All In With Chris Hayes, Thursday, March 12th, 2015
Read the transcript from the Thursday show
Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES
Date: March 12, 2015
Guest: Lizz Brown, Redditt Hudson, Nick Confessore, Mike Peska, Jeff
Smith, Andrea Bernstein
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN --
HAYES: Ambush in Ferguson. Two police officers shot during a protest
and an intense manhunt still underway tonight.
ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL: This was a damn punk, a punk.
HAYES: We`ll go to Ferguson live with the latest.
Then, Hillary 2016. Why there is no plan B?
Plus, to e-mail or not to e-mail?
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: You can have every e-mail
I`ve ever sent. I`ve never sent one.
HAYES: The privilege of no paper trail.
And is bridgegate back?
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: I don`t remember even having a
meeting with David Wildstein.
HAYES: A new investigation into Governor Christie`s fall guy.
ALL IN starts right now.
CHRISTIE: I was the class president and athlete.
HAYES: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes.
At this hour, a manhunt is still underway following the shooting of
two police officers outside the Ferguson Police Department shortly after
midnight. Both those officers have now been released from a local
Earlier today, a SWAT team descended on a home near the site of the
shooting and several people have been questioned with no arrests thus far.
Last night in the waning hours of a protest and rally following the
announcement of the resignation of Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson,
shots rang out in front of the Ferguson police station sending both police
and demonstrators ducking running for cover.
Two officers were hit. A 32-year-old officer from nearby city Webster
Grove was shot in the cheekbone. And a 41-year-old St. Louis County
officer was shot in the shoulder. There were about 40 police officers and
75 demonstrators on the scene at the time. That`s according to St. Louis
County Police Chief Jon Belmar.
No police officers returned fire. The wounded officers were rushed
from the scene.
Today, Chief Belmar called the shooting an ambush and indicated the
shooting might have come from among the crowd of protesters.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHIEF JON BELMAR, ST. LOUIS POLICE DEPT.: I would have to imagine
that these protesters were among the shooters that shot at the police
officers. My officers tell me that when this happened, when they heard the
shots and when they heard the bullets zinging past, they saw muzzle
flashes. But these muzzle flashes were probably about 125 yards away.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Protesters being reporters on the scene maintained the
shooting came from a hill about 220 yards directly across from the station,
according to "The New York Times."
Today, Attorney General Eric Holder condemned the shooting in the
strongest possible terms.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOLDER: What happened last night was a pure ambush. This was not
someone trying to bring healing to Ferguson. This was a damn punk, a punk
who was trying to sow discord in an area that`s trying to get its act
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Protest organizers and local leaders have also sharply
denounced the shooting. Tonight, the St. Louis County police and Missouri
State Highway Patrol have taken over security in the city of Ferguson. A
candlelight vigil is scheduled near the Ferguson police department this
evening, starting within an hour.
I spoke to Reverend Osagyefo Sekou, a fellow with the Fellowship of
Reconciliation, a national organization committed to non-violence action
for social change. He was there at the protest last night when the shots
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REV. OSAGYEFO SEKOU, PASTOR, FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH: The rally was
beginning to calm down, about 40 or so folks were left. And then three to
four shots were fired. We turned and looked toward the hill from which the
shooting came from and heard the cry of the police. We all went down, many
scattered. It was a quite chaotic scene.
Northwest of us up the hill of the street that runs perpendicular to
the police department and South Florissant. And it was behind the street a
ways away, approximately 100 feet or so. And we looked toward that
direction and once the police officer went down and began to cry out, chaos
ensued. And people began to scramble and run for their cars and take cover
behind various cars that were on the parking lot.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Joining me now, Lizz Brown, a political and legal analyst, and
columnist for "The St. Louis American."
Lizz, what is the mood there today in the wake of this really horrific
LIZZ BROWN, COLUMNIST, ST. LOUIS AMERICAN: People are frustrated.
People are saddened. People are concerned that this incident is going to
derail the conversations that need to be had about what is going on in this
town and in this region.
I mean, we`re -- the unfortunate piece is that these police officers
were shot. The good news is that they`re back home. But the bad news also
is that we`re not talking about what also happened yesterday about the
resignation of the chief of police of Ferguson, the fact that he received
this kind of severance pay, the fact that through during his entire tenure,
he never read the DOJ report and never reported on it to the community.
There are a lot of things we need to be talking about right now, so
there`s frustration. There`s a great sense of frustration.
HAYES: I`ve got to say this, Lizz, and I understand the frustration
with the attention sort of maybe perhaps moved away from the complaints
people have which are I think quite legitimate. But, I mean, I was down
there the night of the grand jury announcement standing right there and
there was gunfire then. I saw cops take defensive positions to their
credit being very restrained and not returning fire.
I mean, at a certain point, like, you know, these -- there`s a real
safety concern here. This is not the first time that gunfire has been
present at one of these protests not by a long shot.
