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'Up with Steve Kornacki' for Sunday, January 19th, 2014

Read the transcript to the Sunday show

January 19, 2014

Guests: Nick Acocella, Linda Greenstein, David Halbfinger, Valerie Huttle, Zack Fink, Lou Greenwald, Jon Bramnick, David Chen

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC ANCHOR: The governor responds.

When Hurricane Sandy made landfall in late October 2012, its fierce winds
and swelling tides ravaged New Jersey and New York City, and countless
communities up and down the East Coast. The destruction the Superstorm
left in its wake was mind-numbing. The region is still suffering many of
the aftereffects. Many are still dealing with the devastation of lost
homes, lost savings, lost lives, or friends and neighbors who are going
through that. But in the immediate aftermath of Sandy`s brutally
destructive path our often ideologically opposed leaders were seen coming
together in the united bipartisan rescue and recovery effort. Remember the
storm hit only days before the presidential election in 2012. The image of
a Democratic president running for re-election and New Jersey Governor
Chris Christie who was perhaps the most popular Republican in America at
that point. The image of them standing shoulder to shoulder, that image
was a powerful one. Christie said his number one goal in the wake of the
storm was to help New Jersey recover. This was not a time to play
politics. Last May the governor was back down the shore with President
Obama recommitting to that same promise.


GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R) NEW JERSEY: From the minute the storm hit, we were
working with the local mayors all up and down the Jersey shore and in
Bergen County. Everybody came together -- Republicans, Democrats,
independents. We all came together because New Jersey is more important
and our citizens` lives are more important than any kind of politics at



KORNACKI: Just a few months before that meeting at the beginning of 2013
conservatives in the U.S. House were holding up billions of dollars in
Sandy recovery funds claiming a concern about runaway government spending
and rising deficits. They were members of Chris Christie`s own party.
That didn`t stop the governor from saying this.


CHRISTIE: There`s only one group to blame for the continued suffering of
these innocent victims, the House majority and their speaker, John Boehner.
This is not a Republican or a Democratic issue. National disasters happen
in red states and blue states and states with Democratic governors and
Republican governors. We respond to innocent victims of natural disasters
not as Republicans or Democrats, but as Americans, or at least we did until
last night.


KORNACKI: Now fast forward to yesterday morning, that`s when the mayor of
Hoboken, New Jersey, a city that was 80 percent under water after Sandy,
Democratic Mayor Dawn Zimmer from Hoboken, came on this show to tell a
staggering story. Zimmer provided emails, letters, and diary entries as
documentation to support her allegation that Governor Chris Christie`s
administration has refused to let recovery funding flow to the flood-prone
city unless the mayor helped push through a lucrative real estate
development project in her town that was represented by the law firm of one
of the governor`s closest allies.


MAYOR DAWN ZIMMER (D), HOBOKEN: The bottom line is it`s not fair for the
governor to hold Sandy funds hostage for the city of Hoboken because he
wants me to give back to one private developer, and it`s important -- I
know it`s very complicated for the public to really understand all of this,
but I have a legal obligation to follow the law, to bring balanced
development to Hoboken. I cannot give a windfall to one property owner
because the governor wants me to in exchange for the Sandy funds.


KORNACKI: So if what Mayor Dawn Zimmer told us yesterday is true, then it
would appear that the Christie administration itself was playing politics.
With the one thing that Christie has built his reputation by not playing
politics with, Sandy recovery. Zimmer is standing firmly behind the story
she told us.


ZIMMER: I`d be more than willing to testify under oath and answer any
questions and provide any documents, take a lie detector test. And, you
know, my question back to them is, would all of you be willing to do that
same thing, to testify under oath? To take a lie detector test?


KORNACKI: She may get the chance to share her story under oath because we
can report to you exclusively some news this morning. The chairman of the
New Jersey State Senate Judiciary Committee Nick Scutari is calling for the
New Jersey state commission of investigation. This is an independent
bipartisan panel comprised of appointees of both the governor and the state
legislature. He is calling on that body to open an investigation into
Zimmer`s claims. In a statement Scutari says, "This latest evidence of
government abuse supported by contemporaneous writings by Mayor Zimmer is
broader in scope than the George Washington Bridge lane closings. The SCI
has the experience and the subpoena power to investigate it."

The SCI serves to conduct fact-finding investigations. It does not have
the power to prosecute, but it does make all of its work public. And this
latest potential investigation would be only the latest facing the Christie
administration in a scandal that started with those lane closures last
September on the George Washington Bridge. After Mayor Zimmer aired her
allegations yesterday, Assemblyman John Wisniewski, who`s heading up the
assembly committee charged with looking into the bridge scandal, issued a
statement saying, quote, "We need to obtain all relevant facts, confer with
our special counsel and determine the committee`s best course of action
with regard to Zimmer`s allegations." New Jersey State Senate President
Steve Sweeney followed up with a statement pledging to pursue Zimmer`s
assertions. He said, quote, "His new revelations suggest a pattern of
behavior by the highest ranking members of this administration that is
deeply offensive to the people of New Jersey. If true, they could be
illegal. The Republican State Senator Mike Doherty said yesterday that
Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno, one of the officials that Mayor Dawn
Zimmer says told her, that Sandy aid was contingent upon approval of that
redevelopment plan, State Senator Michael Doherty says that Lieutenant
Governor Kim Guadagno "needs to come clean on the allegation leveled
against her by Dawn Zimmer."

In a statement to us Friday before our report aired. The governor`s office
categorically denied Mayor Zimmer`s allegations pointing out that she has
been supportive of the governor and that she has praised him in the past.
Yesterday afternoon the governor`s office issued a second fuller statement
that did not attack the substance of our report or of our interview with
Mayor Zimmer of Hoboken, but that did hit this entire network over how it
has covered Governor Chris Christie. Quoting from the statement, "MSNBC is
a partisan network that has been openly hostile to Governor Christie and
almost gleeful in their efforts of attacking him even taking the
unprecedented step of producing and airing a nearly three-minute attack ad
against him this week.

Governor Christie and his entire administration have been helping Hoboken
get the help they need after Sandy, with the city already having been
approved for nearly $70 million in federal aid and is targeted to get even
more when the Obama administration approves the next rounds of funding.
The governor and Mayor Zimmer have had a productive relationship, with
Mayor Zimmer even recently saying she is, quote, "very glad he`s been our
governor. It`s very clear partisan politics are at play here as Democratic
mayors with a political ax to grind come out of the woodwork and try to get
their faces on television." That`s their statement.

We`re going to let our reporting and we`re going to let our interview with
Mayor Zimmer speak for itself, though. It is for the record, though, worth
noting that much of the quote nearly $70 million that the Christie
administration claims Hoboken has received comes directly from federal
programs not controlled by the governor, and that much of that money went
to individual homeowners, not to the city for making the kind of structural
changes that could prevent similar flooding in the next storm. As "The
Star Ledger" reported it last night, quote, "The Christie administration
said it has promised nearly $70 million in federal funding to the city of
Hoboken with more to come. Though the state`s own Sandy fund tracker puts
that figure at $14.2 million and includes millions given specifically to
residents, not the city.

But, this is moving beyond the central claim that Mayor Zimmer made on our
show yesterday. The claim that we reported and we are interested in
getting to the bottom of. She told us that one of the top members of
Governor Christie`s administration, the Lieutenant Governor of the State
Kim Guadagno explicitly told her that her city`s level of Sandy support
from the state was contingent on her expediting a development project in
Hoboken, a development project that is represented by the law firm of one
of Chris Christie`s closest political allies and confidants David Samson,
the chairman of the Port Authority. She also told us that in a separate
encounter, a second top administration official, Community Affairs
Commissioner Richard Constable strongly implied the same thing. In the
diary that she shared with us, Zimmer asks why the governor would be so
interested in that development project. Why would it matter so much to
him? The statement from Christie`s office yesterday did not address the
development project at all. Nor did it defend Lieutenant Governor Guadagno
and Commissioner Constable against Zimmer`s accusations.

The story we reported raises questions that we are still pursuing and that
others are now pursuing as well. Did Lieutenant Governor Guadagno and
Commissioner Constable explicitly link Hoboken Sandy funding levels to her
moving forward on that development project, to the mayor moving forward on
that development project? And if they did, were they following an order
from the governor himself? And if that`s the case, then why would Christie
have cared so much about this particular development project in Hoboken?

Those are the questions that are in need of answers. On this show
yesterday Mayor Zimmer offered to take a lie detector test and to testify
under oath about her claims and she challenged Guadagno and Constable to do
the same. We have also invited both of them to be here as well along with
Governor Christie to answer those same questions.

With that in mind I now want to bring in New Jersey Assemblyman Lou
Greenwald. He is the majority leader for the Democrats in the state
general assembly, he`s also a member of that assembly committee that`s
looking into the - that`s looking into the bridge affair. Thank you for
joining us this morning, assemblyman. First question I want to ask you, as
we said at the top of the show, the judiciary committee chairman in the
state senate, Nick Scutari is now calling for the state commissioner an
investigation to look into these allegations that Dawn Zimmer, the mayor of
Hoboken, has leveled against Kim Guadagno and Richard Constable. Do you
think that is the appropriate venue for this? Or do you want your
committee looking into it as well?

investigations keep piling up. I can`t stop Senator Scutari from his
recommendation. I don`t think he`s wrong in his approach. The reason why
in the assembly we created this new committee is exactly for the reason
that Senator Scutari recommended. This is bigger than just the George
Washington Bridge. It`s, you know, the evidence showed in those emails
that it was more than just the lane closures and the stoppage and the
traffic jams that were created there. So, we created this new committee to
conduct this investigation. Because we believed it was bigger than just a
transportation issue.

