THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
March 31, 2014
Guests: Zeke Emanuel, John Wisniewski
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Thanks to you at home for joining us the
The great Steve Kornacki sitting in for Chris Hayes for the last hour
because Chris Hayes is at home with his adorable new baby boy.
And in a heartless and shameless act of thievery, because Chris is
home with his new baby boy, I`m going to take advantage of the fact that
Chris is not here in the building by stealing from him the greatest piece
of tape, the greatest assemblage of visual evidence that anybody has ever
put together on the subject of Obamacare. Oh, yes, Chris Hayes. You may
be a brand new father and everybody think it`s adorable and I do, too, but
while you`re away, I`m stealing your death spiral montage.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The exchanges don`t work and you wind up going
into what they call sort of the insurance death spiral.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What would you call it, death spiral?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Insurance death spiral, yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Obamacare is going toward a death spiral.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is that death spiral.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Death spiral.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The death spiral.
UNNIDENTIFIED MALE: The death spiral.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What`s called an insurance death spiral.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You get into the death spiral.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This could be the beginning of the death spiral.
It could potentially be the beginning of the death spiral.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The architect of Obamacare being interviewed by
Megyn Kelly, she asked him, is this the beginning of the so-called death
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is that the beginning of the so-called death
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And he said, quote, "That could be the beginning
of a death spiral," unquote.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That could be the beginning of a death spiral.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That`s the death spiral -- spiral.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: Tada! That is so worth stealing. I`ve been waiting until he
had to be home so I could steal it. The "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" super-
edit of Republicans and conservatives convincing themselves over and over
and over again that no one was going to sign up for Obamacare.
If there are people in your life who watch FOX News all day long, you
should know that they have had drilled into them over a period of months
now these confident, no doubt claims of certainty that Obamacare would die.
That Obamacare would become nonviable in numerical terms because Americans
would just refuse to sign up for health insurance under the new guidelines
set up by the Affordable Care Act. And when Obamacare, therefore, died in
a death spiral, FOX News has been saying over and over and over again
health reform would go down in history as not just a great policy failure
but as a towering act of political folly.
Democrats would spiral to their political deaths, alongside the
policy, itself. Republicans would laugh all the way to the ballot box.
That`s been the story.
That is not only the way that Republicans and conservatives have been
talking with each other about this policy issue on FOX News and on every
other Republican circle. It`s also in some ways the sum total of the whole
Republican electoral strategy for this year`s midterm elections and beyond.
The supposed death spiral, the expected death spiral, it has been
everything to them. They have been banking on this spectacular and obvious
failure of Obamacare due to Americans not signing up for health insurance.
That is not the way it has turned out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What number are you?
REPORTER: It`s been a rush going into this last day, lines around the
block at enrollment centers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Find out the most affordable coverage for you.
REPORTER: The administration reports 2.5 million calls last week to
its hotline, more than the entire month of February, and nearly 9 million
hits last week on healthcare.gov.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If yesterday`s events were any indication of the
crowds you will see today, you just might be in for a long wait.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You`re seeing a huge uptick in the amount of
people who are coming out.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I went to several other locations and they was
TV ANCHOR: ABC`s chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl now on
the surge and the sprint to the finish.
JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: In Dallas
today, hundreds of people waited if line to sign up for health care.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We will be here until 9:00 or until the last
person leaves today.
KARL: Long lines in Miami, too, and San Antonio. People started
lining up at this mall in Miami at 3:30 this morning. By noon, more than
1,000 had come here to try to sign up for Obamacare.
REPORTER: In San Antonio, long lines filled the Alamo Dome. In
Tampa, they crammed community center hallways. Administration officials
say this has been their biggest enrollment day since signups began last
October, three times their previous record.
MADDOW: It`s not a totally hard and fast deadline today because lots
of people will be granted extensions including anybody who tried to sign up
by today but had technical troubles for whatever reason.
But on paper, at least, today is the day, the deadline, by which you
were supposed to have signed up for health insurance directly with an
insurance company or through the health exchange Web sites that were set up
by the new law or through a government insurance program like Medicaid.
Today is the day.
And the Congressional Budget Office had projected initially that by
today, 7 million people would have enrolled for health insurance through
the exchanges. They revised that down to 6 million people when the federal
Web site and a bunch of state Web sites had a super glitchy launch.
But only was there no death spiral, that projected 6 million people,
that 6 million expected to sign up, that projection was hit and surpassed
even before the deadline. The White House announced last week that they
were already at 6 million signups. They were at that threshold four days
ahead of today`s deadline. And then by all accounts, over this past
weekend, and through today, including through tonight, right now, the last-
minute surge of people trying to enroll, trying to get themselves health
insurance, has been a substantial surge.
