying that their client Chris Christie had nothing
to do with the George Washington Bridge scandal. How do they know? They
took his word for it.
The latest breaking news tonight: one of the people accused of
wrongdoing in this report responds.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`re getting our first look at the report.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A Chris Christie-commissioned report.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They got, you know, 300-plus right here.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The report that Chris Christie says clears him
in the George Washington Bridge scandal.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our findings today are a vindication of Governor
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Paid for by the taxpayer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have no idea what the cost of this has been.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Taxpayer money well-spent.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He points the finger solely at Bridget Kelly and
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: David Wildstein went to Bridget Kelly for approval
in the governor`s office.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re not able to answer what ulterior motive was,
not able to answer every question today.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everyone is asking questions like what did you
know and when did you know it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please let me answer this question first. We`re
not going to interrupt each other.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is not a federal investigation. This is
not a legislative investigation.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The investigation was done by a law firm. This
is Chris Christie`s lawyer.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is from the governor`s office.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This was somebody chosen by Christi Christie.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Governor Chris Christie, explain.
O`DONNELL: The defense made its opening statement today in the case
of the people versus Chris Christie, the people who do not believe that
Chris Christie is telling the truth about what happened at the George
Forty-two percent of New Jersey voters do not believe that Chris
Christie is telling the truth. And 63 percent of nationwide voters do not
believe that Chris Christie is telling the truth.
If you are one of the 42 percent of New Jersey voters who do not
believe Chris Christie, the over $1 million of your money that he spent on
his lawyer`s opening statement today has given you no reason to change your
mind. Team Christie`s lawyers issued a 344-page document which they call a
report but actually reads like a defense brief.
It is not a neutral finder of fact. It is actually a distorter of
fact, an inventor of fact, as its title says, quote, "on behalf of the
office of the governor."
When you hire a lawyer, what does the lawyer say? Whatever you want
the lawyer to say. You are paying the lawyer. That`s the deal. The
lawyer who works for you represents your interest. The lawyer who works
for you speaks on your behalf.
That lawyer`s job is to represent no one else`s interest. And Randy
Mastro, the political lawyer who was hired to lead the team of Christie
lawyers, has done everything possible to serve the man who hired him and
while he was at it, to serve another man he used to work for. Randy Mastro
did reveal some things that we did not know about. It turns out the two
people who Chris Christie fired over what happened at the George Washington
Bridge were much closer to each other than anyone outside of Christie world
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RANDY MASTRO, ATTORNEY FOR CHRIS CHRISTIE: What we found was that
whatever personal relationship, brief, Stepien and Kelly had had ended by
the first week of August. 2013. And they largely stopped speaking.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: We also learned today that the day she was fired by
Christie, Bridget Kelly texted one someone in her office saying, "I`m sorry
to tarnish IGA" -- IGA being the intergovernmental affairs office she was
in charge of.
That text is yet another very smoking gun. If you`re still looking
for proof that Bridget Kelly is involved in the George Washington Bridge
scandal. But we haven`t needed more proof of that since the e-mail, time
for traffic problems in Fort Lee.
The biggest question everyone has been asking about this scandal is
what did the governor know and when did he know it? And the governor`s
lawyer does not know the answer to that question, but he pretends he does.
Randy Mastro said the magic words today, the most important words he
could possibly say on behalf of the governor. They`re right there on page
12 of the report. Chris Christie, quote, "knew nothing about it."
What happened at the George Washington Bridge was all David Wildstein
and Bridget Kelly`s fault. It was David Wildstein`s idea and Bridget Kelly
approved it on behalf of the governor`s office. According to Randy Mastro,
it went no higher than Bridget Kelly in the governor`s office. But Randy
Mastro cannot prove that.
Here`s the key sentence: whatever motivated Wildstein and Kelly to act
as they did, it was not at the behest of Governor Christie who knew nothing
about it. That is presented as a simple fact that Christie knew nothing
about it. The report does not say Christie says he knew nothing about it.
There is huge difference between he knew nothing about it and he says he
knew nothing about it.
There are 1,414 footnotes in Randy Mastro`s report. Foot number 91
comes at the end of the key sentence that says Chris Christie knew nothing
about it. Now you would expect to turn to footnote 91 and find Chris
Christie`s interview transcript in which you can read word for word all of
the questions he was asked about the George Washington Bridge and all of
the ways in which he claimed he knew nothing about it.
