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tv   The Rachel Maddow Show  MSNBC  January 14, 2014 1:00am-2:01am PST

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>> go download the "shriver" report. congresswoman barbara lee, neera tanden. for more information, download the "shriver report" for free at shriverreport.org. "the rachel maddow show" starts now. good evening, happy monday. thanks to you at home for joining us. the largest city in the state of new jersey is newark, new jersey. until recently, of course, the mayor of newark, new jersey, was a man you might have heard of. cory booker. cory booker now is no longer the mayor of newark because he's a united states senator now. one of the highest profile democrats in the country. there are not that many people who have jumped from mayor to u.s. senator, but cory booker did that. and the city he jumped from is new jersey's largest. the second largest city in new jersey is jersey city. and jersey city, too, is starting to become known for its rising star of a democratic mayor.
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his name is steven fulop, he is 36 years old. his parents were immigrants to this country. he grew up working in their deli in newark. he worked hard, went to college, got himself a great job after college working on wall street. he was working at goldman sachs. but then in 2002, he gave it all up to enlist in the marine corps. he signed up and shipped off to iraq. when he came back, he ran again -- he ran an against-the-odds campaign for city council in jersey city and he beat the incumbent and got himself a seat on the city council. then this past year, steven fulop ran an against-the-odds campaign for mayor of jersey city and, again, beat the incumbent. part of what makes steven fulop seem like a rising star, what makes him a high profile local politician, big things are expected, jersey city like newark is famously corrupt. jersey city is where frank hague ran the mayor's office for 30 years.
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when frank hague left office in jersey city in 1947, he was living in a private suite in the plaza hotel. his net worth was estimated to be roughly $10 million in non inflation adjusted dollars from the '40s. and he had somehow amassed that huge fortune while earning a salary of only $8,500 a year as the mayor of jersey city and having no other known legal source of income. fast forward to jersey city nowadays and, oh, there's the new jersey city mayor, excuse me, there's the jersey city mayor who steven fulop unseated last year. that's him naked on his front porch in jersey city. when reporters asked the naked mayor what he was doing outside naked seemingly drunk on his porch, he told reporters, "i wish i recall. i wish i recall how i got back out there, but i don't."
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that was the mayor of new jersey's second largest city before steven fulop took his job. before cory booker, you might remember, the mayor of new jersey's largest city was a mayor named sharp james. sharp james shortly thereafter became known as federal inmate number 28791-050 when he wrapped up his 20 years in office as newark's mayor by starting a two-year stint in federal prison for fraud. part of how guys like cory booker and steven fulop become rising stars in politics is because of their own stories and skills and performance in office. honestly, a big part of it, too, is that they just represent relief. relief from the unrelentingly terrible corruption and abominable behavior by politicians that's been the hallmark of the great state of new jersey since the days of old boss frank hague and real gangsters of boardwalk empire. today the story of new jersey
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governor chris christie and the apparently politically motivated shutdown of lanes on to the george washington bridge took a turn into jersey city. when the city clerk's office in jersey city responded to an open public records act request and released these documents. they're documents concerning that rising star mayor of jersey city, steven fulop and the question of whether he and his city were treated to their own version of what ft. lee got. in terms of political retaliation and retribution from the christie administration. >> steven fulop is elected mayor of jersey city, ousting the guy who was naked on his porch. that took place tuesday may 14th, last year. the night steven fulop won that race, apparently governor christie phoned mr. fulop to congratulate him on his victory. we know that today because of this text message to mayor fulop from mayor-elect fulop at that point from bill baroni. the text says, "needless to say, congratulations on a tremendous job.