BROWN: Absolutely not. No, that`s absolutely accurate. However,
that`s when we turn to rely upon the police training that these officers
receive, the exercises that they go through, and we expect them to be able
to comport themselves in the manner that fits the training that they have
So, yes, there has been shooting before. And when you ask about
what`s going on in the minds of the protesters and of the community, people
are concerned that the language that is being used to describe what
happened here by the chief of police for the county, Chief Belmar, is it`s
provocative in nature. Three minutes after the event you`re saying that
the shooter was embedded with the protesters. That`s provocative and it`s
inaccurate. And that doesn`t allow us to get to a conversation about what
really happened here.
HAYES: But, Lizz --
BROWN: And that`s the concerned --
HAYES: But what do you want -- what is a guy going to say? He just
had two of his officers shot. I mean, you know, they could be at their
funerals right now.
BROWN: But we`re not. OK, Chris? We`re not.
And we expect people like the chief of police to be able to comport
himself appropriately and based upon the training that he`s had. You don`t
-- when you face a situation like this, you try to be as accurate as
possible. And it was inaccurate to suggest that based on -- because you
didn`t have any facts to back you up, that the shooter was embedded with
the protesters. That`s inaccurate and it is provocative.
HAYES: The accounts I`ve seen from both reported and what I was told
a moment ago is it seems to have come from that hill. I know exactly where
that hill is there. This seems to me like a situation that cannot be
solved. It just seems completely impacted.
Like, how do you think about the way out particularly in the wake of
this violence last night?
BROWN: The way out is the same way that it has always been. We go
through it. We continue to tell the correct narratives about what`s going
We continue to expose the wrong and we continue to be -- if we`re all
attempting to do as the attorney general said that we need to do,
straighten out the mess that is here in Ferguson, we can`t be distracted by
this. And we can`t allow ourselves to engage in hyperbole. We can`t allow
ourselves to be engaged in inaccurate statements.
We have to be strong willed. This is a tough situation. And it`s
been generations in the making. So, yes, it`s going to be hard. We`ve
just got to stay the course of it.
HAYES: Can that department be reformed or should it be dissolved?
BROWN: I believe this department should be gutted. I think no
African-American majority community can afford to give away power. So, the
police department needs to be gutted. They can do what an elected official
suggested to me today that all the police officers in the department can
reapply. And we need to find and hire people that serve that community.
This police department has the potential of turning out to be the -- a
role model for all other police departments across the country. It has the
eye of the attorney general. It has the eye of the president of the United
States. We can turn this around.
You do not give away power because you cannot get power back. And
particularly you don`t give it away to the St. Louis County police because
you have even less control over them. So take your power, change it, and
make it a model police department for the entire nation.
HAYES: Lizz Brown, thank you very much.
BROWN: Thank you.
HAYES: Joining me now is Redditt Hudson. He`s a former St. Louis
police officer, co-founder of the newly formed National Coalition of Law
Enforcement Officers for Justice Reform and Accountability.
Redditt, I want to play you Chief Belmar describing the kind of
situation that his officers faced last night and have faced before in this
Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BELMAR: What if we`re in a situation where it`s 25 or 50 yards away?
And it`s a threat right there in front of you that can be engaged, except
we`re around a situation where perhaps 40, 50, 70 people are around. I
mean, we really need to understand the dangers of this. And I`m not
blaming anybody other than the individuals that took a shot at my officers
and hit them. But I am telling you that these are situations that it`s
very difficult for us to navigate through.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: I mean, as a former police officer yourself, can you imagine a
situation -- worse situation than being essentially taking cover on the
front step of your own police department headquarters?
REDDITT HUDSON, CO-FOUNDER, NCLEO: Chris, I`ve been shot at enforcing
the laws of the state, and several other officers I know have as well.
Chief Belmar is expressing legitimate concerns about the officers` safety
as he should. It`s serious when police officers get shot.
It is also serious when you have a criminal justice system at its
foundation has institutional racism and a lack of accountability for
officers who is abuse their power in the communities they serve.
Those things are all important. And as Lizz made the point earlier,
we can`t lose sight of either of them. Too many times when a situation
like this comes up and you have an individual or individuals who are
outside of a group creating a situation where they risked an officer`s
life, we lose focus on the bigger picture. There`s too much history for us
there to do that.
HAYES: We saw in New York in the wake of the Eric Garner situation,
the lack of indictment protests and then this one person who started off
the day by assaulting his ex-girlfriend traveled up the East Coast, came to
New York, murdered two police officers in cold blood, tremendous outpouring
But there was -- you know, those two things I think were separated
ultimately in public mind. There`s still a lot of work and protests
happening. But it also did change the tenor of the conversation.
Do you see the tenor of the conversation of Metro St. Louis changing
in the wake of what happened last night?