The Healthcare.gov Web site, that`s the federal Web site that works in
36 states that don`t have their own Web sites, healthcare.gov has been
running pretty well over the past few months since they fixed the initial
glitches. This morning, though, it went down for a few hours, again,
because of a software glitch that they found overnight. They apparently
fixed that glitch by this morning and had the Web site back up and running
today. But then just after lunchtime, in the early afternoon today, the
healthcare.gov Web site crashed, again, and this time it wasn`t a glitch.
This time it was just overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of people who were
trying to sign up for health insurance all at once.
The administration said they were dealing with more than 100,000
people all on the same Web site all simultaneously trying to enroll, and
the site just got overwhelmed. They did get the Web site back up and
running for a second time today, but throughout today, and into tonight,
they say the volume is very, very high on the Web site. Volume is also
high at the call centers where people have been trying to phone in in order
to sign up that way.
At the federal exchange and at the call centers, they`re now saying
that anybody who essentially gets in line between now and midnight, anybody
who at least tries to get themselves signed up today will have the deadline
stretched for them so they can at least try to finish the process. If you
put it off until the last day and you are trying to sign up for health
insurance before the midnight deadline tonight, yes, the fact that all the
call centers are really crowded and there`s long lines and it`s taking a
long time to get through the Web site because it`s really overwhelmed it`s
annoying to do that at the last minute.
That annoyance is not a death spiral problem. This is the opposite of
that kind of problem. This is not too few people signing up. This is too
many people trying to sign up.
If the health of our newly reformed health care system in this country
depends on people agreeing to participate in the system, people agreeing to
get health insurance when this is exactly the right kind of problem that
you want to have. It may be annoying, but this is the type of difficulty
that they dreamt of. It`s too popular.
We`ll get to some of what that means for the policy in just a moment
with an expert guest who`s going to be here in just a second. But in terms
of the politics here, what does this mean for the Republican Party? I
mean, as far as anyone can tell, the whole Republican plan for the
elections this November is that Republicans plan to crow about the obvious
failure of health reform, right?
Well, now that health reform isn`t failing, what are they going to do
this year? It turns out that their plan is to switch metaphorical birds.
It turns out their plan now is less crow, less crowing, and more of the
ostrich, as in sticking their heads in the sand.
The Republican plan apparently, if this weekend has anything to say
about it, the apparently new Republican plan for dealing with the real
reality on the ground is that Republicans are just going to pretend it`s
not happening. La, la, la, la, la.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The White House announced this week more than 6
million people now total have signed up for private health insurance on the
exchanges, including 1.8 million so far just in March. But they still have
no numbers for how many people have paid for coverage, how many so-called
young invincibles have signed up, nor how many people have signed up who
were previously uninsured.
Senator Barrasso, given that, how much does this 6 million number
SEN. JOHN BARRASSO (R), WYOMING: I don`t think it means anything,
Chris. I think they`re cooking the books on this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: They`re cooking the books. Really?
You are forgiven if you do not know who the man is who was speaking
there. He is not contrary to popular impression, he is not a Stephen
Colbert impersonator. In fact, that is a United States senator from the
great state of Wyoming.
And it`s not like he`s brand new. I don`t know why no one can ever
pick John Barrasso out of a lineup, but nobody can pick John Barrasso out
of the lineup. That, however, is U.S. Senator John Barrasso, and he is not
the only U.S. senator who thinks that maybe the Obamacare numbers are all
Maybe it just can`t be true that this many million people have signed
up for health insurance under Obamacare.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your colleague, Senator Barrasso, says the White
House is actually fixing the books.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Totally they are.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You agree with that?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have any facts to back that up?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: No. No, Lindsey Graham does not have any facts to back that
up, but this is proving to be one of the more entertaining instincts that
high-ranking Republicans have developed in the Obama era. You think they
might have learned a lesson about publicly denying the numbers during the
great Obama re-election great conservative punditry fail of 2012, right?
I mean, you`d think they would be embarrassed about ignoring the
numbers, right? They were embarrassed by that episode. Weren`t they?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: I believe the minimum result
will be 53-47, Romney over 300 electoral votes, and the Republicans will
pick up the Senate. I base that on just years and years of experience.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The wildcard in what I`ve projected is I`m
projecting Minnesota to go to Romney.
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I think Ohioans vote
with their wallets. That`s why I think Romney is going to win on Tuesday.
KARL ROVE, GOP STRATEGIST: I think Ohio is going to be a squeaker,
maybe 80,000, 100,000, 110,000-vote margin. But I think the Republicans
are likely to take it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who`s going to win this election? Charles
Krauthammer, your best prediction?
