tv The Rachel Maddow Show MSNBC January 16, 2014 6:00pm-7:01pm PST
centic billionaires could decide to back people and you may get a race that's turned upside down by it. thank you. that's "all in" for this evening. "the rachel maddow show" starts now. >> if i ever had to be on time, not sure what i would do. thanks to you at home for joining us. boy there's a lot going on. right now at this hour, across the state of new jersey, the players in the chris christie bridge-lane shutdown scandal are waiting for a knock at the door. right now. we do not know exactly who is being served with subpoenas tonight. the state assembly said today they will not release the names of the people who they are subpoenaing until those people have been served. they've been individually, personally handed their subpoenas in print in person. once that happens, once that i
been served, we are expecting to get their names, the list of names. we're told to expect new subpoenas for roughly 17 individuals in the state of new jersey tonight and three entities. and by entities, that means organizations. we're told to expect that that may mean political organizations or campaigns. we're told that they are about to get served tonight as well as those individual people. now, why would political organizations get subpoenas in this sandal? well, when the governor's deputy chief of staff apparently ordered time for traffic problems in fort lee. if that was ordered up for political reasons, if fort lee was purposely gridlocked as a way of trying to hurt someone politically or as a way of trying to help someone politically, then it makes sense that political campaigns, political organizations, maybe even political parties might be
getting a knock on the door tonight as well in new jersey, along with everybody else from the governor's staff or the port authority, who we know was involved. >> as you saw, the committee met today and adopted its operational resolution, which gave the chair the ability to issue subpoenas. we discussed an executive session the names and the organizations that will be receiving those subpoenas. i know the question you all have is, who's getting them? we're not going to tell you. the reason is, and i i've thursday before, i don't think it's fair for people to find out because of your reporting that they're going to receive a subpoena. we'd like to get them served first and as soon as the subpoenas are served, we'll make it known who the individuals were and make the text of the subpoena available to all of you. there's about 20 subpoenas. they are to individuals and organizations and i'll answer your questions. >> can you tell us how many
individuals -- >> i'll gave you a rough breakdown, about 17 individuals and about three organizations. >> does it say anything about where people are located? inside the port authority, inside the governor's office? >> i don't want to get too specific. they're all in new jersey. >> one legislative source involved with the assembly's investigation tells nbc news that the assembly had originally planned just to subpoena bridget anne kelly, chris christie's deputy chief of staff who ordered the shutdown, and bill steppian who is the governor's campaign manager. he turns up in e-mail calling the mayor of fort lee an idiot. governor christie has already fired both of these people who you see on their screen here. and scuttled bill steppien's plan to become head of the republican party.
apparently the plan was to subpoena those two people. now they're getting expert advice from the prosecutor who bout blagojevich in prison for corruption. that gentleman is assisting the assembly in its investigation. a source involved tells nbc news that it was the advice of the new special counsel that caused the assembly to lengthen its subpoena list from two, bridget ann kelly and bill steppien, to instead the 17 people and three entities who are getting served tonight. the source saying, that's what happens when you talk to somebody who knows how to do one of these investigations, end quote. so by the end of the hour tonight, by the end of the night, we may know who is on that long list of subpoenas from the assembly. as of right now we do not know and we are trying to find out. we do, however, have a different
subpoena list, and it's also new. we do today have the subpoena list from the new jersey state senate. they've issued their first three subpoenas. it's a really interesting short list. number one on the list is david sampson. david sampson headed up chris christ christie's transition team when he first became governor of new jersey. here he is last june. the other two in the picture are david wildstein, who orchestrated the shutdown of the bridge. also bill baroni who lied to the state assembly about it and told them it was for a traffic study. both of those men have already resigned because of the scandal. david sampson has not and says he will. he's head of the port authority, chairman. he is christie's top political apet pointee. we've reported on this show about how some of david sampson's behavior surrounding
