tv The Rachel Maddow Show MSNBC February 7, 2014 1:00am-2:01am PST
dinner and talk about their research about where they can hide. i didn't speak to anyone who wasn't at least considering emigration or new lives to tell their co-workers to hide things. >> journalist masha gessen and "gq" contributor jeff sharlet. that's "all in." "the rachel maddow show" begins now. that was fascinating stuff. thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. the new jersey party circulated this reprint from the newark "star-ledger" from 1996. see in the upper left hand corner there there's a christmas sale at the silk floral outlet. down in the lower left hand corner, that's sort of a checking account ad. up top, a feature of a wood carver, an angel's head carved out of wood. nice.
on the right hand side, that quarter-page ad is a public letter of apology from a new jersey county republican officeholder at the time named chris christie. it's titled "a statement by morris county freeholder" that's like county commissioner of new jersey, "morris county freeholder chris christie." the following is a letter of apology and retraction that i sent to cecilia laureys and ed tamm. i'm writing to express my sincere apology to both of you regarding political ads which ran during the primary election campaign in 19 the 4. both of you, quote, are now under investigation by the morris county prosecutor. those statements were not accurate. neither of you were under investigation by the morris county prosecutor at any time. i sincerely regret any harm to your professional reputations which my ads may have caused. those ads were not appropriate. they should not have been part of my campaign when i ran against you. i fully intend, in any future campaigns in which i'm involved, to be much more sensitive to the impact of such tactics. i hope you will accept this
heartfelt apology in the spirit in which it is made. sincerely, chris christie. well, the spirit in which that apology was made is that it was legally required of chris christie after he was sued over those ads and he had to settle the lawsuit. mr. christie ran those, the ads with a false claim about his opponents being under investigation by the county prosecutor. he ran those ads when he was making his first run for public office. you can see how young he is there. in 1994. in morris county, new jersey. that claim that he made in those ads was totally false. the people he was running against were not under criminal investigation. but the ads worked anyway and chris christie won that race. he won that seat on the county mission. the freeholder seat. when he got sued over those false ads, though, he ended up settling the lawsuit. he had to pay money to the people who he'd made the false ads about, and he had to run that humiliating quarter-page ad in the sunday "star-ledger."
and ultimately none of it sat very well with the people of morris county, new jersey. he ended up losing a race for a state representative seat, badly. and then he lost that freeholder seat after holding on to it for just single term. and that is how chris christie was pushed out of public office in scandal. in the late 1990s. new jersey politics are a famously rough trade. mr. christie was on the receiving end of a kind of similar campaign with kind of similar results in a later election. after he lost his election in 1995 and lost his election in 1997, and he no longer had any public office, he had to make that humiliating apology, pay restitution. after all that, he was out. mr. christie returned full time to his corporate law firm and became a lobbyist. from that position, he raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the presidential campaign of a man named george w. bush. and when george w. bush actually became president, that's how
chris christie got back into public office because george w. bush rewarded his fund-raising efforts by naming chris christie to be the u.s. attorney, to be the top federal prosecutor in the state of new jersey. he had almost no law enforcement background whatsoever. never been a prosecutor or anything like that. but he got the gig. it was almost exactly five years between that heartfelt apology and letter of retraction in the "star-ledger" and george w. bush naming him the top federal prosecutor in his home state. and when chris christie then became governor of his home state, eight years later, he basically air lifted his whole top staff from the prosecutor's office to the statehouse with him to become his stop staff for him as a new governor. that included his top two staffers in the governor's office. he brought with him from the prosecutor's office. his chief of staff and his chief counsel. he brought those guys with him. and now, and now as the now second term governor tries to
find a way to draw a line under the scandal he's facing now, tries to figure out a way that this one ends, now the governor has started telling a new story about those top two aides. and his own role in this scandal as it unfolded. msnbc can report tonight that the new explanation that governor chris christie has given this week about how he responded to the shutdown of access lanes on to the george washington bridge is contradicted directly by the governor's own earlier statements on this matter from late last year. this story has not yet been the focus of either national reporting on the scandal or any of the local press that has been covering this story so intently, but governor christie's new claims we can report tonight, governor christie's new claims about actions by himself and his top aides in response to the bridge lane closures do not comport with his earlier explanations of his own behavior. let me show you. you'll remember that in
december, which is when we first started covering this story, it's when people first started to resign in new jersey over this scandal. when the new jersey press was first really starting to get all over this story. in december, governor chris christie of new jersey was not just dismissing this story, he was mocking reporters who had the temerity to ask him about it. he said it wasn't a big deal. he said it was insulting to try to link a governor to something so small as this. yeah, guys, it was me out there moving the traffic cones. right? he said the whole story had been conjured up by legislators who didn't like him and didn't have anything better to do. >> i worked the cones, actually. unbeknownst to everybody, i was actually the guy out there, i was in overalls and a hat. i actually was the guys working the cones out there. you really are not serious with that question. just because john wisniewski is obsessed with this and loretta weinberg, it just shows you they really have nothing to do. it's not that big a deal.