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, FOX NEWS: Romney, very close, but he`ll win the
popular by I think about half a point. Electoral College, probably very
DICK MORRIS: It will be the biggest surprise in recent American
political history. It will rekindle a whole question as to why the media
played this race as a nail biter. Where, in fact, I think Romney is going
to win by quite a bit.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m now predicting a 330 electoral vote landslide.
Yes, that`s right, 330 electoral votes.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: Yes. You guys, no one was skewing the polls. Nobody was
cooking the books to make it look like President Obama was going to get
elected when, in fact, Mitt Romney was going to get elected and by a lot
and was going to win Ohio and Minnesota and it was going to be beautiful --
you know what, it was a conservative fantasy. And a very embarrassing one
because it was conducted in public and that tape exists forever.
Also, the Department of Labor did not cook the books and make up new
unemployment numbers before the election to help the president. Those
really were the real unemployment numbers. And the idea that they were
fake numbers that were made up, they were cooking the books. That was a
conservative fantasy, and, again, an embarrassing one.
But now, Obamacare -- the Affordable Care Act has hit its projected
numbers as well. They`re not cooking the books. There`s not going to be a
death spiral where the law dies under its own actuarial weight because
people have refused to sign up. In fact, people are signing up at exactly
the rate they were expected to sign up at, if not a little faster.
Republican politicians really do hate this law, but it is doing what
it was supposed it do. The number of uninsured people in our country has
dropped by 9.5 million people because of this law. And the new political
reality of Obamacare is that wishing for Obamacare to go away can go longer
be a wish that exists in an ideological vacuum. The policy exists now.
And wishing for it to go away means now that you`re wishing that 9.5
million Americans who just got health insurance, you`re wishing that they
would go back to being uninsured.
But perhaps the biggest political news of all about health reform
right now, and if you are sick of people talking about health reform, this
is definitely the most joyful piece of news for you. The most important
thing probably to know about Obamacare and the way it affects our national
politics from here on out is that today is probably the last day ever that
Obamacare will be a big national news story.
Paul Walden wrote about this today in the "Washington Post" and I
think he`s right about this. "Today is the last of the law`s key dates
when everyone`s attention turns to it. This is the end of major Obamacare-
related news events. No big nationwide thing is ever going to happen again
on Obamacare. It will, therefore, stop being a politics story and start
basically just being a health care policy story."
Which means after today, in political terms, it`s OK for this subject
to go back to being boring. From a personal perspective, I got to tell
you, I have a degree in health care policy. That is what I did my
undergraduate college degree in and I had a choice. I picked that. If
anybody should find this stuff fascinating, I should.
But after today, we can all agree to go back to this being the story
of how annoying it is to have to deal with your health insurer and
sometimes you have good experiences at the doctor, and sometimes you have
annoying experiences at the doctor, and dealing with the private health
insurance company is an annoying bureaucracy but better than not having
health insurance where you go bankrupt and have to go live in a trailer. I
mean, if you want those kind of regular everyday frustrations with health
insurance, which those of us who were lucky enough to have health insurance
have long dealt with and been bored by.
If you want that to be the hook in which you hang your whole
congressional midterm election strategy, then good -- good luck. But after
today, it is starting to look like anybody who was trying to say that they
had real fire in the belly on this issue, it`s starting to look like it`s
fizzling out. I mean, a death spiral would have been so cool. But that is
not at all what happened.
Joining us now is Dr. Zeke Emanuel, former White House health policy
adviser, currently chair of medical ethics and health policy at the
University of Pennsylvania.
Dr. Emanuel, I`m sorry that I said your field is boring.
DR. ZEKE EMANUEL, UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA: Yes, you`re going to
make me unemployed. Nobody is going to want to hear my boring things
anymore. That`s, like, terrible.
MADDOW: Well, let me ask --
EMANUEL: Rachel, you`ll have to have me on, nonetheless. You`ve got
to promise that. Otherwise, you know --
MADDOW: You`ve got to start coming up with health policy terms that
are as cool sounding as death spiral. When this was going to be a huge
conflagration, it was very, very exciting. Now it feels like less people
I mean, am I right to say it`s about to get more boring than it has
EMANUEL: Yes, we`re about to go further into the weeds of how do you
design a really good Web site, what do you have to do to make sure it`s
vibrant and people want to come and shop? What do you have to do to make
cost control work? Those tend to be in the weeds. They can even bore my
children. So, I think you`re right.
MADDOW: Were the Republicans right to say that if -- and the
conservatives more broadly -- were they right to say that if people didn`t
sign up, that if the numbers stayed as bad as they were when the Web sites
didn`t work and the first couple weeks when nobody was really signing up,
if those numbers stayed terrible, in actuarial terms the whole system
wouldn`t work. The whole idea of Obamacare would fall apart? Were they
right to warn about that?