HUDSON: I don`t. I think people retreat to the positions that they
held before. People who are pro-police and believe they can do no wrong
will be more amplified in that view. And people in the community who have
had the real-lived experience of police abuse and lack of accountability
that follows it will be amplified in their positions. What we have to do
is create a space for those two sides to come together. It starts with a
full acknowledgment of what each side has contributed to the breakdown in
I`ve seen that more in communities around the country than I have with
law enforcement where we are reluctant to fully acknowledge the history
that we`ve had in black communities, Hispanic and Latino communities, and
poor white communities, which has been terrible.
HAYES: Do you think law enforcement in Metro St. Louis is still in
HUDSON: Absolutely. I don`t think it`s just limited to Metro St.
Louis. That`s why we formed the National Coalition of Law Enforcement
Officers for justice reform and accountability, which consists of former
and current officers from LAPD, NYPD, D.C., Baltimore federal agents,
officer from New Mexico, where they indicted officers for murdering a
citizen down there.
There is denial nationwide. And the people who can best I think break
through that are people in the law enforcement community who cannot be
easily discounted or dismissed when we describe what the problems are that
we`re facing nationally when it comes to the police community relationship.
HAYES: I got to say, Redditt, I`ve interviewed a lot of cops over the
last eight months, some on the program, some off the record, some just
talking to them when I`m on protests. The sense of, you know, I`m not
being sufficiently appreciated. I`m putting myself on the line
particularly night in and night out at these protests.
The kind of denial you`re talking about it seems to me that that`s
going to be the likely psychological response in the wake of seeing two
officers shot at is basically feeling again underappreciated.
HUDSON: But police officers are appreciated. And when we sign on to
do their job, we understand the risks that come with it.
What`s not appreciated is, for example, when you see police officers
brutally assault people in wheelchairs who are unarmed without provocation.
Or when several black young men are gunned down unarmed like Tamir Rice, 12
years old in Cleveland. Nobody can laud you as a hero when you do that.
That is not heroic to common sense people, to people who value human life.
We can`t stick to that narrative every time we see a situation like that.
What we have to do is face facts. And there`s fault on both sides,
but I think the breakdown from my experience largely has persisted because
of law enforcement`s inability to come face-to-face with the reality of
racism and a lack of accountability in our criminal justice system and
police departments around this country.
HAYES: Redditt Hudson, who was a St. Louis police officer, thank you
very much for coming on tonight. I really appreciate it.
All right. Is Hillary Clinton too big to fail as many Democrats
appear to be saying?
Plus, why did the mayor of Springfield, Illinois, just hand the key of
the city over to a bad guy? That`s next.
HAYES: Troubling news tonight to report from Illinois where this
picture was taken yesterday. Yes, that`s the mayor of Springfield,
Illinois, handing the key to the city to G.I. Joe super villain Cobra
Why would he do that, you ask? You see, Springfield is hosting the
2015 G.I. Joe Con at the old Prairie Capital Convention Center. While we
have answers to some questions like kids four and under get in free and
that the voice of Zartan will be signing autographs, one has to ask, why
would Springfield, Illinois, want to honor the Cobra Commander?
The answer lies in the G.I. Joe comics where the fictional city of
Springfield was seen of many of the Cobra battles with Joe. So, it`s been
of a stunt.
But even if the key doesn`t open any real doors, seeing a mayor
palling around with the head of a known fictional terror group is a little
So, we asked Springfield Mayor J. Michael Houston if he had any cobra
Concerns. And he responded with an actual statement, "I`m not concerned
about giving the key to the city to Cobra Commander, because we all know if
he gets in trouble, G.I. Joe will come here and save the day."
In fairness, we also called Cobra Commander to respond.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COBRA COMMANDER: Hogwash! What? Unsubstantiated fantasy! Lies!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: I cannot believe we just played that.
Speaking of American politicians doing business with bad guys, a
cautionary tale for conservatives singing Ronald Reagan`s praises on Iran.
HAYES: As long as there have been people advising investors, there
have been people telling you to get a balanced portfolio, right? You want
to get some stocks and some bonds in a bunch of sectors, because if one
goes to hell, you want to be hedged against anything that might happen.
Well, a lot of Democrats are looking at their presidential portfolio
at the moment and thinking that it`s not the most balanced portfolio. It`s
basically lots of shares of one stock, the stock of one Hillary Clinton.
In a piece in "The New York Times" today, interviewing a number of
Democrats about precisely this issue, people say they have all their eggs
in the Hillary Clinton basket and that she is, quote, "too big to fail".
And there are some people 20 months out starting to think that maybe this
isn`t the best plan.
Joining me now, one of the people that wrote that article, Nick
Confessore of "The New York Times".
Jonathan Martin, Nick Confessore and Maggie Haberman -- it was like a
big heavy hitter, 1927 Yankees on that byline there.
I thought it was a fascinating piece because it really is what you
guys highlight is, OK, we know that she`s been the favorite. Obviously,
that`s been true for a long time. But it`s much -- it`s much bigger than
that in certain ways.
NICK CONFESSORE, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Because the stakes are
extraordinarily high for the party. There are these weaknesses that her
pseudo-candidacy, her incumbency, if you will, has been papering going over
for a year or two.