KORNACKI: So, do your committee will be looking specifically into the
Hoboken matter?

GREENWALD: Steve, you know, we hired really world class counsel Henri Char
(ph), tremendous accolades from people across the country for his
credentials. We are going to take the advice of counsel. I will tell you
that the mayor`s statements were obviously salacious. I think what it
points out to, I think the comment that you made, the central claim here is
really a constant theme of a culture that seems to be coming out of the
executive branch of the style and the approach that people regardless of
whether they`re elected officials or not. And it`s that culture, I think,
that is really under investigation. And whether or not that culture
crossed over into something inappropriate, we clearly know that there`s
been a record of abuse of power, recognized by the governor for his
termination of his deputy chief of staff. The question that we are trying
to get to, the central theme that we`re trying to get to, Steve, is how
deep did that abuse of power go and what was the root of that abuse of
power? One of the things that came out that was interesting to me in the
mayor`s comments, is, again, the same name seem to keep popping up over the
course of these investigations. Really whether it`s Mr. Samson or, you
know, the people that continue to be involved in the governor`s office and
I think that`s the question that we want to get to. What is the root of
this problem? How deep does it go? And, you know, what`s driving this?
And I think really, again, it comes back to a culture and an attitude that
the governor has created himself.

KORNACKI: One of the concerns I`ve heard expressed by people in trying to
look into this, is your committee, the assembly committee fired off, you
know, about 20 subpoenas the other day to people and entities. And I think
it has given them until about February Third to respond. You also have
this state senate committee that`s a little, I guess, you know, slower than
you guys to get together and get its plan together. Do you imagine that
there could be - this is going to cause problems in your attempts to get
answers to this? If you are issuing subpoenas to people, then the state
senate committee is issuing subpoenas to the same people, does that give
them grounds to maybe tie this thing up in court and say, hey listen, we
can`t be subpoenaed by two different body - two different aspects of the
same legislative body for the same thing? Do you think the Senate thing is
almost going to get in the way of what you`re trying to do?

GREENWALD: I don`t think it will, Steve, to be honest with you. I don`t
think this is any different in many cases that take place around the
country where there are multiple defendants. And I think that`s really
where individuals in court cases have to respond to attorneys representing
different parties. The truth of the matter is, though, we have a very good
working relationship with our Senate colleagues. Senator Loretta Weinberg
who has been on this network many times, is someone who I served with in
the assembly. She has worked well with our chairman John Wisniewski. I
don`t see that giving it away. Our goal is going to be to coordinate those
efforts. You`ve covered us in the state house for many years, Steve, you
know that both houses have very active budget committees where we
interviewed the same commissioner this week, discussed the same public
policy initiatives. We have the same advocates coming in, talking to us.
I think it was coordinated well, which is why we went out to find outside
counsel and brought Rich (inaudible), and his firm in. If we work directly
through that counsel, keep the integrity of the investigation at the core,
we should be fine and that`s going to be our goal initiative.

The other thing, Steve is, even if they were to make such a charge, I think
that would be more of an excuse. You have a federal investigation going on
right now. An inquiry you have out of HUD and federal inquiry going on
around the Sandy relief funds that you mentioned earlier. There are a
number of investigations that are brewing here. We have a constitutional
obligation as the legislature to look into what happened here. And we
would not be doing our job, quite frankly, if we didn`t follow through on
what we started.

KORNACKI: All right, I want to thank Lou Greenwald, he is the majority
leader in New Jersey State Assembly. I want to thank you for your time
this morning. When we come back, bring in the panel and when they will all
weigh in on all of this. It`s right ahead.



KORNACKI: Why come forward now and not before now?

ZIMMER: You know, I probably should have come forward then. This is
probably the hardest thing that I`ve ever done. So I probably should have
come forward. But I literally - you know, I literally feel like we -- I
have to act in the best interests of Hoboken.


KORNACKI: That was Hoboken mayor Dawn Zimmer on our show yesterday. And
now to talk about this I want to bring in New Jersey State Assembly
Minority Leader Republican Jon Bramnick, David Chen, the investigative
reporter who`s been covering the story for "The New York Times", State
Senator Linda Greenstein, she`s a Democrat and the member of the committee
to investigate the bridge lane closure on the Senate side. And we have
David Halbfinger he is a metropolitics editor with "The New York Times."

And, senator, I guess I`ll just start with you. I mean we`ve been talking
so much the last few weeks about Governor Christie and Fort Lee and the
lane closures. And yesterday the mayor of Hoboken added this new wrinkle.
I just wonder what you make of it and where you think -- is there a role
here for your committee in this at all?

LINDA GREENSTEIN, (D), NJ STATE SENATE: I think there is a role for our
committee. And, of course, it will ultimately be up to our chairman --
Senator Loretta Weinberg as to what the committee will do. We are meeting
Wednesday for the first time and we`ll be discussing that. But I do think
there`s the role here. I think the allegations are extremely disturbing,
we certainly would have to invest to get them to get to the bottom of them.

KORNACKI: And assemblyman, I wonder, you know, from Chris Christie`s party
listening to what the mayor of Hoboken had to say, what`s your take on it?

JOM BRAMNICK, (R) NJ ASSEMBLY MINORITY LEADER: Well, with respect to those
allegations, the governor responded through Mike Drewniak. But I want to
go back to this investigation that goes on within the assembly. We voted
for that investigation. We thought those emails and these text messages
were horrific. So, all of the members, all of Republicans voted for an
investigation. And we authorized this committee to move forward. And then
the committee started and what became unsettling was, it was no longer
bipartisan. It became one in eight to four committee. We had four
members. We can live with that. But then the chairman, Wisniewski is
totally in charge of who gets subpoenaed, when documents are shown to
minority members. What we`re asking for simply is if we`re going to do an
investigation, let`s do it in a bipartisan way. And finally, let me say
this, when serious allegations are made against anyone, my preference is
always law enforcement, because I don`t really like politicians
investigating politicians especially in the atmosphere that exists today,
which is so .

KORNACKI: We can get to the question of the assembly committee
investigation and the bridge, and we will. We have plenty of time for
that. But I want to stay on this point about Hoboken for a minute.
Because the mayor of Hoboken leveled some very serious accusations against
the governor from your party on this show yesterday. And she provided some
evidence to document it. She provided contemporaneous diary entries. She
showed the diary - reviewed the diary. We are pretty confident. This is a
real diary. This isn`t just a few pages she slapped together last week.
And she says that Kim Guadagno, the lieutenant governor of New Jersey came
to her and explicitly linked Sandy funding levels for Hoboken to approving
a development project. She says that Richard Constable, the Department of
Community Affairs commissioner, basically delivered the same message on
stage with her two nights later, last May. When you hear that, do you find
those to be credible accusations?

BRAMNICK: Well, the governor`s office responded by saying they are
patently false. That was Drewniak`s statement. And now if she has
evidence of wrongdoing she should take that to a prosecutor`s office. She
has taken it to your show. I understand that. But if this - if there`s
wrongdoing there, go directly to law enforcement and let them .

KORNACKI: Isn`t there? But you don`t think there`s an oversight role here
for the legislature if there`s misconduct by high levels of the

BRAMNICK: Absolutely. But when you have four or five different
investigatory panel who are looking at it, at some point in time, you have
to be careful. Because when you bring those documents in, they become
public records. When the prosecutor investigates it, he can sort out
what`s public and what`s not. Where collateral damage is done. I
understand the partisan -- look, everyone agrees what happened at the
bridge looked bad. But here is a new allegation. Let`s let law
enforcement, or if you bring it to the assembly, make sure it`s done in a
bipartisan way. That`s all the minority is asking.

KORNACKI: I want to read, there was a statement issued to us from both
Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno and Richard Constable, the commissioner of
the Department of Community Affairs, so it`s not in the statement we read
at the top of the show from the governor`s office. But we want to read the
latest statement from Richard Constable. It says "Mayor Zimmer`s
allegation that on May 16, 2013, Commissioner Constable conditioned
Hoboken`s receipt of Sandy aid on her moving forward with a development
project is categorically false." That is from the spokesperson for
Commissioner Constable. I just want to make sure to get that in there.
David, you have been following this story. I wonder what you make of what
you heard from the mayor of Hoboken and how that fits into the bigger
picture here if it does at all.

DAVID CHEN, THE NEW YORK TIMES: There are a couple of things that are kind
of interesting. One is that, first of all, the fact that it allegedly
touches on Wolff and Samson is very intriguing, because as you mentioned as
well, that firm has come up time and again, you know, in terms of whether
it`s the Fort Lee development project and questions about whether there`s
any involvement or not. I mean it`s become a little bit - it`s a little
bit bigger than just the one square mile in Hoboken in terms of just
ferreting things out. Now, the other thing, a couple of other things, one
is that I find it intriguing that it`s Mayor Zimmer who has come forward
because she has - my understanding is she has been a pretty staunch ally of
the governor for some time. I think she even moved the date of the
election, you know, from May to November perhaps to run on sort of on the
same line or sort of in sync with the governor. And she is also, I think,
there have been some distractions locally in terms of the public safety
director, you know, winning a discrimination case against the city. And so
there are a lot of things that are sort of swirling here, but the other
thing that I wanted to mention that reminds me of from our days covering
New Jersey is like that no matter which party is in power there`s always
some sort of whiff of pay to play potentially in almost everything because
there`s so much in terms of development. You can look at the work that the
governor did when he was the U.S. attorney in terms of going after Joe
Ferriero and John Lynch and all of these other Democratic power brokers.
So, again, that whole atmosphere is to me quite intriguing.