EMANUEL: Yes. That is true. If you don`t have enough people in the
system, it will collapse of its own weight and other exchanges and other
places did collapse and, you know, fortunately the 7 million which was as
you point out the original projection without the two months of screwed up
Web site has been -- will be reached by the end here pretty comfortably,
and I think that shows it`s been a major -- there`s some really pent-up
People really want insurance and they want affordable insurance. When
offered that possibility, they`ll come out of the woodwork. Of course,
they`re going to delay until the end. We`re all procrastinators. But that
there is really big demand and that is the bottom line here.
MADDOW: Well, that 7 million number was never, as far as I understand
it, correct me if I`m wrong, but as far as I understand it, it was never
set as an explicit policy goal. If we get that number, then this thing
will work. That was essentially the projected number for how many people
they thought would sign up.
In policy terms, is that enough people signed up to basically
guarantee that it is going to work at least in a macro sense?
EMANUEL: Well, again, partly because the exchanges are state-by-
state, you have to dissect each state, but certainly overall as an
aggregate, it`s enough. Places like Connecticut have seen more than twice
the estimated number. California`s well over a million. New York`s done
So, you will see in these major pockets of where the uninsured are a
very stable platform. But, again, you want a stable platform going
forward, so God forbid someone loses a job or God forbid employers decide
they`re not going to offer insurance, you actually have a place you can get
affordable coverage, and so we really do need functioning vibrant exchanges
in every state of the country.
MADDOW: As we move forward and as the implementation of this law
shows things that need to be fixed, shows things that aren`t working, do
you have faith, and we`ve talked about this earlier in the process, too --
do you have faith that those are things that can be fixed at the
administrative level, at the executive branch level? Or do you think some
of the fixes that are inevitably needed for this law are going to go to go
through Congress which, of course, is still sort of a wasteland?
EMANUEL: There are some things that really do need legislation, but
there`s a lot of things that can be done administratively. Remember, in
Massachusetts, after they passed their bill, they had six more subsequent
legislative revisions and they don`t think they`re finished with it. So
there are things that everyone agrees, and, again, here the funny thing is
if you talk to a policymakers on the right, conservatives, they agree with
me about 70 percent of the time about things that we ought to be doing to
improve the American health care system, changing off the fee for service
payment system, getting more competitive on government provision of
services so you can bring the prices down.
Having more administrative simplification so there`s not so much
paperwork and you can save money that way. So, there are a number of
things. And again, this is bipartisan once we get past the election or
whenever the Republicans are going to say, all right, we`re going to move
off health care and on to something else, because the fact of the matter is
we can do things to improve the health care system and improve this
Affordable Care Act and how the whole system functions. And we should get
on with it already.
MADDOW: Dr. Zeke Emanuel, former White House health policy adviser.
And a good --
EMANUEL: Soon to be irrelevant.
MADDOW: Yes, hopefully. If all goes well.
Thank you very much, Zeke. Nice to see you.
EMANUEL: Take care.
MADDOW: Thanks a lot.
All right. And I quote, "I could claw his eyes out." That was
something that I did not think had been publicly released last week, but it
turns out it had. Not only did I think he want to claw his eyes out, I
wanted to pour gasoline in his eye sockets and light them on fire."
This is not somebody speaking literally. This is a new form of
political insult and threat that I did not even know New Jersey was capable
of, but they are.
Stay with us. That story`s coming up.
MADDOW: It is bear o`clock all over the country -- whether you live
out in the country or in the suburbs that are maybe adjacent to the
country. Heck, even if you live in the Glendale neighborhood of Los
Angeles, this is the time of year that you might run into a bear. Waking
up from a long winter`s nap, obviously, looking for something to eat. Look
at the guy, see, here comes the bear. Oh, geez, there`s a bear.
This is the time to take in your bird feeders, lest they end up
twisted into gnarled handfuls of wires and mess like the one in our front
yard that Susan and I forgot to take down this weekend.
Last fall, we had on this show a Nebraska state senator named Ken Haar
who invented something designed to foil the hungry bears in your life. He
calls his inventions bear hooks. Basically two grappling hooks with a line
between them. Put the hooks way up in a tree and use them to hoist your
food or trash in the air away from your campsites so you`re not tempting
bears to tear your stuff apart.
The senator was here on the show last fall because in addition to
inventing bear hooks, he wrote legislation to get his state to look into
how climate change was affecting Nebraska and what the state government
should be doing to plan for those effects.
Now, this is not an academic exercise in Nebraska or anywhere else.