The future for the Democrats is not arriving quickly. They`re losing
the middle class voters. Their party organizations have trouble raising
money. Their super PACs can`t raise money, even with her in the offing as
And there are just all kinds of problems that need to be solved and
could only be solved by her among the candidates that might run.
HAYES: Right. I mean, the idea, the way I took this article is
rather than a kind of bottom-up sort of reinvigoration of the Democratic
party`s politics from local offices and statewide offices and sort of
creating the infrastructure that can produce a winning candidate, the hope
is for this kind of top down salvation. Basically Hillary Clinton is a
formidable candidate she can raise such money, there will be such
infrastructure behind her that that will help people running for state rep
in Kansas, and that will help someone for state Senate in North Carolina.
And this question of, well, what if this doesn`t materialize the way
they think? It`s like, right -- I mean, that`s the thing people are
CONFESSORE: Yes. I mean, look, she`s the party`s tent pole summer
HAYES: Yes, that`s exactly right. It is the way a studio thinks
about their --
CONFESSORE: Yes. But the problem is, as you know, the party has sort
of failed to do these basic things for years and years and years. Invest
at the state level like the GOP has.
And having her come in and have, you know, a strong campaign and down
ballot effects is not a substitute for those things.
HAYES: And there also is no plan B. I mean, that`s the other thing,
right? I mean, if you just think about -- and I`ve been harping on this
not because any feelings I have specifically about Hillary Clinton, but how
I feel about the process of primaries as an important one for kind of
ideological commitments, right? Substantive arguments.
HAYES: I mean, there`s -- I mean, people forget this. In 2007 at
this point, Barack Obama had already declared.
CONFESSORE: He had already declared, exactly.
HAYES: He had declared. I was there on that cold, cold day in
Springfield, Illinois, actually. And he declared and was raising money and
building infrastructure. Even if you look at other people, Martin
O`Malley, people talk about getting in, former governor of Maryland, Jim
Webb, former senator of Virginia, Bernie Sanders from Vermont, Elizabeth
Warren and Biden, right, who is probably the most formidable aside from
No one`s -- there`s no structure. Like, there`s nothing there, right?
I mean, am I wrong about that?
CONFESSORE: And Barack Obama is one of the most gifted politicians of
the last couple of decades in his party. And he pretty much eked out a
primary win over Hillary Clinton.
So, you have to do certain things. You have to hire people. You have
to organize. You know, Warren is not doing any of those things. She`s not
going to run.
HAYES: Right. Your point being, if you are going to defeat Hillary
Clinton, you better have a heck of an organization, a bunch of money, a
bunch of funders willing to back you. It`s not going to be like somebody
happens to be there and the ball`s fumbled and they pick it up.
CONFESSORE: Yes. And, you know, as you point out, the lack of a
primary means it`s very hard for the party to get her on the record on
stuff that they care about. The only hope is that she`ll be good on the
issues if you`re a Democrat, a centrist, or a liberal.
HAYES: And primaries have the base of the party and grassroots and
organizers and the members of the party exerting some control over what the
party`s platform is. It can work in all kinds of different ways. But
people use the primaries as an opportunity to bird dog. We saw it in the
Democratic primary in 2008.
And without that, again, it`s that sort of top-down vision of how this
is going to work.
CONFESSORE: And policy arguments matter.
CONFESSORE: And policy flows out of primaries in a real way. It`s
going to happen on the GOP side. They`re going to figure out what the
party is going to do on immigration as a result of this election one way or
HAYES: That fight is going to be had.
CONFESSORE: It`s going to be had.
HAYES: We`ll see if they have it on the other side.
Nick Confessore, thank you for joining us.
CONFESSORE: My pleasure.
HAYES: Why a Republican should never cite Ronald Reagan as an example
to follow on Iran, next.
Plus, one of the players in the Chris Christie bridgegate scandal may
have played a bigger role than the governor originally let on. That is
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everyone likes to say you cite Reagan these
days. He applied pressure nonstop. He called it the evil empire. He
spoke on behalf of dissidents. He talked about Russia sort of being on the
ash heap of history.
HAYES: Reagan, Reagan, Reagan.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But we also negotiate. You do both.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Reagan, Reagan, Reagan. They were invoking St. Ronald Reagan
by conservatives has almost reached the point of parody.
Last night, when conservative "Washington Post" columnist, Jennifer
Rubin, tried to argue that President Obama should follow Reagan`s lead in
dealing with Iran, we began to enter the world of surreal. Rubin
specifically cited the way Reagan dealt with the Soviets.
But if we`re talking about Iran, there is one precedent who you
absolutely should not be invoking, that`s Ronald Reagan. Take a trip with
me way back to the early 1980s, to the start of the truly massive scandal
during the Reagan administration, the Iran Contra scandal, which today
often feels a little bit lost to history.
