tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC January 9, 2014 4:00pm-5:01pm PST
answer that question. 100 years later, they're still giving service. 100 years from now, will the things we're involved in continue to matter? let's hope so. let's think about it. let's be committed to it. thanks for watching. i'm al sharpton. "hardball" starts right now. bridge over troubled waters. let's play "hardball." good evening. i'm chris matthews in washington. let me start tonight where governor christie left off today. i want you, the people watching right now and the people involved in this escapade to answer some common sense questions. call them the smell test. did governor christie truly believe that the four days of long traffic backups at the george washington bridge last september were caused by a research project? if so, why didn't he put his
foot down when it was going on day after day and try to stop the stupid thing? are we to believe that this famously blunt christie was stricken with a bout of meek passivity? and did he keep on swallowing this story for all these months since september? did he refuse to investigate who knew what was behind the traffic tieup because he bought that story or because he didn't? and are we to believe that the feisty governor was still in the dark on what his people were up to as he watched his two big-time appointments on the bridge authority itself being forced to resign? well, who is this new chris christie we haven't met before, believes whatever he is told, shows zero curiosity. only knows what his team is up to when he is drying off himself after his morning workout the other day and reads about it in the bergen record. that's when he learns things i guess. who is this see no evil, hear no
evil, speak no evil character? while his campaign headquarters administer corporal punishment on those who failed to march to christie's music? and how could he not, hearing his heart's shout of innocence this morning, not hear the echo of that same from rick's cafe american, that still leads the ban for proclamations of hurt innocence? >> i am humiliated by the fact that i did not know this and that i was deceived. and that's an awful way to feel. >> how can they close me up? on what ground? >> i'm shocked! shocked to find that gambling is going on in here. >> your winnings, sir. >> oh, thank you very much. >> everybody out at once. >> what christie said today can be perfectly, even exquisitely true. but was it the whole truth and nothing but? jonathan capehart is an opinion writer for "the washington post," and michael steele was chairman of the national republican committee. jonathan, i want to start with you. his defense seems to be two-part. one, he began to get interested
in this thing around december, and he called his staff people in and said do you know anything about this thing? gave them an hour to say yes or no and does nothing about it. as for september, when the bridge tie-ups began through december, his answer on questioning was i believe the research project story, this traffic study. i believed it whole. i never questioned it i assumed why four hours each day four days in a row was the reason. i never expected there was political hanky-panky or payback going on. that's the hard part. that is the hard part that could have been conscious effort on his part not to investigate. conscious effort on him not to know what he didn't want to know. and that of course is very hard to get to, because it's in the head. >> right, right. it's in the head. but here is the thing, and i think our colleague steve kornacki has been talking about this. when bridget anne kelly -- >> don't you love the name bridget? old school. >> for traffic problems in ft. lee. steve said it strains cred
creditdulity that the governor wouldn't know about it. >> or she could speak that the bridge commission would say sure, babe, sure. just call me up, i'm going to stop the bridge traffic for four days because you call me up without ever calling back the chief of staff or the guy's counsel counsel. this really what chris wants me to do? because this may be against the law. >> chris, here is the thing. she sent that at 7:34 a.m. she got a response back at 7:35 a.m. there was no phone call. >> so you think it was a cue, that they had set up ahead of time? >> i said on your program about a month and a half ago that let's just wait to see what the governor knew and when he knew it. and right now today i think this press conference opens up the door for more questions. and it really was i think short term. it gives him some room, not a lot. because you've got folks
pleading the fifth. you've got folks still possibly revealing stuff. so this is going to be a story for a while. >> i'm sorry, did you buy the chris christie he presented today? first of all, he is humble. he should have been humble. he is apologizing to everybody on the planet. for what i'm not sure because he said he was screwed by his own staff people. i was wondering what he apologized. he said bridget did the whole thing on him. and wildstein and the other guy over at the bridge authority. and of course he fired his campaign manager too. they're all doing it all around. he is the only one that doesn't know what is going on. did you buy the passive, meek sort of don knots character? all around me these people were so political. >> i don't think that was his approach at all. i have no clue what is going on, woe is me. look, there is within those executive wings that space of deniability that the staff often provides the chief executive. i think that's part of what happened here to some degree. and there is probably stuff that he did not know that was
