tv Hardball Weekend MSNBC January 26, 2014 4:00am-4:31am PST
thanks for watching. i'm john seigenthaler. paper trail. let's play "hardball." good evening. i'm chris matthews in san francisco. let me start tonight with this. anything you say can be used against you. we've all heard that. it's our american right not to testify against ourself. what about your e-mails? what about the voicemail messages you left for a co-worker? what about some stray offthe cuff line you texted about what's been happening at the office, or a pal asked what was really up with this george washington bridge mess? all this is now being vacuumed by federal investigators in new jersey. anything you ever said on a voice mail or in a e-mail or in
a text message, any memo you wrote to anyone, including yourself, it's all being gathered in the giant electronic fishnet being thrown out there to capture evidence in the widening scandal that could tie governor chris christie's aides and appointees to crimes and they to him. nothing can stop this accumulation of fact, not even the fifth amendment. the people in this widening scandal can refuse to testify on the grounds it could incriminate them. what they can't do now is withhold or destroy evidence that they, the governor or somebody between them or perhaps even a part of this suspicious goings-on knew about it. and this is tonight's story. how prosecutors can now use fear of prosecution to gather evidence in this case that now swirls and ferments around the highest office holder in new jersey. kendall coffey is a former u.s. attorney and msnbc legal analyst. and bob ingle is with the asbury park press. and he is the co-author of "chris christie: the inside story of his rise to power." mr. coffey, talk about the three
elements here, criminality, if there was any crime committed, who might have been involved or is exposed to being charged with a crime, and what investigators might do and prosecutors might decide to do with that exposure on their part. >> well, there is still the big question of what exactly is a federal crime here. and obviously, investigators aren't sending subpoenas around unless they have some definite idea as to what the federal crimes might be. i think it's going to take development of facts to see if there are federal jurisdictional elements here. but we think they're looking at, for example, a question of whether there was some kind of extortion within a general meaning of the word of extortion that used the instrumentality of an interstate facility such as a bridge, perhaps a conspiracy to violate civil rights. they've got things that they're looking at. they haven't obviously reached a conclusion as to whether or not they're there. and they go from there to see who is the most implicated.
but the most critical thing is to get somebody to break this open. and to get that somebody to break this open for them, because obviously, as you said, people have fifth amendment rights. they want to get e-mails. they want to get text messages. they want to put together a paper trail that is strong enough so that they can look somebody in the eye and say you are toast unless you're willing to work with us. and as you know, early cooperation is a whole lot better than late cooperation. so anxieties are high. some people have stopped sleeping. and when they stop sleeping, sometimes they start talking. >> let me go to bob ingle and the personalities here. you have people like bridget kelly, who for the first instance after she got attacked by the governor, called a liar and stupid, she seemed to be hurt by it personally, which is understandable and the way that was getting out through her friends and associates. and now she seems to have lawyered up with a very top bright lawyer. is there a change here in what she might be forced to do, having been tagged as a bad guy by the governor?
>> i would think that she certainly is vulnerable to what our colleague there said, because she is a single mom with four kids. and i would think that if the prosecutors came to her and say we have found this evidence, and we've got enough to send you up the river for ten years, unless, of course, you cooperate. in which case it would be two weeks and time off for good behavior. i think she's got a lot to be concerned about. >> because in going back to kendall coffey, because this evidence now is in the public light, which is "time for some traffic problems in ft. lee." what is that -- is there any way she would defend that in court when somebody said what did you mean by that? is there any wiggle room where she could say i meant besides squeezing this guy. >> i don't think there is an innocent explanation. one hasn't occurred for me. she has great lawyers. maybe they'll come up with something. in the meantime, she has very difficult decisions to make.
so if there is anybody right wearing the bulls-eye right now on their back and under excruciating pressure, it's her. >> let's go to the hoboken case for a second there, mr. coffey. and that's this question of whether it is a crime to basically punish somebody with a denial of state disaster funds if they don't play ball with you on a real estate deal for people you care about, some project for whatever reason are interested in, they say i'm not going to back you now because i don't think it's part of our development plan here, balanced growth, et cetera. and they say, well, the governor says if this happened, the lieutenant governor said no disaster money for you, buddy. >> well, i think here there is a much clearer picture of what a federal crime might be. you can't in effect use federal money to try to hit up a state official or local official to help a private developer. but it's a question of proof. and right now what we have could turn into a she said versus they said.
