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'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Monday, February 3, 2014

Read the transcript to the Monday show

February 3, 2014

Guests: Matt Katz, John Wisniewski

CHRIS HAYES, "ALL IN" HOST: That is "ALL IN" for this evening.

THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.

Good evening, Rachel.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, man.

Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.

We start tonight with some breaking news out of the state of New

First, Bridget Anne Kelly, until recently New Jersey Governor Chris
Christie`s deputy chief of staff, Bridget Kelly is invoking the Fifth
Amendment and is refusing to testify or hand over documents in response to
the subpoena she has received from the New Jersey legislature. Bridget
Anne Kelly is the person who sent this e-mail, "Time for some traffic
problems in Fort Lee" to a Chris Christie ally at the Port Authority who
then does appear to have arranged for some huge traffic problems in Fort
Lee last September by shutting down that community`s access lanes to the
world`s busiest bridge, the George Washington Bridge.

Once those bridge lanes in Fort Lee were shut down, it appears also to
have been Bridget Kelly who exchanged these text messages with that same
person at the Port Authority who arranged the shutdown.

Upon hearing that kids cannot get to school because the lanes being
shut down and the town`s mayor is complaining about that, Ms. Kelly
apparently replies by text, quote, "Is it wrong that I`m smiling?" David
Wildstein at the Port Authority responds "no" -- to which Bridget Kelly
says, "I feel badly about the kids", and then one minute later, "I guess."
To which David Wildstein responds, "They are the children of Buono voters."
Meaning don`t feel bad, their parents are going to vote Democratic.

David Wildstein has already pleaded the Fifth in testimony before the
New Jersey legislature related to this scandal. Now, the other person in
that text message conversation, Bridget Kelly, the "time for some traffic
problems in Fort Lee" deputy chief of staff, Bridget Kelly tonight has also
just invoked her Fifth Amendment rights.

Bridget Anne Kelly`s lawyers saying tonight she will not hand over
documentation that the legislature has demanded from her in their subpoena.

So, that is one piece of breaking news tonight in this story. The
other breaking news in this story tonight, which has just happened, is that
New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie has, tonight, finally
answered questions about the bridge scandal. The governor addressed the
scandal directly tonight in an "ask the governor" radio interview. I`ll
play you what he said tonight in just a moment.

But in terms of the context here, consider that Governor Christie has
not been talking about this subject in public really ostentatiously. He
has been, of course, the object of much discussion, but he, himself, has
refused to take any questions on this scandal since his big two-hour press
conference back at the beginning of last month.

That two-hour press conference was January 9th. He took questions
there, but that was it. On the 14th, he had to appear publicly again to
give his state of the state address. He said nothing new of substance on
the matter and, of course, he did not take questions.

Two days later on the 16th of January, he did a Superstorm Sandy
recovery event in Manahawkin but he took no questions from the press at
that event.

The following weekend, he did a Republican Governors Association tour
in Florida to raise money for Republican Governor Rick Scott of Florida.
Chris Christie on that Florida trip made no appearances that were open to
the public, and he did not take questions from the press. Then, on the
21st of last month, that was his inauguration day, so, yes, has to be out
in public again, but no mention of the scandal and no questions from the

Last week, the governor surfaced again at Howard Stern`s birthday
party of all places, and there were plenty of reporters there and a lot of
reporters shouted questions at him about the bridge scandal, but the
governor did not answer them.

And, of course, around the Super Bowl this weekend, the governor made
lots of public appearances, but, again, no answering any questions about
the scandal even when he was asked directly. Since that big press
conference at the beginning of last month, when he said this whole thing
made him very sad and he called his former deputy chief of staff, Bridget
Kelly, stupid and a liar, since then, Governor Christie has made no public
comments on this matter. Governor Christie has refused to answer questions
about the bridge closure -- until tonight.

Tonight, he spoke about it for the first time in 25 days. This is on
New Jersey Live 101.5 Radio tonight. Listen.


GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Let`s make one thing clear right
off the bat which I think is the most important issue. And the most
important issue is, did I know anything about the plan to close these
lanes? Did I authorize it? Did I know about it? Did I approve it? Did I
have any knowledge of it beforehand? And the answer is still the same.
It`s unequivocally, no.

And, in fact, no one`s ever accused me of that. Here`s what I`m
curious about, Eric. What I`m curious about is what happened here, and
that`s why I`ve authorized an internal investigation, as I talked about on
January 9th.


CHRISTIE: And we`ve hired a law firm to come in and do that internal
investigation. They`re working very hard, they`re working diligently. I
can`t wait for them to be finished so I can get the full story here.

RADIO HOST: And this is the internal investigation of your staff to
determine who may have known --


RADIO HOST: -- what.

CHRISTIE: To get into the situation. I mean, we`re going to try to
get as much information as we possibly can by interviewing folks and
reviewing documents that are in our possession. We have access to. And
then they`re going to give a report. And so that`s what I`m really anxious
to find out about.