revealed to him. >> in the actual facts, none of which he gave us, the bergen record gave us all the fax. he didn't give us one new fact. >> right. and i don't know if that should be his place. >> as being the person who could be his enforcer. when she sends the little e-mail time for traffic problems in ft. lee, answered in seconds practically. so everybody in the port authority said she is the one talking for governor. today in his extraordinary press conference today we all watched, governor christie delineated his line of defense, beginning with an unam biggious apology which wasn't clear what he was apologizing for. but let's listen. >> i come out here to this office where i've been many times before. and i come out here today to apologize to the people of new jersey. i apologize to the people of ft. lee. and i apologize to the members of the state legislature. i am embarrassed and humiliated
by the conduct of some of the people on my team. there is no doubt in my mind that the conduct that they exhibited is completely unacceptable and showed a lack of respect for the appropriate role of government and for the people that we're trusted to serve. >> the bridge authority and of course he said campaign manager, mr. stepien, of course, bridget anne kelly, who is going to be quite names now. here is christie announcing his top deputy bridget kelly lied to him about her involvement in this matter and would have to go. she is the chief deputy the -- deputy chief of staff. that's her title. and she wrote the time for traffic problems in ft. lee has arrived in her e-mail. here she is. >> there is no justification for ever lying to a governor or a person in authority in this
government. and as a result, i've terminated bridget's employment immediately this morning. >> well, he never talked to her and didn't tell her to her face he was doing it. he didn't have any conversation apparently subsequent to this news story. then comes the heartbreak and betrayal. here he talks about that. >> i am heartbroken that someone who i permitted to be in that circle of trust for the last five years betrayed my trust. >> well, finally christie said he was completely astonished at what his staff and appointees had been doing. >> let me tell you, everybody, i was blindsided yesterday morning. i was done with my workout yesterday morning and got a call from my communications director at about 8:50, 8:55 informing me of this story that had just broken on the bergen record website. that was the first time i knew about this.
it's the first time i had seen any of the documents that were revealed yesterday. >> it's very interesting not to do too much of a biblical study of his words today, because we all watched it for a couple hours this morning that his real indictment of his now former deputy chief of staff is that she lied to him on that occasion in december. it wasn't that she engaged in political skulduggery. it wasn't so much that she went ahead and tried to punish some mayor in ft. lee, because that didn't seem to walk too far away from his own thinking apparently. but it did bug him she lied to him. and yet isn't it odd on the moment you're to be have a press conference an hour later, you call your staff and say if anybody has anything to tell me about this, you have an hour to tell me or you're finished, basically. it was almost a setup. why an hour? why give people an hour to come clean? i'm just curious. >> i think he was going out to do a press conference i think, an already scheduled press conference, and he figured he was going to be asked about it. he wanted to be able to go out there and definitively say that no one was involved.
>> why in december when this thing happened in september? >> hey -- >> why did he finally have a meeting with his staff on this matter? i know why. because the other defense had fallen apart. because wildstein and those guys had stopped arguing this research project, this traffic study defense. that was gone. and that was his cover for the first two ow three months. and once that cover was gone, he needed a new one, which is i've asked my staff and they said they didn't do it. that covered him on the second period of time. >> but his big problem throughout all of this is he -- when i look at what happened today, i see two chris christies. what you showed there was chris christie reading his prepared remarks as you said beginning. he was humble. he was contrite. i thought he was pitch perfect. >> it was a performance. >> where the thing went off the rails was the second part, the q&a. and the longer he talked, the more -- >> the more questions began -- >> the more super confident full of himself chris christie came over. >> look, that's not the way we do things here.
you wait for me. and you, not you, you. >> but that's old style chris christie. that's chris christie. not the guy who walked out there and said i am hurt and troubled. and did you notice something else, chris? not one time did he talk about how people in ft. lee were inconvenienced. >> how about the coronary? >> the story of the ems vehicles that were delayed. >> that's what i'm thinking. we're going to get into this. >> he denies it. >> you're waiting in traffic for four hours. people got to go to the bathroom, they got to go to work, little things that just drive you crazy. we've all been in traffic jams like that. you got to get there, and then you find out later some politician did this to punish another politician, whether it was a staff or whoever it was. coronaries. we all know. how many times have you felt guilty you haven't been able to get off to the side of the road enough to let an ambulance through, because you feel guilty. you get mad at everybody who doesn't do it. >> right. >> and here is a governor saying to the whole state we're not going to let the ambulance through.