A Cuban-backed group of leftists called the Sandinistas had just taken
over the government in Nicaragua. A coalition of right wing rebels known
as Contras wanted to overthrow the left wing Sandinistas and Ronald Reagan
who, of course, was staunchly anti-Communist was exceedingly supportive of
the Contra`s efforts, referring to them to the moral equivalent of the
Founding Fathers, providing them with training and assistance.
The Contras quickly became known for brutal tactics, including summary
executions of Sandinista soldiers. Congress eventually took issue with
Reagan backing the Contras and passed a series of amendments to block the
Reagan administration from funding them. OK you got that. Reagan could not
fund the Contras anymore legally. He had to stop. IT was illegal to fund
Meanwhile in Iran the country had been taken over by religious
hardliners, was being led by Ayatollah Komeni. Iran became such a staunch
enemy of the U.S. after dozens of Americans were held hostage in the U.S.
embassy in Tehran starting in 1979. That traumatic event is what destroyed
diplomatic relations between our
countries and that extends to this day.
And yet despite all that, Iran in 1985 turned to the United States for
help in its war against Iraq, making a secret request to buy some weapons
from the U.S. even though the U.S. was leading a worldwide embargo against
selling Iran weapons.
And you`ll never guess what happened, the Reagan administration agreed
to the deal with Israel as the intermediary.
In exchange, Iranian officials would intervene to try to free another
group of American hostages who were held by Iranian terrorists in Lebanon.
All of this was exposed by a Lebanese paper in 1986 after more than
1,500 missiles had been shipped to Iran. I`ll say that again, the United
States secretly dealt the mullahs of Iran, the regime that had just taken
over the U.S. embassy, 1,500 missiles.
Reagan at first denied that the deal traded honor for hostages, but in
an infamous 1987 address the nation, the president admitted that`s, well,
exactly what had happened, he had got it wrong the first time.
As bad as that was, it wasn`t the end of the story. Remember those
rebels in Nicaragua, the Contras, the group that congress explicitly
blocked Reagan from
funding? It turns out the Reagan administration led by then Lieutenant
Colonel Oliver North and the national security council, and Reagan`s
national security adviser Admiral John Poindexter, had been secretly
funding the Contras using money
from the sale of weapons to Iran.
Now, Reagan was cleared of direct knowledge of the diversion of funds
to Contras by a commission which he appointed, but I want you to think
about this for a minute, Ronald Reagan sold weapons to the Iranian regime,
that`s a regime that Republican Senator Lindsey Graham just called worse
than ISIS. And officials in Reagan`s administration broke the law by
diverting the money from the sale of those weapons to a foreign rebel group
that Reagan supported.
Can you imagine how Republicans would react if Barack Obama had sold
1,500 missiles to Iran and then his administration used money from that
sale to illegally fund a brutal Central American rebel group? Can you
They`ve already lambasted the president, aggressively sought to
undercut him, for trying to work out a deal to stop Iran`s nuclear program
in exchange for easing sanctions. If Obama had done half of what Reagan
did in Iran-Contra, Republicans would have moved to impeach him in a
As for Reagan, well, they named an airport after him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS CHRISTIE, GOVERNOR OF NEW JERSEY: Let me just clear something
up, okay, about my childhood friend David Wildstein.
It is true that i met David in 1977 in high school. He`s a year older
David and I were not friends in high school. We were not even
acquaintances in high school. We didn`t travel in the same circles in high
school. You know, I was the class president and athlete, I don`t know what
David was doing during that period of time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: David Wildstein? That little nerd?
The height of the Bridgegate Scandal, Governor Christie played down
his relationship with David Wildstein, his former political appointee to
the Port Authority.
E-mails made public in January of last year indicate that Wildstein
was, of course, a key player in orchestrating the now infamous lane
closures of the George Washington bridge in September of 2013. Including
the memorable exchange in which Wildstein was instructed time, for travel
problems in Fort Lee, and he replied, got it.
But Christie, and later his lawyers portrayed Wildstein as a man who
acted without the knowledge or support of the governor`s office.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTIE: I have had no contact with David Wildstein in a long time.
A long time. Well before the election.
I don`t even remember in the last four years even having a meeting in
my office with David Wildstein.
I may have, but I don`t remember it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Now, a new report from WNYC suggests the Governor and members
of his inner circle had more contact with David Wildstein than they had
WNYC examined Wildstein`s digital calendar during his tenure at the
Port Authority. Posted on an obscure section of the Port Authority`s
website, the reviewed "documents released by the governor`s own legal team
and the New Jersey Legislature" and "corroborated the information with
current and former Port Authority and Trenton staffers."
Here`s what they found and reported. Wildstein had seven scheduled
meetings with Christie. WNYC was able to confirm two of those meetings.
Wildstein also joined Christie at seven public events.
WNYC also reports that Wildstein had "almost monthly meetings with
Bill Stepien, Christie`s top political aide at the statehouse and the
manager of Christie`s two campaigns", as well as "lunches and dinners with
outside strategist, Mike DuHaime".