and i think what the feds are looking for and trying to move at light speed is to get some corroboration. so far they certainly haven't dismissed what they have said. but they would like to have more than just her word and some of the personal records that she herself maintained. >> but she has a number of people, including a city council member who remembered her saying at the time of what she said was the threat that that lieutenant governor, guadagno, not only told her what she told her, but said look, i'm going to deny. this all this now has apparently come through three separate witness, including a city councilman. and you have her diary records. contemporary diary records. >> i think the fact that there are others that said she was referencing this at the time gives her credibility, but it doesn't give the feds another witness, because so far she is the only person that could be a witness to say that she was in effect threatened by the lieutenant governor or others. so the feds want more. but obviously, they're very serious about this investigation.
>> let me go to bob ingle again. let's start with the personalities here. you have wildstein, who is also involved in this bridge shutting down. you have baroni involved in the bridge shutting. both resigned from their positions when this stink first occurred. and then you've got the lieutenant governor, who doesn't seem like a full partner with the governor. she seems more like a very almost dependent associate, someone who really depends on his political good will, which is not surprising. some lieutenant governors might be. she is not really separately elected, it seems, in any kind of real sense. her word against zimmer's word wouldn't seem very powerful to me in a courtroom because she seems to be very unsure of herself in public, whereas zimmer, will tell the story so many different times and with such personal confidence, you got to go with your instincts here and say zimmer is pointing the finger in the direction she believes it ought to go whereas the other person is trying to point the finger away from herself out of self-defense
which doesn't carry the same credibility. >> i don't know anybody who doesn't think that dawn zimmer doesn't believe what she is saying. and as far as wildstein goes, remember, his lawyer has already said that he's got a story to tell if they'll get him off the hook. which sounds to me like they may have been concerned that kelly would go first, and he wanted to push himself to the front of the line. >> well, mr. coffey, now comes the key question. where does loyalty reside, in your family? this is an easy one, a slam-dunk morally, protects yourself from your children, protecting your good name from a felony rap, or your loyalty to a guy who has called you a liar and stupid on national television? that's one easy one. wildstein, who as mr. ingle just pointed out has already proffered himself as a state witness by saying just give me immunity. i'm ready to give you something.
if i were the governor and his lawyers, i would be thinking this is going to be one hot case to beat here. >> i don't think any kind of loyalty is going to survive the threat of a federal prosecution. it's going to be everyone for themselves. the one thing that is critical, of course, is did chris christie do anything wrong, because the feds aren't simply going to accept an uncorroborated version of somebody who is trying to save their own hide and comes in and says yeah, christie knew all about it. they're going to look skeptically at cooperators, and they want to make sure that if they get cooperation, then whatever that cooperation is credible. and so far there is simply no information implicating chris christie. coming up, christie was seen as the adult in the republican presidential field, the one who had competence, crossover appeal and the political chops to pull it altogether. now what? if christie goes down, it will be a free-for-all for those on the right. david corn and jonathan capehart are coming here to watch the clown show. plus, when it comes to
talking about women and sex, good advice to republicans might be don't. mike huckabee's discourse on women's libidos is just the latest fumble as republicans try to close the gender gap. also, family feud? we now know the people who helped elect barack obama are joining team hillary. so what happens when the loyal eye for an eye clinton aides clash with the new obama numbers crunchers? finally, let me finish with a danger predicting tomorrow when tomorrow is a couple years from now. this is "hardball," the place for politics. he has the most common kind... ...it's not caused by a heart valve problem. dad, it says your afib puts you at 5 times greater risk of a stroke. that's why i take my warfarin every day. but it looks like maybe we should ask your doctor about pradaxa. in a clinical trial, pradaxa® (dabigatran etexilate mesylate)... ...was proven superior to warfarin at reducing the risk of stroke. and unlike warfarin, with no regular blood tests or dietary restrictions. hey thanks for calling my doctor. sure. pradaxa is not for people with artificial heart valves.
