'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Thursday, January 16th, 2014

January 16, 2014

Guest: Lou Greenwald

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Thank you very much, Chris. If I ever had
to be on time, I`m not sure what I would do. So, I don`t want to start
this system where there`s like accountability for that, OK?

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: All right. Fair deal.

MADDOW: I don`t care. All right.

Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.

Boy, there`s a lot going on. Right now at this hour, across the state
of New Jersey, the players in the Chris Christie bridge-lane shutdown
scandal are waiting for a knock at the door. Right now.

We do not know exactly who is being served with subpoenas tonight.
The state assembly said today that they will not release the names of the
people who they are subpoenaing until those people have been served.
They`ve been individually, personally handed their subpoenas in print in

Once that happens, though, once that I been served, we are expecting
to get their names, the list of names. We`re told to expect new subpoenas
for roughly 17 individuals in the state of New Jersey tonight and three

And by entities, that means organizations. We`re told to expect that
that may mean political organizations or campaigns. We`re told that they
are about to get served tonight as well as those individual people. Now,
why would political organizations get subpoenas in this sandal?

Well, when the governor`s deputy chief of staff apparently ordered,
quote, "time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee, if, in fact, those
traffic problems in Fort Lee were ordered up for political reasons, if Fort
Lee was purposely gridlocked as a way of trying to hurt someone politically
or as a way of trying to help someone politically, then it makes sense that
political campaigns, political organizations, maybe even political parties
might be getting a knock on the door tonight as well in New Jersey, along
with everybody else from the governor`s staff or the Port Authority, who we
know was involved.


STATE REP. JOHN WISNIEWSKI (D), NEW JERSEY: As you saw, the committee
met today and adopted its operational resolution, and -- which gave the
chair the ability to issue subpoenas. We discussed an executive session
the names and the organizations that will be receiving those subpoenas. I
know the question you all have is, so, who`s getting them? We`re not going
to tell you.

The reason is, is that -- and I`ve said this before, I don`t think
it`s fair for people to find out because of your reporting that they`re
going to receive a subpoena. We`d like to get them served first and as
soon as the subpoenas are served, we`ll make it known who the individuals
were and make the text of the subpoena available to all of you.

There are about 20 subpoenas. They are to individuals and
organizations and I`ll answer your questions.

REPORTER: Can you tell us how many individuals and how many

WISNIEWSKI: I`ll give you a rough breakdown. I think it`s about 17
individuals and about three organizations.

Yes, sure?

REPORTER: Can you say anything about where people are located?
Presumably inside the Port Authority, inside the governor`s office?

WISNIEWSKI: I don`t want to get too specific. I mean, they`re all in
New Jersey.


MADDOW: One legislative source involved with the assembly`s
investigation tells NBC News that the assembly had originally planned just
to subpoena Bridget Anne Kelly, Chris Christie`s deputy chief of staff who
ordered the shutdown, and Bill Stepien who is the governor`s campaign
manager for his reelection effort. You`ll recall that he turns up in
internal e-mails that have been released thus far, calling the mayor of
Fort Lee, quote, "an idiot".

Governor Christie has already fired both of these people who you see
on their screen here, and scuttled Bill Stepien`s appointment to become the
new head of the Republican Party in New Jersey. And apparently, the
initial plan from the assembly, though, was just to subpoena those two

Now, though, the assembly is getting some expert advice from the
former federal prosecutor who put Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich in
prison for corruption. That gentleman there, Reid Schar, is now the
special counsel who`s assisting the assembly in its investigation.

And a source involved in that investigation tonight tells NBC News
that it was the advice of the new special counsel that caused the assembly
to lengthen its subpoena list from just two, from just :Bridget Anne Kelly
and Bill Stepien, to instead the 17 people and three entities of some kind
who are getting served their papers tonight.

The source telling NBC`s Michael Isikoff, quote, "That`s what happens
when you talk to somebody who knows how to do one of these investigations,"
end quote.

So, by the end of the hour tonight, by the end of the night, we may
know who is on that long list of subpoenas from the assembly. As of right
now we do not know and we are trying to find out.

We do, however, have a different subpoena list, and it`s also new. We
do today have the subpoena list from the New Jersey state senate. They
have issued their first three subpoenas, or at least announce what they
will be. And it turns out it`s a really interesting short list.

Number one on the list is David Sampson. David Sampson headed up
Chris Christie`s transition team when Chris Christie first became governor
of New Jersey. Here he is with Governor Christie last June.

The other two people in this picture are David Wildstein, who
orchestrated the shutdown of the bridge that gridlocked Fort Lee. Also,
Bill Baroni who lied to the state assembly about it and told them it was
for a traffic study.

Both of those men seen there with Governor Christie have already
resigned because of the scandal. David Samson has not and says he will
not. David Samson is the head of the Port Authority. He`s the chairman.
He was appointed to that job by Chris Christie, as Chris Christie`s top
political appointee.