the shutdown remains unexplained and odd. the most odd is his public behavior concerning this traffic disaster, which we now know was man-made and engineered for political purposes, the contrast between his behavior surrounding that shutdown and a similar traffic disaster that happened on another bridge back in 2011 on easter sunday. that traffic jam was also caused by the port authority by a shortage of toll takers in that case. but there's no indication that one was done on purpose. when that traffic disaster happened on easter sunday 2011, david sampson, as port authority chairman was publicly furious about it and very vocal, telling the press, we consider this unacceptable. we have mother's day coming up, the fourth of july coming up. it's unthinkable to have these problems. he has a history of being vocal
when the port authority causes traffic jams. but on this one in fort lee, that lasted for more than four days, it was the first week of school, the anniversary of 9/11, he made no public comment, no demands for apology, no visible anger whatever. internally the only thing that made him mad was that somebody blew the whistle on it. that the executive director of the agency talked. he wrote to his vice chairman with confirmed evidence of pat foye being the leak, stirring up trouble, he said. he's playing in traffic. made a big mistake. the architect of the bridge shutdown, david wildstein brags to chris christie's dep sti chief of staff that david sampson is helping to retaliate against the forces that got fort lee's bridge lanes opened back up again on the fifth day of what had been that disaster. so david sampson, essential lie
a political godfather to chris christie, former attorney general of the state of new jersey, partner in one of the most powerful and connected law firms in the state of new jersey, he's being subpoenaed tonight from the new jersey state senate. that's one. the second one of their subpoenas is going to regina egea, who was chris christie's director overseeing authorities, like the port authority, at the time of the bridge shutdown. the morning that the lanes were opening up again, she got sent the angry letter from the port authority executive director that said he was going to get the lanes opened up again. and that this hasty decision violates federal laws and the laws of both states. regina egea was sent that letter marked high importance on the last morning of the shutdown. she too has just been subpoenaed by the new jersey state senate. that's two of the three. but then there's the third one which, as far as i'm concerned,
before tonight, before i started figuring it out, seemed to be the total wild card. it's this guy, who before this, was an unfamiliar character in this play. his name is pat schuber -- william pat schuber, one of the commissioners that chris christie appointed to the port authority. he's not been high profile until he was the third of three subpoenas tonight. pat schuber used to be the mayor of bogota, new jersey. like abe bogota. he went on to become the county executive where fort lee is located. do you remember that weird detail about david wildstein? about how the guy who ordered the bridge shutdown used to be an anonymous blogger? remember this? before chris christie became governor and david wildstein
kngot himself appointed to the port authority that paid him 150 grand and it had no job description. before that, david wildstein's job had been running a new jersey politics blog, but he did it anonymously. he blogged under a pseudonym. here he is touting pat schuber in 2009 as somebody who would be a great choice for gub na torrial candidate chris christie to pick as his running mate. interesting because chris christie did not pick pat schuber to be his running mate. but he did pick him to be head of the port authority. when the lanes were shut down on the george washington bridge, the state center who represents fort lee picked that
commissioner, the guy who was the county executive for that county, as the commissioner that she wanted to complain to. she picked him as the person she was going to ask for help in figuring out what had gone wrong. she wrote, dear commissioner schuber, i am at a loss for words regarding the authority's sudden change in the traffic patterns from fort lee. reducing the number of lanes in high peak time has caused significant hardship for those in the area. i'm disappointed by the authority's response. but on a personal level i'm disappointed in your lack of advocacy. when you were confirmed before the senate you stated both privately and publicly you were going to be the voice for bergen county residents. sadly, this does not appear to me to be the case. blistering letter. from an old political foe.