If this was a real report, the Christie question and answer
transcripts would be in there. If Randy Mastro could quote Chris Christie
saying something, anything convincing about how or why he knew nothing
about it, Randy Mastro would use that quote from the interviews with Chris
Christie that Randy Mastro is now hiding from public inspection. Randy
Mastro insists that Chris Christie was fully cooperative.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MASTRO: We had as much access and as long a time as we ever wanted to
interview the governor. He made himself fully available to us and we
interviewed him on multiple occasions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: But nothing Chris Christie said in any of those interviews
appears in this report. Not one word. Footnote 91 does not say one thing
that indicates Chris Christie knew nothing about it. Footnote 91 simply
talks about Wildstein and Kelly`s attitude towards the mayor of Fort Lee.
The footnotes in this report are mostly filled with useless junk, intended
to make the report seem thorough.
There is the footnoted dramatic description of Christie in December
convening a meeting of his staff when he finally got interested in the
George Washington Bridge scandal.
The very next morning on December 13, 2013, the governor convened a
special meeting of his senior staff and also invited Drewniak. He stood
the entire time and raised his voice. He told him he was concerned they
were all suffering from senioritis following the election. He said the
national attention was a double-edge sword. The spotlight can turn to a
searchlight real quick.
He mentioned a number of miscues but then focused on the George
Washington Bridge lane reassignment fiasco. He said words to the effect of
-- this is a mess and now I have to clean it up.
He demanded to know from each of them in that room whether they had
any prior knowledge or involvement in the lane realignment. He said he was
going to hold a press conference later that day to set the record straight.
He told them to come forward with the truth that morning to go tell O`Dowd
or Charles McKenna, then the governor`s chief counsel, the confessionals
are open, he said. But Kelly did not come forward.
There is only one footnote in that entire account, footnote 81. And
since Chris Christie is quoted here, you assume that footnote 81 is going
to refer you to the exact entries in the transcript of the Chris Christie
interview where he said these things.
Here is what footnote 81 is. It`s an e-mail telling the staff that
there will be a meeting. "Good morning, Kevin is requesting all senior
staff members meet in the governor`s office this morning at 10:00 a.m.
That`s it. That one sentence, which does not even prove that the
meeting occurred. It does not prove what the meeting was a about. That
one sentence e-mail is worthy, though, of a footnote in the $1 million
report. But Chris Christie`s interview transcripts are not worthy of being
included in the $1 million report.
Now, I`ve been trying to think today of what is the single best
example of how bad the million dollar report really is, just how empty this
thing is. And there are many, many competing items that are competing for
the title of most ridiculous thing about the report, but if I have to
choose one, and I do, it`s the traffic study.
This report refers to the traffic study many, many times beginning on
page one, and continues to refer to it in lines like this -- others in the
governor`s office were being told by Wildstein and Baroni that this was a
legitimate traffic study and operational issue. Then it also said that
Foye also testified saying that he was not aware of any actual traffic
That`s Patrick Foye, the one honest man in the Port Authority in this
story appointed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo as executive director of
the Port Authority.
So for a million dollars, does this 344-page report tell us if there
was a traffic study? No. It doesn`t.
Randy Mastro, studying the case on behalf of the office of the
governor has no idea whether there was a traffic study. He never found
one. The traffic study is not in one of the 1,414 footnotes, and Randy
Mastro`s report does not tell us what his team did to try to find the
But most of the report`s references to the traffic study refer to it
as if it`s a real thing, a real study that you can just touch and hold in
your hands and read. The only other person who`s still been clinging to
the possibility that a traffic study ever existed is Randy Mastro`s client,
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: I still don`t know whether there
was a traffic study that morphed into --
RADIO HOST: You still don`t know at this point whether there was a
CHRISTIE: Well, what I`m saying, Eric, did this start as a traffic
study that then morphed into some political shenanigans, or did it start as
political shenanigans that became a traffic study?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: If there was a traffic study, we would all be holding it
in our hands right now. If there was a traffic study, it would have been
in Randy Mastro`s million dollar report today.
And there is Chris Christie as recently as last month saying he
doesn`t know, he doesn`t know.
Once a client of Randy Mastro, it turns out, always a client of Randy
Mastro. Randy Mastro earned some of his many, many big fees as a lawyer
representing the Port Authority with David Samson serving as chairman.