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i know the governor reached out last night to relay his congratulations. let me know if we can help set up any meetings for you in trenton as you enter transition with relevant commissioners, agency heads, et cetera." the just-elected mayor responds, "thanks so much. i'm excited to start the work as mayor and move jersey city forward." et cetera, et cetera. that happens in may when steven fulop is first elected mayor. the day he's elected, chris christie calls him that night. the next day he gets a follow-up text from the governor's right-hand man at the port authority. right in it's all good. smiles, everyone. smiles. that was may 14th and may 15th. by the next month, by june, those offers of help to the new mayor in jersey city are not just platitudes. not just being nice. not just polite anymore. they are going into motion. the new mayor's due to be sworn in on july 1st. governor christie is planning on speaking at his swearing in. and the governor's office gets in touch, again, ahead of the
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swearing in. how can we help? what can we do for you in jersey city to make your mayoralty and transition period a success? you want to know who from the governor's office gets in touch with jersey city? yes, her, bridget kelly. chris christie's deputy chief of staff. the one who before the end of the summer would be ordering up traffic armageddon for the little town of ft. lee. well, this e-mail from june 20th is from mayor fulop's office to bridget kelly. "hi, bridget, great connecting with you this morning. i thought i had my hands full with three kids. impressed that you have four. i spoke with steven" meaning the mayor "about your mayor day program and i think it's a great idea." e-mail continues "there are so many complexities with local and state governments that a seamless transition can only benefit everyone. again, bridget, thank you for the conversation and the support." that e-mail goes out from mayor fulop's office on a thursday night, about 9:30 on a thursday night. within 25 minutes, bridget kelly
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and chris christie's office has written back already, c.c.ing the mayor directly, "thanks, veronica, i'm looking forward to working with you. congratulation, mayor-elect. we're looking forward to working closely with you and your administration." then she gives this big, long list of high level state cabinet officers and state staffers? who she's offering to bring to jersey city to meet with the new mayor. the state commissioner of transportation, the state treasurer. the guy who's heading up post-hurricane sandy recovery efforts for the whole state. the commissioner who handles all local government issues. the head of the economic development authority. for the whole state. they're all going to come to jersey city to meet with the new mayor. starting late that thursday night, and over the course of the next week, bridget kelly arranges to bring all of those high-powered state officials to jersey city to meet with the new mayor, to try to make things work for that city as he starts a new post-naked mayor era in corruption beleaguered jersey city.
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they pick a day, july 23rd. they pick a location, city hall in jersey city. the governor's office sends over a schedule of how the meetings are going to run all day long. then they get back in touch to add more meetings to the day, to make it an even bigger jersey city let us help you state extravaganza. bill baroni weighs in again in another friendly text message to the mayor. "i know the governor is sending quite a contingent of his cabinet up to you on the 23rd. let us know how we can continue to work closely together." a week out from the meeting inside the mayor's office, they are preparing for their big day with all these high-ranking state officials. they're planning for who's going to be there. they're ordering lunch for the day. and then disaster strikes. as of july 16th, we know the mayor's -- from the mayor's yes, please, do order lunch e-mails -- we know as of july 16th that the meetings are still on. as of july 16th.
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but on july 18th, 2 days later, that's when the new mayor, steven fulop says he told the christie administration he wasn't going to be endorsing governor christie for re-election. publicly, he kept his cards close to the vest, but he says privately it was the 18th. he told them -- he told them that governor christie was not going to get his endorsement. on july 18th. look what happened on july 18th. "dear mr. mayor, within the past hour, i have received phone calls from the chief of staff and treasurer's office and transportation commissioner, himself, and the local government services commissioner, himself, and from the guy who's heading up recovery efforts from hurricane sandy in the state. i've heard from all of them." within an hour of the mayor telling the office he wouldn't endorse chris christie, they all called jersey city to cancel. that was on a thursday. at the end of the day. the mayor's scheduler telling him the only meetings left were
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with the economic development authority and bill baroni at the port authority. by the next morning, by friday morning, scratch that, bill baroni has called to cancel, too. "the only one left for the 23rd is now the economic development office." but then by monday morning, that one's canceled, too. no explanation was given. i will remove it from the calendar. poof. one wrong political turn. one wrong turn. not endorsing chris christie. and the state's effusive efforts to help the second largest city in the state just go up in a puff of smoke. with all the subtlety of a fire-breathing dragon. the mayor in jersey city tries. he asks his staff to please try to reschedule. he says, "try to reschedule. see what they say." the mayor, himself, writes back to his friendly text message buddy, bill baroni to try to reschedule. he waits 2 1/2 weeks and writes again to bill baroni to
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reschedule. he gets a port authority official to help him reschedule with bill baroni. he writes to a new official just taking office at the port authority to meet with her about jersey city. she's new. maybe she doesn't know about this black ball on the second largest city in the state. initially he gets a positive response from the new official at the port authority, but then, like all the rest, nothing. no response. radio silence. remember during the bridge shutdown when governor christie's staff and appointees were gleeful over how they weren't responding to the increasingly panicked and urgent messages from ft. lee's mayor? did the mayor get a call back after he left that urgent message? david wildstein responded that the mayor of ft. lee would not be getting his calls returned. "radio silence." his name comes right after mayor fulop. mayor steven fulop from jersey city. we now know what became of mayor fulop. you live in jersey city, you're