KORNACKI: And that`s, you know, when I try to explain outside of New
Jersey -- I cover New Jersey a couple of us here have covered New Jersey,
you served in the legislature in New Jersey. When people talk to me about
that reputation of New Jersey as a corrupt state, I always say it comes
down to one word, development. More often than anything else it is related
to these development projects. That`s where the corruption kind of springs
out. So, when I - we started hearing this story from the mayor of Hoboken
and looking at these documents, it was not surprising. If what she is
saying is true, the fact that it would be linked to a development project,
I guess, in a way, is not surprising. David -- what David Chen was saying,
though, we`re trying to find out if this happened, why would Chris Christie
have had this kind of interest in this project? The only obvious link that
exists is that the chairman of the Port Authority, David Samson, his law
firm Wolff and Samson, represent this property in Hoboken. And we - as we
- on the show yesterday, there were all these emails from lobbyists ant
Wolff and Samson trying to make contact with city officials in Hoboken,
trying to move the process along and copying David Samson in emails, and
trying to set up teleconferences with David Samson. So, you know, I`m not
sure about illegal, but it certainly looks incestuous.

DAVID HALBFINGER, NEW YORK TIMES: You know, one of the things that stuck
out to me yesterday when I was watching your program, and reading about
this afterwards, was the client here was the Rockefeller Group. Now this
is not a solemn and (inaudible) kind of, you know, fly by night guy, who
comes in, he is in a real big hurry to get something done. This is a
company that it`s pretty big and we`re sitting in their property, I think.
And, you know, they have patience. They have a lot of money and a lot of
wherewithal to wait to get their approvals. The idea that they were
somehow stepping on the gas and pressuring their lawyer, the local counsel
Dave Samson, to make this happen that seems a little bit implausible to me.
So, I think about the client, too. I ask myself, you know, what is Samson
up to if this is true? You know, take her at her word, it all still seems
fairly implausible. On the other hand I find it pretty implausible that
she is making the whole thing up as well, given the evidence that you`ve
talked about and Jon. Frankly, giving - having - I was in Hoboken with her
the morning after Hurricane Sandy. I saw the woman, you know, sleeping in
her office, dealing with flooding, riding around chasing the National Guard
to do some more stuff. I mean, she takes this -- she is a very serious
person who has dealt a lot in her time as mayor. And, you know, the idea
that she would be concocting this, you know it would require a lot. I also
have to say, I was wondering what was the answer to the question that you
posed. You know, why did she wait? Now she said maybe I shouldn`t have
waited, but why did she?

KORNACKI: Yeah. And let`s - we can talk that around a little bit.
Because she answered it. We can play a clip from it, but we can also talk
about why that might be, why a mayor or somebody in her position would wait
and whether that`s credible or not. So, we will pick that up right after


KORNACKI: So, we`re going to play some more from that interview yesterday
where Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer attempts to answer the question that Dave,
you just raised. But we are apparently having technical difficulties. And
so, we can just - we can just bat around the question. I think that is if
you are trying to attack her credibility, I think the two things that I`ve
heard in the last 24 hours are, number one, she says this happened in May
of 2013. Here it is in January 2014, and she`s coming forward. So, we can
just start with that one. My own thoughts on it are a plausible reason
would be, you know, if you want to give her the benefit of the doubt, a
plausible reason would be in May of 2013 Chris Christie`s popularity is,
what, 75 percent in New Jersey. This coasting the reelection, the
Democratic Party is rolling over for him. She said she has had a pretty
good relationship with him on other stuff for Hoboken. She is reliant on
the state for all sorts of things including Sandy aid. So, maybe, you
think, look, I can`t stand up to this guy and take him down right now, but
I could be nice to him for a few months and maybe he`ll change his mind on
Sandy and not force me to do the development. If you want to believe what
she says and give her the benefit of the doubt, I guess that`s the take you
would use.

GREENSTEIN: Believing what she says and accepting it at face value, she
could have been afraid to come forward. She didn`t have other allies at
that time as she would have right now. And she just really would have at
that time a very difficult time coming forward. Now she didn`t, assuming
he said that or his people said it, she didn`t go along with that. She
didn`t take that developer. So she, in fact, would have felt comfortable
about that and she just didn`t feel, it seems, that that was the time to
come forward on it. Now she feels a lot more comfortable with everything
that`s happening.

KORNACKI: Does that sound plausible to you?

BRAMNICK: Let me first say that I don`t know Dawn Zimmer, but I know Kim
Guadagno and the governor. These are two former federal prosecutors. Kim
actually prosecuted racketeering cases, and everyone knows the governor
indicted over 100 politicians. Does anyone actually believe that they
would be complicit in anything that had any overtones whatsoever that had
either illegality of this type? I don`t think .

KORNACKI: Well, the mayor of Hoboken believes it.

BRAMNICK: Well, I understand. But I`m talking - I get that, but I`m
saying is, common sense dictates that these are people who have been very
involved in law enforcement and have been very tough on politicians for a
long time. So I think it`s difficult for people to believe that they would
engage in activity that would be illegal in any sense.

KORNACKI: So, when you - when you listened to Dawn Zimmer yesterday, did
you find what she was saying credible? Did you find the diary entries
contemporary and these diary entries credible?

BRAMNICK: I have no information concerning her allegations. I didn`t even
see the show. But my sense is knowing Chris Christie and knowing the fact
that I don`t think he would be involved in anything that`s even close to
this, helping David Samson, it`s just - it`s so repugnant to him, I would
think. This is the opposite of the allegations. That`s why it`s so
difficult, I think, for the public to buy into it.

KORNACKI: David, the other thing, and you allude to this was, the other
attack on her credibility I`ve heard in the last 24 hours has been, well,
and the governor`s office sent out a whole series of tweets after these
incidents supposedly occurred in May of Dawn Zimmer saying favorable things
about the Christie administration, positive things about the Christie
administration. Do you think there`s -- do you think that`s a solid attack
on her credibility on this?

CHEN: You know, since I`ve -- anything is possible at this point. I mean
this is New Jersey, after all. So, I think what`s interesting, again, is
that there is probably not a lot of upside for Mayor Zimmer to sort of
speak out on her own sort of unscripted in the months after May to kind of,
you know, make, you know, a point, which might sound like some sour grapes
or might not be corroborated by other things. So it seems like that would
have been a little bit out of left field, I guess. The other thing that`s
kind of interesting potentially is the fact that the governor`s folks, this
may not be illegal. It`s hard to say. It does sort of potentially smack
of hardball politics which is perfectly appropriate.

BRAMNICK: But the allegation is that Samson somehow was involved.

KORNACKI: Well, I was - the allegation is, to be clear, the allegation is
specifically that Sandy aid was tied by two top level members of the
administration. Sandy aid was tied to approving of the development
project. The question on the table is, if that happened, if that`s true
and she`s offered to take the lie detector test and go under oath, but if
that`s true, then why did the development project mean so much to Chris
Christie? And the suggestion then is that maybe because - just looking
here trying to find connections between Chris Christie and this, the only
connection that jumps out is the fact that the project is represented by
the law firm of his close friend and confidant and the Port Authority
chairman. But that`s not to reach the state of allegation. That`s just
going from the allegation that`s actually been made to say why.

BRAMNICK: I can`t say with all these different conversations it brings me
back to the simple issue. He has been incredibly popular, he`s been
overwhelmingly successful at the voting booth, and he`s a national figure.
Anything said about him is front page news. Then you have to piece
together what exactly was said and then you create these hypotheticals
based on what she said and what someone else said and, to me, I think we
have to do this in a logical way, the way a prosecutor would do it, not in
the news media nor in the state .

KORNACKI: Do you want the U.S. attorney to look into -- would you like the
U.S. attorney to look into her allegations?

BRAMNICK: I sure would rather have the U.S. attorney than politicians.
So, I have no problems if she brings that to the U.S. attorney. That`s why
we have law enforcement. That`s exactly where people should go, but not in
my judgment to politicians screaming about politicians. That`s the problem
we have in this country.

KORNACKI: Governor Christie is in Florida as all this is happening. We
are going to take a look at what is in store for him today down there.
That`s next.


KORNACKI: Our interview yesterday with Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer naturally
attracted some attention from those covering politics in New Jersey,
politics nationally. Those who are in politics.


STATE SEN. RAY LESNIAK, (D) NEW JERSEY: Mayor Zimmer is the straightest
shooter in politics that I`ve ever known, and I think anyone else knows.
That`s her reputation. And the fact that she made contemporaneous writings
and recordings which are admissible into evidence, you know, and have great
weight says a lot about the veracity of it.


KORNACKI: We`ll take a look at what else is being said and how Governor
Christie is spending his second day out of the Garden State and in the
sunshine state straight ahead.


KORNACKI: You didn`t need to get up at 8:00 a.m. yesterday morning though
we are always grateful when you do to learn about the accusations that we
made at the start of our show yesterday morning by the mayor of Hoboken,
New Jersey. In that interview Mayor Dawn Zimmer said that two senior
officials in the Christie administration told her the city of Hoboken would
not get critical Sandy relief money unless she approved a redevelopment
plan favored by the governor. As you might expect when an accusation like
that is leveled at an administration, especially one that is already
enmeshed in the scandal over the George Washington Bridge lane closures,
what Mayor Zimmer told us yesterday morning made headlines almost
everywhere. Shock claim: Christie camp held Sandy funds hostage. "The
Star-Ledger" calling Zimmer`s accusations "a bombshell" and "explosive."
To headlines in "The Washington Post," Reuters Newswire, "USA Today," other
broadcast news networks and many, many more.