David Samson was put in that position by Chris Christie.
I suggested 3 1/2 months ago on this program that David Samson`s on
the record involvement in what happened at the George Washington Bridge was
enough to get him fired. "The New Jersey Star Ledger" said in an editorial
on February 20 that David Samson should resign. "The New York Times" on
March 5th said that David Samson should resign.
There`s a lot of eat on David Samson. David Samson is worthy of a
major investigation unto himself. But Randy Mastro did everything he could
to keep David Samson out of the line of fire in this report. And then he
did something extraordinary.
Randy Mastro notes repeatedly in the report who refused to speak with
him and his investigators. He repeatedly notes that Bridget Kelly and Bill
Stepien and David Wildstein, the evil doers in this story refused to speak
to him and his investigators. He also notes that Chris Christie`s
appointee to the Port Authority Bill Baroni refused to take to Mastro and
his team. But David Samson also refuses to speak to his former lawyer
Randy Mastro and Mastro covers that up.
Nowhere in the 344 pages does Randy Mastro reveal that his former
client David Samson did not talk to the investigators.
Remember, when you pay the lawyer, the lawyer says what you want the
lawyer to say. And when you pay some lawyers, they never stop saying what
you want them to say.
Joining me now, Joy Reid, host of MSNBC`s "THE REID REPORT" and Andrea
Bernstein, senior editor and founder of "Transportation Nation" blog for
Public Radio`s WNYC.
And, Andrea, you were at this report reveal today. Before we get to
it, we have a breaking news response from Bill Stepien, from his lawyer, in
reaction to what has been said about him today that I think deserves a full
It says, "One will search the 360-page," that includes the table of
contents, "Mastro report in vain for a jot of evidence to support the
governor`s decision to sever ties with Bill Stepien. The investigation in
which Mr. Stepien did not cooperate found that he had no involvement in the
origination, planning, execution or concealment of the lane closures and
that he did not lie or deceive anyone at anytime about his limited
knowledge of the subject, including the governor.
Indeed, the report makes clear that Mr. Stepien truthfully advised the
governor that Mr. Wildstein had raised the specter of a traffic study at
the GWB with him, one of many small ball ideas that Mr. Wildstein conceived
during his tenure at the Port Authority and that Mr. Stepien had reportedly
referred Mr. Wildstein to the authorities in Trenton responsible for such
There`s simply no notion implied by his summary banishment that Mr.
Stepien was somehow blameworthy in this incident. He was not."
And, Andrea, I`ve got to say, I`ve been asking from the start, why was
Bill Stepien fired? And what Chris Christie told us was, he didn`t like
the tone that he discovered in Christie`s e-mail. But there`s other
people, his press secretary Drewniak have the same tone in their e-mails,
David Samson has at least as bad a tone in his e-mails, saying that, you
know, Foye is playing in traffic and causing troubles. Why was Bill
ANDREA BERNSTEIN, WNYC: Well, we don`t know that. It`s one of the
many things. We don`t know because Bill Stepien wasn`t interviewed,
Bridget Kelly wasn`t interviewed, David Wildstein, Bill Baroni and David
Samson -- none of the key figures were interviewed.
So there are many, many questions. There are so many things we don`t
know. We don`t know, for example, why it was time for traffic problems in
BERNSTEIN: We don`t know anything about previous communications.
So perhaps there`s something that Governor Christie knows that he
hasn`t shared with us that hasn`t now been shared with us through this
But I think one thing is clear, yesterday, many things were a mystery.
Today, they`re still, unfortunately, a mystery.
O`DONNELL: Joy, this is the best I`ve got. This is, you know, the
Christie defense as it best can be presented. And this thing is just full
of holes and it`s so weak, they can`t even show you what Christie said.
They dare not show you what the lieutenant governor said, what Christie
said, what any of these people they interviewed said.
JOY REID, HOST, THE REID REPORT: Yes, they go to what has to be
always the weakest defense, which is essentially the woman scorned theory,
right? They throw Bridget Kelly`s personal life and splash it into the
report so that it`s lurid in that sort of "Star Report" kind of way. If
there`s something here that`s titillating and headline grabbing, that must
mean she`s the bad guy. And they throw Bridget Kelly as well as Mr.
Stepien under the bus.
