tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC January 20, 2014 4:00pm-5:01pm PST
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his lieutenant governor. the message if she didn't back a local project being pushed by christie's former aides, the hurricane money would stop flowing to hoboken. zimmer says she recorded that conversation in her personal diary and has turned over that diary to the u.s. attorney's office. she has offered to testify under oath and even to take a lie detector test. in response, the lieutenant governor of the state has denied tying the hurricane funds to the favored project, which of course opens the question of what she did say to the mayor in that parking lot, and why she did site the two issues and what did she mean when she said the message was coming from the governor. a partisan of the governor, rnc chair haley barbour says mayor zimmer may have written her diary at the present time, but inserted it back in the summer, an unlikely possibility giving the presumed need of the mayor to have left those pages for that day blank so she could fill them in later. as someone myself who has kept a political diary, i don't honestly know how you do that. msnbc political analyst eugene
robinson, a prize winning columnist for the washington host and bob ingall, co-author of "chris christie: the inside story of his rise to power." mr. ingram, i want to go to you on the inside. so much of this is about the inside. let's start with hoboken mayor dawn zimmer's interview saturday morning on "up with steve kornacki" in which she decides a pull-aside in the parking lot at the hoboken shoprite where she says the lawsuit governor of the state delivered a bracing message. >> the fact is that the lieutenant governor came to hoboken. she pulled me aside in the parking lot, and she said i know it's not right. i know these things should not be connected, but they are. and if you tell anyone, i'll deny it. so these -- the bottom line is it's not fair for the governor to hold sandy funds hostage for the city of hoboken because he wants me to give back to one private developer. >> early today, this morning new
jersey lieutenant governor kim guadagno challenged the mayor. let's listen to her account. >> mayor zimmer's version of our conversation in may of 2013 is not only false but is illogical and does not withstand scrutiny when all of the facts are examined. any suggestion, any suggestion that sandy funds were tied to the approval of any project in new jersey is completely false. >> shortly after the lieutenant governor spoke that way, hoboken mayor dawn zimmer released this statement. i amgen winly disappointed that lieutenant governor guadagno has lived up to her promise that she would deny linking hoboken's application for sandy hazzard mitigation funding. i met with the u.s. attorney for
over two hours yesterday, that would be sunday, answered all their questions and turned over my journal in which i describe my conversation with the lieutenant governor and commissioner constable. i stand by my word, remain willing to testify under oath and i will continue to answer any questions asked of me by the u.s. attorney's office. this story, it's not so much she came down to he said, she said a one person kept a diary entry. you have to wonder about the motives for coming out with it. but it's obvious the motives of the lieutenant governor, she is going to deny it. because if she ever admitted such a conversation, she would look terrible. >> that's right. she didn't deny there was any conversations. she said that the mayor misinterpreted perhaps what was going on. >> how would that be done? how would you misinterpret a conversation in which we talked a development project, we talked the hurricane money and say the governor sent this message to you personally through me. how do you misinterpret that? >> i don't know how you would. it sounds very clear to me.
but that's where they're going wit. i notice that the lieutenant governor didn't say anything about taking the lie detector test the way the mayor said she would. and there wasn't anything about whether she would testify to that under oath, either. >> does she always talk like she is a p.o.w.? seriously. that wasn't normal serious speech pattern. zimmer talks spontaneously and normally like a person talks. it's a difficult situation for her. but lieutenant governor came out, no questions were acceptable by her. she read something that looked like it had not necessarily been written by her. it seemed to be very formal and painful. and almost a high school kind of exclamation points added to each word. your thoughts? >> i think she was being very, very careful, because i think the statement that she made has been lawyered because they think that somewhere down the road they may be asked to testify about this in a court of law. lying on tv is one thing.