loretta weinberg had run against him and he had won. even though he's a republican, she voted for him and she wrote to him when bergen county need help and needed explanation. she said she got a call back from commissioner schuber saying he'd look into what happened and then he'd get back to her, but that was it. she never heard back. >> personal comment, commissioner schuber, i also voted on your nomination, with great pride, on the fact that you were going to speak out and speak up for bergen county residents. you gave me a promise that you will get to the bottom of this. and i'm still waiting. >> that was in november at a port authority meeting. you said you would look into it. you said you would get back to me, i'm still waiting. that was november. as of last week, senator weinberg was still trying to get an answer out of this guy. >> i wrote a personal letter in
mid september to commissioner pat schuber who i voted for. i wrote to pat schuber, a former county executive of bergen county. he knew the implications of the bridge. when he received my letter in mid september, he called me. he said i don't know anything about this, but i'm going to get to the bottom of it. i still haven't heard from pat schuber. >> he said he would figure it out back in september. she still hadn't heard by november, by last week. so now tonight, subpoena. now by law, he will be getting back to her and to the new jersey state senate. this is really interesting now. this is what else we do. turns out that while senator weinberg was waiting for a response from pat schuber, he did draft a response to her -- or rather, he had one drafted. he had a written response to the
senator's questions about the bridge shutdown, drafted for him by the guy who shut down the bridge. what! what on earth was david wildstein doing drafting the commissioner's response to questions about shutting down the bridge? he wasn't like legislative affairs. he was the guy with no job description whose title said he was in charge of interstate projects and who happens to be the guy who shut down the bridge lanes on orders from chris christie's office. why would they ask that guy specifically to draft his written response when a member of the new jersey senate started asking questions about what happened? why him? did everybody know who the guy was who shut down the bridge? did everybody know to shut up? shut up about it and just let that guy handle the questions? if the cover story is that
nobody knew anything, then how did everybody know to call david wildstein on this matter? ultimately pat schuber decided not to send david wildstein's draft response to loretta weinberg or anything else by way of explanation. but now armed with subpoena authority, she's about to get her answers. today bridget anne kelly appears to be the person who ordered the shutdown of the lanes. she's hired a law firm to represent her. governor chris christie also secured representation for himself. hiring a former district attorney who specializes in organized crime. meanwhile, the governor himself is still planning to travel to florida tomorrow to do fund raising events for governor rick scott. on this trip, he will not make a single joint public appearance with rick scott. and in fact, governor christie
will not make a single appearance on this trip to florida that is open to the public at all. this is going to be closed-doors only. joining us now is assemblyman lou green wald, the majority leader in the new jersey state assembly, the top democrat in the assembly, also a member of the newly created select committee on investigations. thank you for being here. >> thank you for having me. >> the bergen record, this is late breaking. they're reporting tonight based on a single source that the subpoenas issued by your committee today include bridget anne kelly and the governor's spokesman and campaign manager bill steppien? can you tell us if that is accurate? >> i can tell you lone source is not accurate based on what i heard the first 15 minutes of your show. and the assembly committee we formed and the leadership group was on your show yesterday. we had a list much longer than three people. we have used our special counsel, though, to determine
who else should be added to that list, maybe some of the organizations that you referenced earlier and you heard the chairman speak about earlier on your show today. the reality is, it's as important who you subpoena and the order in which they receive the subpoenas and when they come in to testify, to make sure this investigation is done properly and methodically. our goal is to do this in swift fashion, not to drag this on longer than necessary. >> so everybody has an interest in figuring out the scope of the interest, who may be implicated or who can give useful information, at least who you believe can give useful information, but as far as you're concerned, we got to wait until there's a formal announcement. >> i think the viewers, unfortunately because of past actions of u.s. attorneys like chris christie when they were there, the subpoena was almost used as a hammer of criminal indictment. the reality is, subpoenas are an investigative tool for discovery. the people we've sent the subpoenas to, we don't know if
they're done anything wrong. we're not saying they did. but we want to find out what they know. but we know one thing for sure, there was an egregious abuse of power, unlike anything i've seen in my 18 years in the state legislature. we want to know how deep that abuse was and ultimately what was the root of that abuse of power. we believe by going through this process in a systematic fashion, we will find that answer. >> i asked assemblyman wisniewsky this question as well and he didn't have an answer for me on it. i wonder with your background as a lawyer -- he's a lawyer too, but maybe you have a different perspective on it. that is, about the issue of destruction of documents and destruction of e-mail chains and text messages and things like that. in the way that this has unfolded, and we have been reporting on this since back in december. it trickled out and then became a flood. if i were one of the people who had been involved in this in any way, particularly if i had
something damning, i would have burned my hard drives, thrown everything away, done anything i could to destroy evidence at this point. are you confident that that hasn't happened? and do you have the forensic power to unearth that stuff if people did try to destroy documents? >> i can tell you from my background in dealing with certain people who have been involved in situations like that, from an investigatory standpoint, short of them throwing it in the river and us not finding it, we'd be able to piece that back together. so people that think they're going to destroy evidence, i would urge them not to do so. it's the cover-up that gets you in trouble far more than any involvement you think you have in this. the reality is, if someone has knowledge, i would encourage them to reach out to the committee. if they have an e-mail that was sent to them, they were copied on the e-mail, they should come forward and share that information. the more we know, the sooner we know it, the better it will be for new jersey and the whole
investigation. >> the remit of the investigation and the assembly, it's a two-year horizon. are you worried about that getting in the way of the other work the legislature needs to do, but also the prospect that some of these investigations might get in the way of each other. senate has their investigation. they've announced their subpoenas. the usa attorney has opened an inquiry but not an investigation at this point. the port authority inspector general is looking into this. there's been interesting from the federal government. are you worried about too many cooks in the kitchen? >> there are a lot of people asking questions. so that's a sign people want to know. the two-year cycle, let's touch on that briefly. the two year cycle is because our elected office is for two years. we had our reorganization and the new legislative body took place this tuesday. so we've covered it for two
years. we hope it won't take two years. the concern of the overlap is why we spent the time really searching for the right law firm. we have an outstanding attorney that we believe is the best in the country that will help coordinate the investigations with the other questioning bodies and also make sure we don't trample upon any investigation being done by the u.s. attorney's office or the attorney general's office in new jersey themselves. our goal will believe to work hand in hand with the senate. we do it all the time. we do it during the budget cycle. the most important thing we do is prepare the budget. one in the senate, one in the assembly. they interview the same commissioners, talk to the same people, hear from the same residents and advocacy groups in the state of new jersey and we work in conjunction to put a budget together for the state of new jersey. i don't think this will be different. the reality is, much like you, we've been working on this for months. we were in a process of hiring an attorney last week and through the weekend.