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worried about your town's recovery from sandy there, maybe the effect of it on your business and family. well, your town was going to get some personalized attention to help with those matters, but now, no. screw you, jersey city. fend for yourself. your mayor didn't kiss the ring. now the town will pay. and it goes to pattern, right? as the investigations into the bridge scandal continue, the jersey city saga that had been alleged in the past but that was proven today by the release of these e-mails, it shows at work governor chris christie's patented technique for governing his state. at the very least, it shows that political retribution is part in parcel of how governor christie rules. which means do not believe his spin on these issues. >> this is not the tone that i've set over the last four years in this building. it's not the environment i've worked so hard to achieve. this is the exception. it not the rule of what's
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happened over the last four years in this administration. it is not the way this administration has conducted itself over the last four years. and not the way it will conduct itself over the next four. >> we'll see about the next four. the assemblyman leading the investigation into the bridge scandal in the legislature did raise the possibility of chris christie being impeached. when he was asked about it on cbs this weekend. in terms of the last four years of the christie administration, political payback and retribution really does seem how chris christie has covered. the mayor of jersey city and the way his city was frozen out. it's the city of hoboken, of course, devastated by hurricane sandy. 80% of hoboken under water after hurricane sandy. the mayor of hoboken now says an invitation to the state capital to meet with governor christie, talk about sandy recovery funds turned into a discussion with the governor and his campaign manager about whether or not the mayor of hoboken was going to endorse governor christie for re-election. her answer to the governor was no. and then down the line, hoboken
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turns out received less than 1% of the funds that that town asked for from the state for flood mitigation after hoboken was, again, 80% under water in that storm. now, were those two things related? there's no smoking gun e-mail chain that has turned up yet in the hoboken case to link the endorsement to the failed requests for help to the state. but it fits the same pattern. and proving that pattern in the way the governor chris christie has behaved as governor, proving the pattern is relevant to the bridge scandal. it makes plausible to what very recently felt like it was way too insane to be true. from our earliest coverage, i was open about the fact this felt like a plot line that was rejected from the "sopranos" for being too cartoonishly gangster. lanes on the busiest bridge in the country would be shut down on purpose in order to purposely gridlock a town for almost a whole week as political payback against the up to's mayor for not endorsing for re-election a governor of the opposing party
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who was going to win re-election anyway by a big double-digit margin. it has seemed insane that anyone in politics would be that petty and vindictive and that mean spirited to use this bridge for that kind of small ball politics. but we now know that chris christie's office did just that. and we now know, thanks to these e-mails today, that at least to a certain extent, that was their m.o. for dealing with other local officials and local city matters across the state of new jersey. still, though, something is still not right. something still is missing about the bridge scandal. and that is, to be frank, a lack of any proof whatsoever, any pointed suggestion, even, that the ft. lee mayor not endorsing governor chris christie was, in fact, the reason the bridge lanes were shut down. i mean, the mayor has posited maybe that it was and the press posited maybe it could be the case.
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the timing on the jersey city retribution thing makes the tie basically ironclad. the meetings had been all systems go. no hint of any problems. in the works for months. it was within an hour of the non endorsement, boom, it was all off. that one seems very clear in new jersey. there's no such timely causative connection with ft. lee. the mayor of ft. lee says "not only was he not pressured intensely to give governor christie his endorsement" he says the request came one day last spring then he never heard about it again. the order to shut down the ft. lee lanes on to that bridge came in mid-august. that order was about the lack of endorsement back in the spring. why did the order not come until august? there were other things going on in new jersey politics around august, around the time the call came from the governor's office to shut down those bridge lanes. the governor gave a furious
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press conference the night before the order was given. calling the senate democrats animals over their treatment of his judicial nominees. could that have been the cause? the leader of the senate democrats has ft. lee in her district. msnbc's steve kornacki is an experienced new jersey reporter who knows a lot of the principles involved in this scandal. he's pointing to this giant billion-dollar development in ft. lee which is being built basically right at the spot where those ft. lee access lanes feed on to the george washington bridge. could those lanes have been shut down to mess with that development somehow? what is not yet explained in this scandal is why it happened. with all the blanket wall-to-wall coverage we are seeing of this scandal across the country right now, not enough of the coverage points out that what is assumed to be the central reason it all happened hasn't been proven. there's not a shred of evidence out of those 2,000-plus pages that were released from the legislature that suggests that that was why it happened.