We`ve reported on this show about how some of David Samson`s behavior
surrounding the shutdown remains unexplained and in some cases, a little
bit odd. Probably the most odd is the contrast in David Samson`s public
behavior concerning this traffic disaster, the one in Fort Lee, which we
now know was man-made and apparently engineered for political purposes, the
contrast between his behavior surrounding that shutdown and a similar
traffic disaster that happened on another bridge back in 2011 on Easter
Sunday. That traffic jam was also caused by the Port Authority by a
shortage of toll takers in that case.

But there does not seem to be any indication that one was done on
purpose. That it was politically motivated.

Well, when that traffic disaster happened on Easter Sunday 2011, David
Samson, as Port Authority chairman, was publicly furious about it and very
vocal, telling the press, quote, "We consider this unacceptable. We`ve got
Mother`s Day coming up. We`ve got Memorial Day coming up. We`ve got the
Fourth of July. It is unthinkable we would have these problems."

David Samson has a history of being really vocal and really mad when
the Port Authority causes traffic jams.

But on this one in Fort Lee, that lasted for more than four days, it
was the first week of school, it included the anniversary of 9/11, this
one, he made no public comment, no demands for apology, no visible anger

Internally, the only thing that made him mad about the Fort Lee
disaster was that somebody blew the whistle on it, that the executive
director of the agency talked. David Samson wrote to his vice chairman
with what he says was confirmed evidence of executive director Pat Foye
being the leak, stirring up trouble, he said. He`s playing in traffic,
made a big mistake.

The architect of the bridge shutdown, David Wildstein, also at one
point brags to Chris Christie`s deputy chief of staff that David Sampson
is, quote, helping to retaliate against the forces that got Fort Lee`s
bridge lanes opened back up again on the fifth day of what had been that

So, David Samson, essentially a political godfather to Chris Christie,
former attorney general of the state of New Jersey, partner in one of the
most powerful and connected law firms in the state of New Jersey, he is
being subpoenaed tonight from the New Jersey state senate. That`s one.

The second one of their subpoenas is going to Regina Egea, who was
Chris Christie`s incoming chief of staff and who was his director
overseeing authorities, like the Port Authority, at the time of the bridge

The morning that the lanes were finally opening up again, she got sent
the angry letter from the Port Authority executive director that said he
was going to get those lanes opened up again. And that said he, quote,
"believe this hasty and ill-advised decision violates federal laws and the
laws of both states."

Regina Egea, Governor Christie`s soon-to-be chief of staff was sent
that letter marked "high importance" on the last morning of the shutdown.
She too has just been subpoenaed by the New Jersey state senate. That`s
two of the three.

But then there`s the third one which is the -- as far as I`m
concerned, at least before tonight, before I started figuring it out,
seemed to be the total wild card. It`s this guy, who before this, was an
unfamiliar character in this play. His name is Pat Schuber -- William Pat
Schuber. He`s one of the commissioners that Chris Christie appointed to
the Port Authority. He has not been high profile player in the story until
now, until he was the third of three subpoenas from the Senate tonight,
until he got subpoenaed alongside the former New Jersey attorney general
and the governor`s incoming chief of staff.

Pat Schuber used to be the mayor of Bogota, New Jersey, which looks
like Bogota, but it`s New Jersey. So, it`s Bogota, like Bogota.

Mr. Schuber then went on to become the county executive in the country
where Fort Lee, New Jersey, is located. Do you remember that weird detail
about David Wildstein? The weird detail about how the guy who ordered the
bridge shutdown used to be an anonymous blogger?

Remember this? Before Chris Christie became governor and David
Wildstein got himself appointed to that sweet job at the Port Authority
that paid him 150 grand and it had no job description. Before that, David
Wildstein`s job had been running a New Jersey politics blog for years, but
he did it anonymously. Nobody knew who he was. He blogged under a
pseudonym that was Wally Edge.

Well, here`s Wall Edge, aka, David Wildstein, aka, the guy who shut
down the bridge, touting Pat Schuber in 2009 as somebody who would be a
great choice for gubernatorial candidate Christopher Christie to pick as
his running mate. Ha.

Interesting, Chris Christie did not pick Pat Schuber to be his
lieutenant governor candidate, but he did pick him to be a commissioner of
the Port Authority. And when little Fort Lee this past fall, found itself
gridlocked to death. By the shutdown of those lanes on the George
Washington Bridge, the state center who represents Fort Lee picked that
commissioner, picked the guy who was the county executive for that county,
as the commissioner that she wanted to complain to.

She picked him as the person she was going to ask for help in figuring
out what had gone wrong and hurt Fort Lee, New Jersey, and Bergen County,
New Jersey, so badly.