we're all going to stay here in this roadblock because i said so, or somebody on his staff did to get even with somebody. no. there is a case here. somebody died in the hospital. i can't believe somebody is not going to litigate this because of traumatic experiences. when you have a heart condition and you don't get to the hospital in a situation where you're having a heart event, you better get there as fast as you can. if it turns out the reason you're four hours late getting there is some political machination going on, i don't believe there is not a lawyer waiting there on television to call in the case. >> there will be certainly in that regard. but i think we need to step back from this. today as before -- >> why do you want to step back? >> i want to look at the whole thing. >> this guy was almost republican nominee for president. >> that's fine. and you loved him. all the people love him. and now with the bridge thing, all of the sudden he is a target. this is my point. step back and look at it from this perspective there is still nothing that has been brought to light adds over yet that says chris christie knew of and authorized this action to take place.
there is, and you all know this, having been on the hill yourself and worked with an executive, there is a level in which information does stop. there is a cap. and the question is was that cap broken? and did it evenly get to him and he knew about it, or did it really stop at the deputy chief of staff or the chief of staff level. and that's something to be unfolded on that. >> i noticed in working in politics all the years i did, people even begin to look like their bosses. they dress like it. the mondale and the kennedy people. they all do. by the way, you knew what the boss wanted done and you did it. like a good butler, you anticipated what they wanted done. if she thought this is what he wanted done, that's interesting. i want to know more. thank you jonathan capehart. thank you for that last-minute pushback on behalf of your party, michael steele. this is "hardball," the place for politics. mine was earned orbiting the moon in 1971.
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welcome back to "hardball." while chris christie, the governor did his best to limit the political fallout of the george washington bridge controversy today, the legal fallout is only just beginning there is an army of legal investigations chomping at the bit right now. take a look at this. the owner of the bergen record newspaper is weighing a lawsuit alleges christie's office violated public records laws. the port authority inspector general launched his investigation in december. the u.s. senate transportation committee is probing the issue at the federal level. and then there is the very real risk of civil lawsuits rising from the victims of that september traffic nightmare. for example, emts were delayed in responding to a 91-year-old woman who died of cardiac arrest in the hospital. while the u.s. attorney in newark is opening his own criminal investigation, or rather inquiry, although nbc's pete williams reports that the feds say there is no obvious federal crime involved, not at the moment. and the state's transportation committee has subpoenaed thousands of pages of documents,
only a handful of which the public is aware of, which include those bombshell e-mails disclosed just yesterday. well, right now the next shoe to drop is this, explanations from christie's deputy bridget kelly who ordered the george washington lane closures and the christie appointee at the port authority who carried out her orders, david wildstein. kelly hasn't been heard of since christie fired her. as for wildstein, he appeared before the state transportation today, but offered the committee chairman nothing in the way of answers. >> okay. this e-mail communication, it is not? >> on the advice of council, i assert my right to remain silent, sir. >> you can't tell me whether it's an e-mail or text message? >> same answer. >> page 757 is a -- there are a lot of redactions on that page, are there not? >> the same answer. >> the answer that you refuse to answer under the fifth amendment? >> that's correct. >> so you won't even tell me if there is redactions on the page? >> same answer.
>> joining me are two democrats leading the charge against christie. john wisniewski is deputy speaker and congressman from new jersey. and his district includes ft. lee. i want to start with john wisniewski, sir. let me ask you about this. how soon are you going to get to bridget kelly? it seems to me she would have a lot to say under oath, unless she takes the fifth like the other fellow. >> bridget kelly is next on our list, and we intend to issue a subpoena to have her come and testify. but we still have a lot of unanswered questions from david wildstein, and unanswered questions from bill verone. the problem is every time we get an answer to one question, we wind up with ten more questions to ask. >> what is your interest here? what do you want to find out? do you believe the governor told the truth today or the whole truth is my question. did he in fact give a credible statement today when he said from the time of these bridge holdup, these four-hour holdups which were clearly ordered by somebody, and they lasted four
days and caused all kinds of trouble and anger, he believed all that time there was a traffic study involved. and that some bureaucrat somewhere was academically trying to count cars or some absurd story, and he fell for it and believed it all the way through december when wildstein began to say it wasn't true. do you believe that's credible that he fell for that, that he is that gullible, that naive to believe there wasn't any hanky-panky here? >> chris christie is not a gullible and naive man. it strains credibility for this governor. and if you have done any business in trenton, you know this is a governor who micromanages every detail of his administration. it strains credibility that a deputy chief of staff had the kind of authority or clout that she did to order lane closures, or that david wildstein would automatically respond to her command without there being some other level of involvement by his administration. so, no. it just strains credibility. it's just not a believable hypothesis that he has offered.