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the central question of this is still unresolved. what did ft. lee do to cause chris christie's appointees and staffers to rain down this week of hell on that little town? what was it? who was so offended by whatever ft. lee did that they ordered this kind of over the top retribution? was it really just the deputy chief of staff acting on her own? really? does anyone believe that? no one will know who was in on this decision and who pulled the trigger until we know why the trigger was pulled. today, the state legislature made a huge announcement about the prospects of figuring that out. the subpoena authority that has led to the release of all the documents thus far is due to expire in the legislature tomorrow. the incoming speaker of the assembly announced today the assembly will meet this week to re-up that subpoena authority. they will assign, in fact, a new
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supercommittee to keep the investigation going. they will add a special counsel to that committee to beef up its investigatory powers. and crucially, they will keep assemblyman john wisniewski in charge of the inquiry which is a good sign for the direction of the inquiry because what has been driving his investigation, at least as far as he's concerned, the way he explains it is the question of why. we still have no idea why the christie administration did what they did to ft. lee. we know they did do it, which, itself, certainly appears to be a crime. we know that they have played vengeful politics before and that this kind of politics is the way the governor has conducted himself in office. but as to whether or not governor chris christie, himself, is implicated in whatever crimes may have been comitted here or any other senior staffers in his administration, that is a question that can only be answered once we know why. and to that point, steve kornacki is here next with something really interesting that he has just dug up. stay with us.
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we are in the middle of a billion, i said a billion-dollar redevelopment on a piece of property that's laid fallow for over 45 years right at the foot of the bridge. you know, there were some theorists and there were some speculators that suggested that, you know, maybe you guys are progressing too quickly. maybe you're too successful in ft. lee. >> with the gateway community to the state of new jersey, we're in the middle of a billion-dollar redevelopment. i expressed that to the governor, too. we are in a very, very vulnerable state here. we're in the middle of this billion-dollar redevelopment.
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>> we've done phenomenal things in ft. lee. that's the tragedy here. we're in the middle of a renaissance and billion-dollar redevelopment. >> mayor mark sokolich of ft. lee, new jersey, last week naming a billion-dollar development in his town as a key factor in what we called a renaissance in ft. lee. also sort of worrying out loud that that rebirth could be jeopardized by the kind of political retribution the chris christie administration exacted on his town and worrying in a way if maybe that billion-dollar development perched right next to the access lanes to the bridge that got shut down, worrying if maybe the billion-dollar development is part of what got the christie administration so mad in the first place. could that be the secret motive that will ultimately help solve this mystery? is that the why that leads to the who? joining us now is steve kornacki, host of "up with steve
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kornacki" on msnbc. thanks very much. >> sure. >> tell me about ft. lee's billion-dollar redevelopment project and why you think it might have been a motive for the shutdown. >> first of all, there are not many billion-dollar redevelopment projects in new jersey. this is the biggest redevelopment in the history of ft. lee and a parcel of land, this is probably one of, if not the most coveted parcels of real estate in the entire state of new jersey. look at its location. the map on the screen right there. >> yeah. >> that is the foot of the george washington bridge. that's the gateway from new jersey into new york. that has been empty land. that land has been empty for half a century. there's this tortured history with this land. 40 years ago there was a mayor of ft. lee approached by mobbed up developers. here's $500,000 if you want it, we'll build a high-rise here. >> give you personally a half -- >> the jersey way. except he said no. he wore a wire. they went to jail. the land sat vacant for 50 years. along comes mayor mark sokolich
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who makes his defining mission as mayor and in politics, because he says repeatedly i don't want to be anything more than the mayor of ft. lee. his defining mission is to take that parcel of land, redevelop it and have a renaissance for ft. lee. it is a massive project. that land is split into two parts. the first part is two 47-story residential towers. >> huge. >> yeah. the financing for that is in place. it's done. the first one's up. the second one is on the way. they're supposed to open to residents later this year. the second part is this thing called hudson lights. the second part of that parcel. the financing for that was supposed to be finished in early or middle 2013. it got delayed in the summer months because they couldn't quite nail down the financing. they finally announced on september 16th, 2013, that the financing was back on track for this. the significance of the date, september 16th, 2013, is it is the first business day after -- >> after the shutdown. >> after the new york side intervenes, says you're probably breaking state and federal laws.