This was not how the weekend was supposed to go for Chris Christie. The
plan was for Governor Christie, who is starting out as the chairman of the
Republican Governors Association, to spend this weekend in Florida raising
funds, raising his profile including his - raising his profile. I read
that wrong there. The Florida trip initially can - described as a victory
tour for the governor and a presumed presidential candidate. Instead this
weekend Christie has been dogged by new accusations and by Democratic
protesters. The Republicans who scheduled his events have gone to, quote,
"Super secret lengths" to keep the press away, not just keeping them out,
but keeping them from even knowing where the events are being held and this
afternoon Christie is scheduled to meet with more than 100 Republicans at
the home of one of the richest men in America, Ken Langone. He`s founded
the Home Depot. Although it is not a fund-raising event. Instead,
according to Langone in "Washington Post", it is "a time for Christie to
personally connect with prominent Republican supporters from the financial
and political communities." Maybe they`ll be talking about Brady versus
Manning, maybe they`ll be talking about something else. We`ll be talking
about something else but I`ll be watching Brady versus Manning later.

But Senator Greenstein, I wanted to pick it back up with you because
Assemblyman Bramnick in the last segment was talking about look, law
enforcement, let the U.S. attorney, if necessary, deal with these
accusations. This is not a place for political committees. This is not a
place for the assembly or the Senate committees. You are saying you think
there is a place for your committee to do this, to do an investigation into
what Dawn Zimmer said yesterday.

GREENSTEIN: I do. I think both the Senate and the assembly committees
should look at it. I think if Dawn Zimmer herself, Mayor Zimmer, decides
to go to the U.S. attorney, she can do that. And I do believe that the
U.S. attorney will look at the facts that we uncover and will probably tell
us at a certain point we`re picking this up as a criminal investigation.
But I still think to start out we should take a look at it as we`re
hopefully going to do.

KORNACKI: And, David, you`ve covered New Jersey politics, you`ve covered,
you know, you covered the downfall of Governor Don DiFrancesco about ten
years ago now. There was, you know, Jim McGgreevey a few years later.
You`ve seen the roots of these things happened before for governors.
Looking at your past experience covering situations like that, how do you
think about what you`re seeing right now with Chris Christie?

HALBFINGER: You know, I actually think that what he`s experiencing is kind
of a changed political Reality both outside the state and very much so in
state. We had a story on the front page today about that external reality
shift. You alluded to some of the problems he`s encountering, fund-raising
for other Republicans. I think Lindsey Graham in South Carolina has
basically said no thanks to the planned visit by Governor Christie. Inside
the state, you know, all these investigations, it`s kind of like reporters
and to some degree lawmakers have become like the Tom Cruise character ("
you know, trying to prove that Governor Christie ordered the code red. I
mean now, you know, pretty much every major deal that he`s done behind the
scenes, you know, if it proves that he`s a bully or if it proves that he`s
vindictive, if it proves that he`s a hardball player, it`s almost like it`s
going to feed this narrative that he`s, you know, he`s practicing policy
only in pursuit of politics. And that`s a really difficult thing.

I mean, the guy who, you know, a lot of people voted for him, many
Democrats I know voted for him thinking that he was kind of an entertaining
character. The thing is, though, you don`t really need him on that wall.
You know, it`s a little much for people who might have thought he was - the
bellicosity was entertaining to see the reality might be a little too much
for people.

KORNACKI: Well, that`s - I`ve always said this outside of New Jersey
having covered New Jersey that there`s sort of - there is two images of New
Jersey that people have and one is very positive of the Jersey guy that`s
sort of unvarnished, rough around the edges guy who is plain spoken and
isn`t going to B.S. you and that`s sort of the image of New Jersey that
Chris Christie has projected outside the state for the last few years. I
think it`s made him so popular nationally. You see him in Iowa and in
South Carolina talking about like, I`m going to talk to you Jersey style
today and the crowd eats it up. The stuff that`s coming out about the
bridge, the stuff that the mayor of Hoboken alleges yesterday, speaks to
this other image of New Jersey as this sort of den of seediness and
corruption and malfeasance and then dirty dealing. And the risk, it seems,
assemblyman, for the governor right now is with some of the revelations
that are coming out, some of these accusations, yes, there is accusation,
that`s where it stands right now, but that they feed into that kind of
image, that side of New Jersey.

BRAMNICK: This is what I`ve learned, when you`re that popular as a
Republican nationally and you`re ahead in the polls over Hillary Clinton,
you`d better be real careful at who is coming at you. That`s the first.
Second, Chris Christie, there`s been no proof whatsoever, none, that he`s
connected to any of the allegations. So at some point in time and I truly
believe when it turns out that he was not connected, he comes out of this
as a tougher, stronger, and even more popular leader.

KORNACKI: Even if it comes out of this that Chris Christie himself did not
know about any of the bridge stuff, that what he said in that press
conference is totally true, doesn`t he come out of this as sort of an
incompetent leader because he let - this happened in his office, this
happened under him and he was clueless and didn`t see it coming? This
tough New Jersey guy?

BRAMNICK: When stupid stuff happens, and I run a law office and MSNBC has
a lot of employees, when stupid stuff happens, if you take responsibility
and then it`s shown that you weren`t connected to it, in my judgment, it
shows he`s strong. Now, he`s so unusual. I don`t think I`ve ever seen
anybody as charismatic, as strong, and he took New Jersey -- he changed
things in New Jersey no one thought they could ever change. Risky

KORNACKI: All right. We`ll pick it up right after this. We have one more
segment to talk about. Right after this.



GOV. ANDREW CUOMO, (D) NEW YORK: Everybody wants the same thing.
Everybody wants the facts. They want to know what happened. I think
Governor Christie made it clear that he is very displeased with what
happened. And you now have multiple investigations that are ongoing that
will disclose the facts and then if there`s something to learn for the Port
Authority at that time, then certainly.


KORNACKI: That is New York Governor Andrew Cuomo who is in New York
yesterday. This is the first time he`s making a public statement about
bridgegate. And that is - that`s one of the sort of pieces of this that
hasn`t gotten him much exploration, I guess, as Andrew Cuomo wrote, there`s
been some reporting of maybe a phone call, David, between Governor Christie
and Governor Cuomo. But there`s a lot of mystery there about .

CHEN: Well, the Cuomo folks pushed back very hard on that, again, saying
that there was no such communication between the offices, even though they
both run the Port Authority. It`s interesting, I mean, Andrew Cuomo is a
former attorney general himself. I`m sure he`s very aware of and is
obviously very cautious by nature of the whole imbroglio here, really.

KORNACKI: He`s cautious of everything. He talks like four times a year in


CHEN: So he`s clearly -- but a lot of his appointees including Mr. Foye at
the Port Authority have a big role here and are likely to be -- I can`t
remember now, I assume that he`s been subpoenaed, but other people will be
on that list as well. So, he has a lot more at stake.

KORNACKI: The other thing I wanted to ask you, David, before we run out of
time, though, is you wrote a story this weak looking at Bridget Kelly.
Bridget Kelly, the now former deputy chief of staff to Chris Christie who
said the time for some traffic and the email that we all know about. The
tone of your reporting suggested that what you learned is she is not
looking to take down Chris Christie here with any information she might
have. Can you just share a little bit of what you learned?

CHEN: Right. I mean it`s interesting. There are a lot of - I know that
she had been portrayed by the governor and some other folks as sort of a
rogue operative, at least, you know, but her reputation according to a lot
of her friends, and these are both Democrats and Republicans, is someone
who is an incredibly hard worker and very earnest and really committed to
the people who mentored her, first Assemblyman Russo and then Governor
Christie and as someone who is not about to - she was described by several
people as not a cowboy, she is someone who generally follows orders and is
very loyal. And so the idea that she could have, you know, cooked up, you
know, this entire scheme is implausible to the people who know her the best
though, again, we don`t know a lot. I mean who knows?

KORNACKI: We told the story, Senator, on the show last week of Brett
Schundler, and the name may not mean anything nationally, but the story we
told is how Chris - Brett Schundler is commissioner of education, and Chris
Christie fired him and called him a liar at a press conference and Brett
Schundler`s basic position was I screwed up. I deserved to get fired, but
I wasn`t a liar. I didn`t lie to the governor. And he took that -- he was
so angry about that characterization, that he took all these documents he
had to prove he had kept the governor`s office in the loop. He went
forward with them. So that has always been in my mind since watching Chris
Christie at that press conference last week saying over and over that
Bridget Kelly is a liar, if she is going to reach that point where, you
know, like Brett Schundler did - as David`s reporting suggest she hasn`t
gotten there yet.

GREENSTEIN: Well, I think that there`s a pattern. That`s one of the kind
of things we`ll be looking at as a committee, is for patterns. And he
definitely has a pattern of calling people liars, firing them. For
example, he didn`t call this person a liar but he fired Michelle Brown and
then rehired her. So when the right time comes he may rehire somebody. My
- one other thing I want to say, there`s a lot of talk about in the press
conference last week the governor said I take responsibility. My personal
opinion is just firing a bunch of people is not really taking
responsibility. It is taking an action, but responsibility is really
looking at yourself and figuring out if you really have a role here.