I think they were trying in a sense to exonerate him, but the next
part of that response that you were just reading is that Bill Stepien is
not amused by the idea that his relationship --
O`DONNELL: Let me share this with the audience, because Stepien does
talk about the way this report and the way Randy Mastro today talked about
Stepien`s relationship with Bridget Kelly. Here`s what`s Stepien`s
lawyer`s response to that, "The report`s inclusion of a gratuitous
reference to Mr. Stepien`s brief dating relationship with Bridget Anne
Kelly, which began after he left the governor`s office ended before the
lane closure debacle began, it took place at a time when both he and Ms.
Kelly were single, is a regrettable distraction that has no place in this
report. Predictably that has become a tabloid headline masking the
injustice done to Stepien and distracting the public from those aspects of
the report that would otherwise have demanded its attention."
I think, Andrea, Stepien has a point there.
BERNSTEIN: I mean, one thing is certainly clear. This afternoon on
"The New York Post" Web site, the headline was they had a relationship.
They really captured --
O`DONNELL: You`re sitting there on team Christie and you`re planning
today and you`re going, I wonder what "The Post" headline will be. Will it
have anything to do with the dating thing?
BERNSTEIN: Well, it`s helping that they noticed but I also think
that, you know, there was a lot of criticism in the Twitter sphere and
elsewhere today that she was being slut shamed. Meaning that she was
somehow being made to look back because of her relationship, or not
credible. It does lay the groundwork if at some point she comes and
presents evidence against any of these people that, oh, somehow she was the
woman scorned, so why should we listen to her?
With Wildstein, there were numerous references to the fact that he was
unstable. But the question remains, this is someone who was appointed to a
very, very senior position in the Christie administration, in the Port
Authority, by the Christie administration. He was the director of
interstate capital projects. He was in charge of billions of dollars.
So, maybe they shouldn`t have given him that job if he was unstable,
which they went out of their way.
I mean, I think one of the things interesting about the report is that
it found no problem with, for example, internal controls. Maybe something
went wrong in the governor`s office, if as the governor says, this was not
something he authorized, condoned or even sent any signals that he
encouraged, why then was it able to happen? What went wrong?
And the only answer was, well, they hid it from us. But maybe that`s
a suggestion that something was awry in the governor`s office.
O`DONNELL: And, Joy, before we go, the consistencies with Christie,
some things changed. In the past he said, you know, I never talked about
it with anybody. And now, they`ve got him in here in December having that
dramatic meeting that I read about was something that he used to say --
well, that never happen popped.
REID: And conveying all this emotion, and having never spoken to any
of the other parties to any of these events. What this report does is it
simply says because Christie said so. At the point they`re saying that
David Wildstein said that he did mention the idea of these closures.
O`DONNELL: But it doesn`t point out -- it doesn`t point out any of
the inconsistencies in what has now become the Christie`s verbal record
about what he knew, what he talked about that, when he talked about that.
This is an incredibly weak opening for the Christie defense.
BERNSTEIN: And no one was interviewed under oath.
REID: And no motive. They`re saying a relationship awry. They
haven`t presented a single fact that explains what any of that has to do
with closing those lanes.
O`DONNELL: Andrea and Joy, thank you for joining me.
Joy Reid, of course, is the host of "THE REID REPORT", weekdays at
2:00 p.m. on MSNBC. That means tomorrow. Thank you both.
Coming up next, the Hoboken chapter of today`s report. Spoiler alert:
Christie did nothing wrong. And the mayor of Hoboken is full of fantasies.
O`DONNELL: We have breaking news at this hour from the search area
where it is believed the Malaysian Airlines flight went down. There is new
information indicating that the plane was traveling much faster than
previously believed. That is affecting the location of the search. We
will have a live report from Australia coming up later in this hour, as we
gather this news for you.
Coming up next, the chapter in the report today about the mayor of
Hoboken. That`s next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MASTRO: We find that Mayor Zimmer`s allegations that members of the
Christie administration delivered a message from the governor to her,
threatening Hoboken`s Sandy aid unless she supported a private development
project are not only unsubstantiated, they are demonstrably false in
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now, Bob Ingle, senior political columnist for
Gannett, New Jersey newspapers and co-author of "Chris Christie: The Inside
Story of His Rise to Power."
Also joining me, Alfred P. Doblin, editorial page editor for New
Jersey`s "The Bergen Record."
The mayor of Hoboken has a response out tonight, Mayor Dawn Zimmer. I
want to read some of that.