RADIO HOST: Is there a timeline on that?

CHRISTIE: My timeline to them is as quickly as possible.

RADIO HOST: Because you made it clear during that press conference if
you find out anybody else on your staff lied, that there are going to be

CHRISTIE: They`ll be fired.


MADDOW: Governor Chris Christie tonight, speaking tonight answering
questions about the bridge closure that affected Fort Lee, New Jersey, so
egregiously last September. As you just heard there, the governor
adamantly and unequivocally denying that he had any advance knowledge of
the plan to close those access lanes to the bridge.

His exact words there, "Did I know anything about the plan to close
lanes? Did I authorize it? Did I know about it? Did I approve it? Did I
have knowledge of it beforehand? And he answer is unequivocally, no."

The governor making that denial, the same time kind of hinting that
maybe this whole thing is being blown out of proportion, right? Also not
totally letting go of that whole traffic study excuse. This was


CHRISTIE: Let`s remember something for everybody out there. We did
not close the lanes to the bridge. All the lanes of the bridge were open.
These were three toll booths that are dedicated just to Fort Lee, and that
two of those lanes were closed apparently to do a traffic study to see if
there was really a need for all those three lanes. That`s what I was told
at the time.

That`s what we were told at the time by Port Authority staff. That`s
what we were told -- that`s what the legislature was told when Senator
Baroni went and testified before the legislature in November. That`s what
we`ve been told all along until some of these e-mails came out on January
8th of this year that indicated that there were some, you know, political
overtones to this as well.

So as I said at the time of January 9th when I did my press
conference, I still don`t know whether there was a traffic study that
morphed into --

RADIO HOST: You still don`t know at this point whether there was a
traffic study?

CHRISTIE: Well, what I`m saying, Eric, did this start as a traffic
study that morphed into some political shenanigans, or did it start as
political shenanigans that became a traffic study?


MADDOW: Or was there no traffic study?

Governor Christie still not sure if there was a traffic study, even in
describing what happened January 8th when the e-mails came out with his
deputy chief of staff saying "time for traffic problems in Fort Lee," he
just describes that as political overtones as well, as well as the traffic

At the same time that the governor was doing this interview tonight,
the news broke about his deputy chief of staff, Bridget Kelly, invoking the
Fifth Amendment and refusing to comply with the subpoena she has been sent
by the legislature. That news about her invoking the Fifth Amendment broke
during the governor`s radio interview tonight, and in that interview he was
asked about it.


RADIO HOST: "The Star Ledger" is just reporting now the lawyer for
Kelly is citing her Fifth Amendment rights and she will not hand over
subpoenaed documents to the legislative committee. What does that tell

CHRISTIE: You know, listen, it doesn`t tell me anything. I know
everything I needed to know from a point of employment for Bridget Kelly
when she didn`t tell me the truth. And I fired her. And what I`ve said as
to all these people are that have lawyers now is that I hope they would
share information with us, but I also understand that people have rights,
and they`re going to exercise those rights as they see fit and as their
lawyers advise them to do so.

I would hope they would share any information they have that would let
me get to the bottom of it. But on the other hand, they have
constitutional rights like everybody else, and if they`re going to exercise
them, there`s nothing I can do about that, Eric. But we`re certainly going
to be asking and have asked for information from folks and if folks give it
to us, great, and if they don`t, because they say they`re exercising their
constitutional rights, I don`t think any of us can be critical of someone
for exercising their constitutional rights.


MADDOW: Governor Chris Christie responding to news tonight that his
former deputy chief of staff who he says he fired over this matter has
invoked her Fifth Amendment rights and will not comply with the testimony,
with the request for testimony and documentation from the New Jersey

It should also be noted that when Governor Christie fired Bridget Anne
Kelly, he made a point of saying at this January press conference that he
did not ask her, when he fired her, he did not ask her why she sent that e-
mail ordering the bridge closure. We don`t know why the governor did not
ask her when she had the chance. But now, she`s not talking to anybody.

Governor Christie said his office, the office of the governor of New
Jersey, has started turning over its own documents to the assembly in
response to their subpoena. And this is the third piece of breaking news
tonight, the governor confirmed also that his office has received a
subpoena from the federal authorities, from the U.S. attorney investigating
the bridge closure.

We had suspected that it was possible that the governor`s office had
also been subpoenaed by federal prosecutors, by the U.S. attorney looking
into whether or not this was a potential criminal violation. We had
suspected on Friday that that might be the case. The governor confirmed
for it tonight, confirmed that tonight. And so, now, we know it`s true.

Of course, today was deadline day for the subpoenas from the
legislature. Everybody subpoenaed by the New Jersey legislature, 18 people
and 2 entities including the governor`s office, they had until tonight at
5:00 p.m. Eastern to comply with their subpoenas and to submit to the New
Jersey legislative committee thousands of pages of documents and records
and in some cases cell phones and BlackBerrys.