just because press runs around and writes about it, both here and nationally, i know why that is and so do you. let's not pretend that it's because of the gravity of the issue. >> that was governor chris christie speaking at a couple of different press conferences in this past december. he's belittling reporters for asking about the story. reporters nevertheless kept asking about the story and in response to reporters' questions, the governor repeatedly insisted that the story just didn't matter to him. this whole thing on the bridge, it did not matter to him and it, therefore, should not matter to the press. >> you said bill baroni made mistakes -- [ inaudible question ] >> i think he said he made a mistake. i mean, you know, jenna, i know, i know there's got to be a time -- sure it's probably unlikely -- that you made a mistake in a story. by definition, you didn't do it
on purpose. it was a mistake. and it's difficult to explain why you didn't do something join didn't not do it on purpose. right? so bill baroni, senator baroni has characterized this as a mistake. i am not curious, believe me, i've heard more about this than i ever wanted to hear. so if you think my curiosity isn't satiated, my curiosity is more than satiated at moment on this topic. >> as a former prosecutor, have you asked for, looked for any evidence? >> why would i? i'm not a prosecutor anymore. why would i? >> a lot of things to do. i know you guys are obsessed with this. i'm not. i'm really not. it's just -- it's not that big a deal. just because press runs around and writes about it both here and nationally, i know why that is and so do you. let's not pretend that it's because of the gravity of the issue. it's because i am a national figure. so, you know, i know you all think this is some issue of great, great moment.
i don't. mistakes were made in the way this stuff was communicated by senator baroni's own testimony. and they've taken responsibility publicly, both of them, for the mistakes that were made. as far as i'm concerned, that's it. you guys all want to keep chasing it around, chase it around. it's your business. but i'm not running around doing independent investigation. >> what evidence makes you accept there really was a traffic study? >> because they told me. i have no reason to believe that they lied. they told us. i didn't have direct conversation with them, but they told us, they told the assembly committee that chairman wisniewski chaired. i heard senator baroni's testimony. i don't assume people are lying. especially not people like senator baroni whom i've known for a very long time. that's why. if you're asking me if i've done independent investigation, the answer is no.