She makes much of course of the million dollars of taxpayer money
spent on it. And then she says, "Mastro`s conclusion that there was
nothing to the threat that was made to me that Hoboken would not get the
Sandy relief money it needs and deserves unless I supported the Rockefeller
Group Project was sadly predictable. Surprisingly, as flawed as this
report is, it includes the damning fact that after the lieutenant governor
made the threat to me in the parking lot, she got in her car and told an
aide that I was not playing ball. This report only reinforced the
soundness of the decision I made not to cooperate with Mr. Mastro`s so-
called investigation. To do so would only lend credibility to an effort
that unfortunately for the taxpayers of New Jersey has no credibility or
Alfred Doblin, she -- the mayor did not cooperate. I think everyone
can understand why she didn`t. But at the same time, that served, it
seemed to me, to make the authorship of this report all the easier because
they didn`t have to contend with any kind of contrary flow of information
from the mayor of Hoboken.
ALFRED P. DOBLIN, THE BERGEN RECORD: Well, it`s a gap. The part that
deals with Hoboken is a little easier in some ways to figure out than the
part that deals with the GWB. So, it reads -- it`s a little more dense
when you`re reading that section.
O`DONNELL: Yes, it is.
DOBLIN: And it`s getting into a lot of other meetings. You get to
that central moment, it`s a Shop Rite that they`re at.
O`DONNELL: Yes, in the parking lot.
DOBLIN: Right. They`re in a parking lot. It`s very Jersey.
(INAUDIBLE) better New York diner.
DOBLIN: But it`s in a Shop Rite, it`s outside of a Shop Rite. And
there`s questions about who set up the meeting and why the meeting was
But they made it clear even in this report that`s lacking a lot of
information, we don`t know what happened. We don`t know what they said.
They appear to be having a very intense conversation and the lieutenant
governor appears to be somewhat unhappy when she`s leaving.
And the quote that Mayor Zimmer is saying, what`s in that report, that
the Lieutenant Guadagno saying she wouldn`t play ball.
So, clearly, something happened and we don`t have the other component.
O`DONNELL: And, Bob Ingle, we, of course, I`ve been saying all along,
and saying for a while before this, we don`t have the transcripts of any of
these interviews. So, we really don`t have any idea of what anybody said
to these investigators.
But here`s the way they report this. They say the lieutenant governor
did not recall what she said about her conversation with Mayor Zimmer.
So, that`s the best the lieutenant governor`s got. She`s sitting in
the "I don`t recall position".
And, Bob, on the basis of the lieutenant governor doing the old "I
don`t recall" answer, Randy Mastro thinks he has all the proof he needs
that, of course, what the major is saying didn`t happen.
BOB INGLE, CHRIS CHRISTIE BIOGRAPHER: It strikes me that there`s a
whole lot of don`t recalling in this report.
O`DONNELL: It`s a pretty safe to go to the old "don`t recall" answer.
INGLE: Yes. Well, the governor doesn`t recall a few things, too.
Well, it`s typical in this situation because, there was nobody there except
the two of them. So, it does get down to a she said/she said kind of
thing. And what they have done is pieced together pieces of information
from other things.
For instance, there`s a part there where she`s -- Dawn Zimmer is
getting miked up to do some sort of TV presentation and there`s one of the
governor`s cabinet sitting next to her and Dawn Zimmer says that statements
were made again about this development, and later on in this report they
say, well, she was smiling. She didn`t look like she had been threatened.
Come on. You see it right there.
O`DONNELL: And then the only thing they did find was actually the
lieutenant governor staff person saying well, the lieutenant governor said
Mayor Zimmer is not playing ball. And if there`s a part of that story it
fits, it is the mayor`s part of the story.
Alfred, I want to get to your overall reaction to this report. You`ve
been waiting for this for a while. You`ve been doing the editorials on
One of the things, by the way, I want you to chime in on is it`s
fascinating to me how David Samson was handled in the report. I mean, he
makes -- he`s like the ghost of the report. He makes as few appearances as
possible anywhere in this thing.
DOBLIN: Well, you know, the general is nowhere to be found.
O`DONNELL: The former attorney general.