She wrote to him, "Dear Commissioner Schuber, I am at a loss for words
regarding the authority`s sudden change in the traffic flow patterns to the
George Washington Bridge from Fort Lee. Reducing the number of lanes
during peak time has caused significant hardship for many in the area. I`m
disappointed by the authority`s response.

But on a personal level, I`m disappointed in your lack of advocacy.
On behalf of the residents of Bergen County, when you were confirmed before
the Senate you stated both privately and publicly that you were going to be
the voice for Bergen County residents to the authority.

Sadly, at least based on your public actions, this does not appear to
me to be the case."

Blistering letter, blistering letter from an old political foe.
Loretta Weinberg had run against him and he had won. But still, even
though he`s a Republican, even though they had fought for that job, she
voted for him when he came up to the senate, and she wrote to him for help
when Bergen County need help and needed explanation.

Senator Weinberg sent that blistering letter. She said she got a call
back from commissioner Schuber saying he`d look into what happened and then
he`d get back to her, but that was it. She never heard back.


Commissioner Schuber, I also voted on your nomination, with great pride, on
the fact that you were going to speak out and speak up for Bergen County
residents. You gave me a promise that you will get to the bottom of this.
And I`m still waiting.


MADDOW: That was in November at a Port Authority meeting. You said
you would look into it. You said you would get back to me, I`m still
waiting. That was November.

As of last week, Senator Weinberg was still trying to get an answer
out of this guy.


WEINBERG: I wrote a personal letter in mid-September to Commissioner
Pat Schuber who I voted for. I wrote to Pat Schuber. He`s a former county
executive of Bergen County. So, I knew that he knew Bergen County. He
knew the implications of the bridge.

When he received my letter in mid-September, he did call me. And he
said, I don`t know anything about this, but I`m going to get to the bottom
of it.

Well, I still haven`t heard from Pat Schuber.


MADDOW: I still haven`t heard from Pat Schuber. He said he would
figure it out and get back to her back in September. She still hadn`t
heard by November, still hadn`t heard by last week.

And so, now, tonight, subpoena. Now by law, he will be getting back
to her and to the New Jersey state senate.

This is really interesting now. This is what else we do know. It
turns out that while Senator Weinberg was waiting for a response from Pat
Schuber, he did draft a response to her -- or rather, he had one drafted.
He had a written response to the senator`s questions about the bridge
shutdown, drafted for him by the guy who shut down the bridge. What?

What on earth was David Wildstein doing drafting the commissioner`s
response to questions about shutting down the bridge?

David Wildstein wasn`t a communications guy. He wasn`t like
legislative affairs or some such nonsense at the Port Authority. He was
the guy with no job description, whose title said he was in charge of
interstate capital projects and who happens to be the guy who secretly shut
down those bridge lanes on orders from Governor`s Chris Christie`s office.

Why would a commissioner of the Port Authority ask that guy
specifically to draft his written response when a member of the New Jersey
Senate started asking questions about what happened? Why him?

Did everybody know who the guy was who shut down the bridge? Did
everybody know to shut up? Shut up about it and just let that guy handle
the questions?

I mean, if the cover story is that nobody knew anything, then how did
everybody know to call David Wildstein on this matter?

Ultimately, Pat Schuber decided not to send David Wildstein`s draft
response to Loretta Weinberg or anything else by way of explanation, and
so, Loretta Weinberg is still waiting for her answers. But now, armed with
subpoena authority, she is about to get them.

Today, Bridget Anne Kelly, who is the person who appears to have
ordered the shutdown from the governor`s office, she said that she has
secured legal counsel for herself, hiring a prominent New Jersey law firm
to represent her in these matters. Today, New Jersey Governor Chris
Christie also secured legal representation for himself, hiring a former
deputy U.S. attorney who specializes in organized crime.

Meanwhile, the governor himself is reportedly still planning to travel
to Florida tomorrow where he will be doing fund raising events for
candidates including Florida Governor Rick Scott. On this trip, though,
conspicuously, Governor Christie will not make a single joint public
appearance with Rick Scott. And in fact, Governor Christie will not make a
single appearance on this trip to Florida that is open to the public at
all. This is going to be closed-doors only.

Joining us now is Assemblyman Lou Greenwald. He`s the majority leader
in the New Jersey state assembly, which means he is the top Democrat in the
assembly. He`s also a member of the newly created select committee on

Mr. Majority Leader, thank you for being here.

STATE REP. LOU GREENWALD (D), NEW JERSEY: Thank you for having me.

MADDOW: "The Bergen Record", I have to ask you this tonight, because
this is late breaking. Actually, they`re reporting tonight based on a
single source that the subpoenas issued by your committee today include
Bridget Anne Kelly and the governor`s spokesman Michael Drewniak and
campaign manager Bill Stepien.