As for Wildstein`s role in Bridgegate, WNYC reports this. "On the day
after a news report revealed that Wildstein was involved in the mysterious
lane closures, his calendar had one 14-hour entry, Trenton".
We reached out to Governor Christie`s office for comment, they did not
get back to us.
Joining me now is reporter who broke the story, Andrea Bernstein, the
senior editor at WNYC, contributor to their Christie tracker blog.
Great to have you here.
ANDREA BERNSTEIN, WNYC: Good evening.
HAYES: Okay, so you went through a lot to get this document. Yeah, so
how did this happen?
BERNSTEIN: So, we were -- we`ve been aware that the U.S. attorney in
New Jersey has been investigating this going on now 15 months.
And former prosecutors have told us that no public corruption
prosecutor wants to do an indictment right bang in the middle of a
presidential campaign, because then he or she is accused of doing something
for political motives.
BERNSTEIN: So we guessed, and we have no inside knowledge, that
might happen some point soon and we were getting ready, and we were going
through all of the documents and all of the reports that have been released
The governor`s legal team issued an extensive report. They included
many, many thousands of pages of exhibits.
The legislature did a report in late December, they also had exhibits.
So we went through all of this and we looked at the Port Authority
website and we sort of literally stumbled on this because it had been
released under the Freedom of Information Law back when this scandal was
breaking and it was hot, posted on the website, and then sort of sat in a
dusty corner for awhile.
So this is Wildstein`s electronic calendar. So then, you have to go
confirm it. You go to Governor Christie to say, hey, can we match up your
schedule and what happens?
BERNSTEIN: Well, we were allowed to review some records, which, in
some cases showed that there might be contradictions.
But, without all of the information available, we weren`t sure whether
there were or there weren`t, and that`s why, at the end of the day, we
said, look, there are seven here. We independently, through interviews with
people who knew about the meetings, or, in some cases, were in the
meetings -- that they happened.
BERNSTEIN: So we knew the two happened. And we knew because the Port
Authority also gave us about 1300 photographs that they had been at all
these public events together, and in some cases speaking together at them.
HAYES: So your takeaway here is -- I mean, I think what the Christie
have tried to do is say, this is a guy who`s at the periphery of Christie
I think other people have said though, he`s much more central in
What`s your takeaway from what you learned from putting all these
BERNSTEIN: Well, the takeaway is sort of, you know, the Christie
meetings were just part of it.
It was really that he was very embedded with Christie`s top political
And, you know, that`s sort of, every politician has surrounding them,
their man, or their woman --
HAYES: Their people.
BERNSTEIN: -- who`s their political gate keeper, and those were the
people with whom Wildstein dealt regularly.
Bill Stepien, who, like Wildstein, was kicked out after Bridgegate,
but at the time that all this was going on, was sort of the go-to man for
Mike DuHaime, there were phone records released by the New Jersey
legislature, which showed that Mike DuHaime, who is Governor Christie`s
strategist was talking on the phone with Christie frequently, and also with
So, Christie may not have had Wildstein`s phone number on his cell
phone, as he told his lawyers, but there were certainly conversations going
on in close proximity.
HAYES: We thought it was so interesting as we were going through the
segment today, we were looking at that statement that Christie made in that
epic press conference.
He says, I can`t recall if i had a meeting with him in my office.
HAYES: Very sort of carefully parsed, actually, right?
BERNSTEIN: There were two and one of them was quite fascinating
because this was a very, very important meeting for his campaign.
It was the Port Authority police union endorsing him. And it was very
early in his campaign, and it was very significant because Christie had had
a very combative relationship with the labor movement.
BERNSTEIN: And David Wildstein was able to help orchestrate two labor
endorsements very early on. And at a time when the Democratic field was
still not coalesced. And Christie was trying to scare off any significant
challengers, and did so.
HAYES: Andrea Bernstein, thank you very much.
BERNSTEIN: Thank you.
HAYES: You know, David Wildstein and the Christie administration
could have avoided this entire fiasco if they just did one simple, little
Never use e-mail. Ever.
Sounds crazy, but you wouldn`t believe how many powerful people do
HAYES: There were a lot of children whose dreams came true today when
Disney announced they`re going to make Frozen 2.
For any parents of little fans out there who wish Disney would just
let it go, there`s no chance of that because the first Frozen movie made
nearly $1.3 billion dollars at the box office. And that doesn`t even
include all the money they`ve made in merchandise sales, which just led
them to have the most successful
quarter ever for Disney consumer products, some of which, I`m not ashamed
to say, were purchased by yours truly.
So, they would like to build more snowmen, thank you very much.
A release date for the sequel has yet to be announced. But if you,
well, maybe not you but someone you know can`t wait, Frozen Fever, a seven
minute short is going to premiere tomorrow, ahead of Disney`s live action
adaptation of Cinderella.
In the meantime, I`m excited for the new Frozen because it will give
me something other than the first frozen movie to watch with my daughter
over and over again.
