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tv   The Situation Room  CNN  January 31, 2014 2:00pm-3:31pm PST

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she says she will fight the guilty verdict handed down in an italian court and will never go willingly to serve her 28-year sentence. an appeals court found her and her ex-boyfriend guilty of the murder of meredith kercher. the appeals process could take about a year so it's too early to talk about extradition. that's it for "the lead." wolf blitzer in "the situation room" is next. jake, thanks very much. yes, indeed. happening now, breaking news. a potential bombshell from the former official who orchestrated the lane closings that shut down a new jersey city triggered investigations of governor chris christie's administration. did the governor know about the
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lane closures. and dennis rodman is live with chris cuomo is back interviewing him. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." let's get to the breaking news. a one-time political ally who resigned after organizing the crippling lane closures now says the governor, the governor, chris christie, knew about those lane closures and this official says he has information that contradicts what governor christie said about him. let's bring in kate of the "new york times" who broke the story just a little while ago. she's joining us on the phone. kate, tell our viewers what exactly you've learned. it's a little complicated but potentially explosive. >> reporter: so this is a letter from the lawyer for david wildstein. he's the one who went to the
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bridge workers and said shut down these lanes. well, we learned three weeks ago that a christie administration official, deputy chief of staff, bridget anne kelly send david wildstein it was time for traffic problems in ft. lee, that bridget kelly was involved from the christie administration telling them to shut down these lanes. what we had not known so far, governor christy had said he didn't know about these lane closures, certainly didn't know that this was done to punish any may nor as it seems from the documents released three weeks ago. what david is saying now is the lawyer is saying governor christie knew about these lane closures at the time it was happening and was lying when he said in a two-hour press conference that he did not know about this. >> and the bottom line being, if this former close associate, a political ally, if you will, of the governor is undermining what he said in the press conference, that could open up a can of worms for governor christie?
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>> absolutely. i think people have been waiting what david wildstein would do. everyone knew that he was most intimately involved with this, with the lane closings and could tell us who in the christie administration he was dealing with. the administration has said that it started and stopped with bridget kelly. no one else in the administration did. they tried to portray her as a rogue staff member and that is not the case, according to wildstein. >> i want you to hold on. we're getting more information here at cnn. chris has been looking into this part of the story. update us on what you're learning. you called the governor's office, the lawyer representing david wildstein's office. chris, update us on what you are learning. >> that's right, wolf. we've reached out to the governor's office and have not heard back. we reached out to david wildstein's attorney on this. i want to remind everybody that what we're talking about here is chris christie when he -- >> hold on. we're missing your microphone. we're having trouble hearing
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you. we're going to fix that. kate, let me go back to you for a second. i want to read to our viewers exactly what is in this letter, the letter from david wildstein's attorney that has generated all this commotion right now. i'll read the whole paragraph to our viewers. it has also come to light that a person within the christie administration communicated the order that certain lanes on the george washington bridge were to be closed and evidence exists as well tieing mr. 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 he gave immediately before wildstein was to appear before the transportation committee. mr. wildstein can prove the inaccuracy of some. first, kate to you, do we have what that evidence is? have the lawyer or lawyers for wildstein explained what they say that evidence is?
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>> no. the lawyer for wildstein has not responded to follow up for request what the evidence is. what we know -- wildstein has already turned over a bunch of documents. wildstein turned over the documents that showed the e-mail from christie's office saying time for some traffic problems in ft. lee. in those documents that were turned over by wildstein in december, released in january, there's a whole bunch of redacted it statements. so he and someone else at the port authority and bridget kelly are discussing these lane closures and they are discussing what they should say to the press and what wildstein has been saying all along, i can by simply removing those redactions tell you a lot about this. >> there's unanswered questions. i'm going to place some of the sound in a moment of what christie said about wildstein, what christie said about his knowledge about the lane
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closures and chris is here and you tried to get in touch with the governor's office for some reaction and haven't been able to connect with them yet and you've called the wildstein's attorney? >> i think what we need to remind our viewers about is what christie actually said. remember during the marathon press conference he said he didn't know about these lane closures before they happened and that he had learned about them when they became public. i think we have some sound on that. let's play what the governor said a few weeks ago. >> i knew nothing about this and until it started to be reported in the papers and even then i was told this was a traffic study. >> wolf, he's saying i was told it was a traffic study and let's remind our viewers who david wildstein is. he was a top port authority appointed by the governor. he's the guy who wrote "got it" when someone else said "time for traffic problems in ft. lee."