Can you elaborate on that at all or tell us if that reporting is

GREENWALD: Well, I can tell you lone source is not accurate based on
what I heard the first 15 minutes of your show. And the assembly committee
that we formed and the leadership group, Speaker Vinny Prieto was on your
show yesterday, myself and the chairman, John Wisniewski, had a list much
longer than three people.


GREENWALD: We have used our special counsel, though, to determine who
else should be added to that list, maybe some of these organizations as
well that you referenced earlier and you heard the chairman speak about in
your show earlier on your show today.

And the reality is, it`s as important who you subpoena and the order
in which they receive the subpoenas and when they come in to testify, to
make sure this investigation is done properly and methodically. And in a
deliberate way that at the same time, our goal is to do this in swift
fashion, not to drag this on longer than necessary.

MADDOW: So everybody has an interest in figuring out the scope of the
interest, who may be implicated or who can give useful information, at
least who you believe can give useful information. But as far as you`re
concerned, we got to wait until there`s a formal announcement. There`s no
reason to speculate on this.

GREENWALD: You know, Rachel, I think the viewers, unfortunately
because of past actions of U.S. attorneys like Chris Christie when they
were there, the subpoena was almost used as a hammer of criminal

And the reality is, as a lawyer, subpoenas are an investigative tool
for discovery. The people we`ve sent these subpoenas to, they may not have
done anything wrong. We don`t know if they have not done anything wrong.
We`re not saying they`ve done anything wrong.

But we want to find out what they know, because we know one thing for
sure, there was an egregious abuse of power, unlike anything that I`ve seen
in my 18 years in the state legislature.

We want to know how deep that abuse was and ultimately what was the
root of that abuse of power. We believe by going through this process in a
methodical fashion and systematic fashion, we will find that answer.

MADDOW: I asked Assemblyman Wisniewski this question as well and he
didn`t have an answer for me on it. I wonder with your background as a
lawyer -- he`s a lawyer too, but maybe you have a different perspective on
it. That is, about the issue of destruction of documents and destruction
of e-mail chains and text messages and things like that, in the way that
this has unfolded, and we have been reporting on this since back in
December. It sort trickled out and then became a flood.

If I were one of the people who had been involved in this in any way,
particularly if I had something damning or something that was going to get
my boss in trouble, I would have burned my hard drives, I would have thrown
everything away, I would have done anything I could to destroy evidence at
this point.

Are you confident that that hasn`t happened? And do you have sort of
the forensic power to unearth that stuff if people did try to destroy

GREENWALD: Well, I can tell you from my background in dealing with
certain people who have been involved in situations like that, from an
investigatory standpoint, short of them throwing it in the Hudson River and
us not finding it, we`d be able to piece that back together.

So people that think they`re going to destroy evidence, I would urge
them -- I would urge them beyond anything that I could think of not to do
so. It`s the cover-up that gets you in trouble far more than any
involvement you think you have in this.

And the reality is, if someone has some knowledge that they know, I
would encourage them to reach out to the committee. Someone is out there
and they think they know something or they have an e-mail that was sent to
them, or they were copied on the e-mail, but they didn`t have any
involvement with this, they should come forward and start to share that
information, because the more we know, the sooner we know it, the better it
will be for New Jersey and the better it will be for this whole

MADDOW: The remit of the investigation and the assembly, it`s a two-
year horizon in terms of the authority of the committee. I don`t know if
anybody expects it to go on for two years.

Are you worried about that getting in the way of the other work the
legislature needs to do, but also the prospect that some of these
investigations might get in the way of each other. Senate has got their
investigation. They`ve announced some of their subpoenas. The assembly is
obviously moving forward in a similar way.

U.S. attorney has opened an inquiry but not an investigation at this
point. The Port Authority inspector general is looking into this. There`s
been interesting on the federal government. Are you worried about
overlapping -- too many cooks in the kitchen?

GREENWALD: There are a lot of people asking questions, obviously. So
that`s a sign that people want to know. The two-year cycle, let`s touch on
that briefly. The two-year cycle is because our elected office is for two
years. We just went it and had our reorganization and the new legislative
body took place this Tuesday. So, we`ve covered it for two years.

We certainly hope and we certainly don`t believe that this will take
two years. The concern of the overlap is why we spent the time, speaker
and myself and Chairman Wisniewski really searching for the right law firm,
and we believe in Reid Schar. We have an outstanding attorney that we
believe is the best in the country, that will help coordinate these
investigations with the other questioning bodies, and also make sure we
don`t trample upon any investigation being done by the U.S. attorney`s
office or the attorney general`s office in New Jersey themselves.

Our goal will believe to work hand in hand with the Senate. We do it
all the time. We do it during the budget cycle. The most important thing
we do is obviously prepare the budget. We have two budget committees, one
in the Senate, one in the assembly. They interview the same commissioners,
talk to the same people, they hear from the same residents and advocacy
groups in the state of New Jersey, and we work in conjuncture in order to
put a budget together for the state of New Jersey.