Nebraska has recently had historic drought conditions. It`s also had
historic flooding conditions, and experienced both of those things not that
When senator bear hooks put forward his idea to study climate change
in the state, conservatives in the Nebraska state government blocked what
he wanted to do. They said they would only let that climate change study
go ahead if it did not study the fact that the climate was changing.
One Republican state senator said, quote, "I don`t subscribe to global
warming." He wrote an amendment to the legislation insisting it not study
anything that might have been caused by humans. So, the Nebraska
legislature voted that the study of the climate change problem should not
really study the problem, and all the state`s major scientists said they
wanted nothing to do with it and so the whole thing got canceled in
This is called the see no evil, hear no evil approach to scary public
policy problems. It`s a little like what we described with Republicans
denying the Obamacare signup numbers. The technical term in political
silence is la, la, la, la, la, I don`t want to know.
The same thing happened in Virginia in 2012. The idea was floated --
get it, floated -- for the study on the effects of climate change and sea
level rise on the coastal portion of Virginia. The Hampton Roads area in
Virginia is considered the highest major flood risk zone in the country
after New Orleans. But the Republican state delegate from Virginia Beach
at the time insisted Virginia should not study the effect of sea level rise
on coastal Virginia because he said the term sea level rise is a left wing
And so, Virginia is not allowed to study it. La, la, la, la, la.
Same thing happened in North Carolina recently where Republicans in
the state legislature there set a ban on any decisions or any planning
being based on estimates from a state-appointed panel of scientific experts
which predicted how much sea levels might rise on the North Carolina coast
over the next few decades. Those estimates exist. They were produced by a
state-appointed commission of scientific experts, but the prediction they
made for what was going to happen on the coast of North Carolina, those
predictions were scary.
And so, North Carolina Republicans decided to ban the state, ban the
state by law from paying attention to those scary predictions. La, la, la,
If you stick your head in the sand this way, do you drown when the
tide rushes up and covers the beach? We`re all about to find out, all of
us, because tomorrow in the United States congress, the Republican-
controlled House is about to take up a bill to have the whole country go
la, la, la, la, la, when it comes to understanding what`s happening to the
planet right now and how we might plan to survive it.
Today, the intergovernmental panel on climate change released its
latest international consensus scientific report saying, in effect, that
the effects of climate change are already being felt around the globe.
Everything from droughts in the Mediterranean, to sea ice collapsing in the
far north which is eroding the coastline. Adaptations around the world
include everything from needing to raise flood walls already and sea
barriers, to some coastal communities moving themselves away from the sea
or at least making plans to move away from the sea soon.
So that international report came out today and it is scary stuff.
The effects of global warming and climate change have already started.
What hope to we have of reversing these changes? What hope do we have of
adapting to deal with them if we can`t reverse them?
This is -- this is keep you up at night kind of stuff, unless you are
a member of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. Because
the plan in congress tomorrow, tomorrow, the day after this big scary
international report came out, what they`re going to do in Congress
tomorrow is that they`re going to debate a new Republican idea that the
United States government should stop working on this issue so much. We
should at least stop studying it so we know less about it.
Republican Congressman Jim Bredenstein (ph) of Oklahoma is due to get
a floor vote tomorrow, as early as tomorrow, on his bill that would
instruct the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to stop
studying climate change so darn much.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Speaker, global temperatures stopped rising
ten years ago. Global temperature changes when they exist correlate with
sun output and ocean cycles.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Congressman sun output says it is a scandal that U.S.
government scientists spend time studying the impact of climate change. In
fact, he says the people of Oklahoma are ready for an apology from
President Obama because government scientists have been studying climate
This is what the Republicans did in Nebraska. This is what the
Republicans did in Virginia. This is what they did in North Carolina. And
now, under John Boehner in Washington, they are trying to take national
this patented approach to worrying about climate change.
Don`t worry about it. In fact, don`t study it. Keep your heads in
Congressman Bredenstein`s la, la, la, la, la bill is due up as early
as tomorrow. We got word tonight from House Democrats they`re trying to at
least change the language in the bill to soften it up because they believe
the Republicans in the House will pass it.
But we will let you know how this thing goes tomorrow. Watch this
MADDOW: We have some breaking news tonight. This has been posted by
"The Washington Post." It`s about the Senate Intelligence Committee`s
report on the CIA, their interrogation and detention practices after 9/11.
Now, you know that this report is still classified, but this new
reporting from the "Washington Post" tonight says officials familiar with
the report are now describing its conclusions. They say the report
concludes that the CIA misled both the Department of Justice and Congress.
The report says, reportedly, that the CIA concealed some of their torture
techniques, they overstated the effectiveness of their torture methods, and
they claimed that torturing prisoners got them critical intelligence that
actually was gathered by other agencies without the use of torture.