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now we're seeing his attorney writing today and asking folks to suggest that christie knew more than what he's letting on and the key sentence here, quote, evidence exists as well tieing christie to the knowledge of the lane closures contrary to what the governor stated publicly in a two-hour press conference. i think what is important here is that this letter, it leaves a lot of questions opened, like what is the evidence? what did christie know? and remember a lot of this whole discussion is predicated on was this political retaliation? and there's nothing in this that suggests that there was any political retaliation, which is kind of the key here. >> jeffrey toobin, our legal analyst is here as well. what the letter does, at a minimum, suggests that there's been a total split between david wildstein and the governor, governor chris christie, that they are on different sides of the story because in this political paragraph, his lawyer
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has written it and he's strongly, strongly alleging that christie lied. >> right. if you recall the famous two-hour press conference, it was basically a two-hour wildstein under the they were high school classmates. christie wi christie went out of his way to say i was one of the cool kids in high school and david wildstein was a loser and i didn't even know him. what's happening here is the split is now irreconcilable between them. wildstein is apparently in the process of taking considerable revenge and arguing that christie's statements at the news conference were false and, more importantly, saying that he has evidence which suggests text messages, e-mails, evidence that would contradict what christie said and that's the most significant part of this letter, that it's not potentially wildstein's word against christie's word. >> we don't have that evidence
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yet. we'll see what he's claiming. >> let me play another excerpt of governor christie at that two-hour news conference, what he said. listen to this. >> and i knew nothing about this. and until it started to be reported in the papers about the closure. but even then i was told this was a traffic study. i don't know what else to say except to tell them that i had no knowledge of this, the planning, execution, anything about it and then i first found out about it after it was over. and even then what i was told was that it was a traffic study and there was no evidence to the contrary until yesterday that was brought to my attention or anybody else's attention. >> so what do you make of that, jeffrey? >> the key phrase in what he said there was, i found out about it after it was over. this letter very clearly says that christie knew about the lane closures before it was
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over. it's not sworn testimony. it's a clear indication that a potential ally of christy, that perhaps the most potential important ally in telling his version of what happened is going to say something very different. >> go ahead, chris. >> i also want to point out, it says evidence exists. it doesn't say that wildstein has that evidence. it's important for viewers to know that david wildstein has said that he'll talk if he's given immunity from the u.s. attorney. so he's under criminal investigation right now and he's said i'm happy to talk about everything i know if i'm given immunity so that's also something -- >> kate, here is the governor speaking about his relationship with wildstein at that news conference a few weeks ago. >> well, let me just clear something up, okay, about my childhood friend david wildstein. it is true that i met david in
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1977 in high school. he's a year older than me. david and i were not friends in high school. we were not even acquaintances in high school. we didn't travel in the same circles in high school. you know, i was the class president and athlete. i don't know what david was doing during that period of time. we went 23 years without seeing each other. and in the years we did see each other, we passed in the hallways. so i want to clear that up. it doesn't make a difference except that i think some of the stories with an emotional relationship between me and david, it doesn't exist. >> when you hear that clip of what the governor said about the relationship with david wildstein, because these guys are on opposite side of the story, there's been a total rupture between the two of them,
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what do you think? what's your bottom line? >> i think there are a couple of interesting things happen here. if you're david wildstein and hear the governor saying i was a class athlete and i don't know what he was doing, that makes him sound like he's a loser. since then, there have been, for instance, so i think that antagonized david wildstein if he was inclined to support the governor. governor christie has been looking forward to the super bowl for years. they are going to say there he is under this cloud of suspicion. he's probably releasing this letter at what he considers a very potent moment. >> we're showing video of david wildstein when he appeared before the committee in new jersey that was investigating all of this and there's his lawyer sitting right next to him. he's refusing to answer any
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questions which is his constitutional right. everyone, hold on for a moment. loretta wineberg is joining us. she's a democrat and she's been very critical of the governor. let me get your immediate reaction, majority leader, to what "the new york times," "the wall street journal," all of these other news organize sgrat includi including cnn, are reporting about this potentially damning letter. >> i am also co-chair of the joint committee that's charged with investigating all of this. i think this just proves beyond a shadow of doubt in my mind that the people of new jersey and people deserve to know what took place in this sordid incident. let me add something else that came in this letter from mr. wildstein's attorney.
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he talks about the person from the port authority who counselled mr. baroni for his apees appearance before the transportation committee. that was the cover-up that mr. baroni was sent in to articulate to the transportation committee, not under oath and not as a result of subpoena. but in this letter, mr. wildstein's attorney says that the counseling was conducted over a period of four to five days and mr. wildstein was present for much of it. that means that the port authority attorney actually counselled bill baroni, if in fact this letter is truthful, actually counselled bill baroni on what to say on the cover-up. so there's another little
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subtext in this letter that was released today. >> loretta weinberg, hold on. i want you to stay with us and i want kate to stay with us and our correspondents and analysts. there's a lot more to digest. we'll take a quick break and resume our coverage. potentially very damning evidence against the governor. we'll have more what is going on right after this. ♪
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. we're back with breaking news here in "the situation room." a one-time close political ally who resigned after organizing the crippling lane closures on the gorge washington bridge now says governor chris christie knew about the lane closures and he has information that contradicts what governor christie said about him. chris frates of cnn investigation has been covering the story from the very beginning. i want for viewers tuning in, this is a potential, potential bombshell even though we don't know the evidence that david
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wildstein's attorney says they have. >> that's important. it's important to put this in context. all we know is wildstein's attorney is asserting that there's some kind of evidence that he was -- that christie knew something about these lane closures earlier than christie has said. that's all we know. we don't know what that evidence is. we don't know if it ties into political retribution which is what this case is largely about. we have to be careful here. there are a lot of unanswered questions. he's asserting he's dangling a salacious tidbit. >> dana bash, you're getting new information? >> that backs up what you're saying, chris. i spoke with new jersey congressman, john who says they have received no evidence to back up the claims or even the suggestion that he made in this letter. he's concerned about the fact that he's identifying documents that they weren't provided to us