>> where do you see -- do you see crim criminality? >> i don't know. the director said federal and state laws were broken. i'll leave that to the law enforcement agencies to look at. clearly there was an abuse of power here and an attempt to cover up the abuse of power. what we need to get to the bottom is who abused the power, how did they cover it up, and how do we make sure it doesn't happen again. >> are you members of the assembly going to subpoena bridget kelly next week? or how soon? >> we're going to issue a subpoena for bridget kelly, and we're going to issue a subpoena for other members of the governor's administration, bill sp stepien, the man he just asked him to step down. two days ago he asked him to become the chairman. two days later he asked him to step down. michael drewniak, he is involved in the e-mails as are other members of the administration. the list is pretty large, and we're going to take it piece by piece.
at the end of the day, we want to get the answers that enable us to legislate, to fix this problem so it can't happen again. >> what is your experience tell you about politicians and staff members? do staff members take their lead in terms of where the boundaries are what the mission is or do they make it up? >> no. i think every organization takes their model from the leader of that organization. chris christie has been a bully and has practiced these kind of tactics as governor. it's not hard to imagine that his administration and his staff looks what he does and says these are the kind of things our governor endorses and supports. but at the end of the day, i can't believe that bridget kelly woke up one morning and decided to fire off an e-mail to close down lanes on the george washington bridge without somebody else telling her that something that needed to be done. >> give me an example, assembly man, of where you saw bullying by the governor personally. you can testify to it. >> well, the governor has bullied people who have come to his town hall meetings to ask
reasonable questions about his policies. the governor has bullied members of the legislature. the governor has bullied municipalities. and so time and time again we see a governor who when he doesn't get his way or he thinks that you're challenging his authority, he uses his bluster, he uses his scare tactics to try to get his way. and so it's not hard to imagine that people who work for him see that and they say well, that's the model the governor has set for our behavior, and they find that acceptable behavior. but it's not acceptable. and i think that what we're finding out today is this administration that engaged in a very shady tactics. >> thank you, assemblyman. like during today's press conference, of course, governor christie was asked point blank by cnn's john king about a specific part of the story that doesn't make any sense. according to the e-mails published yesterday, all bridget kelly had to say to wildstein at the port authority is, quote, time for some traffic problems in ft. lee, close quote, and wildstein seemed to know exactly what that meant. it makes you wonder did the foul
line get moved by kelly herself? in other words, why do they both think this is what christie was up to? clearly people at the port authority thought this is what christie likes seeing done. here is the question and the governor's response. >> they either thought this is what the boss wanted, or as a group, they were willing to go rogue and do this and then try to cover it up and then lie to you? >> well, listen. obviously i said earlier, john, i'm heartbroken about it. and i'm incredibly disappointed. i don't think i've gotten to the angry stage yet, but i'm sure i'll get there. but i'm just stunned. and what does it make me ask me about me? it makes me ask about me what did i do wrong to have these folks think it was okay to lie to me. >> there is something here.
congressm congressman pascrell, this is a weird kind of narcissism. i don't care if he is disheartened, i don't care if he is sad. who does? nobody cares. they want to know what he did. how did he signal to all these people around him, his campaign manager, the chief of staff, the two paid guys at the port authority, all think he is into this skulduggery, and all this young woman had to do is deliver a five or six-word e-mail and they go to work for what they thought was the governor. and yet the governor says i don't know anything about this. that's the problem i have. i don't know anything about this thing. >> well, you have two hours of explaining. when you're explaining, you're losing. there is no question about that. this is not about e-mails. this is not about moving cones here and there. this is not a joking matter. the governor attempted to make himself the victim tonight -- today. the victims are the folks who live in ft. lee, new jersey.
they're the only victims that are involved in this case at this point. so this thing unfolds like the unon. and here it is. we're pushing back, peeling that onion. and we're learn mortgage and more. today it isn't surprising to me that wildstein takes the fifth amendment on even the inane questions. i would have asked are you here today, are you wearing clothes? this is a ridiculous slap in the face of democracy. and if they think that this is the end of it, they're mistaken. this is the beginning of it. >> now, these guys aren't going to run for office. they don't have to worry about public opinion that much. what is the downside of these people just following their lawyers? they're lawyered up to the hilt. they're all going to take the fifth. as you pointed out, he wouldn't even say whether these are redactions or not. looking at them on the paper, he wouldn't say if they're there. if these people keep stonewalling, what are the people investigating this case going to get out of it? how are they going to get to the governor?