One U.S. official telling "The Post" tonight, quote, "The CIA
described its program repeatedly to both the Justice Department and
eventually to Congress as getting unique otherwise unobtainable
intelligence that helped disrupt terrorist plots and save thousands of
"Was that actually true?" the official says. "The answer is no," end
Senate Intelligence Committee is scheduled to vote on Thursday whether
or not to submit this report to President Obama for declassification. We
have been waiting to get public access to it for years.
But this is a major leak tonight about what is reportedly in the
conclusions of that report. If this is what the report is, you can
understand why the CIA has been fighting so hard to keep it out of the
Much more to come about this bombshell reporting undoubtedly in days
to come. We`ll let you know as we learn more. We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: When you are an embattled governor, when you`re a governor
known as a formerly rising star but now, you`re known as the governor who`s
been under siege for six straight months with poll ratings gone upside-down
and all the rest of it, and you just spent $1 million in taxpayer money on
an internal investigation into yourself, and that report on behalf of your
own office determines that you had not one thing to do with this big
terrible mess in your state, but still the questions about whether you were
involved keep right on coming.
When you`re a governor and you just can`t seem to get this thing put
to bed, no matter how much you keep trying to put it to bed, there`s just
one thing left to do. Release the surrogates.
(BEGIUN VIDOE CLIP)
CHUCK TODD, MSNBC ANCHOR: You`re a former U.S. attorney. If somebody
came to you with an investigation that came to a conclusion like the one
that Christie`s investigation did, but it did not interview the five most
important players in the investigation, including Bridget Kelly, Bill
Stepien, David Wildstein, David Samson, Bill Baroni, all these people all
involved in it, would you accept that as a complete investigation as a
former U.S. attorney?
RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER NYC MAYOR: No, no, I would not accept it as a
complete investigation, but I would accept it for what it`s worth. In
other words, I would go through it in great detail because it can give you
a tremendous amount of information.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Governor Chris Christie is having a hard time in the press.
Look very shortly thereafter for Rudy Giuliani on TV defending him.
To the extent that Governor Chris Christie has traceable political
DNA, that political DNA goes right back to Rudy Giuliani.
Rudy Giuliani`s top political strategist when he ran for president,
Mike DuHaime. Mike DuHaime became the top political strategist for Chris
The Rudy Giuliani for president national field director was Bill
Stepien. Bill Stepien then went on to become Chris Christie`s campaign
manager. The Rudy Giuliani for president deputy communications chief was a
woman named Maria Comella, went on to become communications chief for Chris
And when Chris Christie picked a lawyer to do a supposedly impartial
and independent investigation of whether Chris Christie did anything wrong
when those lanes on the world`s busiest bridge for shut down on orders from
at least one person working in his own office, Chris Christie picked a
lawyer who just happens to have been a deputy mayor to Rudy Giuliani.
And then this weekend, Mayor Giuliani once again stood up for Chris
Christie and stood up for his former deputy mayor`s report saying that that
gushing, over the top, total exoneration of Governor Christie which most
other people are treating as suspect if not a laughingstock, he Rudy
Giuliani says he sees that report as something that should be gone over in
great detail because he says it can give you a tremendous amount of
If you have got a case of brand new highlighters, and several boxes of
binder clips, this report from the Chris Christie lawyers is, in fact,
fascinating reading. It is filled with documents that we haven`t seen
before. Last week, I mistakenly said that attorney Randy Mastro, the guy
who did this report, didn`t include the raw e-mails or raw text messages
when he published the results of his investigation. That was wrong on my
The report and the exhibits supporting the report went out separately
that morning, and in fact, in the exhibits, there`s the raw stuff, as you
can see. This is, for example, the raw text message in which the Christie
deputy chief of staff who ordered traffic problems for the town of Fort
Lee, this is the text message in which she apologizes to her staffer.
Bridget Kelly apologizing right after she has been fired. She writes, "I`m
sorry to tarnish the office." her staffer replies, "we did amazing things
to be proud of for four years. Never forget that." Then she says, "Hang
in there, B.K." Raw stuff.
Some of the report`s conclusions have become more curious as we`ve
gotten new clues about them. The Port Authority official who arranged for
the bridge lanes to be closed and for Fort Lee to choke on traffic for a
week is this guy, David Wildstein. According to the report, David
Wildstein says he told Governor Christie about the lanes being closed while
they were still closed. He says he told them at a 9/11 memorial service on
day three of the traffic jam.
If that is true, that would mean that Governor Christie learned about
the traffic lanes being shut down and about Fort Lee`s nightmare while it
was still going on.