whoever does it. lying to a federal official is a crime within itself. so people have to be very, very careful. >> what do you make of the fact that dawn zimmer, the mayor of hoboken has already spoken, apparently in detail to u.s. officials for two hours. that sounds to me like she went into detail. and i understand the law, as you understand it probably the same way, you lie to investigators for the u.s. attorneys, you've got a problem with the law. you have already committed a felony. >> that's exactly right. she would have to be very careful about that. i think she went to talk to them because she expected that she was going to be held up to scrutiny, and people were going to question what she had to say. and i think that she wanted to go talk to those officials and get it on the record just to show that she means it, and she is not backing off. >> let me go back to gene. this story has fascinating personality now. we have zimmer. we all try to figure people out when we watch them on tv. it seems she is totally comfortable telling a story she doesn't like to tell, but she is telling it in her own words
where this other lieutenant governor comes out and painfully reads a script. >> well, it did seem like a hostage statement the way she read it. >> sadly. >> look, she's got the diary, right? she's got the journal that she kept. >> contemporary account. >> exactly. a contemporary account. >> what do you think will be charged by haley barbour, normally of sound mind. you can always go back and write it in. but if you look at the actual text of this thing. >> yeah, yeah. >> it was scribbled under duress. it wasn't something went back and planted. >> the problem is if you don't know where to leave the blank pages in your journal, do you? >> that's what i said. >> that's kind of unlikely. i mean, this -- it seems clear to me that this is certainly what she heard. >> haley must not be a birther, but this is like birther talk. 50 some years ago, mrs. -- mrs. -- the formally miss obama went back and dug up plan. >> they put those birth ads in the honolulu newspaper.
>> let me go to some of the information we're getting here. everything seems to be somebody is a friend of christie's. we don't know what role this guy played in the law firm, what's his name? samson. first of all. he is a transition head. then he is head of the port authority, which must be the nicest plum book in the world. and now he is running this law firm which he created around the law firm has the account of this thing called the rockefeller group building this thing in hoboken, or wants to. he has an associate member firm lori griffith. there does seem to be a lot of circumstance that the governor did have an interest in this project. all his people that he had fobbed off on to that elephant's graveyard at the port authority, and later has them as lawyers. i wonder why they're top lawyers in the firm. i only watch "the good wife." if you're married to the governor, that's a good deal. if you used to work for him, that's a good deal if you want
to practice law. your thoughts. >> certainly christie has made a career out of hiring people that he has worked with before and people that he went to school with and that sort of thing. so it fits right in. he tends to have a circle around him that he trusts, and those are the people that he goes back to again and again. >> which one is going to be secretary of defense? which one is going to be secretary of treasury? i've already got what's her name figured out for secretary of transportation. there will be traffic problems at the bridge this weekend. i mean, this guy can pick 'em. i want to know, can you report that he has been loyal to people after they left his service and looked out for their law clients and law business like may have happened here where maybe, maybe mr. samson, maybe is someone the governor cares about and cares about his project, because he would like to keep his good will. and same with lori grifa, who is also with that firm who will represent this project. and all of the sudden the lieutenant governor is said to have come in and said the boss wants this project approved or you're dead meat, basically.
does it all fit together or not for a reporter? >> it's a two-way street. he is loyal to the people around him, and they're loyal to him too. so it doesn't surprise me that he is loyal to people. if you take a look at the chris christie book that i wrote, you'll find out that he has friends going all the way back to grade school. he has kept in very close touch with. >> and employed. >> employed. >> and kept employed. anyway, hoboken mayor dawn zimmer said the governor was holding sandy funds hostage on this weekend's "up with steve kornacki." let's listen to her report. >> the bottom line, it's not fair for the governor to hold sandy funds hostage for the city of hoboken because he wants me to give back to one private developer. and it's important that -- i know it's very complicated for the public to really understand all of this. but i have a legal obligation to follow the law, to bring
balanced development to hoboken. >> well, as i said this morning, new jersey lieutenant governor kim guadagno said this -- >> being a sandy victim myself makes the mayor's allegations particularly offensive to me. the suggestion that anyone would hold back sandy relief funds for any reason is wholly and completely false. >> i don't know. there is a how many elocution there going on. i don't know what it, but it doesn't seem like a real person talking real words that was scripted. i don't think it looks like she wrote those words. >> well, whether she wrote them or not, they should have had her read them a few times before she went out there. it's not a great presentation by her. let's face it. but back away for a second. >> why did they wheel her out, put it out to like an automaton.