it was only in the beginning of this week the senate indicated they were going to move forward with an investigative review of this. we welcome them to that conversation and we look forward to working with them hand in hand. >> lou green wald, the majority leader top democrat in the assembly. thank you for helping us understand this. and as this moves forward, both in your leadership role and on this committee specifically, i hope you'll keep us apprised. >> be happy to. thank you for having me. all right, turns out rudy guiliani fits into this whole thing in a really unexpected way. seriously. stay with us. he's agreed to give it up. that's today? [ male announcer ] we'll be with him all day as he goes back to taking tylenol. i was okay, but after lunch my knee started to hurt again. and now i've got to take more pills. ♪ yup. another pill stop. can i get my aleve back yet? ♪ for my pain, i want my aleve. ♪ [ male announcer ] look for the easy-open red arthritis cap.
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new jersey governor chris christie today traveled to mana hawken, new jersey. it's so teeny tiny that it's not even really officially a town. officially speaking, mana hawken is a census designated place on the jersey shore. he went there today to meet with people whose lives are still turned upside down after hurricane sandy. he meant to make the trip on january 8th, but that day the tendrils of the bridge gate scandal reached into the governor's administration and mr. christie canceled all his public appearances that day. today, though, he was able to reschedule that visit. so on the one hand, this is governor christie getting back to governor business as usual. on the other hand, governor christie said something today that was really, really, really
unusual. unusual. very unusual for him. >> you asked me, and i accepted the task of leading this state for eight years, not four years. [ applause ] and no one, i can assure you, ever told me or anybody on my team that it was going to be easy. hadn't been up to this point. and there's all kinds of challenges, as you know that come every day, out of nowhere, to test you. but i want to assure the people of new jersey of one thing -- i was born here, i was raised here, i'm raising my family here, and this is where i intend to spend the rest of my life. >> that is not at all the way that governor chris christie has
talked recently about his immediate, next few years' plans. not at all. and now i'm not prepared to say definitively tonight that he just announced he's not running for president, but compare what he said today with the way he usually talks about this thing. and it kind of seems today like chris christie announced he is not going to run for president in 2016. because this is the way he used to talk about it. this was on october 8th. >> i am not going to declare tonight, for you or for anybody else, that i am or am not running for president. i don't think anybody in america or the state of new jersey expects anyone to say what they're going to do in three years. i can walk and chew gum and do this job and deal with my future. that's exactly what i will do. >> that was governor christie, in his re-election debate, refusing to say that he would
fill out his time as governor. this was mr. christie a week before the election. >> if you win, are you committed to serving out your full term? >> i'm committed to being the best governor new jersey could have for as long as i could possibly do. neither one of us have a crystal ball and know what's going to happen in the future. my current intention is to spend four years, but we'll see what happens. you never know what life's going to bring you. >> my current intention is to serve out my term, but we'll see what happens, never know. chris christie was so confident he was going to be re-elected that even while he was debating his opponent for re-election, even the week before voters went to the polls and he's on national tv, he was so confident he was going to win, that he was still willing to announce, as he was asking people to vote for him for governor, that he might not actually do the job of governor that the people were voting him in for. >> i'm the governor of new
jersey. that's my job. that's what i intend to do. >> for all four years? >> who knows? i'm going to do my job and finish the job. but everybody who is trying to figure out what life is going to bring you years from now, i didn't expect to be sitting here four years ago. nobody can make those predictions. >> nobody can make those predictions. that was the week after the election. now, what he's saying is totally different. >> you asked me, and i accepted the task of leading this state for a years, not four years. >> then he went on to say, i was born here, i was raised here, i'm raising my family here, and this is where i intend to spend the rest of my life. so that's one thing to note. chris christie may have said today that he's not running for president. and he may have said it definitively for the first time ever. here's another thing. do you remember how in 2012 before rick perry got into the