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and they are looking certainly for an explanation as to why and they are hoping to get that on one and that is actually a very important date because the subpoenas that the committee sent out, the due date is on monday to get that information in. >> let's bring in the other co-chair of that investigation, loretta weinberg, the democrat. one of the key questions, majority leader, is whether or not you, the entire investigative unit over there, is going to provide immunity to some of the principals involved in order to get their testimony. all of them seem to be pleading the fifth right now. >> well, we in the legislature do not have the power to grant immunity. i think many of the folks, i would assume, have to deal with u.s. attorney's office on that issue. but, you know, the revelations really just add to what i've said a little earlier, that we
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need to conduct a thorough investigation and that the people of new jersey are entitled to the complete truth of what went on in this incident. and as i said, the media is concentrating on the fact that the letter says that mr. wildstein contests the accuracy of various statements that the governor made and he can prove the inaccuracy of some. i will join assembly man that we did not get the paperwork that came in from mr. wildstein but, again, i just want to say that there is something else very interesting in here that a port authority attorney counselled over the course of four or five days, according to the allegations in this letter, not
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under oath before the transportation committee. so so we all know that was a coverup. the port authority counselled him. there's another question raised in here and that is the port authority's whole role in this particular incident. we have a lot of work to do on this committee and i would hope that everybody who receives subpoenas would give us all of the type of work that we ask for and that we can move ahead to guarantee that the people of new jersey find out what went on here. >> is the governor and his staff cooperating with you? >> well, the documents are not due until monday. so i know that many of the people have asked for some extensions. they are putting in impartial
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documents and extensions. i don't have all of that information and we won't have that information until monday. >> jeffrey toobin has a question for you, majority leader. >> senator weinberg, do you think paul fishman, the u.s. attorney who does have the power to give immunity, do you think he should give immunity to david wildstein? >> i'm not going to pass judgment on that. first of all, i'm not an attorney although as i've said, i've played one unconvincingly on tv from time to time. but i'm not an attorney and i think that is up to the u.s. attorney's office. >> but you may never know what happened without wildstein telling what he knows and he will never tell unless he gets immunity. >> well, that could be an outcome of all of this or we might find out what happened as we review other documents that come before us or other people who come before us. >> loretta weinberg is the new
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jersey state majority leader, co-chair of this investigation. majority leader, thanks very much for joining us. obviously lots of questions and the reason that this story has become so, so important is because chris christie, let's be honest, let's be frank, he was considered a major front-runner of the republican presidential nominee in 2006. he might still be a front-runner if he is proven to be telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. but now one of his allies is signaturi suggesting that he's been lying. loretta weinberg, thanks so much. kate zernike, she broke the story in "the new york times" a while ago. >> we need to see what david wildstein is going to turn over. he has told the legislature that he will provide the unredacted documents. again, i mentioned earlier that
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some documents were redacted and had some clues as to who else in the governor's office may have been involved. he really does have until monday so there is time. next week i think is going to be very big. >> kate zernike, thank you. dana, you have one more point? >> yes. the whole beginning of this letter, the main purpose of this letter is writing to the port authority saying that they want his legal fees paid. so this is hardball that they are playing here and it's not just a letter saying, hey, dangling saying we have something on chris christie. they are trying to get something for wildstein, which is his legal fees paid for. >> and the theme of the letter is, look at all of the corruption that went on at the port authority and those people are being counselled by the port authority. those people have worries yet you're not paying my legal fees. this letter is about their request for legal fees and he's alleging that there was a lot of bad activity here. >> they are not cheap. chris, thanks to you as well. we're going to continue to stay
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on top of this story. we're hoping to get reaction from governor christie's office. when we do, we'll share it with you. a lot more news happening now in "the situation room." we'll be right back. hey guys! sorry we're late. did you run into traffic? no, just had to stop by the house to grab a few things. you stopped by the house? uh-huh. yea. alright, whenever you get your stuff, run upstairs, get cleaned up for dinner. you leave the house in good shape? yea. yea, of course. ♪ [ sportscaster talking on tv ] last-second field go-- yea, sure ya did. [ male announcer ] introducing at&t digital life. personalized home security and automation. get professionally monitored security for just $29.99 a month. with limited availability in select markets. ♪ we have been tasked to find art the nazis have stolen.
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if your denture moves, it can irritate your gums. try fixodent plus gum care. it helps stop denture movement and prevents gum irritation. fixodent. and forget it. welcome back. we're going to continue our coverage of what's going on in new jersey right now. a new suggestion, a very serious allegation that governor christie may have lied in that nearly two-hour news conference when he was talking about those lane closures on the george washington bridge. in fact, the new jersey star ledger and the editorial board has just released an editorial which says this, among other things. wildstein, david wildstein, the former associate of the governor claims there is documentary proof that the governor has been lying. if this proves to be true, then the governor must resigned or be impeached because it will show that everything he said that that famous two-hour conference
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was a lie. powerful words from the new jersey star ledger editorial. jake tapper is here with us. jake, just when you think the story may be going away, all of a sudden it explodes. >> although i do share some of the caution that others have expressed here about this letter, not that this isn't serious, it certainly is, but it's carefully worded and what wildstein's lawyer is suggesting is that there exists evidence -- not that he has it -- but there exists evidence that christie knew of the lane closures during the lane closures, not afterwards. he said he learned about it afterwards. that is not the same thing as saying he knew that the lane closures were politically motivated or he knew that they were a vendetta or even that he remembered. it just says there is evidence that he knew about it and then in a separate part of this key paragraph it says that wildstein
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contests information that the governor said about him and he can prove the inaccuracy. if i have to guess, we saw governor christie attempted to distance himself from wildstein at that press conference and a now famous moment of saying, i was class president and a star athlete. i don't even know what david was doing, the world is made up of christie's and wildsteins, wolf. >> he was off doing dungeons and dragons or something. so the idea that there was no emotional attachment, those are the comments that the governor made of wildstein. maybe he has information that is not true. i don't know. but that's not necessarily related to the lane closure thi thing. again, this may end up not being a serious thing but this is very
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cleverly and carefully written. >> well, it is all part of david wildstein's strategy to get legal fees, which is obviously the explicit reason for this letter but also to get immunity from paul fishman. >> the u.s. attorney? >> the u.s. attorney who has the power to grant immunity. the legislative committee that is investigating does not have this power and what's so important about that is that his story may never be told and the u.s. attorney is going to have objections. >> as well as including the former deputy chief of staff. the harvard law professor, alan dershowitz is joining us. what do you think, you've had a chance to read this letter making this allegation, still no comment, still no reaction from the governor's office. you've been familiar with these kinds of stories over the years.