DOBLIN: That was Baroni saying. As the general. You know, I think it is
interesting one of the things when you look the at it, like where they
decide to give you, you know, side information like they did to Bridget
Kelly and Bill Stepien. You know, there`s really no mention of all the
connections that Samson has or if they mention it, they try to be
apologetic that Wolf Samson, his firm`s attachment to the development deal
in Hoboken, you know, this happened before he was named to the port
authority and he has this perilous reputation. So, while they may have
done nothing wrong, there`s seems to be this incredible deference to the
chairman of the port authority which is not what you want to see if there
was something more than the governor`s own report.
O`DONNELL: And Bob Ingle, the thing about Samson that`s kind of so
extraordinary in all of this is he refused to cooperate with this
investigation. And pretty much everybody else who refuses to cooperate
with this investigation is then immediately in investigation presumed
guilty for refusal of cooperation and Mastro doesn`t say a word, not a word
about Samson not cooperating.
BOB INGLE, GANNETT NEW JERSEY NEWSPAPERS: Your analysis is right on,
Lawrence. Why are these other people dragged across the coals and they
forget to do it to him. I mean, what was that? He just didn`t recall that
he forgot to cooperate with him or something? It just doesn`t make any
He obviously is getting treatment better than the other people in this
thing. And another thing, if Christie appointed Samson to the post they`re
friends and colleagues from way back, why would he refuse to not talk and
O`DONNELL: Yes, what does he have to be afraid of.
Alfred Doblin and Bob Ingle, thank you very much for joining me tonight.
We hope we can keep reading this report. There`s a lot in there.
Up next, Chris Christie says the bridge scandal won`t affect him running
for president, which is just as believable as everything else Chris
Christie says about the bridge scandal. You`ll hear some of his ABC
interview that he did tonight.
And more on that breaking news on the missing Malaysia airlines jet. A new
search area is being developed at this hour. And new information about
just how fast the plane was flying, faster than previously estimated.
And later, President Obama meets the Pope. Father James Martin and sister
Simone Campbell will join me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: And what about Iowa?
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Iowa. I think they love me in Iowa,
too, Diane. I have been there a lot. I think they love me there, too.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: In the spotlight tonight, the delusional things Chris Christie
said to ABC`s Diane Sawyer about 2016.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTIE: Listen, I haven`t made a decision about 2016 and I`m intent to
make a decision on 2016 until a year from now. But it will have nothing to
do with what`s happened in the past 10 weeks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now, E.J. Dionne, columnist for "the Washington
Post" and an MSNBC political analyst.
E.J., I have this theory about Chris Christie doing Diane Sawyer`s show
tonight. I think Christie found out that the one new show that Sheldon
Adelson watches every night is Diane Sawyer`s show. And so he did that
little appearance. And now he`s going to bring him an autographed copy of
the Randy Mastro report saying that Chris Christie did nothing wrong.
E.J. DIONNE, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: You know, he spent $1 million
of taxpayer money to get a report out just in time for this meeting of the
executive committee of the super rich out in Nevada. It`s a very odd way
to pick presidents we have right now. And he`s hoping to draw a line with
this report. It can really impress people because it has 1,414 footnotes
so it must be a serious report.
I think the issue here is it may work with Republicans who really want to
believe Christie. But it`s sure not working anywhere else. "The New York
Times" has an editorial that calls it an expensive whitewash and says if
Christie wants to restore the public trust. Then he and his political
allies will pay for the report themselves. So I don`t think it solves this
biggest problems, but it may give him a little bit of breathing space with
the folks out there at that meeting.
O`DONNELL: Yes. This report is really surprisingly bad. I mean, it just
seems to me either you don`t do the report or you`ve got to do one that`s
better than this. It fell apart so quickly after it came out.
And E.J., you`re not the only one that suspects there`s some timing
submissions around this report. Let`s listen to New Jersey senator Loretta
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LORETTA WEINBERG, NEW JERSEY: The governor needed this report because
he`s off to Las Vegas this weekend to meet with some national Republican
donors, and he wants something that says his attorney vetted him. Well, I
have a little bit of a disagreement with that and I would like some
questions answered about that report.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: I mean, E.J., it would have been easy to eliminate those sound
bites. You know, get this thing done a couple of weeks ago, or release it
a couple of weeks from now. I mean, to do it literally on the eve of the
Vegas trip where he goes and begs for the blessings of the super rich.
It`s just so obvious.
DIONNE: Maybe they only work well under tight deadlines.