race for president, it kind of seemed like he was going to be the guy to beat. before he got into the race he was the theoretical favorite unless he started running and then ker splat. the guy who played that role in 2008 was rudy guiliani. everybody in the media thought rudy juliana was the prohibitive favorite to win the nomination in 2008. but then rudy guiliani actually started running and it's kind of like that moment in men in black when they're scouting out the guy who looks like the alien at the news stand in new york city and then the alien starts talking and it's not the guy who looks like the alien. oh, it turns out it's the dog. rudy guiliani's campaign was so bizarre and completely unexpectedly dysfunctional, not only did he not win, he was the laughing stock of the 2008 presidential primary. they had the idea to not compete
in iowa, in new hampshire, also not compete in south carolina. he was going to skip all that, he was above those states. no, he was going to go straight to florida and just start winning then. start winning then, four weeks into the nominating process. absolute, total failure. credit for that genius strategy that turned rudy juligiuliani f the favorite to the laughing stock because of his stop political strategist. mike due hane. after that, he went on to become the top political strategist to chris christie. in the disastrous giuliani campaign, his national field director was bill stepien. who went on to become the campaign manager for chris christie in his run for re-election. the deputy communications chief from the disastrous rudy guiliani comman in 2008 was a
woman named maria camela, she became the communications chief for chris christie in his run for re-election. now chris christie has announced the name of the lawyer who will help him organize his response into the myriad inquiries into this bridge scandal that seems to be sinking his second term. he's chosen a deputy to giulij i giuliani. if you do want to run for president, following the rudy guiliani path is a really weird way to do it. but chris christie made clear he's trying to follow the rudy guiliani path out of this scandal. he may have just announced that his presidential aspirations are over in the meantime. steve cornback joins us next. fedex one rate. really makes my life easier. maybe a promotion is in order.
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will be available on every device. on tv, online or streaming on the nbc sports live extra app. beginning february 6th, experience the winter games everywhere. welcome to what's next. comcast nbcuniversal >> you asked me, and i accepted the task of leading this state for eight years, not four years. [ applause ] >> and no one, i can assure you, ever told me or anybody on my team that it was going to be easy. hadn't been up to this point, and there's all kinds of challenges, as you know that come every day, out of nowhere,
to test you. but i want to assure the people of new jersey of one thing. i was born here. i was raised here. i'm raising my family here. and this is where i intend to spend the rest of my life. >> governor chris christie today telling his new jersey constituents on the shore that he's a jersey guy, presidential aspirations be darned. he pledges to spend the rest of his life in new jersey, of which washington, d.c. is not an enclave. this is totally new verbiage from chris christie on this subject today. today also happens to be the day he announced the hiring of his new legal representation on the bridge gate scandal. he's hired a former deputy mayor to new york city mayor rudy guiliani. ste steve, thanks for being here. getting any sleep?
>> not yet. hopefully it's not showing. >> we can sleep when we're dead. >> right. >> governor christie just hired a top law firm to help with the investigation. is this an important part of him building his defenses both legal and political? should should just be seen as a normal part of the process? >> no, i think this is significant. this is a serious criminal defense attorney we're talking about here. i talked to some democrats in the legislature today who are a little bit fearful of where they see this playing out. they see a potential here where christie is able to exploit the fact there are two duelling committees looking into this, t i'm not the expert, but their concern is there could be an opening there for christie to buy some time, basically saying the assembly is subpoenaing documents from this person. the senate is subpoenaing the same person. excuse me.