she gives a stilted statement and walks back in doesn't answer any questions. >> they're trying to get in front of the story which seems to be breaking like some kind of wave over the christie machine and christie's political hope. because this is bigger than the traffic jam. >> i'm waiting for all these other mayors. let me go to mr. ingle, lastly. who is guadagno? she doesn't seem like a separately elected person. they don't let her out ever. they let her out today to read this statement. again, the po.w. refrs. what is she? >> she is former sheriff. she is the first lieutenant governor that we had in new jersey. she ran with him the first time. the big joke in the press corps
for the first term for the first few press conferences is she always stood about three feet himp behind the governor when he made a speech, but she would never say anything. this is chris christie's administration and he is at the top of the flag. >> he didn't need a partner? >> no. >> anyway, she is probably a nice person. but this is a weird case. >> she is a nice person. >> she is in a terrible situation. if she had this conversation or anything like it, how does she explain the two topics, the development project and they're not getting any more money, and then say the governor talked to me last night and it's definitely coming from him. if these things are even vaguely close, she is just arguing over wording now, right? that's the problem they've got right now. and she has a tremendous incentive as she said back then, according to mayor zimmer, i'm going to deny this. >> yeah, well. >> and she did. >> this really is a problem for christie.
and so they're going to have to i think do better than that and be more specific than that in the denial. it sounds like there was a conversation, and it sounds like these elements were present in the conversation. and it's hard to put those elements in there without it coming out like a threat. >> it becomes harder and harder to believe some of these stories to believe the position of the governor in his case, you have to believe that bridget kelly, for example, came up with the idea, all by herself in that one e-mail. it had nothing to do with her bosses telling her what 20 do. you have to believe that the mayor here who comes out rather painfully and to me spontaneously offers up evidence about what happened and shows her personal diary, offers to take a lie detector test, offers to go under oath, at great risk to herself for no apparent gain. you have to think she is at least worth listening to in court. the people who are denying all this are simply doing what politicians normally do, deny stuff. thank you, gene robinson. thank you, bob ingle, bob.
coming up, chris christie is fighting for his political life. never mind 2016, his governorship could be at stake. and now a new poll as troubling news for the governor. chuck todd is going to be down here along with mark halperin. much more on the investigations in new jersey coming up in this program. how far will all of this go as christie told big republican money men this weekend even he doesn't know when his troubles will end. that is probably the truest statement he has made. plus, president obama says marijuana isn't any more dangerous than alcohol, or you could say it's as bad as alcohol. with more states moving to legalize it, we'll talk to two members of the kennedy family who know all about addiction. and let me start with this, how this story out of hoboken promises to ignite a far wider investigation into the current politics of new jersey. and that is "hardball," the place for politics. ♪ [ laughs ] whoo! ♪ oh! nice! great! [ laughs ] a shot like that calls for a postgame celebration. [ male announcer ] share what you love with who you love. kellogg's frosted flakes.
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welcome back to "hardball." after this landslide victory in november, chris christie looked ready to become the face of a republican party eager to win back the white house. as the new chairman of the republican governor's association, he was set up to spend the year crisscrossing the country, raising money and campaigning for republican candidates while amassing a network of backers and donors for a perspective presidential run. he met with some of those donors this past weekend in florida, and one of them, billionaire home depot founder ken langone said of the george washington bridge saga, quote, it upset the hell out of me.
christie also planned to help senator lindsey graham in his reelection effort in the essentially primary this spring. in an interview, graham the senator said if you brought him in south carolina today, what would we be talking about? we'd be talking about him. well, that's no good. it's not just christie's brand that is in trouble, his second term as governor may hang in the balance. last weekend on "face the nation", although acknowledging it still premature, john wisniewski mentioned impeachment. >> if it becomes known that the governor was involved and he knew about it and he knew about the cover-up and he was approving the actions taken by his senior staff, that raises serious questions that the assembly ought to look at, and that ought to be considered in light of what our responsibility is. the assembly has the ability to do articles of impeachment. we're way ahead of that, though.