I don`t think this will be different. The reality is, from the state
assembly stand point, much like you, we`ve been working on this for months.
We were in a process of hiring an attorney last week and through the
weekend. It was only in the beginning of this week that the Senate
indicated they were going to move forward with an investigative review of

We welcome them to that conversation and we look forward to working
with them hand in hand.

MADDOW: Assemblyman Lou Greenwald, who`s the New Jersey assembly
majority leader, top Democrat in the assembly -- thank you for helping us
understand this. And as this moves forward, both in your leadership role
and on this committee specifically, I hope you`ll keep us apprised.

GREENWALD: Be happy to. Thank you for having me tonight.

MADDOW: Sure. Thanks.

All right, turns out that Rudy Giuliani fits into this whole thing in
a really unexpected way. Seriously.

Stay with us.


MADDOW: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie today traveled to
Manahawkin, New Jersey. Manahawkin is so teeny tiny that it`s not even
really officially a town. Officially speaking, Manahawkin is a census
designated place on the Jersey shore.

Governor Christie went there today to meet with people whose lives are
still turned upside down after Hurricane Sandy. He meant to make the trip
on January 8th, but that day, "The Bergen Record" published 22 pages of
email showing the tendrils of the bridgegate scandal reached into the
governor`s administration and Mr. Christie canceled all his public
appearances that day, including the one in Manahawkin.

Today, though, he finally was able to reschedule that visit. So, on
the one hand, this is Governor Christie getting back to governor business
as usual.

On the other hand, Governor Christie said something today that was
really, really, really unusual. Unusual. Very unusual for him.


GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: You asked me, and I accepted the
task of leading this state for eight years, not four years.


And no one, I can assure you, ever told me or anybody on my team that
it was going to be easy. Hadn`t been up to this point. And there`s all
kinds of challenges, as you know that come every day, out of nowhere, to
test you.

But I want to assure the people of New Jersey of one thing -- I was
born here, I was raised here, I`m raising my family here, and this is where
I intend to spend the rest of my life.


MADDOW: That is not at all the way that Governor Chris Christie has
talked recently about his immediate, next few years` plans. Not at all.

And now, I`m not prepared to say definitively tonight that Chris
Christie just announced he`s not running for president, but compare what he
said today with the way he usually talks about this thing, and it kind of
seems today like Chris Christie announced he is not going to run for
president in 2016, because this is the way he used to talk about it. This
was on October 8th.


CHRISTIE: I am not going to declare tonight, Christine, for you or
for anybody else, that I am or I`m not running for president. I don`t
think anybody in America or the state of New Jersey expects anybody three
years away to tell them what they`re going to do. Life`s too long,
Christie, I will make those decisions until I have to. I can walk and chew
gum at the same time, Christine. I can do this job and also deal with my
future. And that`s exactly what I will do.


MADDOW: That was Governor Christie during a debate for his re-
election effort, refusing to say definitely that he would fill out his time
as governor. This was Mr. Christie a week before the election.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you win, are you committed to serving out your
full term?

CHRISTIE: I`m committed to being the best governor New Jersey could
have for as long as I could possibly do. But, you know, George, neither
one of us have a crystal ball and know what`s going to happen in the
future. I`ll do this job as long as aggressively as I possibly can. And
my current intention is to spend four years, but we`ll see what happens,
George. You never know what life`s going to bring you.


MADDOW: My current intention is to serve out my term, but we`ll see
what happens, never know. Chris Christie was so confident he was going to
be re-elected that even while he was debating his opponent for re-election,
even the week before voters went to the polls and he`s on national TV, he
was so confident he was going to win, that he was still willing to
announce, as he was asking people to vote for him for governor, that he
might not actually do the job of governor that the people were voting him
in for.

But then, New Jersey voted him in.


CHRISTIE: I`m the governor of New Jersey. That`s my job. And that`s
what I ask for for four more years and that`s what I intend to do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All four years?

CHRISTIE: Listen, who knows? I don`t know. I`m going to continue to
do my job and finish the job. But everybody who is trying to figure out
what life is going to bring you few years from now, I didn`t expect to be
sitting here four years ago, George. So, nobody can make those


MADDOW: All four years? Who knows? I don`t know, nobody can make
those prediction.

That was the week after the election. Now, what he`s saying is
totally different.


CHRISTIE: You asked me, and I accepted the task of leading this state
for eight years, not four years.


MADDOW: Then he went on to say, I was born here, I was raised here,
I`m raising my family here, and this is where I intend to spend the rest of
my life.

So that`s one thing to note. Chris Christie may have said today that
he`s not running for president. And he may have said it definitively for
the first time ever. That`s one thing to know.

Here`s another thing, though. Do you remember how in 2012 before Rick
Perry got into the race for president, it kind of seemed like he was going
to be the guy to beat? Before he got into the race, he was the theoretical
favorite in the Republican primaries in 2012, until he actually started
running and then kersplat.