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what do you think? >> well, first of all, we have to separate out the political from the legal. if he lied at a press conference, that has political implications but it's not a crime. remember, he has neither been under oath, the governor, nor has he spoken to, as far as we know, any law enforcement officials. it's a crime to lie to a law enforcement official. the u.s. attorney should grant him use immunity. he should say we're not going to prosecute you. they already have a lot of evidence. that would be admissible. all they have to do is say from now on what you tell us, we will not use against you in any criminal prosecution. that way he is compelled to testify and compelled to produce the evidence without the u.s. attorney losing all possiblity of prosecuting him. sew doesn't have to choose between christie on the one hand and wildstein on the other hand. he can have his cake and eat it, too. i agree, though, that this is an
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attempt. this is a fishing attempt to throw out some bait and say, please, we have enough here without any further proffer. give us immunity. give him use immunity, call him in, get the testimony and then insist on sitting down and talking to christie, let christie make his commitment, make -- let him sit out his position in a legally binding way, either under oath or as the result of talking to u.s. attorney so we can't just talk and say, well, this is only political. it has to be turned into a legal proceeding as well. >> and we know that at the nearly two-hour news conference on january 9th christie said i knew nothing about this until it started to be reported in the papers about the closure and even then i was told this was a traffic study. earlier, on december 2nd, allen dershowitz, he joked about it even though it was no joking
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matter for tens and thousands of people who were stuck in traffic. listen to what he said. >> i worked the cones, actually, matt. un unbeknownst, i was working the cones. >> he could certainly be asked about that legally. in the beginning it sounded like a joke, a traffic jam. and then of course somebody died, probably not as a result of this. other people were kept from going to school. there were very serious consequences and the consequences could have been much worse. there really could have been multiple injuries and deaths and i think people have taken it much more seriously now and he will come to regret the joking he made but he'll -- as i said from the beginning of this investigation, he needs a criminal lawyer. he is now vulnerable and if he goes under oath or speaks to a u.s. attorney, anything he says that's then contradicted by
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evidence exposes him to the possibility of criminal prosecution. again, as people have said before, it's often in the coverup of what happens after ward rather than the primary conduct. >> let me take a quick break. everybody stand by. we'll continue the breaking news right after this. how much money do you think you'll need when you retire? then we gave each person a ribbon to show how many years that amount might last. i was trying to, like, pull it a little further. [ woman ] got me to 70 years old. i'm going to have to rethink this thing. it's hard to imagine how much we'll need for a retirement that could last 30 years or more. so maybe we need to approach things differently, if we want to be ready for a longer retirement. ♪ i have a big meeting when we land, but i am so stuffed up, i can't rest. [ male announcer ] nyquil cold and flu liquid gels don't unstuff your nose. they don't? alka seltzer plus night fights your worst cold symptoms,
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and i knew nothing about this. and until it started to be reported in the papers about the closure, but even then i was told this was a traffic study. >> that was governor christie back on january 9th at that nearly two-hour news conference but today david wildstein,
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appointed the port authority of new jersey says in a letter to the port authority legal counsel, mr. wildstein contests -- this is the lawyer for wildstein -- the accuracy of various statements the governor made about him and he can prove the inaccuracy of some. we've been calling the governor's office repeatedly trying to get a statement, some reaction from governor christie to these allegations contained in this letter from david wildstein, formerly a close ally of the governor. that doesn't exist right now. jake tapper, when you here these back and forth going on, now, to me it looks like this is now the word of governor christie versus the word of david wildstein. >> that's right. and i think what's important for our viewers to understand are two points. one is, david wildstein is the one when these e-mails and text messages came forward, he was one of the two people who was directly implicated in the lane closures and in fact perhaps
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even the worst player in them. there was bridget anne kelly, governor christie's deputy chief of staff saying it's time for traffic problems and then wildstein was the one who was -- >> who replied? >> replied "got it" and then he was texting with an unknown person saying that it was okay to laugh at the prospect of all these children stuck in traffic because they were democratic voters. the children are democratic voters. so wildstein has been implicated in this. that's one. two, one of the things that we've seen in this is a refusal of republicans on a grand scale to come forward and get behind governor christie. we've seen a few here and there. rudy giuliani, haley barbour, but we've not seen widespread outpouring support. and one of the reasons is these
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people are lawyering up, including wildstein and the former campaign manager, bill stepien taking the fifth when asked to testify before the legislative bodies investigating this. there's so much we don't know. while i'm saying that this letter doesn't implicate christie per se, it doesn't mean that he won't be implicated. >> hold on. alan dershowitz, the harvard law professor is joining us. he's a former u.s. attorney himself. he knows the laws and he knows these kinds of investigations and what is going on. would it be smart, from his perspective, to have a criminal defense attorney knowing that the u.s. attorney is investigating? >> yes. but he'd be smart not to let anybody know about that and that's a secret he's entitled to keep. he's entitled to have a person experienced in criminal law consult with him and give him advice behind the scenes and he's entitled not to reveal that
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or disclose it. i will get you anything that's going on and at least there are some people who are advising him who are experts in criminal law. he doesn't have to acknowledge that he has a criminal lawyer just like when richard nixon had a -- wanted psychiatric assistance when he was the president. he went to a man who was a general practitioner so he could say to people he went to a regular doctor but he was getting psychiatric care and that's what people do when they are in trouble and don't want to reveal that they are getting advice from a criminal lawyer. they go to a civil lawyer or a big firm and the big firm provides them advice from people who are experts in criminal law. that way he has his political cake and eats it as well legally. >> he hasn't said anything really on this subject, dana, since that two-hour news conference. he's been very quiet on it. >> very quiet. i should say that chris christie's office tells us that he doesn't -- at least the last
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time we talked about it which was pretty recently -- doesn't have a specific criminal attorney to back him up on this. but we should point out that the office itself, christie's office itself has hired outside legal counsel to help weed through these things. one of the points that i want to make, because we've been talking about this character, david wildstein, he certainly has a reputation in new jersey politics as somebody who, you know -- a fix-it guy kind of behind the scenes maybe to a fault but also as somebody who collects information and keeps it. e-mails, texts. he's known as somebody who holds on to things. if he does have something and if that is true, and if he's willing to give it over, immunity or not -- >> well, yeah. go ahead. >> that is -- that's not the kind of character you want against you. >> here's a legal issue, which maybe alan can help us figure out. because this is something that comes up in investigations often. he's taking the fifth, as we know. but does he have a fifth amendment privilege not to produce the documents that he has? what is so compelling about this
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letter is the implication or the statement is the evidence that contradicts christie. can you -- even if you don't have immunity, can you refuse to produce documents that exist in the world? >> all right. alan, very quickly. >> the answer to that is very clear. you can but then you're given what is called production immunity and they can compel you to produce the information. they just can't say they got it from you but they can use the actual material that you provide to them and you're compelled to provide. >> everyone hold on for a moment. we're going to continue the breaking news coverage on this latest potential bombshell development. the former mayor of new york, rudy giuliani, is standing by live. there is he right now. we're going to bring him in to this conversation when we come back. i always say be the man with the plan
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this is cnn breaking news.