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christie's cascading difficulties underscore the shortage of good options for voters and donors in the party's upscale managerial wing. that dilemma captures a long-time shift in the republican party's center of gravity towards its turbulent populist wing whose confrontational champions such as senator ted cruz of texas often frighten swing voters as much as they inspire activists. last week buzzfeed interviewed more than a dozen officials and strategists. here's what they found. many of the party pooh-bahs are on the brink of panic. the republicans described a palpable sense of anxiety gripping the gop establishment in the wake of christie's meltdown. it's gotten so bad, one said some donors have started looking back fondly on the good old days of 2012. you know what a lot of them say to me? i think we need mitt back. well, are republicans prepared to give their party over to the clown car in 2016? are they willing to take that right wing gamble, or will they hedge as they usually do?
david corn is an msnbc political analyst, and jonathan capehart is an opinion writer for "the washington post" and an msnbc contributor. let me ask you, david, what do you hear? because i see you're smiling. i have to tell you, after years and years, decades of watching the republican party, as often as they include in their midst people of the hard right, when it comes to the high stakes of the white house, they hedge their bets. they don't run crazy people for president. your thoughts. >> well, you know you're right because the conventional wisdom has been over the past couple of decades that eventually they pick the person who the establishment wants, the person who is even in line for the nomination, as mitt romney was, as john mccain was, that seems to be the pattern out of all the turbulence comes the conventional pick. we may be reaching the point that when that doesn't happen because the gravity of the primary electorate is still
really far to the right. we do have the split in the republican party idealogically speaking between the managerial types who are conservative but call themselves pragmatic conservatives, mainly governors, and the disrupters like ted cruz. this fight is going to continue not just in 2016, but to the next two years of congress. and with chris christie gone, not only is a possible candidate gone -- let's say with him hurt. not only is a possible candidate damaged, but the bench, the disrupter bench is a lot weaker and thinner than it was before. and that's just going to, you know, affect how this dynamic plays out over the next two years. so panic is a big word, but they should be worried. >> what about the regular republican from the suburbs where a lot of republicans that a husband, for example, who talks to his wife and respects her and listens to her. how can that kind of a couple -- i guess this could also be true with gay couples.
if you have a person who is sensitive to cultural issues and is not a right winger, how can you sell that couple on the idea of a right wing candidate? that's my question? because they'll vote republican for romney, they'll vote for a john mccain. they'll vote for even a w. but they're not going to vote for a ted cruz, i don't think. >> i think you're right. that's the general election problem they have. but the thing is the people who get to decide in the primaries and caucuses really don't give a fig for that argument that you have just made, the whole electability argument. they're going to point to mitt romney. we went with mitt romney because you told us he was electable. we went with john mccain because you told us he was electable. that got us nowhere. a lot of people want the disruption, want the purity that ted cruz, rand paul, i think marco rubio probably can't do this, but maybe some others can deliver. >> jonathan, jump in here. >> yeah. >> i guess the question is the old question that has haunted the republicans since i can remember, back even before i
paid attention. i remember back in '52, dirksen gave the speech that of all people david corn just gave. we followed you and you took us down the road to defeat with dewey. we're not going to do that again. we don't want to be moderate. moderates lose. >> right. and it looks like as david said, the party has swung so far to the right that you wonder if the republican party will be able to nominate someone who could appeal to at least some of the middle of the country, the vast middle of the country in the general election. chris christie, of course the establishment loves chris christie, and we saw why. established republican party loves chris christie. we saw why in his inauguration speech. he said all the things that a national governing republican leader should say, compromise, reach across the aisle, work with democrats, but still work with them, not give up your principles and govern from a republican/conservative standpoint. but the problem is chris
christie is viewed with such suspicion by the base of the party that i don't think he could even get the nomination. and i was talking to a republican friend of mine this week. and the person said maybe what needs to happen is that the party has to lose 40 states plus the district of columbia before the base of the party realizes that the path that they're going down is a losing one for decades. >> you know what i've learned? they never learn that. anyway, "the atlantic's" peter beinart argues that rand paul is emerging as the candidate to beat in 2016. he benefits from his father ron paul's infrastructure in many early primary states. but beyond that, the party seems to be, as david said, moving more and more in the direction of the rand pauls on key issues. quote, paul is gaining acceptance within the republican mainstream. it's just possible that 2016 could be another 1964 years when the republican establishment