KORNACKI: Well, and there are committees as we are saying that are in
place to maybe figure that out for him, for us, for all of us. We`re going
to talk about those committees and the rest of that. It`s a lot of
questions we`re going to try to tackle in the next hour. I want to thank
New Jersey Senate Minority Leader Jon Bramnick and from "New York Times",
David Chen. The biggest questions that are still out there in the bridge
lane closure scandal we`re going to ask them and we`re going to try to
tackle them right after this.


KORNACKI: Governor Christie spent a marathon 180 minutes answering
questions from reporters earlier this month to respond to questions about
the George Washington bridge scandal. But if he`d been hoping that the
nearly two-hour-long press conference would be enough to put the questions
to rest, well, actually it seems the exact opposite occurred. That day and
every day since has generated more unanswered questions.

The biggest question being why? Why did Chris Christie`s aides close down
those access lanes to the George Washington bridge? What did they hope to
gain from it? Did they hope to gain anything? So far, there are many
competing theories, some more well documented, some more plausible than

The next question, who else might have been involved? This week Wall
Street Journal reporter Ted Mann published photographs, showing Chris
Christie with David Wildstein, the Port Authority official who arranged the
lane closures on September 11th, 2013. That was the third day of the
closures. Also, there that day was Bill Baroni, he was the other Port
Authority official we know was directly involved, as well as David Samson,
the Port Authority chairman, who is a close Christie ally. Both Christie
and Samson have said they didn`t know what Wildstein and Baroni were doing
with the access lane closures, and we don`t know what was discussed when
they were all together on that day. It does raise questions about Governor
Christie`s claim at the news conference on January 9 when he said he had
not encountered David Wildstein in a long time.


CHRISTIE: I could probably count on one hand the number of conversations
I`ve had with David since he worked with the Port Authority. I did not
interact with David.


KORNACKI: For now the e-mail trail has led us to Christie aide Bridget
Kelly, to his long-time political adviser Bill Stepian, and to those two
Christie Port Authority appointees, Baroni and Wildstein. But who else
might have known what was going on?

We know that Bill Baroni forwarded Pat Foye`s email of September 13 that
conveyed his outrage about the lane closures to Regina Egea in the
governor`s office. Pat Foye is in charge of the Port Authority for the
state of New York, so what did Regina Egea do with that Pat Foye email she
was forwarded from Bill Baroni? Did she share it with anyone else? Did
she tell anyone about it? Was she involved in any way? When Bridget Kelly
fired off her infamous email, the one that said "time for some traffic
problems in Ft. Lee," who, if anyone, authorized that directive? What was
in that conversation before that e-mail? That`s a critical part of the
back story we haven`t yet pieced together. And then of course there`s the
billion dollar question. Was the governor himself involved? David
Wildstein suggests there may have been a meeting between Christie and David
Samson the week before the lane closures. The fact that he included it in
his response to the subpoena suggests it might be relevant to the
investigation about the lane closures. He was instructed to turn over
documents that were only relevant to the closures. His attorney made that
point clear. Did that meeting that Wildstein texted about happen and what
might the governor and Samson have talked about?

Another important unanswered question, what else does David Wildstein know?
And if he gets immunity, what will he divulge? We have new statements from
Wildstein`s lawyer on Friday reupping the offer to talk in exchange for
immunity. Quote, "there is a story to tell. He would be happy to talk
about all he knows."

Next, who else among the governor`s staff might Chris Christie dismiss
while the scandal grows, if the scandal grows? At his press conference,
Christie said he fired Stepian, not because he knew anything about the
closures, but because he didn`t like the tone of the e-mails that Stepian
was sending.


CHRISTIE: I was disturbed by the tone and behavior and attitude, a callous
indifference, that was displayed in the e-mails by my former campaign
manager, Bill Stepian. And reading that, it made me lose my confidence in
Bill`s judgment.


KORNACKI: But he hasn`t fired his spokesman, Michael Drewniak, who is
repeatedly dropping f-bombs throughout this slew of emails that Wildstein
disclosed. Seems to be the same kind of arrogant, callous communication
that supposedly could shake the governor`s confidence, but Drewniak is
still working for the governor.

Also, could there be a pattern of behavior and incidence here? Yesterday
on this show we reported allegations from Hoboken, New Jersey Mayor Dawn
Zimmer, who says she was told by top Christie administration officials that
her city would be denied critical Sandy relief funds unless she approved a
redevelopment project favored by the governor. In the last hour, we
reported the chairman of New Jersey State Senate Judiciary Committee, Nick
Scutari, is now calling on the New Jersey State Commission on
Investigation, an independent bipartisan panel, to open an investigation
into Zimmer`s claims.

So here to discuss the unanswered bridgegate questions, we have with us New
Jersey Assemblywoman Valerie Huttle. She is a Democrat. She was appointed
this week to sit on the committee looking into the lane closures. We have
Nick Acocella, he is the editor and publisher of "Politifax New Jersey," a
weekly insider news report on New Jersey politics and a friend of the show.
Still at the table, we have State Senator Linda Greenstein and David
Halbfinger, also with the New York Times.

So there are so many unanswered questions here to start with. I guess the
one that`s most intriguing to me at this moment is, and I`ve said this
before, David Wildstein was my boss. He was Wally Edge, this anonymous
website he ran for a few years. He seems to be pushing and his lawyer
really seems to be pushing for some kind of immunity here. Nick, do you
think he has -- would he be an attractive person to give immunity to?

Everything we know up to this moment, everything we know for certain, we
know because David Wildstein wants us to know it. That`s all we have are
these papers that he redacted, telling us his version of the story, or --
and implicating or suggesting that other people are involved, which is kind
of an offer to the U.S. attorney saying I got information about this. I
got information about that. Give me immunity to learn more. That`s what
we know so far. Everything else is conjecture, and it`s so much fun.

KORNACKI: You read the -- because you looked over all these documents.

said when he appointed Mr. Wildstein for the Port Authority. He said he
will be my eyes and ears at the Port, and he shares my vision. And we are
trying to find out what that vision is at this point, because when we see
now all of these connections and these series of conflicts, that is why I
would hope that these subpoenas, when we gather the information, they will
give us some facts or at least give us some information to some of these
questions that are being raised.

KORNACKI: And how confident are you -- because we had the initial round of
subpoenas, it was for Baroni and Wildstein. And that`s where all this came
from. It was primarily Wildstein`s stuff but Baroni had a few valuable
tidbits in it too, I guess. How confident are you in your committee that
these subpoenas you sent out this week, this wave of subpoenas you sent out
this week, that you`re going to get answers to them?

HUTTLE: I think that`s why we sent out such a wide net of subpoenas, 20
subpoenas, 17 individuals and three organizations. And we do have special
counsel now. We have Rich Sharr (ph). I think once we get the information
and it goes through OLS, which is a nonpartisan --

KORNACKI: The Office of Legislative Services.

HUTTLE: The Office of Legislative Services. And, again, we also have a
bipartisan committee. And advice of counsel, they will go through and we
will all go through which is relevant and pertinent to I want to say a
case, but to the committee for the answers. So I think once that`s
disseminated, we`ll reconvene in mid-February, and I think we will have
some information.

KORNACKI: See, David, what jumped out at me from what Assemblyman
Bramnick, the Republican leader in the assembly, was saying last hour, was
he was already it seemed to me trying to discredit the assemblywoman`s
committee, trying to say the process is not fair. It`s rigged by the
Democrats. It`s 8-4. Partisan balance. Only Chairman Wisniewski has the
authority to issue subpoenas. It made me think back to Chris Christie`s
comment in his state of the state address where he would cooperate with all
appropriate investigations, and it sounded to me like the groundwork is
being laid here for the governor to declare perhaps the assembly
investigation, which is the most aggressive at this point, and maybe
others, inappropriate investigations to cooperate with.

HALBFINGER: Yes, but I think it`s becoming politically difficult for them
to do that as well. The ground is shifting around them, just like they are
trying to shift the ground. Also, I wasn`t quite sure, but I almost
thought I heard Assemblyman Bramnick suggest or maybe call for the U.S.
attorney to investigate the allegations by Dawn Zimmer. He seemed to be
saying that it may not be appropriate for the legislative committee but
perhaps that should be for the prosecutors to do. Maybe all she needs to
do is call up the U.S. attorney`s office, and they can get that going.

KORNACKI: That struck me, too. That struck me, too, when he said that.
But what is -- take us through, if you could, Senator, where the -- because
we had this flood of subpoenas that were issued by the assembly committee.
Your committee is yet to meet. What`s happening on that side?

GREENSTEIN: One thing that I think is very important is Senator Weinberg
was really at the very forefront of this, she was the one who first started
attending the Port Authority meetings and really got the issue going. The
assembly committee had subpoena power at that point, so they started
earlier. Our committee was just constituted within the last week. I`m
proud to be a member of it. We are having our first meeting this
Wednesday, and then we have the power to issue subpoenas, and my guess is
we`ll do it then.

KORNACKI: So I guess one of the questions, then, too, you mentioned the
possibility of the U.S. attorney, Jon Bramnick is suggesting if the U.S.
attorney were to come in and start looking at this, would that effectively
shut down what`s happening legislatively?