The guy who played that role in 2008 was Rudy Giuliani. Everybody in
the media thought that Rudy Giuliani was, I guess, the prohibitive favorite
to win the nomination in 2008. But then Rudy Giuliani actually started
running and it`s kind of like that moment in "Men in Black" when they`re
scouting out the guy who looks like the alien at the news stand in New York
City and then the alien starts talking and it`s not the guy who looks like
the alien. Oh, it turns out it`s the dog.

Yes, Rudy Giuliani`s campaign was so bizarre and completely
unexpectedly dysfunctional, not only did he not win, he was the
laughingstock of the 2008 Republican presidential primary.

Rudy Giuliani`s campaign have the genius idea that he should just not
compete in Iowa. He should also not compete in New Hampshire. He should
also not compete in South Carolina.

He was going to skip all that. He was frankly above all those little
states. They weren`t his kind of states. Now, he was going to go straight
to Florida and just start winning then. Start winning then, four weeks
into the nominating process.

Absolute, total failure. Credit for that genius strategy that turned
Rudy Giuliani from the favorite to the laughingstock because of his stop
political strategist, Mike DuHaime. After that, he went on to become the
top political strategist to Chris Christie in his run for reelection.

In the disastrous Giuliani campaign in 2008, his national field
director was a man named Bill Stepien. Bill Stepien went on to become the
campaign manager for Chris Christie in his run for re-election.

The deputy communications chief from the disastrous Rudy Giuliani
campaign in 2008 was a woman named Maria Comella. She became the
communications chief for Chris Christie in his run for re-election.

And now, today, Chris Christie has announced the name of the lawyer
who will help him organize his response into the myriad inquiries into this
bridge scandal that seems to be sinking his second term. He`s chosen as
his attorney a man who was deputy to Rudy Giuliani in the U.S. attorneys`
office. And when Rudy Giuliani went on to become mayor of New York City,
Randy Mastro became Mr. Giuliani`s deputy mayor.

If you do want to run for president, following the Rudy Giuliani path
is a really weird way to do it. But Chris Christie made clear he`s trying
to follow the Rudy Giuliani path out of this scandal. He may have just
announced that his presidential aspirations are over in the meantime.

Steve Kornacki joins us next.



GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: You asked me, and I accepted the
task of leading this state for eight years, not four years.


And no one, I can assure you, ever told me or anybody on my team that
it was going to be easy. Hadn`t been up to this point. And there`s all
kinds of challenges, as you know that come every day, out of nowhere, to
test you.

But I want to assure the people of New Jersey of one thing -- I was
born here, I was raised here, I`m raising my family here, and this is where
I intend to spend the rest of my life.


MADDOW: Governor Chris Christie today telling his New Jersey
constituents on the shore that he`s a Jersey guy, presidential aspirations
be darned. He pledges to spend the rest of his life in New Jersey, of
which Washington, D.C. is not an enclave.

This is totally new verbiage from Chris Christie on this subject
today. Today also happens to be the day he announced the hiring of his new
legal representation on the bridge gate scandal. He`s hired a former
deputy mayor to New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Joining us now is Steve Kornacki, the host of "UP WITH STEVE KORNACKI"
her e on MSNBC. Steve has covered New Jersey politics for years, including
time spent working for David Wildstein, the guy who shut down the bridge at
a nonpartisan Jersey political blog.

Steve, thanks for being here.


MADDOW: Getting any sleep?

KORNACKI: Not yet. Hopefully it`s not showing.

MADDOW: We can sleep when we`re dead.


MADDOW: Governor Christie just hired a top law firm to help with the
investigation. Is this an important part of him building his defenses,
both legal and political? Or should this just be seen as a normal part of
the process? Are reading anything to it?

KORNACKI: No, I think this is significant. This is a serious
criminal defense attorney we`re talking about here. When I talked to a
couple of Democrats in the legislature today who are a little bit fearful
of where they see this playing out. They see a potential here where
Christie is able to exploit the fact there are two dueling committees that
are now looking into this in the legislature. You have the assembly
committee, you have the state senate committee.

And, again, I`m not the legal expert, I`m only telling you what the
legislators themselves are telling me. Their concern is there could be an
opening there for Christie to buy some time, and for the administration to
buy sometime by taking this to court, by fighting the subpoenas in court
and basically saying, look, the assembly is subpoenaing documents from this
person. The senate is subpoenaing the same person. Excuse me.

The same documents, the legislature needs to get its act together and
act as one here, instead of wasting -- in many cases, you might have people
who are being defended with taxpayer money. They might make a complaint
about that. We shouldn`t be wasting taxpayer money on two dueling

So there`s some fear that Christie could buy himself some time by the
existence of two separate panels.