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>> well, we finally have a statement now reacting to all these latest developments. a statement from governor chris christie's office. this is the christie administration response to that letter from david wildstein, the man who resigned from the port authority amid all the allegations about the george washington bridge lane closures. this is governor chris christie's reaction to this latest potential bombshell. mr. wildstein's lawyer confirms what the governor has said all along, he had absolutely no prior knowledge of the lane closures before they happened and whatever mr. wildstein's motivations were for closing them to begin with. as the governor said in the december 13th press conference, he only first learned lanes were closed when it was reported by the press and he said in his january 9th press conference had no indication this was anything other than a traffic study until he read otherwise the morning of january 8th. the governor denies mr. wildstein's lawyer's other assertions.
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so that's the reaction from governor christie. jevry toobin, what do you think of this precise language in this denial? >> it's very -- it is very precise. now, what is so important, i think, about wildstein's lawyer's statement is the allegation that christie knew about the lane closures while they were happening, which completely contradicts what he said at the news conference. at the news conference, he said, i did not know before or i did not know the reason why they were closed. and that it is true wildstein's lawyer doesn't refute that, but he certainly refutes other parts. >> it doesn't totally contradict as christie is saying in this statement. he did in his news conference say that he learned about it on tv and news reports during the lane closures because, remember, it was three days long. everybody is clearly trying to be vague or precise based on how it best suits their best interests. >> alan dershowitz.
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very quickly, what do you make of this christie statement? >> well, i'd love to see him say it under oath or to a u.s. attorney and i'd love to have him questioned about it. you can phrase -- any good lawyer can phrase a response to get around the specifics. this is a political response. this is now moving toward a more legal case. the dominoes are beginning to fall. and i think that a u.s. attorney should tie down christie into specific statements and specific responses to questions. >> and the reason we're following this as closely as we are, this is a sitting governor, very popular governor. just re-elected in a landslide in new jersey. someone who clearly had greater political ambitions. may still have those ambitions. but we're watching whether or not the allegations from david wildstein's lawyer versus chris christie are true or not true. we're going to have a lot more coming up right after a short break. the mayor of ft. lee, new jersey, he's standing by. we'll get his reaction.
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rudy giuliani, a good friend of chris christie, he's standing by as well. there he is. we'll get his reaction to what's going on. our special coverage continues in "the situation room" right after this. saying i can get at&t's network with a data plan and unlimited talk and text for as low as $45 a month? $45 a month. annual contract. no annual contract. no long-term agreement. no long-term agreement. really? really. ok, so what's the catch? there is no catch. ok, i'm obviously getting nowhere with you. i'm gonna need to speak with the supervisor. i am the supervisor. oh, finally someone i can talk to. [ male announcer ] it's not complicated. new smartphone plans starting at $45 a month, with no annual contract. only from at&t.
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happening now, breaking news, new questions in the bridge scandal swirling around the new jersey governor chris christie. we just received a response from his administration. water worries, weeks after being told their tap water is safe, there's now new fears hundreds of thousands of people may be exposes themselves to harm. why does a top health official say he and his family won't drink their city's water. tsa exposed. a former employee writes a shocking tell-all book about the agency he once worked for. is the tsa telling the truth about what they see in your full body scans? we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world.