Those documents have started pouring in to the New Jersey legislature,
although many of the people who were subpoenaed have apparently asked for
an extension. We don`t know exactly who has asked for an extension, who`s
asked for more time, but we know that Governor Christie`s re-election
campaign is an entity that has asked for an extension. We also know the
head of the re-election campaign, Governor Christie`s now fired campaign
manager Bill Stepien is also invoking his Fifth Amendment rights and
announced he will not comply with the subpoena that went to him personally.

Mr. Stepien is also invoking his Fifth Amendment right against self-
incrimination, refusing to hand over documents and records. That
announcement by Bill Stepien happened late in the day on Friday. Friday
was also, of course, when we got that vaguely worded sort of cryptic letter
from the attorney for David Wildstein, the Port Authority official who`s at
the center of the lane closings, the one who seems to have actually
arranged them.

"The New York Times" got ahold of this letter in which Mr. Wildstein`s
attorney mostly makes the case to a lawyer at the Port Authority that the
Port Authority should pay Mr. Wildstein`s legal fees. But also in this
letter Mr. Wildstein`s attorney wrote a strange passive tense sentence that
brought front-page headlines across the country. Quote, "Evidence exists
as well tying Governor Christie to having knowledge of the lane closures
during the period when the lanes were closed contrary to what the governor
stated publicly in a two-hour press conference."

That happened on Friday and then the weekend, it got even weirder.
What happened this weekend that made it, go splash cold water on your face
and read the newspaper again bizarre time this weekend was the way that
Governor Christie`s office responded privately, pseudo-privately, to that
allegation from David Wildstein`s lawyer.

I mean, publicly, of course, we knew Friday night they responded with
a statement about how everything Mr. Wildstein said actually exonerated
Governor Christie, corroborated what he said all along. It was a strange
reaction, publicly, but not that notable in terms of its substance.

Privately, though, it was a whole different story. On Saturday, was first to publish an e-mail that they say Governor
Christie`s office sent to, quote, "friends and allies."

This was so weird I actually had to wonder if I was getting punked
when I first saw it. I couldn`t believe this was a real thing. But
nobody`s contesting the accuracy of this. Or the legitimacy of this as
something that actually originated in the governor`s office. So I think we
have to believe that it is real.

In this e-mail, Governor Christie`s office takes issue with "The New
York Times`" reporting from Friday. And then they go full bore into an
attack on David Wildstein.

Number four on the list of five things Governor Christie`s office
wants you to know about David Wildstein is, quote, "In David Wildstein`s
past, people in newspaper accounts have described him as tumultuous and
someone who made moves that were not productive." And then here are the
top two bullet points proving that David Wildstein has a checkered past.
Quote, "As a 16-year-old, David Wildstein sued over a local school board
election." And, quote, "He was publicly accused by his high school social
studies teacher of deceptive behavior."

Governor Christie`s office goes on to say that in addition to being
deceptive to his social studies teacher, David Wildstein also had a
"controversial tenure as mayor of Livingston, New Jersey."

Bottom line, Governor Christie`s office say, "David Wildstein will do
and say anything to save David Wildstein."

It is not at one level all that weird that there`s oppo research now
trying to discredit David Wildstein, right? That`s sort of politics.

David Wildstein used to be a Chris Christie ally. That relationship
has definitely soured. So, now, Chris Christie`s office is trying to
discredit him. It`s kind of icky, right? But that`s politics.

Doing so, though, by bringing up what his high school social studies
teacher said about him -- makes this seem so strange it almost feels fake.
Apparently it`s not fake. Not to mention it`s a total about-face from
Governor Christie`s office on the topic of Wildstein`s character. I mean,
here they are saying this guy can`t be trusted, he`ll do anything, say
anything, he`s deceptive. He`s always been deceptive, back since social
studies. Back since he was a teenager. Don`t believe anything David
Wildstein says. Don`t trust that guy as far as you can throw him.

OK. But why did you give him this six-figure job?


CHRISTIE: I know David, and, you know, I knew that Bill Baroni wanted
to hire David to come to the Port Authority and I gave him my permission
for him to do it, but that was Bill`s hire. He asked for permission, I
gave my permission for him to hire David.


MADDOW: I gave my permission for my top appointee at the Port
Authority to bring on David Wildstein -- David Wildstein who I`ve also
known since high school as a total liar.

David Wildstein was paid more than $150,000 a year for doing that job
at the Port Authority, and the job he was hired for did not exist before he
got it and it had no job description. They created the job for him. The
Port Authority has no resume on file for Mr. Wildstein which means he
didn`t exactly have to apply and jump through hoops in order to get it.

When asked why David Wildstein had this $150,000 a year job with no
job description and no resume on file at the Port Authority, Governor
Christie`s spokesman defended the decision to hire Mr. Wildstein.

Look, David Wildstein, quote, "is there in that job because he`s well
suited to the task of playing a role in reforming the Port Authority in
accordance with the governor`s goals."