>> right, chris. i'm interested to go back to the e-mails. it's the actions that took place in the beginning of september. i wrote a letter to baroni on september 13th. he never answered it. which leads me to think there is more to this than meets the eye. if we believe that the deputy official within the governor's office, bridget is the one who concocted this whole thing, come on, we're only making more jokes. so he is not the victim. the people in ft. lee are the victim. it's in my district. i'm going to make sure that i'm involved. i kept my mouth closed now for a few months. now it's time for me to step forward. because we want to see justice. we want to make sure this never happens again. i mean, the port authority should be designed to try to figure out how we can lower tolls. not keep on increasing them. you need a wheelbarrow of money to go over the george washington bridge. that's the absurdity, while these guys say they're reforming the place, it's getting worse. >> yeah, and four people,
including now on the record all believe it was fun and games when ambulances were trying to get through. anyway, thank you, u.s. congressman. >> it's a jocular situation, chris, in their minds. >> and thank you, assemblyman john wisniewski. up next, the tabloids in new york and new jersey are having a big day with this chris christie story, as they should. this is "hardball," the place for politics. nd me out to get t. but what they don't know is that i'm using my citi thankyou card at the coffee shop, so i get 2 times the points. and those points add up fast. so, sure, make me the grunt. 'cause i'll be using those points to help me get to a beach in miami. and allllllll the big shots will be stuck here at the cube farm. the citi thankyou preferred card. now earn 2x the points on dining out and entertainment, with no annual fee.to apply, go to citi.com/thankyoucards when i first started shopping for a hybrid... i didn't even look at anything else. i just assumed you went and bought a prius. so this time around we were able to do some research
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back to "hardball." time for the sideshow. tip o'neill famously said all politics is local, and in the case of the george washington bridge scandal, nothing implies more about the political stakes here than the front pages of the local newspapers in new jersey and new york. after all, in stories like these that make the best tabloid fodder. first, here is the trentonian which featured a conehead chris christie. i've got a bridge to sell you. here is a more direct headline from the asbury press. do you believe him? it's a question mark. and then the new york daily news that poked more than christie's diminishing 2016 prospects. finally, the record shows christie with top aide bridget kelly, stuck in a jam. by the way, here is why the latest developments in this scandal have obvious political implications for christie's future. let's start with chris christie the governor. it's his deputy chief of staff
bridget kelly who writes the new famous e-mail "time for some traffic problems in ft. lee." she sends it to david wildstein, christie's appointee at the port authority who replies, "got it." in october, wildstein writes to christie campaign manager bill stepien that ft. lee's mayor is angry. stepien replies the mayor is an idiot. win some, lose some. eventually kelly and wildstein collaborate with michael drewniak in a public statement saying the lane closures were part of a traffic study. well, in november, wildstein's superior at the port authority, bill baroni also says the closures were part of a traffic study. at this point, baroni, kelly, and wildstein have lost their jobs. stepien has lost his position with the republican governors association and was asked to drop his candidacy for state republican party chair. the big question of course is what happens now to chris christie. up next, much more on the bridge
scandal and the schadenfreude enjoying other's tragedies who says while chris christie, somebody who likes to throw punches, is now getting hit himself. you're watching "hardball," the place for politics. stick with innovation. stick with power. stick with technology. get the new flexcare platinum from philips sonicare and save now. philips sonicare. millions have raised their hand for the proven relief of the purple pill. and that relief could be in your hand. for many, nexium helps relieve heartburn symptoms from acid reflux disease. find out how you can save at purplepill.com. there is risk of bone fracture and low magnesium levels. side effects may include headache, abdominal pain, and diarrhea.
hey there, i'm veronica de la cruz. here is what is happening. the deep freeze that gripped much of the u.s. recently was not cheap. one firm puts the cost to the u.s. economy at $5 billion. the nation's biggest gay rights group wants the government to recognize the same-sex marriages that took place in utah before the supreme court put them on hold. and doctors say cuts to the nation's food stamp program may actually wind up costing more in the end through increased medicare and medicaid costs. i'm veronica de la cruz. let's get you back to "hardball."
politics ain't a beanbag, okay. and everybody in the country who engages in politics knows that. on the other hand, that's very, very different than saying that, you know, someone is a bully. so i am who i am. but i am not a bully. and what i will tell you is that the folks who have worked with me over a long period of time would i believe tell you that i'm tough but i've shown over the last four years in the tone that we've set here that i'm willing to compromise. that i'm willing to work with others. >> that was governor chris christie this morning, of course, giving perhaps too broad a defense saying he is not a bully, in his words. many of his political enemies would beg to differ, and they're not confined to the democrats. as maggie haberman wrote, quote, chris christie is learning that being a party of one can be pretty lonely when times get tough. more notable was the dearth of republicans out there who rose to christie's defense.