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i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room". we're following the breaking news this hour, a former aide is suggesting he's holding information that contradicts the new jersey governor chris christie's claims about his knowledge of the controversial bridge closures on the george washington bridge. christie denies knowing about it beforehand and blames former aides who he says acted alone allegedly for political retribution. he said he only learned about the closures from news media reports. but now a former port authority official says the governor knew about the lane closures at the time. christie's administration has just responded with a statement. mr. wildstein's lawyer confirms what the governor has said all along -- he had absolutely no prior knowledge of the lane closures before they happened and whatever mr. wildstein's motivations were for closing them to begin with. as the governor said in the december 13th press conference, he only first learned lanes were
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closed when it was reported by the press, and as he said in his january 9th press conference, had no indication that this was anything other than a traffic study until he read otherwise the morning of january 8th. the governor denies mr. wildstein's lawyer's other assertions. but there are a lot of unanswered questions about exactly what the former port authority executive david wildstein knows and is willing to share. this could have huge implications for christie, the next presidential campaign in which christie had been seen as a top republican contender. let's get some reaction from rudy giuliani, the former mayor of new york, a former republican presidential candidate himself, a former u.s. attorney and a friend of chris christie. mayor giuliani, thanks very much for joining us. what do you think about all of this potential bombshell today? >> well, i'm not sure it's a bombshell, wolf. it's a statement that creates a lot of ambiguity, some good for
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the governor, some that create questions. the part that's good is it's clear the governor didn't know about it beforehand, so he didn't plan it, right? the question is when did he find out about it? the letter is very ambiguous as to when he found out about it. the governor clearly found out about it from the newspapers, so he did know about it at some point. and mr. wildstein is very much wanting to get immunity from the government. and i said this mr. wildstein had a smoking gun, something you could describe really honestly as a bombshell, the government would have given him immunity. so he is negotiating for immunity. who knows he may even ratchet up his allegations in order to try to get immunity. i think at this point it would be very, very hard to interpret all these things and come to some kind of conclusion that the governor isn't being forthright or that this really contradicts him. >> he's trying to get immunity from the u.s. attorney presumably in new jersey. this is david wildstein. paul fishman, you were an
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attorney in new york, would you give someone like this immunity in exchange for full testimony? >> not based on the letter that had previously been submitted because it's too ambiguous. it won't convict anybody. there's too too many arguments, too many ambiguity, too many questions about the governor -- the governor did know after it happened. the question is when did he know, what did he say about it? all that will be hard to premise any kind of case on it. here's the point. if wildstein had blockbuster information, if wildstein had very, very strong smoking gun kind of evidence, yes, then you would give him immunity, but they haven't given him immunity so he hasn't reached that level yet. >> he's pleading the fifth at least when he testified there. >> correct. >> some others are pleading the fifth. the current mayor of ft. lee, new jersey, mark sokolich is joining us on the phone right now. ft. lee, your community was right at the center of this huge uproar, commuters were seriously
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in trouble trying to get to those lanes of the george washington bridge separating new jersey and manhattan. what is your reaction, mayor sokolich, so what's going on? >> well, you know, to a large extent, i agree with mayor giuliani. we lawyers, you know, we're trained to write very carefully written letters. i mean, if you really peel back this onion, i mean, it specifically says that, you know, there was no prior knowledge. but number one. number two, look, from my perspective, from ft. lee's perspective, there's obviously credibility issues with mr. wildstein and he certainly is bucking for immunity. there is, however, a question -- and again, this is coming from a guy who is not rooting for the governor to know. i don't want this type of issue in the state that i'm an elected official in. i don't want the state's highest office to be implicated in this. i don't. i told you i take the governor at his word. however, this letter seems to imply that perhaps there was knowledge during.
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now, you know, or when the newspapers reported it. wolf, the newspapers reported this at 7:00 on monday morning, september 9. and they also reported it thereafter throughout the entire closure. so if the knowledge emanated from the press and that knowledge was monday, well, you know, that's an issue. because this lasted till friday. and if, of course, he found out about it at the tail end reading in it the press, well, then that's an entirely different story. just there aren't enough facts. again, i'm not rooting for him to know or not know. i will tell you, i remain very, very concerned about it, but i think it's critical if it was known monday, that's one issue, and i'm not rooting for that. if it was known at the very tail end, well, i'm not so sure then what this letter means at all. >> the governor maintains he was told it was simply a traffic study that was under way. that's why they had all those lane closures.
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mayor sokolich, hold on a moment, mayor giuliani, hold on to you for a moment. jake tapper is talking to his sources. >> i've been talking to a source in governor christie's office. the basic message is wildstein is asserting that christie has credibility issues because there exists evidence that christie knew of these lane closures while they were going on. now, it's true that we've heard from christie different statements he's given suggesting that he learned about the lane closures after the lane closure, after it was all over, i believe was the quote. and also he said, while it was going on from press accounts. so there is not clarity as to when exactly he learned of these lane closures, but the point from christie's office, from the source i spoke with is the important question is did he know about the lane closures beforehand? did he know about them beforehand? and wildstein does not assert that he did. they also say does wildstein
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suggest that governor christie knew about these lane closures because he was involved with them? wildstein does not say that. again, this is what christie's office said. the third point is whether or not, of course, this was all an act of political retribution, which it seems like it is based on wildstein's texts and e-mails. and again, wildstein does not assert that this was christie telling him to carry something out as an act of retribution. so from their point of view, what is really being suggested by wildstein's attorney doesn't implicate the governor in the bridge closures. the only thing it questions is whether or not he was imprecise in whether he learned about them during or after. >> there is a line in the letter from wildstein's lawyer that says mr. wildstein contests the accuracy of various statements that the governor made about him, and he can prove the inaccuracy of some. >> i asked the governor's office about that, of course, and they said they have no idea what he's talking about, so they can't
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respond. we were hypothesizing before maybe it had to do with some of the things governor christie said when he seemed to be distancing himself from wildstein and the relationship they had, but they can't respond because they don't even know what he's talking about. >> it's clever, one of the things you always try to do when you're involved in one of these things is define the issue on your terms and what the christie people are trying to do, clearly, is define the issue of did christie know in advance. well, that's not the only issue in this matter. you know, if he lied at that press conference about something else, that's not helpful to him. >> hold on a second. john stanton of buzz feed is here, i want to get to you in a moment. mayor giuliani, i want the play you a clip. this is from the january 9th news conference that governor christie gave, that nearly two-hour news conference, when he basically said he knew nothing about any of this until he read about it in the newspapers. listen to what he said. >> and i knew nothing about this. and until it started to be
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reported in the papers about the closure, but even then i was told this was a traffic study. i don't know what else to say except to tell them that i had no knowledge of this, of the planning, the execution or anything about it. and that i first found out about it after it was over. and even then, what i was told was that it was a traffic study, and there was no evidence to the contrary until yesterday that was brought to my attention or anybody else's attention. >> that was governor christie. mayor giuliani at that january 9th news conference. the other day you said something intriguing. i want you to give us some context. you said something about 50/50 chance he was telling the truth, not telling the truth. explain what you were trying to convey. >> sure. what i said was that "the new york times" article created a situation where it made it look like it was 50/50 as to whether he knew. and that was in response to a question from geraldo rivera which essentially said that he
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believed the article made it 100% clear that he knew. and then the way it was misinterpreted but then corrected was i had said it was 50/50 as to whether the governor knew. hadn't said that. if you read the "times" article it had a lot of innuendo and suggestion, but when you read it, there's as much information that he did know as that he didn't know. i said the "times" article was 50/50. >> you're a former u.s. attorney, obviously a former mayor, if you were sitting with governor christie right now, what advice would you give him? >> the advice i would give him is make sure all these statements are accurate. i can hear in the governor's statement a way in which you can make the wildstein letter consistent with the governor's statement. the governor said that he did find out about it through the newspapers. so when did he find out about it through the newspapers? the first day, the second day, the third day, the fourth day?