Commenting on Wildstein`s unpopularity among some officials within the
agency, Governor Christie`s spokesman said "if he`s not liked for that role
and if he`s accused of being zealous in that regard, then we plead guilty."

Governor Christie`s office saying David Wildstein was perfect for the
job at the Port Authority. If people don`t like them, that`s their
problem. He`s carrying everything out at the Port Authority in accordance
with the governor`s goals. That was in December.

Now in February, it is David Wildstein will do and say anything.
Always been an untrustworthy character.

Governor Christie`s position on who David Wildstein is has been a
moving target. That long press conference back in January, Governor
Christie insisted he had no contact with David Wildstein in a long time.
Said he hadn`t seen David Wildstein since well before the election. Yet
there`s all these pictures of them together during the bridge closure, and
even before.

When David Wildstein resigned from the Port Authority, Governor
Christie`s office called him a tireless advocate for the state. When the
governor`s office got flak for hiring Mr. Wildstein for that job, they said
he deserved that job, said he was perfect for that job.

Now, Governor Christie`s office is saying the social studies teacher
called him deceptive. He`ll do and say anything.

This story has been getting bigger for a long time. It`s never taken
a more dramatic turn for the weird before today, though.

Stay with us.



CHRISTIE: What the people of New Jersey need to know is two things
about this, one more time. First, I had nothing to do with this. No
knowledge, no authorization, no planning, nothing to do with this before
this decision was made to close these lanes by the Port Authority.

Secondly, while I`m disappointed by what happened here, I am
determined to fix it. I told people all the time in this job, I can`t
promise you that we`re going to be perfect. What I can promise you is
we`re going to do our best.


MADDOW: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie making his first public
comments on the bridge scandal tonight since his initial press conference
on the matter nearly a month ago. That interview was live tonight as more
breaking news in this story broke. Third figure in the scandal has invoked
the Fifth Amendment and will not comply with the subpoena on the issue,
following his campaign manager and a high school friend, beyond Bill
Stepien and David Wildstein. Now, the third person invoking the amendment
is the governor`s former deputy chief of staff who appears to have ordered
up some traffic problems for Fort Lee from the governor`s office.

Joining us now is reporter Matt Katz, who covers New Jersey for WNYC

Matt, thanks very much for being with us. Nice to have you here.


MADDOW: So, strong denials from the governor on this radio interview
tonight. It`s his first time answering live questions from a live human
really on this matter since January 9th. What did he say tonight that we
didn`t necessarily know before?

KATZ: Yes, there were three things I picked up. First, he was more
curious about why this happened or presented himself as being more curious
about what happened here than he seemed to me at that press conference a
few weeks ago. We`re going to do an investigation, I want to know ASAP
what my investigators find out, and I want to know what caused it. He sort
of dismissed those questions at the press conference. I thought that was

Also, his tone was totally different from the e-mails that we`ve been
getting and seeing from Christie`s people and supporters. They`ve been,
you know, attacking Wildstein personally, as you talked about. There was
another dossier on "The New York Times" that surfaced today that his people
released where they really like took apart their story about this on
Friday, to hide clips of the reporter who wrote the story, really, point-
by-point went after them.

This was not an angry Chris Christie tonight. He was still somewhat
on the defensive which I thought was interesting. So, you`re seeing him
present a somewhat contrite, a little bit on the defensive where his people
more subtly and behind the scenes are going on the offense.

And I wonder if that`s a tone we`re going to continue to see for a
while, or if that`s going to shift a bit at some point.

MADDOW: Matt, I want to ask you about part of that other tone we`re
seeing, part of that aggression. I have to say, I`m not saying it for a
fact, I found it to be really, really strange reading that e-mail from the
governor`s office reportedly sent to friends and allies about David
Wildstein, attacking David Wildstein`s credibility in ways that are really
embarrassing when you put them up next to all the publicly glowing things
that Governor Christie has said about David Wildstein in the past and the
way they`re palpably evidently close.

But also invoking things his social studies teacher in his high school
said about him and his behavior as a 16-year-old to try to cast out on his
veracity, it`s not that I don`t expect them to go after somebody like David
Wildstein. I guess I expected them to do it in a way that was less

Is this -- are they unexpectedly bad at this? I don`t understand.

KATZ: They`re usually good at attacking people.


KATZ: This was based mostly on one profile that was written about
David Wildstein about a year and a half ago. The issue with David
Wildstein, I mean, this is a guy who didn`t have anything underneath his
picture in his high school yearbook. People have clubs and write quotes.
I mean, he had nothing.

He was not an anonymous blogger that nobody, even his employees,
didn`t know who he was for eight years. So, this is somebody who there`s
not a lot of information about, right? So maybe they were forced to go
back to high school and, you know, build a character sketch of them that
would be unflattering.

And, you know, this is sort of the way they operate. I mean, they are
extremely effusive in their praise of people that they are propping up,
nominees, political allies. But if you get on their wrong side, they`re
going to, you know, bring out the knives. And that`s what we`re seeing

But, you know, to be honest, Wildstein is also bringing out the
knives. I mean, Wildstein embarrassed the governor the Friday before his
big Super Bowl weekend. So there`s probably -- there`s a little bit of
anger on both sides I think.