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they re-open the lanes. financing, for something like, you know, financing for any project, especially a billion-dollar redevelopment project is very fragile. and the value of that land, and the value of that project is completely and totally linked to the access to the george washington bridge. the fact that you're a resident, if you're a tenant, if you're parking in a lot, going to one of the restaurants. anybody who's going to have anything to do with this massive billion-dollar redevelopment project, if you're a developer, putting money into it, if you're going to live there, the selling point is those roads, you can get on them and be on the bridge in moments. >> i was looking at the architects' renderings. from all the architects' renderings, you can see the access lanes where the redevelopment is going to be. it's critically the part of the whole idea of the location of this place and why you might want to live there is those lanes. >> ft. lee commissioned a traffic study as it's going through the process of, you know, the approval process. they commissioned a traffic study. the traffic study explicitly
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concluded that one of the -- that anybody who, any tenant here would have speedy access at rush hour. peak travel times. speedy access to the george washington bridge. that conclusion was used in a brochure that one of the developers put out like basically a brochure for, hey, you want to come be a part of this? one of the top selling points on the brochure was the proximity to the george washington bridge. >> okay. is there any evidence or reason to believe the christie administration would be opposed to this project on its merits? would like to gum up the works? or is just knowing that this project is so important to mark sokolich reason enough to see it as a potential target if you wanted to hurt the mayor for some other reason? >> yeah. it does tell us a couple things. one is how disingenuous christie is when he sits there and said, i wouldn't know the mayor of ft. lee, i couldn't pick him out of a lineup. he's a mayor of a town of -- there's 566 municipalities in new jersey. of the 566 municipalities in new jersey, tell me how many of them
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have mayors sitting on tom of $1 billion redevelopment plans. >> right. >> that's a hugely significant economically and -- christie and his administration have been on top of all the redevelopment in the state. they knew who mark sokolich and is what the project is. this project sits at the foot of the george washington bridge they have oversight over thanks to the port authority. the second thing, christie when he was initially joking about this whole ting trying to laugh off the whole scandal in early december. remember, he talked about i was putting the traffic cones up. the next thing out of his mouth after he talked about the traffic cones was, you know what, i hear ft. lee has three special access lanes and i don't think it's fair. by the way, that's not accurate because those lanes are not just for the people of ft. lee. >> he said, yeah, it really gets me sauced that ft. lee gets special treatments with the lanes. >> that is clearly disingenuous. it's the kind of things you see politicians do. it's superficially appealing. yeah, ft. lee shouldn't have special access. home come only ft. lee? if you know anything about
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traffic patterns in north jersey, you know this is where all of the towns around ft. lee. there's a superhighway coming in. you're not going to have to go sit on the highway. if you're a resident around there, use the access lanes. that's what it's for. the next thing that comes out of chris christie's mouth at the press conference after saying ft. lee gets the special lanes, i have asked david samson to look into whether they should keep having them or should have only one. david samson, the chairman of the port authority. in the released e-mails and text messages from david wildstein, he released text messages suggesting there was a meeting between chris christie and david samson one week before the "time for some traffic in ft. lee" e-mail went out back in august. he suggests that. again, so that's -- speculative and everything here, but there are a lot of interesting, you know, pieces and parts. >> nice redevelopment plan you got here, mayor. be ashamed if something happened to it. yeah, this is one of those things where learning about the players involved lets you learn
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what is important to them. learning what is important to them learns -- teaches you what motivates them which allows you to follow the chain of both decisions but also accountant. steve, i know i don't have to tell you to stay on this. obviously you will. >> thank you. >> we're going to post a link to the architects' renderings for this site at maddow blog tonight to check them out for yourself. it's quite remarkable when you realize they're featuring the access lanes to the bridge that got shut down as much as they're featuring, like, their atrium. steve kornacki host of "up with steve kornacki." as if the news were not mysterious enough right now, just what exactly is under these black marks? and who did not want the world to see whatever it is? how did we figure out what some of it is, anyway? that's next.