and privately, the schadenfreude expressed by some of them that a man who has never been shy about taking shots at others was suddenly on the receiving end. that was maggie haberman's comments today. he did get backing like michael grim of staten island and governor nikki haley of south carolina as well as former senate scott broun of massachusetts. but the defenders are few and far between. mark halperin is co-author of "double down" and eugene robinson a columnist for "the washington post" and an msnbc political contributor. you know, let me ask you about too broad a defense here. it's sort of a theme here. was christie a little too much broad brush in saying things like -- he had a couple of contradictory things today. politics aren't beanbags. we're tough guys in this business. and the other was i'm not a bully. which message was he trying to get across? i thought he was trying to sell a whole new chris christie today that nobody ever knew, this meek
sort of guy who is passive who believes in bridge traffic studies and falls for the front excuse for everything he alibis and never questions anybody's motives or his own staff's behavior. the question to you, mark, did you buy the new christie today? >> well, look, you go for 90 minutes plus, you're going to have to say different things. you can't just keep repeating the same things. i thought in the beginning he had some clearly rehearsed lines, some precanned lines that were meant to set a different tone. but as the thing went on, you saw a little bit of the typical christie. he is very comfortable sparring with his state house press corps which made up the bulk of the room. the message today was a little sprawling. if you take it as a piece of theater, as a piece of political action, he did enough with the message this that event to get him through and put him in a better place afterwards than before. but it's definitely the case you can cherry pick certain things he said, particularly focus on
himself. >> a lot of the narcissism there. >> that i think if you cherry pick those, there were some moments that were a little bit flabby. >> he reminded me of certain news commentators on television who focus a lot on themselves. i'm sometimes guilty, but there are others who are worse when it's all about how he felt and how he feels today and how this is reacting to him. nothing about the public. >> enough of what you think, chris. what about what i think? that was the whole focus. it's that, you know, the sin that kelly committed was she lied to him. it wasn't that she tormented the people of ft. lee for a whole week and messed up traffic and caused the ambulance to be late or anything. no. it's that she lied. how dare she. she can't lie to me. that's disloyal. she must be. >> the last king of scotland. >> exactly. >> and don't mess with me. >> i thought that was interesting. and he left open this question of whether -- what the culture is like in his cabinet.
>> yeah. why did all the people around him act a certain way in collusion without thinking wait a minute, the governor wouldn't want this done. while didn't wildstein or baroni or stepien or kelly say the governor doesn't want us to be doing this. >> why just one line? time for traffic problems in ft. lee? one line was enough to trigger the whole thing, as if it was kind of oh, yeah, we know what to do. that was kind of weird. >> anyway, nbc's kasie hunt asked senator lindsey graham of south carolina today about chris christie's scandal. and the south carolina republican said, quote, it reinforces a narrative that is troublesome about the guy. he is kind of a bully. this is lindsey graham. being candidate and forthright and speaking to power is one thing. but he is a politician. he rewards his friends and punishes his enemies. senator graham went on to say if anybody in my office had done such a thing, they knew what their fate would be because i'm not that kind of guy. i don't see how people that close to him could have felt
comfortable enough to do this if they thought their boss wasn't of this mind-set. isn't that just common sense? let me go back to you on that, mark. i know you study these things in the tradition of theodore white, going beyond the headline coverage, the daily coverage. what does it tell you about christie that so many people around him got it wrong, that they thought he was a bully. they wanted to do some bullying. not the press. the people working for him thought he was a bully. that's why they were out doing some bully tactics. >> well, chris, to believe that chris christie said he didn't know about this, he had to believe that some members of his staff concocted this plan and executed it, kept it to themselves. even when he was having this press conference, continued to lie to him. even when they were having e-mails of theirs turned over to this committee, they continued not to tell him, and that he didn't really understand why there was a second resignation from the port authority. all of that can be explained if you believe that in fact christie did know. and there are a lot of republicans i've talked to in the last 48 hours or 36 hours who have that view still, who