But, while we wait for the second one to open, I guess I`ll be okay
because some people are worth melting for.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LYNDON JOHNSON, 36TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The crotch down
where your nuts hang is always a little too tight. So when you make them
up, give me an inch that I can let out there because they cut me. They`re
just like riding a wire
fence. These are almost -- these are the best that I`ve had anywhere in
the United States, but when I gain a little weight they cut me under there.
Let`s see if you can`t leave me about a good inch from the front of the
zipper ends around under
my -- back to the bunghole.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: There was a time stretching roughly from JFK`s presidency
through the Nixon administration where presidents used a secret taping
system to record much of what they said in meetings and over the phone
including the intimate details of ordering of their pants not to mention
their griping about Martin Luther King, their use of the "n" word and other
racial slurs and their tendency to denigrate Jews, African-Americans and
just about every other minority group. In the end, of course, it was
Watergate that brought the secret taping system to a close.
If you`re a person in power, there are two competing interests at play
in documenting and recording your activities: the desire to keep a record
for posterity and the fear that record might come back to bite you.
Which is what really seems to be at issue in the brouhaha over Hillary
Clinton`s e-mails. There`s an old saying in politics, never write if you
can speak, never speak if you can nod, never nod if you can wink.
Different forms of communications have different connotations. We`ve
long understood written communication to be the most official and permanent
form, but with the rise of e-mail, text and Twitter in recent years, more
and more of our communications are written and they`re no more thought out
than verbal communications. A tossed off joke, a snide comment about a
colleague, an impolitic observation, nevertheless, they are all stored
somewhere in the digital ether. They do not just go away.
And I`m willing to bet it was paranoia about those communications that
was, at least in part, behind whatever private e-mail system Hillary
Clinton used. That same paranoia has driven a lot of powerful people to
take an even more extreme step: don`t leave a digital trail at all.
The list of those who opted out of electronic communications includes
actor Billy Bob Thornton when he was accused of sending a former sister-in-
law harassing emails in 2008, a spokesperson responded Billy doesn`t use
email and never has, anyone who knows him would know that.
And there`s Paul McCartney who has said he prefers letter writing to
email for aesthetic reasons.
Chanel designer Carl Lagerfeld (ph) who has said he buy computers
because they are quote beautiful objects, but he doesn`t actually use them
All these people, it should be noted, are wealthy or powerful enough
to have staff handle their correspondence for them.
The same applies to politicians who recently admitted they`re not big
email users including Senators Lindsey Graham, John McCain, and Chuck
While Schumer had a somewhat self-serving explanation telling The New
Times, quote, "I like to communicate by talking directly to people."
Graham said I`ve tried not to have a system "where I can just say the first
dumb thing that comes to mind." And McCain conceded, "I am not the most
calm and reserved person. I`m afraid I might email something that in
retrospect I wish I hadn`t."
There`s one particular example of this that`s really stuck with me.
It`s Hank Paulsen. He was CEO of Goldman Sachs and then Treasury Secretary
under George W. Bush. This was Paulsen testifying before congress back in
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JACKIE SPEIER, (D) CALIFORNIA: Do you use email?
HANK PAULSEN, FRM. TREASURY SECRETARY: Do I use email? No, I don`t
use it personally.
SPEIER: You don`t use it personally or professionally?
PAULSEN: Yeah, I just don`t. So I`ve never used it for any business
communication, just never used it.
SPEIER: While you were secretary of the treasury you never used
SPEIER: How did you communicate with people?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Yep. Telephone.
This is a guy who spent his career in the financial industry which is
wired to the Internet, but he knew that anything Paulsen wrote down Hank
have to answer for.
Coming up next, words I never thought I`d say, why we all may want to
follow Hank Paulsen`s example.
HAYES: I`m joined now by Mike Peska, host of Slate`s daily podcast
The Gist, and Jeff Smith assistant professor of politics and advocacy at
The New School. So here`s -- OK. So there are powerful people and there`s
regular people. Let`s start with regular people. My fear is, like, you
know, between the Snowden
revelations to just litigation to the fact that Gmail, it`s like we are all
creating through the day this unintentional permanent record of stuff that
we are not thinking about as creating permanent things. And it`s all going
to be there, right? It`s going to be there for lord knows what purposes by
what nefarious actors, but once it`s out there, it`s there.
MIKE PESKA, THE GIST: Well, don`t do anything wrong ever I guess is
the thing. Don`t say anything wrong or think anything wrong.
But you know I do think that the younger generation has a different
take on that, which is they kind of don`t realize that and live life out in
the open yet at the same time they don`t ever have the expectation oh I`ll
never be videotaped, which is why when you see things like the SAE guys
chanting in the back of the bus, you go, you`re an idiot. You`re 19. You
had to know that had to be videotaped, maybe Hillary Clinton gets this more
than the rest of us do.
HAYES: Well, and there`s also the fact that you are going to -- I
think what you end up doing, right, is you are going to start creating
norms like the norms of never email, right. So, you had this period where
everything was taped in the
White House, and that has been a gold mine for historians. And then after
Watergate, it was like why would I want to tape myself? That`s going to
Can you imagine a time where politicians just move to like never --
literally never having anything written down?