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when the new jersey legislature dumped the documents they subpoenaed thus far in the bridge scandal this past friday afternoon, a nice chunk of the 2,040 pages they released looked
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like this. if they really are about to hand out a bunch more subpoenas in new jersey, quick, buy stock in sharpie markers. they're using them by the boat load to self-redact their subpoenaed documents in new jersey right now. >> a point of frustration for the committee is that there are numerous documents that are redacted, and for those listening, there's marker or black pen taken to obscure some of the language in some of the documents. >> the redactions occurred either because the material redacted was from a date outside of the realm of dates sought by the subpoena of this committee. or did not deal with the subject matter of the subpoena. >> the person who seems to have been responsible for most of the black line redactions in the documents that were dumped on
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friday as explained by his lawyer there just a moment ago is david wildstein, an ally of governor chris christie who was appointed to the port authority. but for all the things mr. wildstein seems to be good at, he does not seem to be an expert redactor. you might remember one of the more inflammatory text message conversations mr. wildstein submitted to the committee, he texted to somebody that the ft. lee mayor is very upset about the traffic. the anonymous person responds "is it wrong that i'm smiling?" to which mr. wildstein responds "no, no, it's not wrong that you're smiling." we can't tell who the person was texting with mr. wildstein there because he blacked out the words to tell us who was the smiling person. therefore leaving the world to guess. he messed up when he did it and didn't black out the words
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everywhere. ryan lizza at the "new yorker" points out he submitted two of the text message conversations. there was one version which appears to come from sort of the phone company which was partially redacted to protect the identity of whoever it was that was smiling. if you flip backwards a few pages in the exhibits that were released on friday, wha-lah, you find parts of the same text message conversation. except these were parts that were submitted not apparently from the phone company, but as a screen shot from a cell phone. and it shows part of that same conversation taking place between david wildstein and, mystery solved, other person who we now know is bridget kelly. the former deputy chief of staff to governor chris christie who was smiling at the plight of the upset mayor. whoops. what else did david wildstein successfully redact all by himself? attorney for the new jersey state assembly's transportation me says the committee would like to know what those redactions are. the newly reconstituted
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investigatory body in the legislate her says they will pursue unredacted versions of all those documents that we all saw on friday. the committee was not humored, either, when mr. wildstein figuratively redacted his in-person testimony last week when he refused to answer most of the questions asked at the hearing. the committee voted to hold mr. wildstein in contempt. today, john wisniewski referred those to another. as we wait for more truth about the conspiracy to cause traffic problems in ft. lee, there's today a fresh problem for his old boss, governor christie. a problem that is not connected to the traffic jam scandal. what do you think? stay with us. [ female announcer ] when you're serious about fighting wrinkles,
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but then it goes to the closet...to die. so try glow unstopables. they fill your closet with scents so fresh they last for 12 weeks! downy unstopables. try with downy infusions. in 2009, michelle brown was the assistant u.s. attorney in the state of new jersey. she was forced to resign from the position after it came out her boss, the u.s. attorney, lent her nearly $50,000. her boss was the u.s. attorney in new jersey in 2009, a man named chris christie. he was running for governor at the time. when concerns were raised about miss brown's conflicts of interest between doing her job and assisting in chris christie's political aspirations, plus the $50,000
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loan from her boss, well, michelle brown resigned. chris christie obviously was unscathed by this scandal. he maintained that the personal loan was just a friend doing a friend a favor. now, normally this is the place where you say something about how brutal and unfair and not decent it is to remove the person from the job who got the loan but not the person who gave it, right? in this case, though, don't feel so bad, because, yes, michelle brown got forced out of the prosecutor's office but chris christie took care of her by making her a top aide, paying her $140,000 a year. then he appointed her to head new jersey's economic development authority, a job that pays $225,000 a year. so she got a nice soft landing. but it was there at the economic development agency that michelle brown, chris christie's friend and colleague, led a team that made the controversial decision last year to go with the stronger than the storm ad campaign in the wake of superstorm sandy. the general theme of those ads is that new jersey and the
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jersey shore specifically are open for business. and also incidentally, the governor and his family are an adorable part of why new jersey is so strong. the stronger than the storm ads were paid for with sandy relief funds. and, yes, of course it was important to advertise new jersey's recovery to perspective tourists and consumers. but those ads did also feature chris christie personally being awesome while he happened to be running for re-election at the time. and that is a different message from a generic come spend your dollars in new jersey. the controversy about the stronger than the storm ads kept on through the summer when it was reported the specific ad campaign they did cost $2 million more than a competing pocket that wasn't chosen by the economic development agency. that agency apparently chose to spend $2 million more of sandy relief money in order to get the