say based on what they know about chris christie, they say what they know about the nature of his political operation, they just find it hard to believe, in some cases extreme incredulity that this operation could have been done. forget a culture, it's more like the operation of how it would work. you do this kind of thing in most places, you do that kind of thing, you want credit for it. you don't keep it to yourself if you're going to do it. >> you know what i get the feeling, it's always like when people say they feel sorry for the watergate people, all the ones who went down. their lives were ruined. i always say i got a worse one, they got away with it. if they had gotten away from it we have had a deviancy decline in the federal government that was historic. do you believe that the bergen record had not broken this story yesterday and kelly -- kelly -- what's her name, bridget kelly's behavior here and the e-mail hadn't gotten out, do you think some time from months from now when this thing cooled down and
she said at a party late one night, i was the one that kicked this thing off, do you think he would have fired her? i don't believe that in a minute. the reason was she lied to him right before a press conference. her real sin was getting caught. >> well, exactly. she did get caught. now some of this might have eventually come out because of the question about the traffic study, right. at some point it was going to become clear that this wasn't a traffic study. >> it was clear. >> the newspapers weren't going to let it go. so people were still exercised about it. nonetheless, i think your point is a valid one. what would the consequences have been had it not blown up in the way that it did. >> he wasn't going to blow her out unless he had to. by the way, chris christie to this moment has not told us anything in the public light, anything that wasn't told by the bergen record and by the investigators. he told us nothing. >> he's got to know something, right? >> it's called rolling disclosure, and it kills your credibility. thank you, mark halperin. eugene robinson, thank you. when we return, we'll hear from
a rare christie defender. i'm going ask michael grimm of north why he is taking christie at his word. this is "hardball," the place for politics. st floor bedroom in tallinn, estonia and the southbound bus barreling down i-95. ♪ this magic moment it is the story of where every great idea begins. and of those who believed they had the power to do more. dell is honored to be part of some of the world's great stories. that began much the same way ours did. in a little dorm room -- 2713. ♪ this magic moment ♪ getting the right nutrition isn't always easy. first, i want a way to help minimize my blood sugar spikes. then, a way to support heart health. ♪ and let's not forget immune support. ♪ but now i have new glucerna advance with three benefits in one. including carbsteady ultra to help minimize blood sugar spikes. it's the best from glucerna.
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sleep number. comfort individualized. we're gonna be late. ♪ ♪ ♪ oh are we early? [ male announcer ] commute your way with the bold, all-new nissan rogue. ♪ we're back. most national republicans have resisted coming to the defense of chris christie, who at least before this scandal broke was considered and i considered him a leading candidate for the republican presidential nomination in 2016. one u.s. republican congressman from new york issued a statement
praising the new jersey governor for his leadership even before his press conference had wrapped up. u.s. congressman michael grimm was put on the show before he said governor christie deem stated true leadership and accountability during today's press conference. i know him to be a man of unquestionable honor and iron-clad integrity, and i take him at his word. michael grimm is a republican congressman from new york. we have hillary huddle. thank you for joining us, assembly woman. let me go to congressman grimm. do you believe the story we got today from the governor? there is two parts of. >> it. and two, he believed all the way from september, all the way up until at least december, and perhaps even now that there may have been a traffic study that explains the whole problem at the jersey end of the george washington bridge. do you believe him that he believed it was a traffic study that was at the bottom of all this? >> no question. as i said in my statement, i take the governor at his word. listen, i know the governor, not very well, but for years i
worked under him technically as an undercover agent in a very high profile undercover case while he was the u.s. attorney. and where i stand, he is a man of honor and integrity, period. and i do take him at his listen, he's the governor of a very large state. the idea he's going to look into a specific traffic study i think is ridiculous. no governor probably would. this isn't something that he would really normally grab his attention. >> let's talk about his reputation as a hands-on executive. if you find out traffic's been held up for four hours, that's a dangerous situation in commuting time with emergency vehicles and all having to get through, we've seen what happened here, a person had a coronary trying to get to the hospital and died in the hospital. these things happened. they weren't speculative. you find out it was todone for four days straight going into new york. your state goes into new york, the holland tunnel, lincoln tunnel, that bridge and don't call up, say, what the hell is going on there?