The other piece that comes into it, is what is the U.S. attorney going
to do. The U.S. attorney from New Jersey is appointed -- a Democratic
appointed U.S. attorney general. Again, if you talk to a lot of Democrats
in New Jersey, privately, they think highly of him as a professional
politician. They do not think that a major public corruption case is the
kind of thing he has much of an appetite for.

MADDOW: Really?

KORNACKI: Chris Christie is the U.S. attorney before, made his entire
career on. He couldn`t do enough of these things. Paul Fishman has
handled his office in a much more low key way. Doesn`t have as much -- not
shown certainly kind of appetite that kind of prosecution that Chris
Christie has.

Quite frankly if you talk to Democrats who are more cynical, they say,
if this goes to the U.S. attorney, we`re not sure how much is going to come
out of it. (INAUDIBLE) is in the U.S. attorneys office, you still have
people who predate the current U.S. attorney and were there when Chris
Christie was there.

So, there`s a lot of I think a lot of concern talking to Democrats.

MADDOW: So, basically, if the U.S. attorney is complicated or
unlikely to get involved -- a lot of people say it would be easier to bring
state charges, instead of federal. Although federal conspiracy charges
seems to be the obvious choice here. But in any case, if it`s not the U.S.
attorney, that makes the legislature and their investigation more important
and if it has a structural weakness that could be exploited, that could --

KORNACKI: Or it`s exploited, if they can exploit, and maybe
reluctantly, the U.S. attorney is almost forced to come in and take the
case, if the U.S. attorney takes the case, it essentially would shut down
the legislative panels.

MADDOW: The number of subpoenas, not the names was released today.
"The Bergen Record" is reporting tonight that Bridget Anne Kelly, the
governor`s spokesman, Michael Drewniak, the campaign manager, Bill Stepien,
are among the 17 individuals who are subpoenaed. We know that David
Samson, Regina Egea and previously sort of unmentioned Port Authority
commissioner named Schuber, are going to be subpoenaed by the Senate.

Does that emerging list of names make sense to you in terms of where
this goes?

KORNACKI: Oh, yes, absolutely. I mean, you`re looking at names that
have popped up in some cases only one or two times in the documents that
have come out. But like Regina Egea, this is a perfect example to me,
because I think she really only popped up once or twice, but it was a key
moment where she pops up.

MADDOW: That`s right.

KORNACKI: Because the moment is, September 13th, at the height of the
closure when Pat Foye in the New York side basically says you guys are
breaking federal and state laws. He sends that e-mail to Bill Baroni,
Christie`s point guy at the Port Authority. And Bill Baroni sends it three
hours later, marks priority high to Regina Egea in the governor`s office,
right now his pick to be chief of staff.

So you subpoena her records and if you actually get those records, you
find out, what did she do at 10:44 in the morning on September 13th in the
governor`s office, when she finds this information? Does she write to
somebody about it? Does she forward it to somebody else? Those are the
kinds of questions we can get answers to.

MADDOW: Steve Kornacki, host of "UP WITH STEVE KORNACKI" here on
MSNBC, and the hardest working guy in the building on this story -- Steve,
thanks very much.

KORNACKI: Thank you.

MADDOW: We appreciate it.

All right. We`ve got lots more to come tonight on this story and on
something unrelated and spooky that is happening in Washington as we speak.

Stay with us.



STATE REP. JOHN WISNIEWSKI (D), NEW JERSEY: I want to make it clear.
I didn`t want to be in the governor`s office looking at who sent e-mails.
The e-mails that we got because we were looking at the Port Authority led
us there. And so, it would be really a dereliction of our responsibility
if now that we know somebody in the governor`s office sent an e-mail to
close lanes from Fort Lee to the George Washington Bridge and we walk away
from it because somebody says, well, that would be partisan. It wouldn`t
be doing our job. It would be negligent.


MADDOW: There`s more to come on that story tonight, including an
important part of that story that may be breaking overnight tonight. But
also in Washington tonight, some unexpected progress in which Democrats and
Republicans join together to tell prominent Tea Party groups to leave them
alone. That was surprising.

There`s also a big mystery in what Democrats and Republicans are doing
in Washington tonight. It was the scoop today on the front page of "The
Washington Post." that mystery, still unresolved, is next.


MADDOW: Late last year, stories started popping around in a ping-pong
ball of the lottery machine also known as America`s conservative media.
The particular ping-pong ball in question was labeled "President Obama
plans to close the U.S. embassy at the Vatican".

Oh, the outrage! The conservative "Washington Times" newspaper was on
it. Obama`s call to close Vatican embassy is slap in the face to Roman

The mostly just wacky conservative Web site "World Net Daily" accused
President Obama of insulting Catholics with this embassy shutdown.

The story made it all the way from the fringe to what is supposed to
be the center of the Republican mainstream when Jeb Bush decided to join in
the frenzy tweeting, quote, "Hopefully, it is not retribution for Catholic
organizations opposing Obamacare."