Now, the authors of the report, Chris Christie`s lawyers spent a lot
of ink playing that down. Iterating and reiterating that Governor Christie
remembers nothing about that conversation.
Quote, "Whatever brief exchange they had occurred in a public setting
where they were surrounded by many including other Port Authority officials
and the governor`s wife and a steady stream of spectators requesting
photographs and handshakes with the governor. Not surprisingly, Governor
Christie has no recollection of such an exchange."
Well, since the report was first published, WNBC here in New York has
obtained these new pictures of Governor Christie and David Wildstein
together at that memorial that day. Although we cannot hear what they are
talking about by looking at these pictures, they do not appear to be
interrupted by a steady stream of spectators requesting photographs and
handshakes with the governor. It`s not like David Wildstein was on a
receiving line. They hung out.
Also in this report, the sort of astounding e-mail from Governor
Christie, himself, in which he edits the press statement about David
Wildstein`s resignation. This happened back in December. You can see
here, the statement as proposed by Governor Christie`s spokesman, Mr.
Christie writes back personally adding a line, thanking David Wildstein for
his service to the people of New Jersey and the region. Governor
Christie`s tried to keep his distance from this story from the beginning,
but you can see him wading in to these particular details himself, directly
Both David Wildstein and Bridget Kelly have indicated now that they
are willing to testify. They are willing to talk and explain everything
they know if they get immunity from prosecution.
On Friday, lawyers for Bridget Kelly said if she gets immunity, quote,
"She will be fully cooperative and provide true and complete answers to any
questions asked of her by the appropriate law enforcement authorities."
Well, today the Democratic co-chair of New Jersey legislative
committee that`s investigating the scandal said his committee is going to
subpoena the notes and the records and the transcripts of interviews that
were used in making the Christie internal investigation.
Assemblyman John Wisniewski telling reporters today if this report is,
quote, "Truly an unbiased report, then the governor should have no problem
turning over that raw material." The lead investigator responded to
Assemblyman Wisniewski today by saying basically, yes, send us the subpoena
and we`ll think about it.
Assemblyman John Wisniewski joins us live, next. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Final quick question. Are you confident that your
report will not be contradicted by the U.S. attorney?
RANDY MASTRO, ATTORNEY: George, we are because we have no incentive
to do anything other than to get to the truth. I have to say this, for the
skeptics out there, there are some who have a visceral reaction to this
bridge controversy. Reminds me of the movie line, they can`t handle the
truth. We believe we got to the truth, George.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Could this story get any more New Jersey? Yes, it could.
That`s attorney Randy Mastro, a former deputy mayor to Rudolph Giuliani.
He`s the man who the Christie administration hired to investigate the
bridgegate scandal. That was him speaking on ABC`s "This Week", asserting
his internal investigation into this scandal got to the truth and nothing
but the truth.
Joining us now for the interview tonight is New Jersey Assemblyman
John Wisniewski. He`s co-chair of the legislative panel that`s been
investigating these lane closures from the start.
Mr. Wisniewski, thank you for being here.
STATE REP. JOHN WISNIEWSKI (D), NEW JERSEY: Good to be here, Rachel.
MADDOW: You have said you`re not satisfied essentially with this
report on behalf of the Christie administration. Why not?
WISNIEWSKI: There are no significant support for the arguments that
are made in the entire report. So the report talks about summary testimony
that was given, but there`s no footnotes. There`s no reference point to
what was actually said.
We`re asked to take Randy Mastro`s summary of an interview he had and
take it at face value. The committee ought to see the interview notes. If
there`s a transcript, the committee ought to see the transcript of the
interview. So, we hear a lot of conclusions, we hear a lot of summary, but
we don`t see any support for that.
MADDOW: When you said today that you would like to see those
interview transcripts and in fact that you will subpoena them under the
subpoena power that you have in the legislature, what did you make of the
response from Mr. Mastro, and do you think you`re going to get those
WISNIEWSKI: I certainly hope we will, but I was disappointed by the
response. The governor started this whole process when this issue first
became known, that he was going to cooperate fully with all of the
I think cooperating fully means turning over the material that the
internal investigation developed and used during their preparation of this
report. To have anything short of that means the governor`s backing away
from his commitment to fully cooperate.
MADDOW: Are there particular sort of dark spots in the record that
were either highlighted by this report or alluded to by this report that
you`re focusing on, that you`d really like to -- if you had to prioritize
what you`d like to get that you found out exists from this report, are
there specific things?
WISNIEWSKI: Well, I know what is not in this report, and that is any
substantive interview with Bridget Kelly or Bill Stepien or David Samson or
Bill Baroni or Mr. Wildstein. And these are the key actors in this entire
episode. And so, how you come to a conclusion that the governor had no
knowledge, in fact he may not have, but how you come to that conclusion
without actually having the opportunity to interview these people, without
having the opportunity to look at the documents they have, just seems like
an incredible rush to a conclusion without all the facts.