the same documents. the legislature needs to get its act together and act as one. in many cases you might have people who are being defended with taxpayer money. they might make a complaint about that. we shouldn't be wasting taxpayer money on two duelling investigation. so there's some fear christie could buy time by the existence of two separate panels. the other piece that comes into it, is what is the u.s. attorney going to do. that's a democratic appointed u.s. attorney general. if you talk to a lot of democrats in new jersey, they think highly of him. they do not think that a major public corruption case is the kind of thing he has much of an appetite for. >> really? >> chris christie made his entire career on. couldn't do enough of these. >> paul has handled his office in a much more low key way. not the kind of appetite that chris christie has.
if you talk to democrats who are more cynical, they say, if this goes to the u.s. attorney, not sure how much is going to come out of it. you have people who predate the current u.s. attorney and were there when chris christie was there. >> so basically if the u.s. attorney is complicated or unlikely to get involved -- a lot of people say it would be easier to bring state charges, instead of federal. although federal seems to be the obvious choice here. if it's not the u.s. attorney, that makes the legislature and their investigation more important and if it has a structural weakness that could be exploited, that could -- >> they can exploit, if they can tie it up in court, maybe the u.s. attorney is forced to come in and take the case. if the u.s. attorney takes the case, it would shut down the legislative panels. >> the number of subpoenas, not
the names was released today. the bergen record is reporting bridget anne kelly, bill stepien are among the individuals who are subpoenaed. we know regina egea and previously unmentioned port commissioner named schuber are going to be subpoenaed by the senate. does that emerging list of names make sense to you in terms of where this goes? >> absolutely. you're looking at names that have popped up in some cases only one or two times in the documents. but regina egea, i think she really only popped up once or twice, but it was a key moment where she pops up. >> that's right. >> because it's at the height of the closure when pat foye says you guys are breaking federal and state laws. he sends that e-mail to bill baroni. bill baroni marks priority high and sends it to regina egea in the governor's office.
so you subpoena her records and if you actually get those records, you find out, what did she do at 10:44 in the morning on september 13th, when she finds this information? does she write to somebody? does she forward it? those are the kinds of questions we can get answers to. >> steve kornacki, the hardest working guy in the building on this story. we appreciate it. >> thank you. lots more to come tonight on this story and on something unrelated and spooky that is happening in washington as we speak. stay with us. you use tide pods? yeah!
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>> i want to make it clear. i didn't want to be in the governor's office looking at who sent e-mails. the e-mails that we got because we were looking at the port authority led us there. and so it would be really a dereliction of our responsibility if now that we know somebody in the governor's office sent an e-mail to close lanes and we walk away from it. somebody would say that would be partisan. it would be negligent. >> an important part of that story that may be breaking overnight tonight, there's more to come. but also in washington, some
unexpected progress in which democrats and republicans join together to tell prominent tea party groups to leave them alone. that was surprising. there's also a big mystery in what democrats and republicans are doing in washington tonight. it was the scoop today on the front page of "the washington post." that mystery, still unresolved, is next. ♪ whoa, who-o-o-a ♪ whoa, who-o-o-a ♪ one, two, three, four! ♪ ohh, oh-oh-oh-oh ♪ ohh, oh-oh-oh-ohhh ♪ go, let's go ♪ hit me like a supernova ♪ let it flow ♪ over like an ocean ♪ when the sound explodes ♪ everybody's feeling all right ♪ ♪ everybody's feeling all right ♪ ♪ ohh, oh-oh-oh-oh ♪ everybody's feeling all right ♪ life's an adventure and it always has been. but your erectile dysfunction - it could be a question of blood flow. cialis tadalafil for daily use helps you be ready anytime the moment's right. you can be more confident in your ability to be ready.