You know, I think there are two things about this report that are going to
haunt Christie. And you`ve alluded to both of them, really. It`s bringing
up this relationship between Bridget Kelly and Bill Stepien and suggesting
somehow that her emotional state, or something like that, had anything to
do with this. They have no predicate. They explain nothing about why. At
several moments, they keep coming back to this relationship that sure is
not going to make friends of her. But more importantly, I think a lot of
people are going to notice that and not like it.
And then the other thing is at various points, adopts an almost fawning
tone, where they talk about his breaking into tears and how tough he was in
facing up to this. And it just doesn`t read remotely like what they want
people to see it as, which is a fair-minded look at the facts.
O`DONNELL: We can`t leave this segment without a look at the facts of
Christie`s popularity in Iowa. He said to Diane Sawyer tonight that Iowa
love him. OK. Iowa voters on Christie handling of the bridge scandal.
Disapprove, 57 percent. Also Iowa voter, would Christie make a good
president? In March of 2014, 36 percent said yes. So just about 1/3 think
he would make a good president.
E.J. Dionne, thank you very much for your time tonight.
DIONNE: Good to be with you.
O`DONNELL: Up next, we will have breaking news in the search for the
missing Malaysian airlines jet. There is now a new search area, new
information tonight about how fast that aircraft was moving and so they are
moving the search location. We have a live report coming up.
O`DONNELL: We have breaking news involving the missing Malaysian airlines.
NBC`s Bill Neely is reporting that the search has taken a dramatic new turn
based on a new credible lead.
Joining me now by phone from Perth, Australia is NBC`s Bill Neely.
Bill, what is the latest there?
BILL NEELY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (via phone): Well, Australian
investigators say have now said that they have the most credible lead so
far to where the plane debris may be located. Investigators have looked
back at the radar data and they have determined based on a new analysis of
that that the plane was actually traveling much faster than we thought
before, which has meant increased fuel usage, and has reduced the distance
that the plane traveled. In other words, it has ditched into the Indian
Ocean much further north than previously thought. In fact they say they`re
now moving the focus of the search 680 miles northeast of where it has been
undertaken so far. That`s pretty extraordinary.
Tomorrow, remember, it is three week since the plane vanished. So they`ve
taken three weeks, and I would have to say questions have to be asked of
those investigators. It`s taken them three weeks to look at the analysis
of the radar data and come up with this new search area. And planes have
been leaving in the last two hours. We don`t actually know if they`re
going to that new search area, but this is the new focus of the
O`DONNELL: Bill, that`s an extraordinary difference. That`s well more
than an hour`s worth of flying time, 680-mile difference. And it seems if
true, that all of the searching and all of those resources that been out
there have been way off the trail.
NEELY: You could even say wasted. I mean, it`s really difficult. Look,
this is the best phrase that I`ve heard so far, it`s not looking for a
needle in a haystack. It`s not even looking for the haystack. It`s
looking for the farm. And it seems that we were looking for the farm in
completely the wrong place based on this.
I mean, again, the Australians are calling this the most credible lead so
far. And they`re now re-tasking satellites to photograph this new area.
And also the new search area is not small, it`s 200,000 square miles. So
it`s perhaps not back to square one, but it`s a completely different
O`DONNELL: And Bill, just to be clear, they`re using all of the same basis
information that they were using before. They`re just doing a new set of
calculations with that information?
NEELY: Well, isn`t that what`s puzzling? I mean, I`m not aviation expert
and no radar expert, but it`s been explained to me that radar blips are
fairly simple. And that it seems, you know, it seems that they should have
before now worked out that the plane was traveling faster as it traveled
from flip a to blip b.
It seems stagger, but we have to assume since they`re experts that there
was some good reason why they were conducting this search based on radar
analysis so far further south and are now moving north.
O`DONNELL: Bill Neely, thank you very much for joining us with the latest
tonight. Thank you.
NEELY: You`re welcome.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, President Obama meets the Pope. Father James Martin
and Sister Simone Campbell will join me.
O`DONNELL: Didn`t we just know when you saw the president meeting with the
Pope today that father Martin and Sister Simone Campbell would be here
tonight? Well, you should have. They are next.