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i think the mayor was quite fair in the presentation that he gave. it probably would make a difference as to when in that sequence he found out, but the most serious charge would be did the governor know beforehand and plan it? clearly wildstein's not saying that and there's no evidence that he did. now the question is when did he find out and how did he find out? and so far wildstein's letter does not really contradict that the governor did find out afterwards and he found out from the newspapers. what we need to find the answer to -- and i'm sure the u.s. attorney will get the answer -- in what newspaper and what time and what date did the governor actually find out? >> alan dershowitz, the harvard law professor, he has a question he wants to ask you. go ahead. >> mr. mayor, you were one of the greatest united states attorneys in history -- >> and now i always get a very tough question when alan starts that way. >> and so my question to you is don't you think there's enough
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now for the u.s. attorney to call in the governor and to start asking him some of these very, very hard questions? and what kind of questions would you ask him if you were not his adviser but if you were the u.s. attorney sitting on the other side of the table, what questions would you ask him? >> i think this u.s. attorney is a very careful -- from what i know of him, i don't know him personally, but in the u.s. attorney circles he's thought of as very careful, very complete. he'll want to have all the facts because he probably only gets one shot at the governor, if he gets a shot at him. i don't think i'd call him in right now. it's too early. i'd probably want to gather all of the information that i have. look, this could be wildstein's first attempt at getting immunity. there may be a stronger wildstein statement that is given later in an effort to kind of push immunity. but there is an aspect here that if the u.s. attorney questioned him, you could really clarify,
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which is when did chris christie find out, from what newspaper and on what date? that answer could either make things a lot easier for chris or they could make it a lot harder. but i think you have to wait for the u.s. attorney to gather all of the -- all of the information. you generally don't want to -- you don't want to talk to the top guy until you've talked to everybody else. you've gotten their statements as clearly accurate as they can ever be and they're never absolutely accurate as you know, alan. you want to get to the end of the process before you go after the governor. >> you would ask him, you would definitely call him in at some point? you would not give him a pass? you would call him in at some point? >> i don't think it would be good for anybody if the governor weren't eventually questioned, meaning anybody -- i mean the best result for chris christie here is that he's cleared. if he were cleared without any kind of full and complete investigation, then his political opponents would use it against him. if he's cleared with a full and complete investigation from an obama-appointed u.s. attorney, that's going to make him, once
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again, a very viable candidate. >> let me bring in a final thought from mark sokolich, the mayor of ft. lee, new jersey, who has been right at the center of all this. it was your community that was so severely affected by these lane closures over these several days. you have a question you want to ask either mayor giuliani, professor dershowitz, jeffrey toobin or do you want to make a final point, mayor sokolich? >> i feel kind of flattered. so i think i'm to a certain extent on the same page with mayor giuliani in the sense that, if this knowledge surfaced -- and i'm not putting words in the mayor's mouth, but if this knowledge is established to have been provided through the press to him on monday, that's an issue. because it was four days of hell thereafter, or tuesday, wednesday, thursday, whatever amount of time transpired between when he knew and -- because that would have necessitated a drive up to ft. lee, not for an apology, but to immediately have everyone cease and desist from delivering this
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retribution on the community. i'm not piling on here. i'm just saying it's an artfully written letter, doesn't talk about prior, it talks about during. i'd love to know what they mean by during, if it's monday, that's one thing, if it's friday, late morning, that's another, wolf. >> because the lane closures occurred over what, four days. mayor giuliani, you want to respond to that? >> sure, i think the mayor has laid out pretty much the way the u.s. attorney is going to look at it. obviously, the earlier the notice, the more the question of what was done, how was it done, why wasn't it done. at any point there can be explanations as to why it wasn't done including the fact that he was engaged in a campaign or possibly that he accepted the explanation that this was a test. that might not have been the truthful explanation, but when you're in the middle of a campaign and you're running a state, you have these lane closure, you read about them in the newspapers and your staff tells you, this is a test that's being done. >> right. >> it's conceivable you would
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not take action. >> that's correct. >> i admit it would be harder the earlier that notice takes place, but not impossible to explain. >> mr. mayor, considering the history of christie that he has a long record of taking retribution against political opponents whether they be a professor at rutgers or somebody in another city, don't you think any reasonable person would have at least suspected on day two, day three, that maybe this wasn't a test, maybe this was political retribution and at least start asking people some hard questions? >> well, i don't know. i don't know the answer to that. i don't know how big an issue this was. after all, there were 50, 60 democrats that supported him. this was one mayor, all bee it an important mayor, but i don't know how important this was to the campaign so that the candidate would get himself all involved in it or instead he might be thinking about ten or 11 other things. i ran in a campaign number of times. the president, mayor, all kinds of campaigns. you can't believe, alan, how
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many thing hs people don't tell you. i know it's hard for people to believe who haven't been involved in it, but there were many things that happened in my campaigns that people did that i didn't want them to do and i didn't know about it until it was too late. or too late to do anything about it. >> stand by for a moment there, we'll take a quick break and resume our special coverage right after this. so what's better, bigger or smaller? [ all ] bigger! now let's say a friend invites you over