>> way ahead of that. chuck todd's nbc news chief white house correspondent and msnbc senior political analyst mark halperin is the co-author of "double down." gentlemen, two heavyweights to talk about this. trying to see a dynamic situation might turn out is the hardest thing in the world. you're looking at week two that could be ten-week or five-week. >> it feels like this is going 20 go for most of the year in some form or another. the sandy allegation by the hoboken mayor brings the feds into this. not tangentially. it could actually end up being a bigger deal. if the allegations prove true, a bigger deal. >> in other words, zimmer's words as spoken this week -- >> are fact chilly proven correct. we're going to have an arbiter here, except we have awes attorney that is going to decide the facts. that's a bigger deal than the bridge, quote/unquote scandal.
>> is this illegal? you can't hold up federal money? >> what she is claiming, if that occurred, it is illegal. so then you're dealing with federal tax dollars. it brings the feds in here. this is -- at this point i think that chris christie, what he said in florida, hey, ask me again about the presidential in a year, he really ought to take that to heart. i don't think he can even be thinking about whether he has a national political future until this is resolved. it's almost as if everybody around him ought to take a time-out. and that includes maybe him spending time on the trail with the republican governor. >> mark, you don't have to jump to conclusions here any more than you want to. but it seems you guys are very good at writing the teddy white stuff. you're really good at the picture of the person. it's very hard for a politician, and nixon is always a great example, because it was very hard for him in june of 1972 to pull back and say okay, i'm not going to have the plumbers, i'm not going to have all that stuff. i'm not going to think paranoid all my life. and alger hiss, i can't rewrite
history. i'm asking you. how does christie say i'm not going to change my team, my ammo. i'm going to go a much different approach to getting things done from the tough guy way i've been doing it. >> well, look, not exaggerating the severity or scope of wrongdoing, because we don't know what that is. but the analogs we have from modern american political history are nixon and clinton. there is a lot of scrutiny on him. what is going on inside his operation now is what we saw with the clinton folks, which is you have to adjust to a new normal, which is there is two worlds. there is the scandal world, subpoenas, people testifying under oath, not sure which colleagues you can necessarily trust. and then there is the daily business of governance. and christie, for his own psychology, has to get back to the second part while still dealing aggressively with the first part. and that is very tough for anyone, particularly for somebody like him who is used to having his way, doesn't get a lot of national scrutiny day to day. now he does. and there are so many adjustm t
adjustments he and his operation have to make, i think that's going to be the most difficult thing. we have already seen everyone who knows him well, who has dealt with him. he is not his normal self. the bravado, the confidence, it's there on occasion. but it's not there consistently. it wasn't there this weekend. it wasn't in his press conference even, where he was trying to put on a good show. >> well, the shoes haven't dropped. we don't know what they're going to do. i'm looking for a metaphor here. all the hundreds of mayors in the state that have had personal relations with this guy, benign, perhaps not so benign, gray area where he said play ball with me. my friendship is worth something. totally legal as opposed to a quid pro quo. >> mark just brought up an important point where this paranoia, you don't know who your friends are. >> yeah. >> and you don't know who your enemies are going to be. and former friends could turn. people you expect to turn may not. and i think that's what makes this such a difficult -- >> silt better to be nice or turn nice all of the sudden and everybody goes this guy is vulnerable. he has been nice to me, or stay
s.o.b.? is it better to be feared or loved? >> he governed clearly out some some form of fear, because the way you're seeing people now comfortable to speak out and they didn't before. i think one of the more bizarre defenses that christie has come up with as far as the dawn zimmer allegations are concerned. but she said such nice things about the governor before. i don't understand why you would bring that up. to me that only makes her more credible if you're not careful. it actually enhances her credibility. >> i heard you say that this morning and i think that's so true. she doesn't have a vendetta. >> the jersey city guy, we've had problems with him the whole time. he is always making trouble. at least that is a logical attack on the jersey city mayor by saying well, he has never been with us. i think it's a vendetta. >> let's go to something you're good at which is polling. we might have beatin you to this poll. a new research poll shows
christie's favorability building has doubled. 34% few him unfavorable. that's different from a year ago. i don't know what that means. what do you make of that, mark? >> i'm always interested in the polls. but i think in this case all this stuff is meaningless. if chris christie had no knowledge of this incident or any other serious one, he is going to have to redo his staff. he is going to have to fight back. he is going to have to delay presidential moves, but he can still have a thriving national life. if he knew about any of it, things are going to be much different. there may be some gray. but to me it's basically a binary. if chris christie knew than stuff, a political death penalty. >> what about the middle grown ground, the middle case. i'll start you, it's easy to understand. i have worked for politicians. you know what they want you to do by pattern. >> that this is the jersey way. he was simply governing the way everybody governs in the state. >> this is the way the boss wants something done when a guy is being tough on him or holding out on him.