MADDOW: WNYC`s Matt Katz -- Matt, thank you very much for your time
tonight. I really appreciate it.

KATZ: Sure, Rachel.

MADDOW: You know, mom always used to say, if you don`t have anything
mean to say about someone that doesn`t involved you going back and talking
about how they behave in high school, then you don`t actually have anything
mean to say to anybody at all. Actually, my mother never said anything
like that.

All right. There`s the alleged misdeed, then there`s also the alleged
and apparent cover-up. "Wall Street Journal" had a big scoop on the cover-
up side of this, this morning, and I`ll explain that coming up.

We`ve also got John Wisniewski here within the next few minutes.

Stay with us.



CHRISTIE: I am confident based upon our conversations with them that
they had no prior knowledge nor involvement in this situation.

REPORTER: What about -- what about the cover up piece of this?

CHRISTIE: Yes, well, that`s your characterization, not mine. But
there was nobody on my staff who had any knowledge of this issue until
after the issue was already done.


MADDOW: Nobody on my staff had any knowledge of this issue until it
was already done. That was an untrue statement from New Jersey Governor
Chris Christie. We know it`s untrue because of this e-mail which was sent
between two people on Governor Christie`s staff while the bridge lane
shutdown was still under way.

See, the date there is September 12th, that was Thursday of that lane.
That`s while those lanes on the George Washington Bridge were still shut

This e-mail is from Christina Genovese Renna, and it is to Bridget
Anne Kelly. Bridget Kelly is, of course, was Governor Chris Christie`s
deputy chief of staff. Christina Renna, the person who sent the email was
New Jersey`s director of departmental relations. And while the bridge lane
shutdown was under way, these two Christie staffers were e-mailing about it
in the governor`s office. So, when Governor Christie said no one on his
staff knew about this thing until it was over and done with, that e-mail
from September 12th proves that that assertion from the governor is not

Now, the person who sent that e-mail has resigned. She is now the
fifth Chris Christie staffer or appointee or close ally who has resigned or
been fired since the bridge lane scandal broke. The first two people to
resign were Bill Baroni and David Wildstein. You see Mr. Baroni there, the
circle on the left. You see Wildstein next to Christie there.

Wildstein and Baroni have both resigned. Bill Baroni was Governor
Christie`s number two appointee at the Port Authority. He resigned in
December as did David Wildstein. David Wildstein is a person Bill Baroni
brought with him to the Port Authority and hired him there with Mr.
Christie`s permission.

Here`s another angle on them in a different context. There we are,
Bill Baroni on the left. Very happy. Mr. Wildstein there in the
sunglasses and striped tie talking with Governor Christie.

These two men were the first two Christie appointees/allies to resign
during the course of this scandal. They were number one and number two.
The third person to lose his job in this scandal was Bill Stepien, Chris
Christie`s two-time campaign manager, who was about to become the head of
the New Jersey Republican Party and who was widely expected to be the
campaign manager for Governor Christie if he mounted a bid for president in

Bill Stepien was the third person to lose his job during this scandal.
Then, the following morning after Bill Stepien lost his job, Bridget Kelly
lost hers. She was fired by Governor Christie a day after the e-mail
surfaced, which she wrote, "Time for traffic problems in Fort Lee."

So, those are the first four Christie allies or staffers that have
left or lost their jobs since the scandal started. As of today, we now
have number five, Christina Genovese Renna. She reported to Bridgette
Kelly in the governor`s office. It was her e-mail that proved that
Governor Christie didn`t tell the truth when he said his staff knew nothing
about it during the lane closures.

She has now released a statement through her lawyer saying that she
resigned her position effective this past Friday. In the statement, Ms.
Renna professed her continuing respect and admiration for the governor.
She said nothing about the ongoing scandal being a cause for her leaving.
She said, instead, she`d been considering leaving the governor`s office
anyway for a long time since maybe back to the election but decided she
would go now.

She decided specifically that her last day would be the day that David
Wildstein made the allegation that Governor Christie knew about the lane
closures on the bridge while they were still under way. The governor
denies that, but his staff definitely did know.

And that e-mail from September 12th from Christina Renna not only
proves it, it now raises some important questions. Look at the e-mail.
"Dear Bridget, this afternoon Evan" who we think is a gubernatorial aide
named Evan Ridley, "Evan received a call from Mayor Sokolich. It came from
a number he was not familiar with." It was actual lay secretary who
patched the mayor through to Evan.

Quote, "The mayor is extremely upset of the reduction of toll lanes
from three to one. First responders are having a terrible time maneuvering
the traffic because the backup is so severe."

Quote, "The mayor told Evan that he has no idea why the Port Authority
decided to do this but it`s a feeling in town that it is government
retribution for something. Even told the fine mayor he was unaware the
toll lanes were closed but he would see what he could find out."