Of course, like all ping-pong balls, this story was mostly air and
easily destroyed under the weight of even minute further inspection.

President Obama was not trying to close the embassy to the Vatican.
He was trying to move it closer to the Vatican. To the same compound that
houses our much larger embassy to Italy. And whether or not Jeb Bush was
aware of this fact, the embassy consolidation plan for the Vatican was an
idea that was first introduced by the Bush administration in 2008. The
State Department says the move would not only improve security, it would
also save us more than $1 million a year.

And in part because the new location would be a bit closer to the
actual Vatican than the old embassy, the Vatican liked the idea, too.

But when you put something apolitical, bipartisan, noncontroversial
and fiscally conservative like that into the conservative media machine, it
naturally comes out as satanic volcano sacrifice to the atheistic idols of
communism or whatever.

The story was a fantasy from the start. It was easily debunked with
about 20 seconds of Googling as long as you were willing to read Google
search results from outside the conservative media. It was a completely
made-up fake scandal.

And now, it`s in the budget. What?

Republicans have put their collectively ill-informed foot down now and
they have banned the embassy move from happening. Seriously. Tucked into
the massive $1.1 trillion spending bill is a provision that bans anything
from happening to the Vatican embassy. It stays as is.

You want to know what else the new spending bill bans. It bans the
anti-poverty activist group ACORN. The new budget includes four separate
provisions blocking any funding to ACORN. If you`re keeping score at home,
ACORN has not existed for four years now. But it will not get any federal

Suffice to say, the new spending bill includes a lot of nonsense,
generated from the comment section of the conspiratorial YouTube clips
about Kenya. But there is one very consequential and controversial bit of
business that did make it into the 1,582-page spending bill. And "The
Washington Post" had an exclusive on it today.

According to "The Post", sneaked into a classified annex of this giant
bill is a secret provision that would block President Obama`s plan to shift
control of the drone program, to shift control of the U.S. armed unmanned
drone program from the CIA to the Pentagon. And in his big historic speech
last week on the war on terror, President Obama open talked about the drone
program for the first time. And what he announced in the big landmark
speech was to start to shift control of the drone program from the super
secret, literally covert CIA to the Defense Department, which can be quite
secretive, but which has an arguably more straightforward route to
congressional and therefore public oversight.

It sounds like a technical thing, but that would be a really important
shift. I kind of wrote a whole book about how important that kind of shift
would be. But that planned shift announced by the president last year is
reportedly not happening. The secret measure in the federal budget plan
restricts the use of any funding to transfer drones or the authority to
carry out drone strikes from the CIA to the Pentagon. That`s according to
officials who spoke on condition of anonymity, because nobody is authorized
to publicly comment on this legislation because it`s the classified part of
the bill.

Who included the measure? Well, the secret, anonymous officials say
it mostly likely came from members of the House and Senate appropriations
committees but we don`t know for sure because no one is officially talking
about it.

White House, no comment. CIA, no comment. Pentagon, no comment.

So, it is very unclear how this is all going to play out. But this is
an important issue. And even when this unresolved and un-debated -- the
bill cleared the House last night and just a few hours ago tonight, it also
cleared the Senate, 72-26. So the bill now goes to the president`s desk
for his sign-off including that provision that will keep our lethal drone
program as opaque as possible, both to us and to Congress that is supposed
to oversee it. At least that`s the status for now.

Watch this space.


MADDOW: The big D.C. event tomorrow, 11:00 a.m., speech by President
Obama inside the great hall of the U.S. Justice Department. This will be
President Obama`s first trip to the Justice Department as president. He
will be there to announce a slew of changes to the way we conduct
surveillance in this country, specifically changes to the way the NSA

That announcement was obviously spurred by the Edward Snowden
disclosures that started last June, but also by a continuing stream of
reporting since then, including most recently the disclosure by "The New
York Times" yesterday that the NSA has apparently devised a way to put
radio transmitters into computers of their choosing around the world, even
if those computers aren`t online.

Last month, President Obama`s surveillance review board came up with a
long list of recommendations on how to reform surveillance. Tomorrow,
President Obama is going to announce which of those recommendations he`s
ready to adopt, which he rejects, and which he is turfing over to Congress
to fight about forever. So, that`s the big Washington event tomorrow.

The other big political event in the country tomorrow, though, is that
tomorrow may be unveil the subpoenas day in New Jersey. Today, we learned
that one of the special committees investigating the Chris Christie bridge
scandal in the New Jersey legislature has issued 20 different subpoenas as
part of their investigation, 17 individuals and three organizations.

We expected that we might hear today who exactly got those subpoenas
but it now looks like it`s going to break either overnight tonight or early
tomorrow, in terms of when we find out the names. And then what?


Have a great night.


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