HUTTLE: I don`t think so, because there is still the question of, you
know, why the traffic jam. So there are now certain pieces that we have to
get to. And don`t forget, the governor hired Randy Mastro as his special
attorney, which is he is a crisis management attorney, so to speak. And
let`s hope that all of that information is transparent as well. And
remember there`s also a little conflict there. He right now, Randy Mastro,
represented or shield the toll hike litigation, is part of that AAA
litigation. So it seems everyone is coming from the Port Authority.

KORNACKI: AAA is suing the Port Authority over toll hikes and is looking
for documents connecting the governor`s office with -- I think both states`
governors offices with the Port Authority, saying there was some kind of
collusion where we`re going to float a higher number and then we`re going
to heroically come in and to lower a toll hike.


KORNACKI: The law firm that is defending the Port Authority, that is where
Randy Mastro comes from.

HUTTLE: But you have to realize or remember where the initial motivation
came for these subpoenas was about the toll hikes. Where is -- where are
the moneys going? And now we`re finding out that the Port Authority, you
know, did the study for Hoboken and we`re finding out other projects that
came from the Port Authority. So I think the culture of the Port
Authority, and that`s what we need to have accountable to the people and
more transparent.

ACOCELLA: I remember when the Port Authority was buying very expensive art
for the walls of their offices. This is nothing new. The agency is almost
100 years old, and there have been complaints about this for 100 years, and
the problem with all of these -- all of these bi-state and it`s not even --
sometimes they`re just within one state, these independent agencies is
they`re responsible to no one except their bondholders. No one. Not even
really to the two governors. They`re responsible to their bondholders,

GREENSTEIN: And I was going to say that I think one of our goals here with
these committees is to make them responsible. I think we want to rein them
in. Right now I think they`re pits of political patronage, and I think we
want to take a look at that issue.

It may be that what`s going on here with this bridge is a symptom, and part
it have is a symptom of what the problems are at the Port Authority. Some
of it could be a symptom of this culture within the administration. We
want to get to that.

KORNACKI: And obviously the question hanging over all of this is did Chris
Christie know? Did Chris Christie have foreknowledge of this? Did Chris
Christie find out early on and then just not want to ask questions and he
was intentionally not curious about it? His contention, his absolute,
adamant contention at that press conference was he had no idea until that
Bergen Record story ran about two weeks ago. At the very least, I find
that version of events awfully hard to believe, just based -- when you have
-- as we`ve seen from the Baroni documents, that came out, you have Pat
Foye on the New York side saying you are breaking, you are potentially
breaking state and federal laws in closing down these lanes. He says this
to Bill Baroni on September 13, and Bill Baroni we see in this forwards it
to Regina Egea, who is very close to the governor. She is currently his
pick to be the next chief of staff. Strongly suggests to me that it is
implausible that Chris Christie didn`t have any inkling of this until about
ten days ago.

HALBFINGER: Well, it would suggest that Regina Egea is guilty of
malpractice, or the political equivalent. What`s striking to me as all
these investigations are metastasizing, you have the U.S. attorney doing
whatever he is doing. So many of those e-mails are private e-mails, and
we`ve learned that in New York and New Jersey, you know, official business
is now pretty much conducted on a Gmail account. I think people may have
been lulled into the misconception that those would never be opened, maybe,
never obtained under the Freedom of Information laws. Nobody sort of seems
to have anticipated the possibility of subpoenas. Now that subpoenas are
on the table, in fact all over the place, coming soon to a mailbox near
you, I think the odds -- if the governor knew any of these things, somebody
is going to have said so in an e-mail or a text or something.

ACOCELLA: When will they learn not to put things like this in e-mail? You
had a lawyer on yesterday who said the e in e-mail stands for evidence.
It`s one of the greatest lines I`ve ever heard. It`s just, everything. If
you are going to get involved in something like this and you have to take
the hard drive on your computer, put a bullet in it and then throw it in
the East River. That`s the only way.

KORNACKI: It`s been a learning experience for me, too. I`ve always
assumed that a government official or anybody who wants to keep something
from me or a journalist, or any other journalist, all they have to do is go
to their Yahoo! account or an email account from 1995 or whatever. No,
turns out they don`t. And if others were under that impression, too. So
we have learned--

ACOCELLA: There`s an element here too that no one has talked about is
David Wildstein in his previous life as Wally Edge has 15 years of e-mails.
I mean, it could go way beyond this bridge thing. Way beyond when he was -
- if he`s prepared to turn some of that stuff over to the U.S. attorney.
It could be maybe not crimes, but a lot of embarrassment.

KORNACKI: Wally Edge, for those -- and there you see David Wildstein on
your screen, and I`ve given the disclosure, but Wally Edge was the -- he
was the anonymous owner of the site, and he cultivated
through back at the time, AOL, Instant Messenger and e-mail, cultivated
relationships with lots of high-up people in New Jersey politics, both
sides of the aisle, great sources, that`s where his reporting came from.

There is potentially a trove of e-mails there. Anyway, other unanswered
questions, other attempts to get to the bottom of this, we`re going to pick
it up right after this.



REPORTER: Do you feel like you have the authority to subpoena the

WISNIEWSKI: Well, you know, that question gets asked all the time.
There`s no intention right now to subpoena the governor.

REPORTER: Do you have the authority?

WISNIEWSKI: You see, the problem with that question is when I answer that
question, the entire context is not going to be reported, and I understand
it. So all I want to say is --

REPORTER: There are cameras recording everything.

WISNIEWSKI: I know, I know. But I understand how this works, too. That`s
not -- that`s not what we`re doing. Right now we`re going to issue
subpoenas to individuals and organization that we`ve seen in the documents
that are relevant to our inquiry.


KORNACKI: That is New Jersey Assemblyman John Wisniewski talking to the
press on Thursday ahead of the subpoenas being released that night. Back
to talk with the panel here. And Senator Greenstein, I wanted to pick it
up with you, because you served in the state legislature for a long time
with somebody who is central to this story now. Bill Baroni was Christie`s
point man, one of Christie`s pointmen at the Port Authority. It`s some of
his subpoenaed e-mails, some of his subpoenaed texts that are responsible
for this story sort of blowing up. I`m just wondering, same district, you
served with him, you were his seat mate. What are your impressions of him
and his role in the scandal?

GREENSTEIN: Well, starting with my impressions of him when I served with
him. Definitely very bright. He was always at least on the surface very,
very much a gentleman to me, very polite. We had a few laughs. He was the
consummate politician. I used to say this to everybody. In fact, I liken
some of the things I did that I did well to learning it from watching him,
because he was really, really good at politics. Just one of the best I`ve
seen. I`m frankly, as so many people are, are a little bit shocked that he
would be part of this.

KORNACKI: That`s the thing. People who know Bridget Kelly -- and I knew
Bridget Kelly her when she worked for Assemblyman Dave Russo. And I`ve
been saying this. I cannot reconcile the Bridget Kelly I knew from that
world with this scandal. What you are saying about Bill Baroni, it
suggests there is another piece, you can`t see Baroni being the guy to
really -- who put this together. I can`t see Bridget Kelly being the one
who has the authority to give the order, comes up with the idea to give the
order. That feeds sort of the suspicion this goes --

GREENSTEIN: That`s what makes me think there`s a lot more to this.
Certainly I think there are higher powers that are directing it. And I
just don`t think any one of these people would do it alone. I think it`s
coming from somewhere. I`m not sure it`s a rogue operation.

KORNACKI: Who are you most interested in hearing from? Of all the people
that have been subpoenaed, who do you think is the most important?

HUTTLE: Of course if Mr. Wildstein does come and does not plead the Fifth,
if he`s granted immunity, I would love to hear what he has to say. But
Bridget Kelly. Because I`ll tell you, when people receive subpoenas, I`m
sure that especially on that second tier level -- I don`t think she is the
first tier -- but the second tier level, let`s hear what she has to say.
Who -- she has the answers of the motivation and who told her to do this.

KORNACKI: What`s more valuable here for your committee? As we saw with
Wildstein, an awful lot got out there just from -- they were heavily
redacted, this release of heavily redacted documents got an awful lot out
there. He shows up, he pleads the Fifth, he doesn`t say anything. Still,
it feels to me like if you could put together e-mails from Bridget Kelly,
emails from Regina Egea, you could sort of piece these conversations
together with enough subpoenas, so maybe the documents alone are enough?

ACOCELLA: Even the redaction is a ploy. It`s part of a game. You can
negotiate to unredact some things, but if you give it the first time
unredacted, you can`t then say, no, I want to cross that out. So that`s a
bargaining chip with Wildstein, too. He has got a very good lawyer. They
know what they`re doing.

KORNACKI: Who else should -- of those -- the thing about Wildstein, to
take a step back, is, I felt like his relationship with Christie has been
misportrayed in the press a little bit.

ACOCELLA: I agree.

KORNACKI: Yes, they grew up in the same town, roughly the same age.
They`re not that close. They don`t -- there`s not this longtime, like he
wants to protect Chris Christie. I can see David Wildstein being someone
who would go and cut a deal and wouldn`t feel that he`s giving up his best
friend or something like that. Are there other names in the mix here who
fit that criteria?

HUTTLE: In light of the new revelations with the mayor of Hoboken, I think
if Mr. Samson does come in, when we start looking at the perceived complex.
Chairman of the Port Authority, his firm representing the Rockefeller
Development Group, the former DCA commissioner now working with
Wolff/Samson. Those are the pieces -- I think the information we need to
put this puzzle together.

ACOCELLA: I don`t get that piece. I`m sorry. What are you -- who do you
expect the Rockefeller group to hire? Bernie the attorney?