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version of the ads that would star the governor. that did not sit well with, for one, new jersey democratic congressman frank pallone. he said at the time the whole thing stunk. he sent a scathing letter in august demanding an investigation into the selection process for that ad campaign and, "the appropriateness of the governor appearing in a taxpayer funded advertisement in an election year." coincidence or not, given the current news, the feds have now have gotten back to congressman frank pallone saying they're going to do the investigation. opening an inquiry into something like this is not the same by finding wrongdoing by his governor or administration. not by a long shot. it's totally possibly hud will come in and do the audit and end up dotting the is and crossing the ts. we will soon see. either way, there are a lot of investigation swirling around the governor's office right now and it has to feel like quite a lot of pressure. i mean, on top of the brand new investigation into the ads just announced today by the feds, you also, federally, have the u.s. senate transportation committee asking questions about the lane
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closures on the george washington bridge. after starting that inquiry, they say they will hold off at least for the moment while new jersey's new u.s. attorney also looks into the lane closures. at the same time, we're not sure where things stand in terms of state law, because while there is a very clear state statute governing the misuse of public assets for private or political purposes, well, the governor's appointee to be the new attorney general of new jersey was due to have his confirmation tomorrow. since he was governor christie's chief of staff when the whole bridge thing happened, not only is his confirmation hearing delayed, we do not know for certain who will be the next attorney general or when we will know the answer to that question. plus, the new jersey legislature announced today they're creating a special investigatory committee which will have subpoena power in all likelihood and also have a special outside counsel. also, the new jersey senate says they're going to do their own supercommittee, that they expect to have subpoena authority as
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well. what does this all mean in terms of how this thing gets investigated? as these multiple investigations proceed at the state level and at the federal level on two different issues, who defers to who? who releases documents to the public? who makes decisions about that as it happens? if there are more developments, if this becomes a criminal matter, would that end up superseding any of these political investigations inside of the assembly and the senate? joining us now is john reitmeyer, statehouse reporter for the "record" of bergen county. thank you for being here. >> you're welcome. thanks were having me. >> lots of overlapping investigations happening now. what's your sense of the hierarchy and who leads? >> that's a good question. there's some talk eventually the assembly committee could coordinate with the senate committee we just learned about today and maybe there would be some super supercommittee to look into this.
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when they reauthorize the subpoenas later this week, he'll, again, be in charge. joining now is senator loretta weinberg in the state senate. she's going to start her own probe using a special senate committee. that will also likely have special counsel to assist her and they're going to go in their own direction. i asked her, what about these competing parallel committees? would it be better if you all got on the same page? she said, well, you know, that would be her preference, but maybe the fact they'll be working together, separately but together, may be able to generate some more information than just if there were only one committee. >> from the history of loretta weinberg and how she operates as top democrat in the senate and from what she plans to do here,
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do you have any sense of a different style that she might take on this matter? or a different line of inquiry she might open? >> that's a really good question. one thing to keep in mind, she's not a member of the assembly committee, but she's been involved. when this all started, the original subpoena issue, the subpoenas actually started prior to the george washington bridge issue. they started when the assembly committee began investigating a toll hike a few years ago. and how it was all enacted -- public hearings were all held on one day. it was quickly ushered through. now it's very expensive to cross the hudson river. that -- the assembly started with that well before the george washington bridge controversy erupted and senator weinberg sent a letter to an official at the port authority. they talked about subpoenas and i think they put their heads together and assemblyman wisniewski said i already have subpoenas. the subpoenas expire tomorrow
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afternoon when a new legislative session is sworn in. when we have the new session, they can broaden the scope of the subpoenas. initially it was just the port authority. we'll see how they write them. it's possible they can broaden the scope. it won't just be the assembly transportation committee but now this supercommittee in the assembly. in the senate, they write all -- they start from ground, you know, from the floor and they can just do it however they like to. >> that is a fascinating and substantive point about the remit, potential remit of the subpoenas because the thing that we learned with the subpoena power that they got is the order didn't start in the port authority. it came from governor's deputy chief of staff, at least appears to have. and so if you were only able to subpoena documents within the port authority or pertaining directly to them, you miss where it started. now maybe they can get to where it start. >> absolutely. >> i can't believe this story. i can't believe i've talked about this story this much and makes me want to talk about it more. it's fascinating stuff. john reitmeyer, statehouse reporter for the "record" of bergen county. it has been a national service.