JEFF SMITH, THE NEW SCHOOL: You can actually start to see bits and
pieces of that listening to your last story and reading the story about
Christie today, you can see those texts that are sent back and forth
between Stepien and Duhaime are
very cryptic. There`s only like two or three words in the text. And I
think what you`re going to see the next stage of it is going to be
communication almost in code.
PESKA: Well, you know that all these other politicians saw what
doing and said, oh, that`s terrible publicly and privately got their guy on
the phone said give me one of those.
HAYES: Can I get a server, right, exactly. Because -- and the other
thing, it`s this question of control, right? I mean, you wonder who`s
ultimately who`s holding the repository and it`s very easy. I mean, this
is the thing, again, they said it was for convenience. She didn`t want to
hold two devices. It is so easy to write something you come to later
regret with the convenience of the device.
Last week, I did the thing where I broke the cardinal rule. I sent an
email while still angry. And you can`t take that thing back, right?
PESKA: Well, the thing about this is there are counterexamples. I
mean, it seems like the presumption is that, well, only the bad things will
come out, another presidential candidate Jeb Bush had a whole raft of his
emails come out. I think they reflected well on him.
HAYES: Yes. Although, he did the same thing that Hillary did which
is that he self-selected them and he had a private server and he put out
the public ones and it was like lo and behold, these reflect well on me.
SMITH: And for me in my political career, I was actually -- I thought
I was being careful by only saying something and not putting things into
writing. You know, little did I know of course...
HAYES: You had an FBI wiretap...
SMITH: Well, yeah, my best friend was wearing a wire for a couple
months. So, you know, there`s that too.
PESKA: Well, I`m sure the Clintons assume that`s true all the time of
HAYES: But you can also imagine a world -- I mean, with smartphone,
right, you can also imagine a world in which things just start getting --
you talked about the videotape, right, you could imagine is world in which
the norm becomes everything starts getting recorded, right?
I mean, right now talking to someone on the phone -- I have a lawyer
friend who, like, he does litigation. He`s like, I`ve been through too many
discoveries to ever use email. He`s like Hank Paulson, right.
But you can imagine a world in which we just -- everything starts
getting recorded and then there is nothing you could ever say or commit to
that is not permanent.
SMITH: At the end of my political career, we all assumed that if we
were out at a bar, there was someone who was going to tape what we were
doing. So you can have one drink, but after that people would never have
more than a couple drinks
out. If you were going to have more than that, you would go inside and do
it, because you had too assume that someone was taping your entire night.
HAYES: So, then what does it -- I mean, I guess the question...
SMITH: And that was because there was a state senator in Missouri who
not only got taped at a bar, but an opposition researcher taped him driving
from the bar all the way home and kind of swerving.
SMITH: Videotaped the whole thing, and that alerted a lot of
politicians to the possibility that it could be happening all the time.
HAYES: So, there`s two ways to think about it, right. One is that
that -- the sunshine law is like FOIA, which obviously I`m 1,000 percent
behind. They`re very important. And I think any attempts evade them
really problematic. But that induces good behavior and transparency.
The other is that it will just induce cheating, right?
PESKA: Well, we would think that it will reveal, it will be
relelatory. But I think what has to happen is we have to have one of these
examples where some private conversation comes out and maybe a majority of
people have to say that was a terrible thing to say but it was a private
conversation. And now all we say is that was a terrible thing to say. We
can think of examples even outside politics. Donald Sterling and the
Clippers. What percentage of people said his privacy was violated and what
percentage said I don`t want a racist owning an NBA
SMITH: But the other problem from a governance perspective, it`s kind
of like what people talk about when they talk about the demise of earmarks.
You know, earmarks in some respects were the grease that made congress work
and now without them we`re finding it`s a lot harder. There are other
causes, clearly, but that
is probably one.
A lot of the relationships that get built, a lot of the kind of deals
that get cut, if you can`t have some maneuvering room to say some things
that you probably want to be public, it might even further hinder
legislators` abilities to cut deals...
HAYES: It seems like an argument for like a certain amount of
efficient sleaziness in politics.
PESKA: Well, or at least a promise that you know you don`t want your
opponent to put in an attack ad.
HAYES: That`s right.
PESKA: But you know, when Bill -- was it one of the past it was Bill
Frist made a promise to Bill Bradley and then even after Bradley was out of
office he said, hey, remember that promise I made, it`s going to come due.
Now if Bill Frist was attack in a Republican primary, this guy is
making promises to Democrats, that would hurt him. But that is the grease
HAYES: Yeah, it`s true.
I think someone has to come up with a temporary form of email that
PESKA; Oh, that`s great. That will reform our bad impulses.
HAYES: Yes, exactly.
Mike Peska and Jeff Smith, thank you very much.
That is All In for this evening. The Rachel Maddow show starts right
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