>> on the interview with yahoo news, i thought it was interesting. he was trying to walk that line. sometimes in private you got to in order to get the deal you need to get done, you have to be tough and you have to do these things. and i think there is part of that that the public does. except if it is that narrow band, right, if it is that band, if that is the gray area, it is recoverable. but the problem, see, the problem christie has is twofold, which is he never -- the whole point of him was electability. so if you take electability away, why should conservativ conservatives -- it brings him down a notch. it brings him down a notch and makes conservatives why do we have to hold our nose for this. >> thank you, chuck todd. thank you, mark halperin. up next, chris christie can't avoid the late night comedians. this is "hardball," the place for politics. (vo) you are a business pro.
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about a bunch of sleazy liars screwing over the mayor of a city in new jersey. chris christie says he has never seen it. he knows nothing about it. and he takes full responsibility. >> well, we're back with the sideshow. realtime with bill maher is back. just in time for the news breaking out of the garden state. here is more of what bill had to say than. >> of course, that was the big political story, right, governor chris christie, you all know what happened there. governor chris christie's henchman closed lanes on the george washington bridge in an effort to keep people in new jersey from getting into manhattan. of course, anyone in new york knows this is what doormen at nightclub there's have been doing for years. >> of course, "snl" got into the action too with bobby monihan playing the embattled and emboldened governor christie. >> it's great to be here. and i would just like to sincerely apologize to the people of new jersey for this entire incident, and also it's over. so shut up.
>> are you concerned this will overshadow the rest of your term as governor? >> piers, i will not let this scandal define the state of new jersey. instead, new jersey will continue to be defined by organized crime, pizza, no-show jobs, a vague chemical smell, and forget about it. >> we're very curious about the new allegations that you withheld sandy funds to punish the mayor of hoboken. >> oh, really? you're curious. let me ask you a question, piers. how long is your drive to work? >> i don't know. maybe 15 minutes. >> oh, well that's a nice commute. it would be a real shame if something were to happen to it. >> wait, i'm sorry, governor, are you threatening me? >> i don't know. am i? >> bobby monihan doing great. it should be no surprise they're targeting him over the george washington bridge scandal, but there is one parody the thick-skinned governor could not bear. the "new york times" reported on saturday, that quote, the governor could not bring himself to watch the traffic jam-themed
parody of "born to run" sung by his idol bruce springsteen on late night with jimmy fallon, although he was told by his son it was funny. had actually given the governor a warning prior to the sketch, but had never heard back from the governor's office. up next, broadening the investigation into new jersey governor chris christie. how far will this thing go? and this is "hardball," a place for politics. i know, it's a lot to take in. that's why i've conducted this comprehensive analysis,
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i'm milissa rehberger. here is what is happening. officials in omaha, nebraska say two people are dead following an explosion and collapse at an animal feed processing plant. ten others were injured, including four who are critical. president obama and his family spent part of the martin luther king jr. holiday volunteering. they helped to prepare meals at a soup kitchen. and u.n. chief ban ki-moon
has withdrawn an invitation to include iran on a conference in syrian. a key syrian opposition group had threatened to boycott that meeting. back to "hardball." welcome back to "hardball." in hoboken mayor dawn zimmer's statement today in which she challenged kim guadagno's comments, one sentence tell us this story is in a new arena today. quote, i met with the u.s. attorney for over two hours yet. the u.s. attorney for new jersey is paul fishman, who has already begun a review of allegations that members of governor christie's inner circle shut down traffic lanes on the gw bridge to punish the ft. lee mayor. what is fishman's meeting with dawn zimmer tell us about the scope and stakes of this case as it's developing? michael isikoff is nbc news national investigative reporter.