So, first, it starts right off with an explanation, almost an
apologetic explanation for why the mayor`s call got through to someone in
the governor`s office, right, almost as if the governor`s office was
screening calls to make sure they didn`t talk to him and it was only
because Evan didn`t recognize the particular number that the call from the
mayor of Fort Lee actually got through.

Also, it`s clear that the governor`s staff knows who this Mayor
Sokolich is. They don`t call him the mayor of Fort Lee. They don`t call
him Mayor Mark Sokolich of Fort Lee. No introduction necessary. He`s just
Mayor Sokolich. They know who they`re talking about.

And apparently, Mayor Sokolich is familiar enough to the governor`s
staff they expect to recognize his phone number when he calls. Which is
weird, right? Because part of Governor Christie`s defense in this whole
scandal is that neither he nor his staff really had any idea who this
Sokolich guy was. This guy who they tell me is the mayor of Fort Lee.
Who`s he?


CHRISTIE: As I said to you all many times before, Mayor Sokolich was
never on my radar screen. I don`t remember ever meeting Mayor Sokolich and
certainly never did in that context. I`m sure I met him at some point at
an event in Bergen County. But I have to tell you, until I saw his picture
last night on television, I wouldn`t have been able to pick him out of a
lineup. I never heard the Fort Lee mayor`s name, Mark Sokolich, his name,
until all this stuff happened.


MADDOW: That is not the impression conveyed by the governor`s staff
in their in-house e-mail.

Why was the governor`s staff focused on Mayor Sokolich during the time
of the lane closures? Why were they snarking about him being a fine mayor?
Why, when they were writing about the accidental contact with the fine
mayor of Fort Lee during the bridge lane shutdown? Why were the top two
staffers of Governor Christie using personal Gmail and Yahoo! accounts in
order to have that correspondence?

This was in the middle of an afternoon on a Thursday, on a weekday.
Why were they e-mailing on their personal accounts instead of their work

Governor Christie said something that was not true when he said none
of his staff knew this was under way while it was under way. We know it
was not true because of this e-mail from Christina Renna. Christina Renna
has now resigned her job in the governor`s office with an explanation that
made no mention of this scandal or her role in it.

Governor Christie`s office has had no comment on her resignation as of
yet. But you know what, she is still under subpoena. Hold that thought.


MADDOW: Two major untrue statements have been exposed as untrue.
Since the bridge scandal broke open in New Jersey.

The first one we just discussed which is the governor`s statement that
nobody on his staff knew anything about the bridge lanes being shut down
while day were shut down. We know that was a false statement in part
because of an e-mail about the shutdown sent during the shutdown between
two of his staffers. It was an e-mail about a third Christie staffer taking
a phone call from the Fort Lee mayor on that matter. The author of that e-
mail, New Jersey`s director of departmental regulations, as I just
mentioned resigned from the governor`s office effective this past Friday.
That`s one.

The other big untruth that has been exposed as a lie since this
scandal broke open is the two hours of testimony before the New Jersey
legislature which said that those lanes on that bridge were closed because
of a traffic study. The New Jersey official who told that elaborate false
story to the legislature is Bill Baroni, Governor Chris Christie`s number
two appointee at the Port Authority, himself a former New Jersey state

Bill Baroni was not under oath when he gave that testimony. But
still, you`re not supposed to tell lies to the legislature. And the
executive director of the Port Authority was under oath before the
legislature when he testified that the whole traffic study story was a
bunch of hog wash.


STATE REP. LINDA STENDER (D), NEW JERSEY: You know that there`s been
a lot of speculation these lane closures were done for political purpose
because of issues with the mayor in Fort Lee. And when you`ve had these
conversations with Wildstein, did he make any reference to his decision
having to have political purpose?

PAT FOYE, PORT AUTHORITY: So, Vice Chair, just to be clear, I`ve had
no conversations with Wildstein. I`ve spoken with deputy executive
director Bill Baroni and the answer to your question is no.

STENDER: And, so you accepted that their statement, their -- their
rationale that they put people at risk and spent money and created
tremendous upheaval solely for the purpose of a traffic study?

FOYE: I don`t.

STENDER: You don`t? Why do you think they did it?

FOYE: I`m not aware of any traffic study. I don`t know why it was

STENDER: Thank you.


MADDOW: That`s the executive director of the Port Authority saying,
yes, this traffic study thing they keep talking about, I am not aware of
any traffic study. He`s the head of the agency.

So two questions: number one, what`s going to happen to Bill Baroni?
He`s already resigned. He received at least one subpoena from the state
legislature which he was due to respond to today unless he got an
extension. Is Bill Baroni paying for his own legal representation or is
the Port Authority going to represent him legally or pay his legal bills?

Because the Port Authority is not paying the legal bills of the other
official from that agency who resigned because of this scandal. Both Bill
Baroni and David Wildstein asked the Port Authority to pay for their legal
representation. The answer to David Wildstein was no. And the Port
Authority reportedly has just not answered Bill Baroni`s request yet.