>> that's how the governor explained his role. whether he looked into this matter at all. when he was repeatedly pressed and pressured by reporters on it in new jersey. now, this week, the governor has unveiled a whole new story of how that time went. >> as soon as i was aware of the fact that there was a problem, which was when pat foye's e-mail came out, i had my staff say, go find out what's going on over at the port authority. why are they fighting with each other over this? and what happened? as soon as i knew that there was some issue here, i asked my staff to get to the port authority and find out what's going on. the first time this really came into my consciousness as an issue was when pat foye, executive director of the port authority's e-mail about this incident was leaked to the media. that's when i asked my chief of staff and chief counsel, i said something, hey, would you look into this and see what's going on here? >> you did? you dispatched your top two
staffers, you dispatched your chief of staff and your chief counsel to go to the port authority and investigate this matter directly as soon as you found out about it? you did? that is not what you said before. >> you guys all want to keep chasing it around, chase it around. it's your business. but i'm not running around doing independent investigation. i heard senator baroni's testimony. i don't assume people are lying. especially not people like senator baroni whom i've known for a very long time. if you're asking me if i've done any independent investigation, the answer is no. >> pressed repeatedly on what he had done to try to get to the bottom of this bridge situation, governor christie not only never mentioned before this week that in october, as soon as he learned what happened, he sent his chief counsel and his chief of staff to investigate at the port authority. he not only never mentioned that before this week, he overtly said a bunch of times i am not
looking into this. i'm not investigating this. i have done nothing to check out what actually happened. i believe what bill baroni said to the legislature. why the new story? why didn't he ever mention this before? and did his chief counsel and his chief of staff go to the port authority right after the bridge closures happened on the governor's direct orders to get to the bottom of what happened? and if so, what did they do when they got there, and why did the governor never bring this up before when he was asked what he was doing to get to the bottom of this situation? why didn't he ever mention this then? why the new story now? politically, governor chris christie sort of tried to get away from it all today. he flew to texas for a fund-raising trip for the republican governors association which he runs now. he did one of these trips in florida also since the scandal broke. in florida, governor christie did no events that were open to
the public. he took no questions from the press while he was there. although florida governor rick scott did agree to appear with governor christie behind closed doors on the florida trip. on this trip today to texas, not only did the governor do no events that are open to the public and also didn't take questions from the press, on this trip it's worse even than it was in florida. he's there for the republican governors association, but texas' republican candidate for governor steered completely clear of mr. christie on this visit by a couple hundred miles. greg abbott will do no events, public or otherwise, with governor christie while governor christie is in texas. mr. abbott announced he'll be in houston while governor christie is in dallas. nor will rick perry get anywhere near chris christie. he didn't go near chris christie at all. texas democrats are delighted that chris christie is there. quote from the chairman to the dallas paper today was this. "what's happening in new jersey is in a lot of respects a mirror image of what you see here in texas with rick perry and greg abbott." so texas democrats are psyched
to have chris christie in their state, tarring their own state's republicans by guilt with not quite association. new jersey democrats back home are also approaching ecstatic at this point. now trolling the libraries to find the old evidence of chris christie's oldest political scandals to remind you that there were older scandals as well. but if governor christie is looking for the way this scandal ends, this one is not going to end until it makes sense. until the governor's explanations for what happened and why and who did it make sense. and until his own explanations of what he did and when, his explanations of his own role stop evolving over time. we are not there yet. stay with us. rage person smiles more than 50 times a day? so brighten your smile a healthy way with listerine® whitening plus restoring rinse.
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♪ visit floodsmart.gov/pretend to learn your risk. as soon as i was aware of the fact that there was a problem, which was when pat foye's e-mail came out, i had my staff say, go find out what's going on over at the port authority. why are they fighting with each other over this? and what happened? >> governor chris christie of new jersey taking questions this week on a local radio station in new jersey, adding a whole new thing to what he has said publicly before about the bridge incident in new jersey. now saying he sent two of his top-level staffers, his chief of staff and his chief counsel over to the port authority to get the bottom of those bridge lane closures as soon as he found out about them in early october. why is this the first time governor christie has mentioned that he did that? and if his top two staffers did go investigate at the port authority on his orders, right
after the bridge lane closures happened, what did they find out? joining us now is shawn boburg, reporter for the "bergen record." thanks for being here. >> thank you. >> this detail about chris christie sending his top two staffers on a fact-finding mission to the port authority, the governor -- the governor saying this now. he had not said this before. do you have any sense of why we might just be finding out about it now? >> i don't. and obviously this is going to be a focus of the inquiry. there are going to be a lot of documents produced. mckenna, no doubt the two people he asked to look into this were subpoenaed. presumably if they did look into this, if there was a paper trail that indicated what they found out, it's conceivable that this comes out. i think the question that you're getting at is, you know, christie has said repeatedly, i had no advanced knowledge of this. i wasn't involved in the