somebody tells you, we're just counting cars. you would fall for that as governor, say that's all i want to know? >> first of all, as far as all the things, somebody not getting to the hospital on time, again, there's nothing to justify the acts that led up to this. that's first of all. >> would you buy it? >> do i think -- >> would you buy? no, seriously -- >> would i have called up and said, what the heck is going on? absolutely. >> would you take as the answer, we're counting cars? >> if someone said, yes, we're performing a traffic study, it is done all the time. i'm born and raised in new york. i've seen a lot worse causing traffic on all these bridges under belt parkway, brooklyn queens expressway. we can go on all night if you want to talk about traffic nightmares that lasted much longer than four days. unfortunately in this area, yes. >> okay. that's a bad standard of judgment. low standard of expectations. let's go to rvalerie huddle. the chris christie today, meek
guy, passive, accepting excuses, not knowing what his four staff people are up to, his four appointees are up to and quietly accepting naivety. is that the chris christie the one that exists or the one that performed today? >> it certainly is not the chris christie we have seen in prior years. you know, he should have been angry. where was his anger? he was very humble, and heartbroken over his staff. i'm angry that my constituents suffered, you know, the threat of public hazards, what you just talked about. i didn't see that today. i saw much humble demeanor and i can tell you that there has to be more answers to the questions. certainly, again, a traffic study for four days. this has been since september. we have not -- we would not have had those e-mails broken in the record yesterday if it were not that we passed subpoena powers to the legislature.
so we needed to get subpoena which means there's no transparency there, there's a culture of inclusiveness. it's a political patronage mill at the port authority. certainly it doesn't make any sense. i'm angry and shocked and, quite frankly, he did veto a bill that i worked on in a bipartisan way, in a bistate way with members from new york, and he vetoed it, port authority, accountability act. >> do you buy the fact all four people around him appointed by him all operated without his knowledge? all of them? >> i believe that we will get the answers to those questions. and i don't know if he called them out on it. i mean, he certainly cleaned house. he fired two members of his staff. he did that two through of his top chiefs of staff. i don't know what the conversation was. i don't know the reason for it.
i think we need to get to the bottom of this. >> let me go back to michael grimm. congressman, i've always liked you on the show. i want you on forever. i want to ask you a question about how you recognize politics. if this were a democratic governor of jersey, exactly the same thing, wouldn't you be skeptical if that democrat came out and said, i don't know what was going on in my office. i don't know what my deputy chief of staff was doing. i don't know what my campaign manager was doing. these guys they give these jobs to at the port authority are up to. send one e-mail and all of a sudden the bridge stops. who gives people this authority? wouldn't that be a reasonable problem to know what the hell is going on? >> very fair question. >> a democrat doing it. >> if it was a democrat i worked with, again, when i was an undercover agent who had reputation as u.s. attorney that this governor has, if it's a democrat that had the reputation for the last four years, working bipartisan and having an exemplary record for the state of new jersey, i would not be skeptical. the last thing is, here, i'm hearing from democrats how
outraged they are, angry, this, that, the other thing. from the democratic party, let's be honest here, from fast and furious, to benghazi, to the irs scandal -- >> i knew you'd -- >> where have the democrats been angry? >> i wish i could erase the record. i know what you did there. -- >> it's ridiculous. >> you vomited out the usual charges against the democrats. fine, nice work. >> let's not be complete hypocri hypocrites. >> i'm not being a hypocrite. i'm fascinated with this story. i'm fascinated. >> of course. >> with the amount of people involved in this story. it's an amazing story of how things can go really wrong when there's the wrong culture around, the wrong attitude as we say if philly. attitude. i'm telling you -- >> he owned. >> there was bad attitude in there. this governor is going to have to explain. by the way, suppose you tonight, the guy i'm thinking for, thinking i'm serving has done this for me. michael grimm, please come back. valerie huttle. same to you. thanks for coming. we'll be right back. [ dennis ] it's always the same dilemma --
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let me finish tonight with this story that's not finished tonight. this chris christie story. don't you want to know what bridget kelly has to say about being nailed as the number one bad guy, being nailed in the role by the governor she's been serving all these years? holding up traffic on the george washington bridge was a step that furtered the governor's political interest. why the guy at the bridge authority took orders to stop the traffic from someone in the governor's office, why he did so just because she sent an e-mail
saying it was time to start traffic problems for ft. lee. all this was going on without the governor's knowledge, without his knowing the least little bit about how this office, his own office does business. i didn't do nothing, he said, didn't say nothing, didn't speak nothing. that's "hardball." thanks for being with us. "all in with chris hayes" starts right now. good evening, from new york. i'm chris hayes. two new jersey officials have been fired and the governor of that state is now in full-on defense mode. as the george washington bridge political retribution scandal continues to gain momentum. a total of four people have now lost their jobs as governor christie announced today in an epic press conference that he has fired his deputy chiefs of staff, bridget anne kelly, author of the now infamous e-mail reading "time s