It was in David Wildstein`s letter on Friday asking the Port Authority
to reconsider that decision that we got what has turned into basically the
next big development in this story.

David Wildstein`s lawyer writes to the Port Authority, quote, "The
person counseling Mr. Baroni for his appearance before the transportation
committee was an attorney working under you at the Port Authority. The
counseling as I understand it was conducted over a period of four to five
days and Mr. Wildstein was present for much of it."

Hmm. It`s one thing for a false story to have been concocted and sold
as a cover-up for why those bridge lanes were actually shut down, right?
It would be one thing if the two guys who resigned in this scandal could be
blamed alone for having cooked up that cover story, themselves, that was
supposed to hide what the governor`s office, specifically then-deputy chief
of staff Bridget Kelly actually explicitly ordered to happen on that
bridge. Be one thing if it was those two guys.

But if it wasn`t just those two guys who cooked it up, if it was a
broader, more organized effort to cover up what really happened, then this
scandal just got bigger by an order of magnitude. That`s what`s that they
say about it not being the crime, it`s the cover-up?

That`s what David Wildstein is implying when he says a Port Authority
lawyer spent four to five days helping prepare Bill Baroni to give that
false testimony and that is what "The Wall Street Journal" has reported
today with this scoop. Look at this. "Christie ally prepped official
before George Washington Bridge lane closure testimony." Subhead, "Philip
Kwon, an attorney at the Port Authority, helped to prepare Bill Baroni."

Citing unnamed officials, "The Wall Street Journal" reports that Phil
Kwon, who`s also a Christie appointee to the Port Authority, Phil Kwon
spent parts of four to five days helping prepare the testimony Bill Baroni
gave to the legislature which we know was a false cover story.

The Port Authority for their part tonight, they are denying it was
five hole days. They`re saying that kind of preparation before testimony
is a routine matter and people shouldn`t read anything into it.

But you know what? Given that that testimony turned out to be made
up, doesn`t that raise real questions about anybody being involved in the
preparation of that testimony? Who else helped cook up the cover story
besides David Wildstein and Bill Baroni?

After the cover story was delivered to the legislature, we know that
the feedback from Trenton from the state capital to Bill Baroni on how
great he did with the cover story was all positives from somebody named
Bridget, somebody named Nicole and somebody named Charlie, presumably
Charlie McKenna, Governor Christie`s chief counsel.

So, we know that those folks in the state capitol liked how that cover
story sounded when it was delivered. But reacting positively to the cover
story once you hear it is one thing. Having helped draw it up, having
helped concoct it, that is another matter entirely. Huge scoop today from
"The Wall Street Journal."

Who else was involved in the cover-up?

We`ll be right back.



CHRISTIE: You know, I know Phil, personally. This is not somebody
who I found in the lawyer`s diary or a resume that was sent to our office
by an interested party. He`s worked for me for the better part of ten

He`s smart. He`s dedicated. He`s independent. And he`s passionate
about public service. Today`s experience I hope will only embolden him to
do more for the state, not less.


MADDOW: Kind words from New Jersey Governor Chris Christie in 2012,
talking about a man named Phillip Kwon. After Mr. Kwon`s appointment to
the state Supreme Court was blocked by the Democratic-led judiciary
committee in the New Jersey state senate.

Mr. Christie subsequently appointed Phil Kwon to be a lawyer at the
Port Authority, where the "Wall Street Journal" reports today that he spent
days preparing Bill Baroni for his legislative testimony on the George
Washington Bridge lane closures, testimony that is now known to have been
untrue and misleading.

Joining us now is the co-chair of the New Jersey Assembly Select
Committee`s investigation into this matter, Assemblyman John Wisniewski.

Mr. Chairman, thanks for being here.

STATE REP. JOHN WISNIEWSKI (D), NEW JERSEY: Rachel, good to be back.

MADDOW: Bill Baroni gave you two hours of testimony on the closure of
those bridge lanes. I reread all of that testimony today and looked back
at some of that tape. He said it was all to do with a traffic study. Is
it clear to you that we now know that was inaccurate testimony?

WISNIEWSKI: It was inaccurate testimony. There was no traffic study.
Pat Foye in his testimony denied the existence of a traffic study. The
documents we`ve received from the people we`ve previously submitted show
there was no photographic study. It seems to be some type of cover story.

MADDOW: If the "Wall Street Journal`s" reporting is accurate, that
Phillip Kwon, a lawyer at the Port Authority, a close ally and appointee of
the governor`s, was involved in four to five days of preparation of Mr.
Baroni for that testimony, which you just said is inaccurate, are -- does
that open up a new line of questions for the Port Authority, for the
governor, or for Mr. Kwon?

WISNIEWSKI: One of the fundamental problems we have with this entire
inquiry, every time we learn something we get a whole bunch of new
questions that we don`t have answers to. So, I knew Phil Kwon was there
when Bill Baroni was testifying, but at that point in time, I had no idea -

MADDOW: He was sitting there in the room.