HUTTLE: He`s the chairman of the Port Authority. You certainly review for
at least some sort of ethics.

KORNACKI: To be clear, we reached out to the Rockefeller group for
comment, and their statement was that we have no knowledge or any
information pertaining to this allegation. If it turns out to be true, it
would be deplorable, this Hoboken allegation. And we have not reported
anything that suggests the Rockefeller group itself was engaged in any
wrongdoing. It`s the connection that`s been drawn has been that the
Rockefeller group is represented by the law firm of David Samson, who is
Christie`s appointee there, is Christie`s confidant, and the allegation
from the mayor of Hoboken is that it`s two top level Christie
administration officials saying fast-track that proposal. Is that
something you want your committee looking into?

HUTTLE: Well, he is one of the targets that has received a subpoena, so I
am sure that he just hired an attorney, he hired Michael Chertoff (ph), he
will be coming in as well. And I think, you know, again, we are gathering
information. It`s a legislative committee to get the information, and from
there, then we will see where it will lead to.

KORNACKI: And, David, how does the governor`s office, again, you`ve
covered governor`s offices in crisis before in New Jersey, how do they
handle something like this from a legal standpoint? How should they be?

HALBFINGER: I wouldn`t presume to advise them.

KORNACKI: What do you see?


HALBFINGER: They really don`t want to listen to me. You know, I don`t
know legally, but I think politically the governor is in kind of a kill the
clock kind of a situation now. He needs for your committee, for all of
these investigative entities to take time. To hopefully for him not to
turn up more bombshells like Dawn Zimmer, and for more of them not to
appear on the front pages of these newspapers. And he needs to let weeks
go by in which he can actually do some gubernatorial things, maybe get to
the budget without getting clobbered by another set of facts. And I think
that, you know, there`s a point maybe at which this story potentially could
get a little old to people, and, you know, if he`s able to put a few things
on the board in a positive chief executive kind of way, maybe he can kind
of turn this around.

KORNACKI: Yes, it sounds like February 3 is maybe the key date when this
next round of subpoenas comes in.

GREENSTEIN: I was going to say, and I know we haven`t brought this up yet,
but it`s been said and I think this is true there are many parallels to the
Watergate situation here. And I know at the time that that was going on
because I was around then. It wasn`t necessarily something that every
member of the public sat and watched on TV every day. It was sort of going
on, and you`d hear things, you`d see things in the paper, but it just took
its time, tried to do things right, and eventually found its way. It
wasn`t the intention, but it found its way into the president`s office.
And I`ve also heard this said, that the tapes that he kept are very
equivalent to the e-mails today. You don`t have to keep tapes. There are
e-mails. It`s out there.

KORNACKI: There`s no famous 18-minute gap. I don`t know if there`s an
email equivalent. Maybe we`ll find out.


KORNACKI: I want to say thanks to New Jersey`s Nick Acocella of Politifax
New Jersey for joining us.

Coming up, the time Governor Christie took on and took out an entire
television network. That story just ahead.


KORNACKI: Just to repeat, we reached out to Governor Christie`s office for
a response to Mayor Zimmer`s allegations. They characterized them as
quote, outlandishly false. That was on Friday. When we asked the
lieutenant governor`s staff for comment, they directed us to the governor`s
office. The DCA commissioner, Richard Constable, his office has also
denied that he conditioned Sandy aid on a development project. We have
invited all of them onto this show. They have all declined. The offer
still stands, though. We would love to speak to them at anytime. And
we`ll be right back.


KORNACKI: In August of 2009, Chris Christie was in the heat of his first
campaign for governor of New Jersey against incumbent Democrat Jon Corzine.
He established his reputation as a hard-nosed federal prosecutor who took
on corrupt state politicians. His reputation had been burnished just a
month or so earlier when a sting operation started under his watch at the
U.S. attorney`s office, ended up and resulted in the roundup of dozens of
state officials. But on the evening of August 17, 2009, less than two
months from the election, some troubling new information about Chris
Christie emerged.


JIM HOOKER: NJN news has an exclusive tonight on the governor`s race.
We`ve learned that Republican gubernatorial candidate Chris Christie has an
ongoing financial relationship with the No. 2 prosecutor in the U.S.
attorney`s office. Christie, U.S. attorney before making his run for
office, confirmed to NJN news today that he and his wife in 2007 took out a
$46,000 mortgage for first assistant U.S. attorney Michelle Brown, for
which the Christies are still being repaid monthly.


KORNACKI: Zack Fink was then a reporter for NJN, the New Jersey Network.
It was the state`s public television station. And he had unearthed a
document showing Chris Christie`s close financial relationship with
assistant attorney Michelle Brown, one of the federal prosecutors whose job
includes prosecuting state officials. She had been one of his top
deputies, one of Christie`s top deputies in the U.S. attorney`s office.
The New York Times followed up on the story, revealing that Christie failed
to report the loan income on financial forms, it`s a violation of state and
federal ethics rules. The state-owned TV network`s reporting triggered a
barrage of damaging stories about Christie`s past at the height of the
campaign. Seven months later, though, as the newly inaugurated governor,
Christie announced his plans to get rid of NJN.


CHRISTIE: Another part of that cleaning up is to analyze which functions
can be best performed by state employees and which by outsiders. Does it
need to own its own television network? New Jersey Network can and will
succeed as an independent, not for profit, and we should free it to pursue
that path.


KORNACKI: Now Chris Christie wasn`t the only person to suggest revamping
the state-owned station. NJN executives themselves had floated the idea of
going independent during Corzine`s term as governor, due to growing budget
cuts. Montclair State University said it would raise more than $7 million
to run the station and produce original content. A model used by public
broadcasting in other states. But in June of 2011, Christie announced a
different plan, his own plan. He would be transferring the station`s
operations to another state, to the New York station WNET.


CHRISTIE: WNET will partner with the Caucus Educational Corporation (ph)
and Steve Adubato Jr. to produce New Jersey focused public affairs
programming for the new channel.


KORNACKI: Now if you`re involved in New Jersey politics, that name there,
the person Christie named to produce New Jersey programming, might sound
familiar to you, Steve Adubato Jr. He is the son of Steve Adubato Sr. The
elder Adubato, Steve Adubato Sr., is a legendary power broker in the state,
many simply know him as Big Steve. He`s a Democrat from the north ward of
Newark. The political friends and foes don`t always line up along party
lines in New Jersey. In my experience in New Jersey politics is that Big
Steve is a political boss that Christie formed a critical alliance with.

Look at it this way, the morning after Christie won that election in 2009,
he appeared at Big Steve Adubato`s north ward center in Newark. And to
many, it received a confirmation that Adubato had been with Christie the
whole time. And since then, it has been legislators loyal to Adubato and
his protege, Essex County Executive Joseph D. Vincenzo, who had provided
key assistance to Christie in the legislature, key Democratic assistance.
He even endorsed Christie`s re-election last year.

So not only did Christie terminate NJN, the state-owned TV network that dug
up damaging dirt on him during the campaign, he cut a deal for much of the
content for the new station to be produced by the son of a boss who`s been
one of his strongest Democratic allies. As Christie`s leadership style
comes under scrutiny now, the story of the demise of NJN offers a
potentially useful window into how he governs.

Still with us, we have New Jersey Assemblywoman Valerie Huttle. We have
Zack Fink, who broke the NJN story about Christie`s unreported loan in
2009. He is now a reporter with New York One news. State Senator Linda
Greenstein is still here, as is David Halbfinger with the New York Times.

Zack, we got the basics of the story you reported, but if you could just
kind of repeat them and tell people exactly what it was you reported in
2009, and then what happened?

ZACK FINK, NY1 NEWS: It was the height of the campaign, and really
Christie had been a prosecutor, and a lot of times with prosecutors they
can very often not answer questions. Say that`s part of an ongoing
investigation. This was when you start running for governor, it`s a whole
new ball game. And this was really the first story that sort of landed a
punch, so to speak.

What happened with the loan story is we learned that Michelle Brown, who he
had eventually promoted to the No. 2 person at the U.S. attorney`s office,
he had loaned her $46,000. This was hard to find, but we did wind up
finding it, and David Halbfinger, of course, who is sitting with us here at
this panel, had the story the next day, I believe it was, that he had
failed to disclose the income from that loan on his financial disclosure
forms or on his tax returns, which indicated to a lot of people that there
was something to hide here or cover up.

KORNACKI: That`s the other piece of the story, David, that you had. There
was not just the relationship, the financial relationship, which raised
questions, but then there was the tax issue as well.

HALBFINGER: That`s right. And, remember, all this is happening a few
weeks after --

KORNACKI: The roundup of the 44. Yes.

HALBFINGER: Exactly. All the arrests, and Michelle Brown, another story I
did at the time was that Michelle Brown had been involved in pushing that
roundup forward in time. There were some people saying they should wait.
Within the U.S. attorney`s office, we reported she was a voice saying,
let`s go. There were a little concerned that Paul Fishman (ph), Christie`s
successor, would get announced, and Christie may not be the guy to get the
credit. The way he did get the credit even though he was campaigning for
office at the time because of it. So yes, it was a crucial relationship to
disclose in the home stretch of the gubernatorial race.

KORNACKI: And you know, I`ve heard talking to people in New Jersey
politics, unconfirmed stuff, but people who say, oh, I talked to the
governor. I was around the governor, or the candidate in 2009. People
around Christie in 2009. And they say that, you know, he would be cursing
NJN for doing this. Do you see his subsequent actions as governor, Zach,
do you see that as sort of your report triggered that?