proved weak and pliable enough to allow a candidate previously considered extreme to come in from the cold. we're going to talk more about it in the end of the show about hillary clinton and how she seems to be putting it together, trying to put it together without any real democratic opposition. could this really be a year in which the republicans are just in a huge kerfuffle, completely confused, end up going to the crazy right, if you will, or pretty crazy right, and hillary clinton marches in without any general election, really. something like goldwater losing to lbj after kennedy was killed where the country made up its mind months before the election. >> well, i think anointing someone a front-runner, even predicting what is going to happen two years from now is a mug's game. rand paul has some obvious assets. and the scenario you just described could possibly happen. i still think, you know, the chris christie case shows us that any of these politician who
hasn't been vetted nationally can go up in flames or down in flames at a moment's notice. so anyone who you pick as a possible front-runner can -- >> especially when it gives mother jones afoot. >> videos out there, who knows what is out there on rand paul and everybody else. but the thing is, rand paul may be looking good now because of ted cruz. i mean, rand paul would have been the far, far right. >> you're right. you're so smart. >> of the disrupters and the crusaders were it not for ted cruz. david corn, thank you, jonathan capehart. whatever happened to the tea party republican running for senate down in texas? he is going m.i.a. the sideshow is next. this is "hardball," the place for politics. as you used to, which is funny, 'cause i still do it better than her. as you used to, you know, i don't think i was meant to sweep. it's a little frustrating. look. [ zach ] i can't help out as much as i used to. do you need help? [ doorbell rings ] let's open it up. it's a swiffer sweeper. it's a swiffer dusters. it can extend so i don't have to get on the step stool. i don't know how it stays on there. it's like a dirt magnet -- just like my kids. [ afi ] this is a danger zone. that is crazy. ah-ha-ha! [ zach ] yeah. no, this definitely beats hanging out on a step ladder.
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>> that was conan o'brien in the latest developments out of the garden state. jokes about chris christie have been disrupted as late-night comedians turn their attention to justin bieber's arrest. the 19-year-old pop star who is a canadian is now at risk of being deported. according to jimmy kimmel, the whole thing may be just political posturing. >> he did admit to police that he drank alcohol, smoked pot and took prescription drugs that night, which that may have been his way of announcing that he is running for mayor of toronto. >> and house speaker john boehner paid a visit to "the tonight show" last night. aside from calling vladimir putin a thug and saying jeb bush would make a great president, he decided to finally dispel a rumor that has dogged him for years. >> we have a family photo. let's show the family photo. there you go. is that you right in the front there? >> i'm the dark one on the bottom there. >> you seem to be in the sun a
lot more than the other kids. >> yeah. >> now, i know you're in college -- >> listen, listen. >> what's that? >> i ride a bike. i cut my own grass, i ride a bike. my mother is dark complected. so i'm a little dark. >> so there is no tanning bed? >> there is no tanning bed, no spray thing. never, not once. never, ever, nothing. >> finally, republican congressman steve stockman of texas is the tea party challenger to senator john cornyn. but with that primary less than two months away, the candidate is nowhere to be found. he has been missing in action so long that his supporters are beginning to wonder what exactly is going on. well, according to the associated press, stockman, quote, has made virtually no public appearances in texas as questions mount about his campaign finances. now he's stopped showing up for his day job. stockman has missed 17 straight house votes since january 9th. furthermore, stockman's staff won't say where he is. they have ignored more than six weeks of e-mails, telephone messages, and social media posts from the associated press and
other news outlets. but we may have an explanation soon. according to a tweet from his campaign late last night, we will find out where he has been this coming monday. that's "hardball" for now. coming up next, "your business" with j.j. ramberg. it's hip-hop. for cross-country, classical. and for jumps, i need something...special. so i use my citi thankyou visa card for music downloads and earn two times the points... plus a little extra inspiration. [ ♪ music plays ] the citi thankyou preferred visa card. earn two times the points on entertainment and dining out with no annual fee. citi, with you every step of the way. yeah...
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