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we're continuing the breaking news coverage. the latest developments involving governor chris christie, what he knew, when he knew it about those bridge -- the george washington bridge lane closures. now someone he appointed to the port authority is making allegations suggesting, suggesting that governor christie may be lying. these are very serious allegations. rudy giuliani, the former mayor of new york, is still with us,
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mark sokolich, the current mayor of ft. lee, new jersey, which was at the heart of all this, is with us as well. alan dershowitz, jeffrey toobin, chris frates from cnn. the governor's got to deal with it. would you advise him to have another one of these long news conference, an hour, hour and a half, two hours and once again open -- he was very forthright the last time. every reporter who was there had ample opportunity to ask whatever he or she wanted. >> i don't think i would at this point. i would let all these facts play themselves out before he makes a final, complete statement about this. who knows, who knows how people are going to change their statements, who knows how much they're going to be motivated to exaggerate. there are so many perils here. he's answered everything that he can answer. and the fact is there will be a
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point at which he'll have to give a final and complete answer to this. like the u.s. attorney is probably going to wait until he gathers all the facts so he can question the governor, he doesn't want to do it midterm because things can change. probably the governor should wait until this thing is over with and they get all the facts. and then you know what questions to ask the governor. >> joining us on the phone, mayor giuliani, is john wisniewski. he's one of those co-chairs in the new jersey legislator leading this entire investigation. give us your reaction to these latest developments. >> these are very serious allegations. they are based on a paragraph in a two-page letter that mr. wildstein's attorney wrote to the port authority seeking to have his legal fees paid. and in that one paragraph he calls into question the veracity of the governor's statements. based on documents that he says he's in possession of. i guess -- i don't know what those documents are right now, so it's hard to say what this
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means. i am concerned that mr. wildstein was under subpoena from the committee in the last session and provided documents and it appears that what he's talking about now has not been previously provided. so i'd like to know why those documents weren't given to the committee before or are these new documents or somebody else's documents he's talks about. >> if he withheld documents would that be some sort of crime? >> it would be contemptuous of the committee's subpoena and there's a procedure to go through to address that. i'm not so worried about that, but if he chose to withhold them, why? are these documents that he only recently came into possession of? and what do they say? look, they're serious aelgtss because what his letter is saying is you shouldn't believe the governor. but we need to see the documents to see whether there's merit to that claim to not believe the governor. >> because there's the suggestion from some of the
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legal experts is that wildstein simply wants to get immunity. he also wants the port authority to pay all his legal bills, which could be pretty significant in this thing goes on and on, which presumably it will. what's the next stage? you're leading this investigation, assemblyman wisniewski. where do we go from here? >> we have documents that were supposed to be received by the committee on the 23rd. we know that we'll get some, we know that some attorneys have asked for additional time. we know one attorney has issued a challenge to this subpoena and saying they're not going to respond to it on certain constitutional grounds. we need to look at the material received as a result of those subpoenas. mr. wildstein and his attorney today have given the committee additional material that we now need to seek either through subpoena or voluntarily. and that's part of what this committee has been doing, following each piece of material step by step to see where it leads next. >> assemblyman wisniewski, i
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want you to stand by. i want to say good-bye to mayor giuliani. before i let you go, quickly, tell us what happened with this suspicious powder that was found in the mailroom in your midtown manhattan office building today? was that a letter addressed to you? >> it was a letter addressed to my administrative assistant care of me. it contained a white powder. of course, it created tremendous concern because there are about six or seven or eight of these letters that have been sent out. i think most of them in new jersey, to different people. so it came together with a group of six or seven or eight that they were all concerned about, but the police department showed up, my firm giuliani safety and security is a security firm, thank goodness, so they knew how to handle it immediately. they did a test. the preliminary test is that it's nontoxic. so the building was opened. the building is now operating. but the fbi are doing further tests to determine, you know, is there anything else there. but at this point it appears to be a nontoxic substance.
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we don't know if it's connected to the six or seven others that were sent to people in new jersey. >> were there any threatening words in a letter? >> no, they weren't threattoning, but from a person that is unknown to me, unknown to my assistant and it's kind of a strange letter more than a threatening letter. >> what did it say in the letter? >> it said something about you're being my best friend, and this person is not my best friend or my assistant's best friend or anyone that we know. i don't know what the other letters say, the other six or seven that the fbi is investigating in new jersey. it's possible there was another letter in new york that was sent that was similar to this. so at this point all we know is -- the good news is it's nontoxic. the bad news is we don't really know is it connected or isn't it connected? >> even you're a former u.s. attorney, former mayor of new york, even sending a letter like this, even if it's nontoxic, that could be a crime if the implication is that there's some
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sort of threat. you saw the reaction from the local haz-mat units, the fbi. >> it was a little bit more of a reaction because they had information -- we were actually a little surprised at how big a reaction it was, but because they had all these other letters that they thought possibly it was connected to. it may turn out that it was, it may turn out that it wasn't. a little like the christie situation. until you get all the facts, it's very hard to come to a conclusion about these things. >> mayor giuliani, always good to have you here in "the situation room." thank you very much for joining us. >> thank you. >> back to the breaking news after this.
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