FINK: I can`t say I could say that. I wasn`t privy to the conversation
that took place within the Christie administration. I can say that a
number of people at the time told me that. I did hear that from deep
within. We also know that to a certain extent, at one point during the
legislative correspondents association dinner in 2010, Christie was there.
It`s all off the record so I won`t say exactly what he said, but he made a
very personal attack in a speech against NJN, and everybody in that room
came away saying we`re pretty convinced this is what he`s going to do.
He`s going to come after it. It`s the kind of thing that would have been
funny had he not gone and done that after the fact, and actually shut it
down. So there were a lot of people felt at the very least the nature, the
manner in which it was done, was very heavy handed and very personal.

KORNACKI: And, Valerie, the other piece of this, too, there`s the question
of shutting down NJN or transferring the license, as we said there were
discussions in Trenton. There were discussions at NJN of, you know, we
can`t continue being a state-owned entity, but there were other options

HUTTLE: There were. And I will tell you there were many of the
legislators, probably the majority of the legislators, wanted to save NJN,
and at least some piece of NJN because, don`t forget, that was our news for
New Jersey. New Jersey stuck between Manhattan and Philly. This was our
station. We had Michael Aaron (ph) down in the state house. We had
reporters such as Zack Fink down in the state house. This was the Trenton
outlet. We wanted to save NJN. And fast forward, I believe, the bill was
fast tracked. They had hearings, and the committee, and when you look at
the makeup of the committee, I believe it favored to shut down NJN.

KORNACKI: The final vote, though, I remember there was a final vote on a
bill that would have saved NJN for a few more months, and it failed by one
vote in the state Senate. That one vote was somebody employed by -- a
senator, a state senator employed by Essex County, and Essex County is Big
Steve Adubato, Joe D. Vincenzo (ph), as we said, these pro-Christie
Democrats, and there`s your key vote that kills off NJN. And there is a
story there too about Christie`s alliances with Democrats.

GREENSTEIN: Well, I know it was in the Budget Committee and perhaps other
committees, very, very strong support. I know Senator Weinberg, myself and
so many others spoke in support of it. On the floor, many people were in
support, but, unfortunately, it lost, as you say, by the one vote. But it
was, I feel terrible about it now. At first NJTV was really primitive, and
they admitted that. They were saying we`ll get better. Well, they have
gotten better. But to tell you the truth, I don`t think they`re up to the
standards of NJN. When they were leaving the network, they had a lot of
their old shows on for a couple of weeks, and it was just amazing to watch.
They were all over the state house with their trucks. They were on site
all the time, and it was just wonderful reporting. One of the best.

KORNACKI: We`ll pick this up on the other side, and just talk about this
as a window into Chris Christie`s leadership style, because the theme of
this whole George Washington bridge scandal has been payback politics, and
there seems to be a strong element of that here. We`ll pick it up after
this and talk about it.


KORNACKI: So we just took everybody through the story of how Chris
Christie, the state-owned public TV station in New Jersey in 2009 ran a
very damning story about him, and as governor he shut down that station,
and gave its license to a New York station, and they sort of contracted out
a lot of their work to the son of a political boss who has been very
friendly with Chris Christie. And I wonder, Assemblywoman, is this a
window into the style of Chris Christie? Did we learn something here about
how he sort of governs, prioritizes things, and combines things?

HUTTLE: It certainly shows a pattern, it shows a pattern how he lays down
the law. He gets things done through whether it`s retaliation or whether
it`s retribution or whether it`s promising somebody else something. It
just sets a pattern.

Again, these are opinions. And it just certainly, though, raises much more
concern and suspicion when you start to, you know, look at the history of
how he operates and how he governs. It, again, raises bigger questions.

KORNACKI: I think David was making this point earlier, in the current
context, in the current climate, a story like this, there`s a story out
there that the New York Times ran a few months ago about the Huntington
County, possible intervention by the state to quash an investigation. It
landed with nobody paying any attention when it was published. In this
climate now, I think there`s a reconsideration of Christie and his style,
and his leadership going on by the press and by the public, and these sorts
of stories if people reconsider them, maybe change their view of him a
little bit.

HALBFINGER: This would be happening anyway because he`s running for
president, we would be scrubbing -- everybody would be scrubbing, the
national media would be going back and scrubbing everything that Christie
ever did that was of any moment or any controversy. But now you have a
Whitewater basically happening in real time, and everybody can glom onto it
and get their teeth into it, take it where it leads. Everything in
Christie`s background and Christie -- going back to his time as U.S.
attorney, his entire governorship, everything is fair game, and everybody
will be on it.

KORNACKI: Which gets you to the new book -- there are so many of those
2012 campaign books, I get them all confused. I think it`s the Heilemann-
Halperin one, where there`s been this interesting drama over the last year
between the Romney campaign and the Christie people, where it`s like the
Christie people are putting out the story of, you know, he turned down, he
didn`t want to be the vice presidential candidate, and then of course the
Romney people then put out their version of like, we did the vet of
Christie and we were horrified by what we saw, and we could never put this
guy on a national ticket. And I think the national press is probably
looking at that through that context, too.

FINK: The point I wanted to make about Michelle Brown and I think going
back to what David was saying, it is very important, which was that a lot
of people felt as though the FBI and the U.S. attorney`s investigation
during the height of the campaign, the Jersey sting, so-called, where more
than 40 people were arrested, I mean, the No. 2 person at the U.S.
attorney`s office was Michelle Brown, who literally owed the Republican
candidate for governor money, and there were a lot of people who felt as
though that investigation disrupted some key get out the vote people in
Democratic precincts. So that`s a point, also.

Getting back to NJN briefly, if I could, the haphazard manner in which it
was done, and a lot of people felt it was done quickly, there could have
been a transition radio station, WYNC here in New York City -- Rudy
Giuliani, a Republican, did a very successful transfer where the employees
were held harmless, and it was transferred over to a nonprofit. It was a
model of how to do things. So a lot of people are saying, do the
transition a little more slowly, don`t do it so quickly, what`s the rush?
Not only did it put some one hundred-odd people out of work, who felt it
was very personal, but what about those archives? New Jersey Network went
on the air in 1971. That`s more than 40 years of New Jersey history, its
leaders, its campaigns, that is in a video archive that`s sitting in a
warehouse in Trenton deteriorating. It hasn`t been digitized, it should be
preserved. It belongs to the people. I`m not even a New Jersey resident,
and I think that someone should take a look at this and put it in a

KORNACKI: The Every state should have one of those.

GREENSTEIN: And Steve, I think you`ve got a commitment from the two
legislators here today that we are going to look at that and see what we
can do to push it, because those archives are very important.

KORNACKI: All right. I want to find out what our guests think we should
know for today. We`ll go around the table and get their answers right
after this.


KORNACKI: I want to find out what my guests think we should know this
week, and we`ll start with you, Zack.

FINK: I think there are still a couple of questions regarding the New York
side of this story. We know that Pat Foye had that e-mail back in
September, where he was the first one to raise the issue of a crime being
committed. If a crime was committed, did he report that to authorities? I
think this is a question that needs to be asked. We also know that this
came out, in other words, it had been going on for a few months, but it
really started to come out after Rob Astorino, a potential Republican
governor, gubernatorial candidate, met with Christie in Arizona, at the
Republican Governors Association, and we were told, might have gotten some
sort of words of support from Christie. Suddenly the story starts to get
out and starts to gain momentum. So there are questions about that as


HUTTLE: That`s interesting. I would like to see where that is. But I
think, also, I think, maybe, more elected officials may be coming forward,
telling their stories, maybe, of retaliation or whatever. And I wouldn`t
be surprised if you see some more mayors coming out.

KORNACKI: Be interesting to watch.

HALBFINGER: I do wonder how many more Dawn Zimmers are out there. A few
weeks ago, they might have needed to form a secret support group. But now
they can just go on the air and, you know, let them have it.

KORNACKI: Yes. Senator?

GREENSTEIN: I think over the next week, we`re going to really set in place
the mission of the Senate committee and look at the scope of it and get our
subpoenas out. And as soon as we get the results on those subpoenas, I
think we`re going to know a lot more, working very closely with the
assembly committee.

KORNACKI: Yes. I want to -- I have the same question. I want to see if
there are other Dawn Zimmers out there. Because it seems, the question, as
we said earlier in the show, why do you wait so long, just the political
climate last year, I couldn`t imagine a governor who was in a more safe
political climate in the state of New Jersey than Chris Christie. So it
would be so dangerous politically for one person to stand up, with even a
legitimate grievance. Now it`s different. Now an opening is there. And
if anybody else has those stories and has the documentation for them, and I
want to just add one completely non-New Jersey, non-political thing today.
Go, Patriots. I know it`s probably not going to happen. They are probably
not going into mile high and winning after coming back from 24 down, but I
would love to see it happen.

I want to thank Linda Greenstein. I want to thank David Halbfinger, Valerie
Huttle, Zack Fink, for getting up this morning and thank you for joining
us. Be back here next weekend, Saturday and Sunday, at 8:00 a.m. Eastern
time. There may be some more developments out of New Jersey, we`ve been
talking about those, but don`t go away right now because "Melissa Harris-
Perry" is up next. Today on MHP, the long legacy this country has of
listening in. How does the surveillance of Martin Luther King Jr. shape
President Obama`s reforms for the NSA? That and an interview with C.C.
McDonald (ph) is up next, and we`ll see you next weekend right here on UP.


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