planning. there's a separate question and that's was he more interested after the fact in damage control? suppressing this story? or getting to the bottom of it? so i think this speaks to that. >> in terms of the pace of the investigation, and the status of the investigation, obviously the first deadline for responding to those subpoenas from the legislature was monday. as far as we know, some of the deadlines for responding to subpoenas from the federal prosecutors, that deadline was yesterday. is there any sense thus far about how these documents are being handled, processed? anything that might have emerged already from those documents that have been handed over? >> hearing very little except that so far four people have responded to subpoenas. there's voluminous documentation that's been produced. committee members will review that over the next couple days. simultaneously, more documents are expected to come in from remaining individuals and organizations that have been subpoenaed. this is going to be a process that evolves probably slowly. the meeting, there's going to be
a meeting on monday of this joint committee to discuss what these documents contain in the early stages. we just don't know yet. >> the other thing that has emerged since last we spoke, just over the past few days, was allegations from david wildstein subsequently backstopped by some reporting from "the wall street journal" that a man named philip kwon spent allegedly parts of four to five days preparing bill baroni for his testimony to the legislature on these matters, testimony we know was misleading, it was all a traffic study and nothing else going on. the port authority for their part says the four to five days part of this is bad counting and there should be nothing nefarious read into the idea he might have prepared mr. baroni for that testimony. can you give us insight into who phil kwon is and how he connects back to governor christie? >> he was a former nominee to the supreme court. he was not approved for that position and then appointed by christie to a position as an
attorney in the legal department of the port authority. this is a legal department that has several attorneys. it's a large legal staff. phil kwon and at least one other attorney was recommended for jobs at the port authority. so these are people who moved from the christie administration to the legal department within the port authority. >> and then once in the legal department for whatever reason were tasked with prepping mr. baroni for his false testimony about the traffic study. you see why this story makes me so crazy. let me just ask you one last question, shawn, in terms of what happens -- what happens next. and what happens with governor christie as he's trying to govern the state while also managing this fallout. the timeline about the governor's involvement, his knowledge of what happened, what he -- who he tasked to do what when in terms of responding to it. his earlier denials versus his later admissions. in terms of what the way his staff was involved. do you get the sense that those
matters are now settled or do they continue to evolve? i know at the "record" you've been trying to track the evolution of his statements. do you get the sense we've now got a firm timeline from him? >> we do have firm dates on certain aspects of this. i think it's going to move forward. to me, there are three fundamental questions. whether he knew before the lanes were closed. there's the question of when he learned about the lane closures. there's the question of when he learned there could be some motivation aside from a traffic study behind these lane closures. now, he's provided some dates on the end points. that is when he first learned of the lane closures and when he first learned that there could be political motivations. there's a little bit of wiggling on the central question of when he learned that these lane closures became a more serious issue and what he did in response. i think when you overlay those timeline points on the actions he took, they're going to lead to more questions and he'll
eventually have to explain his actions vis-a-vis what we know. >> i don't know how he can say, i don't care about this, how dare you ask me, this is so stupid, and his chief of counsel and chief of staff to be investigating it at the same time. those things do not jibe for me. all we want is answers. shawn boburg for the "bergen record." more ahead, also some excellent international swearing coming up. stay with us. ♪
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working on a soviet fishing troller. seriously. the state department pointed that out today, pointing out that history basically is a way of explaining where it is our assistant secretary of state might have learned to swear like a sailor. but the third thing we learned today is that, seriously, that was part of the argument. third thing we learned today is someone is taping the sensitive private sweary phone calls of our assistant secretary of state who swears like a sailor, and that is maybe the most interesting part of all of this. nbc's richard engel is with us live in just a moment. stay with us. this is victoria nuland, [ female announcer ] when you're ready
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this is victoria nuland, u.s. assistant secretary of state for european and eurasian affairs. she's a career diplomat. she's really highly regarded in that field. remember her visiting ukraine during the protests there and personally handing out food to demonstrators in kiev's main square. this was not like dropping off a snicker's bar to your roommate when he was protesting the use of styrofoam in the college cafeteria. the time victoria nuland made the in-person trip to kiev, the friction between the protesters there and police was escalating
in an increasingly violent and unpredictable way and victoria nuland made it a point, nevertheless, to not just voice support for those protesters a posing ukraine's crackdown but put herself right physically in the middle of it. today somebody anonymously posted crystal clear audio that appears to be a phone call between victoria nuland and the american ambassador to ukraine. whether or not you've been following the twists and turns of what's been going on in ukraine, hearing the high-level diplomats at work when they have no sense their words will be made public. i feel guilty for hearing it because they didn't intend to, but it's amazing to hear this honestly. somewhere in america today, some kid heard this surreptitiously recorded phone call and decided right then and there to become a diplomat when she grows up. check this out. >> the piece is obviously the complicated electron here.