and marlene caride serves on the newly created special select committee on investigations. i want to start with michael. i was watching you this morning on "morning joe." this case, i'm just wondering where it's going. already we have mayor zimmer speaking with u.s. officials from the u.s. attorney's office. i assume that is already putting her in a position where she better be telling the truth. >> she better have told the truth. >> in those two hours. >> look, that meeting was the potential game-changer here, because, look, on a sunday, the u.s. attorney's office? the other thing mayor zimmer's statement said at their request. they called her in on a sunday to get this, on a holiday weekend to get her story. it is a crime to lie to a federal agent. so she is telling her story to the u.s. attorney's office. she is locked in. and she turns over her diary. she turns over her notes, her e-mails, everything they've got.
they've got no choice now, they, the u.s. attorney's office, to now go to the lieutenant governor, go to mr. constable, the commissioner, subpoena the governor's office. and everybody, the community affairs office for all their records, subpoena the city. this now has escalated from what yesterday, even before this, all of christie's people were trying to portray this as a partisan investigation by democrats in the legislature. once paul fishman came in and did that, it's now in a whole new arena. it's a federal criminal investigation. that dramatically escalates what is going on here. >> assemblywoman caride, help me out where you see this investigation going. this thing has metastasized, to use a medical term, it has gone from the bridge closing to the manner in which this republican governor does business to what kind of muscle he uses with regard to state money, federal money, which of course brings in the federal government. and the question, what these
mayors are going to be able to testify to. how far is your committee going? do you know yet, investigating what began with the bridge closings? >> well, as you know, we started with the bridge -- actually we started with the toll hikes being investigated with the department, with the committee for transportation. and due to the e-mails and text messages that we received in the course of discovery, we're now in the governor's office. the committee, the special committee that has been formed is going to take this and do a very deliberate and detailed investigation. once we have the paperwork that we've requested, the documents that we requested, we'll see where we go from there. but first we're waiting for the documents that we subpoenaed to come in, which would be at the beginning of february. and then from there the committee can sit down, speak with special counsel. and then choose the path of the direction we need to continue in. >> when you first heard about the bridge closings, did you have an inclination that there is something fishy about it? without saying who is guilty, did you have a sense that that was just a traffic survey for all those days? did you have a sense when you
heard about the hoboken mayor testifying or speaking on our network this weekend that this is not something new in jersey, that there is something here? what is your inclination look agent it? is it something worth investigating? >> well, to be honest with you, i'm from richfield. i'm one of the surrounding towns of ft. lee. when the traffic jam, or the traffic occurred those four days, it impacted the towns in my district, richfield, cliffside park. did i think that there was anything hinky about it? not at the time. however, when we started doing our investigation with regards to the traffic tolls, and we received these documents that show that someone called for a traffic jam to be caused, that is when things changed with our committee and the special committee was formed to investigate this. because obviously someone has abused their power in their position in the governor's office. with regards to mayor zimmer's
comments this weekend, i saw them on msnbc. they're serious allegations and very concerning. obviously, our committee will have to meet where all the members can speak with special counsel to determine if our inquiry should also include mayor zimmer. >> yeah. okay. let me get back to michael. i thank you for that, assemblywoman. let me ask you about contemporary evidence. it seems to me a diary is dynamite. every time you hear it, remember the anita hill case, did she say something to somebody else about the behavior of clarence thomas, because it gives credibility when it happens in the realtime. >> look, you can -- i heard haley barbour today suggesting -- >> that was just partisan nonsense. >> after the fact. >> he also said inserted the pages. >> right. that's the kind of thing fbi forensics could determine if it were to be true. and it would be a pretty, you
know, a pretty brazen thing if the mayor yeah, fraudulent activity by the mayor. a couple of things. first of all, on the legislative committee, i think the legislatives may be able to get the e-mails and documents they've subpoenaed, but they're going to have a hard time getting any testimony right now when you have the u.s. attorney on the scene. because what is going to happen, every witness is going to take the fifth amendment. >> they're not going to let guadagno talk to the u.s. attorney, will they? >> they may not have a choice. she is going to get a subpoena. >> she is not ready to face these people. >> she won't have to testify. >> okay, thank you. i think she is going to keep away from those agents too. thank you. can you do that? >> keep way from the agents? no. >> well, that's good. anyway, michael isikoff, thank you as always, and assembly warm marlene caride from new jersey. up next, president obama says this is going to be an interesting comment. marijuana isn't any more dangerous than alcohol. you can read it the other way. it's as dangerous as alcohol. we're going to talk to two
members of the kennedy family coming here right now that know a lot about addiction. patrick kennedy. i really think this is one of the hot issues we'll be talking about for years. should marijuana be ed easy to get for everybody? and this is "hardball," a place for politics. [ male announcer ] what if a small company became big business overnight? ♪ like, really big... then expanded? ♪ or their new product tanked? ♪ or not? what if they embrace new technology instead?