O`DONNELL: After President Obama met with Pope Francis today, the
president said this --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The largest bulk of the time
was discussing two central concerns of his. One is the issues of the poor,
the marginalized, those without opportunity and growing inequality. The
holiness has the capacity to open people`s eyes and make sure they see this
is an issue. He`s discussed in the past, I think, the dangers of
indifference or cynicism when it comes to our ability to reach out to those
less fortunate or those locked out of opportunity.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now, Father James Martin, editor at large of America
magazine and the author of ""The New York Times" best seller, "Jesus A
Pilgrimage." Also joining us Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of
network, a national catholic social justice lobby, also author of the
upcoming book "a nun on the bus."
Sister Simone, your reaction to the big meeting today?
SR. SIMONE CAMPBELL, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NETWORK: It delighted my heart to
see two leaders deal with the issues of those who are left out. It was
such an important step and I hope it was nourishment for both of them to
share that concern.
O`DONNELL: Father Martin would have loved to have been in that room today.
FR. JAMES MARTIN, EDITOR AT LARGE, AMERICA MAGAZINE: They seemed to enjoy
themselves as Sister Simone alluded to. They were all smiles afterwards.
So that is being in a good relationship.
O`DONNELL: And sister, it was fairly predictable that they would end up
discussing issues of social justice and poverty. And the issues that each
one of them speak about publicly so often.
CAMPBELL: Absolutely. I think some people on the right of politics in our
nation wanted them to have a fight or be contentious. But the fact is that
the heart of the Christian message is about those who are left out. And
the Pope is focused on it, and the president is keenly aware of income
diversity or disparity in our nation. And that is a shared concern.
O`DONNELL: Father, he said the president said they talked about
immigration reform. But also that he talked to others, the president,
talked to others at the Vatican about the contraception issue, how that`s
affecting the affordable care right now in this country.
MARTIN: Yes. He spoke with Cardinal Parolin, he is the secretary of
state, so it wasn`t just the conversation with the Pope, which is
important. It was also secretary Kerry`s conversations with people and
President Obama`s conversations with other in the Vatican. So it`s the
beginning of a good relationship, it sounds like.
O`DONNELL: And Sister, it seems like the emphasis here is not on,
obviously not on what do they disagree about, but they clearly are people
who are looking to find the largest areas that they can agree on.
CAMPBELL: Absolutely. And it`s so fortunate at the international level
that there be agreement, because there`s so many flash points in our world
these days where I think that collaboration between the U.S. and the
Vatican can really help move peace forward. That is really the key we need
to look at.
O`DONNELL: Father, what would you expect the future of their relationship
to be? What kind of contact rhythm do you think we should look for here?
MARTIN: Well, you know, if you look at other Popes, they did a lot of
things behind the scenes. I wouldn`t be surprised if there were some phone
call, obviously with translators. The Pope doesn`t speak English very
well. But now they`ve established a kind of rapport. And remember,
President Obama worked as a catholic social worker in Chicago, I think
they`ll be able to move forward more easily than before they met.
O`DONNELL: And sister, on the issue of immigration reform, what do you
imagine being the exchange between the president and the Pope on that?
CAMPBELL: I would imagine that Pope Francis, because he had just met with
some students from Los Angeles who were suffering because of immigration
deportations. I am sure he raised that issue because these were young
people who broke his heart, I`m sure. And pointing out the need to make a
comprehensive fix to our broken system right now. I`m sure it was at the
heart of the conversation.
O`DONNELL: Father, you know, surely the president is trying to actually
have some political effect in these kinds of meetings, hoping that, you
know, this will show some more conservatives in Washington that he can sit
down with someone who he disagrees with on issues like abortion,
contraception, these kinds of things, and still find areas of agreement.
MARTIN: I think that`s true. But I also think in a sense, the president
has to meet with the pope and the Pope has to meet with the president of
the United States. And so, it`s sort of part of what both of them do. I
mean, the Pope has been dealing with the world leaders in Charlemagne (ph).
And the president knows that a lot of Catholics and other in his
O`DONNELL: Sister Simone Campbell and Father James Martin, thank you both
for joining me tonight. Thank you.
CAMPBELL: Glad to be with you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: We are going to be right back.
O`DONNELL: "Last Word" producer Joy Fallon (ph) has delivered even more
joy to our world by bringing her first child in to it Tuesday at 1:54 p.m.
when Sophia Marie was born. There is the beaming mother with her husband,
Dino, and Sophia Marie, Tuesday afternoon.
OK, Joy, get your rest. Take as long as you want. And we won`t need you
until Monday. Just kidding. Just make sure you and Sophia Marie are
getting all the sleep you need.
Chris Hayes is up next.
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