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started popping around in a ping-pong ball of the lottery machine also known as america's conservative media. the particular ping-pong ball in question was labelled president obama plans to close the u.s. embassy at the vatican. oh, the outrage! the conservative washington times newspaper was on it. obama's call to close vatican embassy is slap in the face to roman kacatholics. world net daily accused president obama of insulting catholics with this embassy shutdown. the story made it all the way from the fringe to what is supposed to be the center of the republican mainstream when jeb bush decided to join in the frenzy tweeting, quote, hopefully it is not retribution for catholic organizations opposing obamacare. of course, like all ping-pong balls, this story was mostly air and easily destroyed under the weight of even minute further inspection. president obama was not trying to close the embassy to the vatican. he was trying to move it closer
to the vatican. to the same compound that houses our much larger embassy to italy. and whether or not jeb bush was aware of this fact, the embassy consolidation plan for the van can was an. >> idea that was first introduced by the bush administration in 200. the state department says the move would not only improve security, it would also save us more than $1 million a year. and in part because the new location would be a bit closer to the actual vatican nan the old embassy, the vatican liked the idea, too. but when you put something apolitical, bipartisan, noncontroversial and fiscally conservative like that into the conservative media machine, it naturally comes out as satanic volcano sacrifice to the atheistic idols of communism or whatever. the story was a fantasy from the start. it was easily debunked with about 20 seconds of googling as long as you were willing to read google search results from outside the conservative media. it was a completely made-up fake
scandal. and now it's in the budget. what? republicans have put their collectively ill informed foot down now and they have banned the embassy move from happening. seriously. tucked into the $1.1 trillion spending sbil a provision that bans anything from happening to the vatican embassy. it stays as is. it also bans the anti-poverty activist group a.c.o.r.n. the new budget includes four separate provisions blocking any funding to a.c.o.r.n. if you're keeping score at home, a.c.o.r.n. has not existed for four years now. but it will not get any federal funding. suffice to say, the new spending bill includes a lot of nonsense, generated from the comment section of the conspirator yal youtube clips about kenya. but there is one very controversial bit of business that did make it into the 1,582-page spending bill. and "the washington post" had an exclusive on it today. according to the post, sneaked
into a classified annex of this giant bill is a secret provision that would block president obama's plan to shift control of the drone program, to shift control of the u.s. armed unmanned drone program from the cia to the pentagon. and in his big historic speech last week on the war on terror, president obama open talked about the drone program for the first time. and what he announced in the big landmark speech was to start to shift control from the supersecret literally covert cia to the defense department, which can be quite secretive, but which has an arguably more straightforward route to congressional and therefore public oversight. it sounds like a technical thing, but that would be a really important shift. i kind of wrote a whole book about how important that kind of shift would be. but that planned shift announced by the president last year is reportedly not happening. the secret measure in the federal budget plan restricts the use of any funding to transfer drones or the authority
to carry out drone strikes from the cia to the pentagon. that's according to officials who spoke by anonymity. who included the measure? it mostly likely came from members of the house and senate appropriations committees but we don't know for sure because no one is officially talking about it. white house, no comment. cia, no comment. pentagon, no comment. so it is very unclear how this is all going to play out. but this is an important issue. and even when this unresolved and undebated -- the bill cleared the house last night and just a few hours ago tonight, it also cleared the senate. 72-26. so the bill now goes to the president's desk for his sign-off including that provision that will keep our lethal drone program as opaque as possible, both to us and to congress that is supposed to oversee it. at least that's the status for now. watch this space. room over the pizza place on chestnut street the modest first floor bedroom in tallinn, estonia and the southbound bus barreling down i-95.
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the president will be at the justice department to talk about how we deal with surveillance in this country. that announcement was spurred by the edward snowden disclosures that started last june, but also by a continuing stream of reporting since then, including most recently the disclosure by "the new york times" yesterday that the nsa has devised a way to put radio transmitters into computers of their choosing around the world, even if those computers aren't online. last month, president obama's surveillance review board came up with a long list of recommendations on how to reform surveillance. tomorrow, president obama is going to announce which of those recommendations he's ready to adopt, which he rejects, and which he is turfing over to congress to fight about forever. so that's the big washington event tomorrow. the other big political event in the country tomorrow, though, is that tomorrow may be unveil the subpoenas day in new jersey.
today we learned that one of the special committees investigating the chris christie bridge scandal in the new jersey legislature has issued 20 differe subpoenas as part of their investigation. we expected we might hear today who exactly got those subpoenas but it now looks like it's going to break either overnight tonight or early tomorrow. in terms of when we find out the names. and then what? now it's time for "the last word" with lawrence o'donnell. have a great night. the new jersey legislature started issuing subpoenas today and chris christie hired himself a team of lawyers today. >> we start with the investigation of chris christie. >> three separate investigations going on. >> governor chris christie's administration will be getting temperature subpoenas. >> two new committees to be granted subpoena power. >> raising concerns about the cost. >> john wisniewski has