♪ imagine a company's future with the future of trading. company profile. a research tool on thinkorswim. from td ameritrade. we're coming back with president obama's new comments about marijuana, and two kennedys who have seen the ugly side of drug addiction. "hardball" back after this. ♪ [ laughs ]
getting your vegetables every day? when i can. [ bop ] [ male announcer ] could've had a v8. two full servings of vegetables for only 50 delicious calories. it's time, as nancy said, for america to just say no to drugs. >> so won't you join us in this great new national crusade. >> god bless you and good night. >> we're back. that was of course the famous anti-drug message from president reagan in the 1980s. but with colorado and washington state actually legalizing marijuana for recreational use, attitudes have clearly shifted in this country. now president obama himself has weighed in on the issue. here is what he had to say in a profile piece in the new yorker. quote, as has been well documented, i smoked pot as a kid. this is the president speaking. and i view it as a bad habit and
a vice, but very different from the cigarettes, but not very different from the cigarettes that i smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life. i don't think it is more dangerous than alcohol. i don't think it is more dangerous than alcohol. it departs from what we've heard in administrations in the past. but president offered this by way of explanation. quote, middle class kids don't get locked up for smoking pot, and poor kids do, and african american kids do, and latino kids are more likely to be poor and less likely to have the resources and the support to avoid unduly harsh penalties. well, they're better lawyered, white kids are. joining me now is the author of "what addicts know", christopher kennedy lawford, and patrick kennedy, who heads up the smart approaches to marijuana project. i generally support the president in a lot of things. i mean, i'm famous for that or infamous from that. but the fact is i don't think he is right on this one, because i think people have addictive personalities, and some people react to freedom differently
than others. and we better be ready for it, because it's coming now. >> there is no question, chris. the two most damaging drugs on the planet are both legal, alcohol and tobacco. we don't need another legal drug. all the alcohol and tobacco. all the evidence isn't in on marijuana. i agree with the president in terms of the consequences for some population groups as a result of this drug being illegal. and i also think that, you know, quite frankly, if alcohol was illegal today, it wouldn't be legalized. it is a very damaging drug. and we need to look at that also. >> it's been around a long time. >> it has. >> let me go to patrick kennedy on this. it seems to me, i have to go -- we all deal with our anecdotal experiences in life. that's how you talk, from the experience. >> right. >> i'm around guys who drank too much and after they drank too much, we go look for dope, around midnight. so don't tell me booze wasn't a gateway to dope or to marijuana, and i don't have that much experience with the other stuff, but i do have that concern about the gateway issue.