WISNIEWSKI: He was sitting a couple of seats behind Bill Baroni while
he testified. As a matter of fact, Mr. Baroni referenced him during his
testimony. When I asked him for the documents he was referring to, he said
he`d have to run that by counsel. I said, well, he`s a couple rows behind
you, you can go talk and we`ll wait. He deferred doing that.

But the point is it just seems an unusual amount of time to have
somebody spend and prep you for talking about something that is supposed to
be factual. I mean, if it`s something that happened, somebody understood
and knew and was planning for I`m really mystified at the length of time it
was necessary to prepare Bill Baroni for the testimony.

MADDOW: I feel like I`m a slow reader and a slow learner and I can
buy that it can take a long time to prep for important testimony. Two
hours sitting there. You were asking difficult questions. I can tell from
the tape I watched today and the transcript.

What seems difficult for me to get my head around is the question of
who cooked up the cover story. I mean, the cover story, if it was
developed in order to hide what really was happening. How will we ever
learn who was in on creating it?

WISNIEWSKI: Well, that`s what we`re trying to get to the bottom of.
There`s an interesting e-mail or text message sometime on the first
morning. I think David Wildstein sent to somebody that said, I have an
idea to make this better.

So, my question is, was that where the thought was hatched about
coming up with this cover story? I don`t know. But clearly there was a
lot of effort put into it.

You`ve seen the e-mails. We`ve all seen e-mails. There was a lot of
back and forth about how to spin the press, how to keep conversations to a
minimum, how not to respond to people. So, there was really a concerted
effort in that first week to not really talk about and then a concerted
effort afterwards to come up with an explanation, a rationalization, if you
will, as to why this happened.

MADDOW: Governor, tonight, in a live radio interview went back to the
traffic study idea. Said he doesn`t know if there was a traffic study or
if it was a traffic study did it morph into a political vendetta or vice

Do you have any reaction to the governor putting it in those terms?

WISNIEWSKI: It`s clearly not a traffic study. I think any objective
observer who looked at these documents know that it wasn`t. And if it was,
then why did Bridget Kelly send an e-mail saying there`s time for some
traffic problems in Fort Lee?

Clearly, she could have said it`s time to put the traffic study into
effect, it`s time to do that bit of analysis we talked about. But that`s
not what she said.

And so, I think the documents really speak to the fact that there was
no traffic study. I think we need to get beyond that. I mean, for
whatever reason the governor keeps holding on to that for some reason. I`m
not sure it really is an important issue for him to hold on to.

We need to know what gave Bridget Kelly the idea that she could send
this? Who else in the governor`s office above her, alongside her, gave her
the permission to do this? We know she couldn`t have done it on her own.

MADDOW: Bridget Kelly tonight invoking the Fifth Amendment, saying
she will not comply with your subpoena. What`s your reaction to that?

WISNIEWSKI: Well, it makes our job a little more difficult.
Obviously not the first time we`ve heard this. The third time essentially.
We`re going to consult with counsel for the committee and decide what
course the committee should take in response to that.

MADDOW: New Jersey Assemblyman John Wisniewski, thank you for keeping
us apprised. Appreciate it.

WISNIEWSKI: Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW: We`ll be right back.



CHRISTIE: So as I said at the time of January 9th, when I did my
press conference, I still don`t know whether there was a traffic study that
morphed --

RADIO HOST: You still don`t know at this point whether there was a
traffic study?

CHRISTIE: Well, what I`m saying, Eric, is did this start as a traffic
study that then morphed into some political shenanigans, or did it start as
political shenanigans that became a traffic study?


MADDOW: Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey taking questions
tonight about the bridge scandal for the first time in more than three
weeks, again insisting he had nothing to do with it and, unexpectedly,
still sticking with the idea that maybe it was all about some sort of
traffic study.

The governor`s former deputy chief of staff, Bridget Kelly tonight
asserting her fifth amendment rights, saying she will not comply with the
subpoena she`s received from the New Jersey legislature. She is the third
official associated with these events in New Jersey to invoke their Fifth
Amendment rights.

And a fifth person has now left Governor Christie`s orbit since this
scandal began. This time it`s Christina Genovese Renna, who reported to
Bridget Kelly in the governor`s office. Christina Renna has announced as
of this weekend that she has resigned from the governor`s office.

All of that, and we have not so much as dipped a toe in the whole
other river of news about the Christie administration having to do with
this story, specifically related to questions about the way the Christie
administration has handled federal disaster money sent to the state after
Hurricane Sandy and whether or not the administration divvied that money up
fairly or whether there were politics in play.

We`re going to be taking a dive into some of those questions tomorrow
night on that with our own Steve Kornacki. Steve Kornacki has been
reporting on that subject that you will not hear anywhere else. You are
not going to want to miss it. That`s tomorrow night right here.

But right now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL."

Have a great night.


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