especially the announcement of him as deputy prime minister. you've seen some of my notes on the troubles in the marriage right now. we're trying to get a read really fast on where he is on this stuff. >> good, so i don't think we should go into the government. i don't think it's necessary. i don't think it's a good idea. i think he's the guy who's got the economic experience, the governing experience. he's the -- you know, what he needs is book on the outside. he needs to be talking to them four times a week. you know? i just think going in, he's going to be at that level working. it's not going to work. >> first of all, they call him clich. the ambassador to ukraine calls him the complicated -- this is how they talk. this is the ambassador, the ambassador, the u.s. ambassador to ukraine and boss at the state department talking with each other about what they're going
to do with the leadership including clich and how they should fit these guys into the quickly reshuffling ukrainian government's future. they're basically strategizing about what would do best where, right? the reason this made headlines all over the world, though, was this very next part of what they said. listen. >> and, oh, one more wrinkle for you, jeff? >> yeah. >> can't remember if i told you this or if i only told washington this, that when i talked to jeff feltman this morning, he had a new name for the u.n. guy, robert seery. did i write you that this morning? >> yeah, i saw that. >> he's now gotten both seery and ban ki-moon to agree seery could come in monday and tuesday. >> okay. >> that would be great i think to help glue this thing and have the u.n. help glue it and, you know, [ bleep ] the eu. >> so, yeah, what we had to bleep there, that's why it became international news. i mean, to be fair, you can hear
security issues, of course, are on everyone's mind today anyway with the start of the winder olympic games many sochi. amid worries of the threat of terrorism during the games. less serious reports and pictures of double toilets and missing door handles and hotel rooms overbooked or not booked at all and live wires in the shower and questionable design choices and ongoing hey we're not quite ready yet try again soon construction. amid all of that making international press, russia's deputy prime minister who's responsible for olympic preparations today took time out to blame anti-russian bias for what he called this campaign of western media sabotage to make russia look bad at the start of the games. the deputy prime minister made his case to reporters today as follows. he said, "we have surveillance video from the hotels that shows people turn on the shower, direct the nozzle at the wall and then leave the room for the whole day." which is good, i mean, i guess if you have evidence these are people -- hold on.