your thoughts? >> so, first, chris, you hit the nail on the head. most of us know about this issue anecdotally. so what we need, chris, is we need to know what the science tells us. the science of public health. so, i think the president needs to speak to his nih director in charge of drug abuse, nora volcow. because she would tell the president that, in fact, today's modern, genetically modified marijuana, so it's much higher thc levels, far surpass the marijuana that the president acknowledges smoking when he was a young person, so that he is wrong when he says that it isn't very harmful, because the new marijuana is not the old marijuana, and, of course, the president is making this decision based upon his anecdotal experience. we need to have presidential decisions made, based upon public health and the sound science that the federal government's invested in, which
shows that this is very harmful. in fact, as my cousin, chris, just mentioned, if it's legalized, we know rates of use will increase. availability will increase. and accessibility. and as you know, chris, if you have a predisposition to addiction, this is going to be a gateway. and, frankly, chris, it's a harmful drug in and of itself. like, i was lucky, chris, i got in and crashed early, because i used harder drugs. marijuana is insidious. you could be using it for most of your life and not wake up to the fact that you're on a slow train to nowhere. and that's the damaging part about marijuana for our country. >> let me show you the latest polling on this you're up against. according to the latest cnn opinion research polling, 55% of americans believe pot should be made legal. that's an all-time high. you can see how dramatic the trend towards legalization really is. if you look at the polling over the last 28 years, since the reagans made that famous just
say no speech, support for the legalization of marijuana has risen 37 points. it's a dramatic upward climb. >> we had george soros' effort with medical marijuana. that changed a lot of public opinion. we don't have, as patrick said, we don't have the science. this is a drug that inversely affects young people. it affects them in terms of their ambition, in terms of psychosis, schizophrenia. we just don't have the -- >> let's hit on that. talk about ambition. it's a little elusive. i do sort of believe that, by the way. i think dope, marijuana, makes you sort of vague out and sort of lose interest in tomorrow, two weeks from now, two months from now, where you headed? i do believe that. >> i live in maui, and i can testify to that. >> i think it just makes you live for the moment. but patrick, what evidence do we have -- you say science. do we have any science to say that a hard-working harvard law, harvard medical student, someone who's working their butt off to be an engineer will slow down in their ambition, because they've been smoking dope over a time? do we know that?
>> yes. there's hard science. the national institutes of health funded new zealand longitudinal study that showed loss of iq points that would knock you from the top quadrant of percentage of those who had iq to the bottom percentage of those who used -- who have iq. so the point is, it does affect iq. but, chris, to the point of commercialization, the real issue here is starting a for-profit industry, much like tobacco had an incentive to hook kids, to get them to smoke cigarettes. and frankly, today, alcohol has flavored alcohol for young people. they're advertising hard liquor on their advertisements, on cable tv. i mean, if the president feels alcohol is worse than tobacco, what's he prepared to do? and i'll tell you, the president won't be able to do a thing. why? because alcohol is too powerful an industry to change. and right now, we have a chance to stop another for-profit
industry from targeting our public health. >> i'm listening to you guys a lot. thank you. i respect so much what you're trying to say. slow that train down. thank you, patrick kennedy. thank you, christopher kennedy. the name of your book? >> "whatted addicts know." christopher will be signing copies tomorrow night at the barnes & noble in downtown washington. we'll be right back after this. mine was earned in korea in 1953. afghanistan, in 2009. orbiting the moon in 1971.
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let me finish tonight with this. the story from hoboken promises to ignite a far wider investigation into the current politics of new jersey. i think people want to know how powers are being used in that state, how federal money is being guarded, how state money is being used, how the government in that state deals with development projects. one powerful reason is that the governor of new jersey still sits atop the republican possibilities for president in 2016. people often complain about presidents, then and only then go back to how they conducted themselves before their election to the presidency. this is a good time, by the way, this being 2014, to study the practices of the leading republican candidate for 2016. the fact of the matter is that this case will proceed and will be judged not by the politics, but by the facts as they come to light. if it is found that the governor has set up a political operation that turned on punishing rivals and holdouts while favoring friends, the question then will be whether the tough-guy tactics crossed the line into crimin
criminali criminality. if, on the other hand, it is discovered that governor christie did not encourage political revenge, did not signal that this is the way he wanted political business conducted, then he will be exonerated before the eyes of the country. the facts will decide it. and that's the way it should be. and that's "hardball" for now. thanks for being with us. "all in with chris hayes" starts right now. good evening from new york. i'm chris hayes. new, stunning accusations leveled against the administration of new jersey governor, chris christie, of possible illegality, threats, and the withholding of federal aid for sandy relief, a story broken right here on msnbc. we'll be talking to the reporter who broke that story. but first, today, the christie administration is pushing back hard, in fullout denial mode as the political future of the governor hangs in the balance. >> mayor zimmer's