MADDOW: What`s the status of your investigation right now? I know
you said that a lot of the documents that you subpoenaed you expected to
come in on a rolling basis and that there would be thousands of them and it
would take a long time to go through them. What`s the status and the sort
of overall timeline on what you`re doing?
WISNIEWSKI: Well, obviously we`re waiting for Judge Jacobson`s
decision on Bridget Kelly and Bill Stepien`s production of documents. We
don`t know when that will come. We`re hoping it will come soon.
We just received thousands of pages of documents from Randy Mastro as
a precursor to the delivery of this report. We haven`t gone through them
all, but clearly, we`re getting a lot of press summaries in the documents
we`re getting from the governor`s office.
That`s not relevant to the inquiry of the committee. We want to know
what people were saying to one another. We want to know what they were
communicating to one another. We don`t want to know the summary of what
"The Bergen Record" and the "Wall Street Journal" and "New York Times" had
on these stories. But that`s what we`re getting a lot of.
So we need to get a lot more documents. We`re ultimately going to
have to take testimony. There are some very fundamental questions about
why people were compelled or felt compelled to close these lanes even
though they`re internal e-mails and you`ve seen them that said this is not
going to end well, this is a big mistake, why are we doing this. But they
went ahead and did it anyway.
MADDOW: Do you believe that Governor Christie will be one of the
people who will have to testify in this matter? You`re your co-chair
Loretta Weinberg suggested as much this weekend.
WISNIEWSKI: I think we may ultimately need to ask the governor to
come and answer questions. We need to have his full cooperation. We need
to know what Randy Mastro knows in preparing this report. We need to know
what the governor said as part of his interview with Randy Mastro. That
may involve having the governor come before our committee.
MADDOW: New Jersey Assemblyman John Wisniewski, thank you very much
for keeping us up to speed. Nice to see you.
WISNIEWSKI: Good to see you again, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thank you.
All right. We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: So I missed Friday night`s show. I had a thing to do.
Missed the show.
It`s great to have a day off. Except if you work in the news business
and your news show is at night and the day you get to take off is a Friday.
And the reason that`s bad is because every freaking Friday, it seems like,
there is now a Friday night news dump of some magnitude. Including this
past Friday, when I was not here.
After the close of business on Friday night, North Carolina, the state
government in North Carolina dumped a huge trove of documents, 13,000
pages, 900 different documents, all released in response to public records
requests, all posted online without comment after the close of business on
Friday. There are so many documents that when the local CBS station, WRAL,
posted them on their Web site they essentially tried to crowd-source them.
They called on their viewers to search through the files themselves
and flag anything that might be newsworthy. The agency in question here is
the North Carolina Department of the Environment. They`re the state agency
where more than a dozen of their employees have received federal criminal
grand jury subpoenas and the U.S. attorney`s investigation into the recent
giant coal ash spill in North Carolina and the relationship between the
company responsible for that spill, Duke Energy, and the state government.
The administration of North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory. Pat
McCrory happens to have worked at Duke Energy for 30 years before he became
the state`s governor and before Duke Energy`s toxic gunk pouring into the
Dan River became the third largest coal ash spill in the history of this
country. On Friday, the state posted those 13,000 pages related to Duke
Energy`s coal ash all across the state.
Also on Friday that same state agency announced that they`d found
poison, a poison called thallium, in surface water at two of Duke`s other
coal ash sites across the state. This is not them finding toxic chemicals
at Dan River, at the place that had the spill. This is them finding this
poison at these other sites where there hasn`t been a spill with the
implication that even in the absence of a catastrophic breach like they had
at Dan River the intact coal ash dumps that Duke has around the state, the
intact ones are themselves leaching highly toxic metals into North Carolina
rivers. At the Cliffside plant in Gaston County. At the Asheville plant
that drains into the French broad river, they found levels of thallium
above what the federal government says are safe.
WRIL helpfully noting that thallium, quote, "was commonly used as a
rat poison until the U.S. banned it for consumer use in 1975 due to its
So it`s too toxic to be used as rat poison but not too toxic to be
dumped into North Carolina rivers by Duke Energy.
I`m not sure if the people of North Carolina knew that this is what
they were going to get when they hired a nearly 30-year Duke Energy
employee as their new governor, but this is what they got.
And if you want to help with the crowd-sourced efforts on those
documents, there`s a link to the documents posted at Maddowblog.com right
now. And the hashtag for posting on Twitter what you find in those
documents is #coalashdocs.
That does it for us tonight.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL."
Have a great night.
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