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thank you. >> appreciate that. thank you. >> all right. we'll be right back.
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there's more to come tonight on the chris christie bridge scandal. this continues to be the biggest political story in the country right now. but last thursday morning at around 8:15 a.m. officials in west virginia's department of
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environmental protection started getting complaints from local residents about a strong licorice smell coming from a facility along the elk river in charleston, west virginia. three hours after those calls started coming in at around 11:15 thursday morning state investigators arrived at the scene and they discovered that a chemical was leaking from the bottom of a storage tank at that riverside facility. the company that owns the storage tank hadn't reported the leak but it was clear to the version on scene that something was leaking. that something was a chemical commonly used in the processing of coal. the faulty storage tank was leaking that chemical right into the elk river, which serves as the main water supply for much of that part of west virginia. that leaking storage tank on the banks of the elk river ended up contaminating the drinking water for about 300,000 residents in nine different counties. more than 15% of the whole population of west virginia was affected by this. what's unfolded in west virginia over the last four days has just been a total disaster. residents instructed not to use their tapwater for anything that wasn't flushing toilets or putting out fires.
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local hospitals forced to ration their water use. local officials setting up water distribution centers around the area to get clean water to local residents using the national guard and their water buffalo tank distribution systems. it's just been a mess. and it was not until late friday night after a day and a half of silence that the president of the company responsible for this disaster finally faced local reporters. and when he did, it was amazing. please watch this. >> guys, it has been an extremely long day. i'm having a hard trouble talking at the moment. i would appreciate it if we could wrap this thing up -- >> we have a lot -- we actually have a lot of questions. it's been a long day for a lot of people who don't have water. >> are there no systems in place to alert you of a leak at your facility other than a smell? >> at this moment in time i think that's all we have time for. so thanks for coming. thanks for your time. >> we have more questions. hey, hey, hey. we're not done. >> you're not done. >> we're not done. no. anyone else have any other questions?
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>> how did the hole get in the bottom of the storage tank? how was the material able to get out of the storage tank at all? >> okay. so it's a steel storage tank. we don't know the answer to that. that's one of the things that we're trying to determine. >> whoa, whoa, whoa! we're not done. oh, you're not done? no idea how a hole ended up in the bottom of the steel tank, says the chemical company executive ostentatiously sipping from his bottle of aquafina. see, he's got water. what are you guys complaining about? it's been a long day. today after days of instructing the residents not to drink the water local officials in west virginia started lifting the do not use order in phases. we're now four days on from this disaster. there are still more questions than answers at this point. we'll have more on this story over the course of the week. watch this space.
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big day tomorrow. first day of the session for the new jersey state legislature, which means not only will the new leadership get sworn in, including the new super committee to investigate governor chris christie's bridge scandal, but governor chris christie will also deliver his annual state of the state address tomorrow. 3:00 p.m.
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surely the most eagerly awaited one ever in the history of the great state of new jersey. 3:00. trenton. tomorrow. watch it here on msnbc. good tuesday morning. a theater shooting. gunfire at a movie theater. one man is dead and retired police officer is in custody. ice tragedy. two deadly incidents involving people stepping on to thin ice. world domination? google takes another step forward by getting into every home in the world. plus caught in the act. texting while driving. a massive paper mill fire. and this job might make even evel knievel a little uncomfortable. thanks for joining us. texasing during a movie, that turned deadly when a retired cop allegedly guns down a man at a florida theater.

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