you have videos from inside the bathrooms in the hotel -- you have surveillance video from the hotel room shower? i'm sorry. what? your allegations have just been lost amid the way in which you said you got the data behind your allegation. you have the surveillance video from the showers, you said. again, paging edward snowden. now, according to "the wall street journal," after that statement, an aide pulled the reporter away. keeping the deputy prime minister away from having to face follow-up questions about the cameras in the showers in the hotels. the spokesman then came out and said, "there is absolutely no surveillance in hotel bathrooms." but there was surveillance on premises during the construction. so maybe that's what he meant? and it was the construction workers turning -- yeah. super creepy. and the specter of shower cams might not, might not even be the scariest surveillance issue in sochi right now. nbc's richard engel has been in sochi for a while yet and he spent time highlighting just how vulnerable you and your
electronic devices are when you touch down in russia. >> reporter: one of the first things visitors to russia will do is log on. hackers here are counting on it. so we decided to find out how dangerous that can be. >> kyle? welcome to moscow. >> thank you. >> reporter: with the help of kyle wilhoit, a top american computer security expert and two brand new computers. >> for the purpose of this experiment, we start out with these fresh machines. and going to see what happens when you turn them on in russia. >> exactly. >> reporter: back in the u.s., wilhoit created a fake identity for me. phony contact lists with fake names and addresses. the only real detail, my name. so you're putting my profile on these computers? >> that's exactly right. >> reporter: with our new computers now loaded with potentially attractive data, we headed for a restaurant where we used a new smartphone to browse for information about the sochi olympics. almost immediately, we were
hacked. >> so as you're going to it, did you see where it said downloading? >> yeah, i did. >> it's actually downloading a piece of malware. >> reporter: malicious software hijacked our phone before we finished our coffee. stealing my information and giving hackers the option to tap and record my phone calls. anything i say on this will endanger my financial security, maybe even my physical security. >> even physical. >> reporter: depending on who's listening? >> exactly. >> reporter: one of the largest computer security companies in the world is charged with protecting the games, but experts here say visitors will bring so many devices the hackers will have plenty of targets. >> all this protection, of course, because every segment of this huge, huge, huge infrastructure can be under attack. >> reporter: back at the hotel, wilhoit was using specialized software to monitor my two computers, and sure enough, they'd also been hacked. you were able to tell -- >> -- >> reporter: -- that very, very quickly somebody was poking
around? >> exactly. >> reporter: it had taken hackers less than one minute to pounce. within 24 hours, they'd broken into both computers and started helping themselves to my data. >> nbc's richard engel has been in sochi covering security issues of all kinds for nbc ahead of the winter olympics. we'll be joined live by richard engel from sochi right after this. stay with us.
security guard nikolai took us to the trailer park where he's living near the olympic venues. six men to a room. nikolai said he's only been paid a fraction of his salary. when he started to ask questions, he claims he was fired. other guards who didn't want to talk on camera had similar complaints and said they'd like to quit. nikolai's employer, angel security, didn't respond to an e-mail from nbc news. disgruntled guards, not the best sign on the eve of the opening ceremony with 40 world leaders expected to attend. >> joining us live from sochi, richard engel. thank you very much for being here. it's good to have you here. >> reporter: it's always good to be with you, rachel. see behind me, 13 hours or so to go until opening ceremony, come on, get on a plane. join us. we can make phone calls
together. bring your computers. we'll call victoria nuland. >> exactly. everybody will know just if she really swears like that all the time or saves it for the ambassador. i have to ask you with this thing about cell phones and computers and everything. have you ever encountered anything like that anywhere else in the world? >> reporter: i don't really know, frankly. we set up this experiment to see what would happen if we were to be hacked. it's possible we could be hacked in china or russia or china or new york or other places that we travel, but hackers here are very aggressive. a lot of cyber attacks come from russia, and we had been told by numerous experts that with all of the world leaders and athletes and journalists coming to russia right now for the games, that it would be a very opportune time. so we know this time because we brought a security expert with us what happened. as soon as we plugged our machines in and started surfing
on the internet and turned on the phone and did a little browsing, we were quickly compromised. >> in terms of how people can defend themselves, i guess, what is the advice people are getting on how to travel so what happened to you with the security expert in that controlled environment doesn't happen in a more widespread way? >> reporter: generally if you don't need something, don't bring it. if you have that extra laptop or that extra ipad and it has all your personal information or sensitive banking data, don't bring it. also try not to download anything suspicious. what happened in our case, i turned on the computer. it was a brand new computer. a lot of people gave me flak for the way i opened it out of the box. but we wanted to show that these were new, fresh machines. and we put this profile, a fake profile, on the computer so that it would be some data. you want to have something there so people have something that
they want to steal. and very quickly, within a minute, there were probing attacks, if you will. people just checking out, who is this, who owns this new machine? what kind of computer is this? how well defended is it? someone is checked into the room on the 14th floor of this hotel. who is it? then a short time later i got a very specific e-mail based on data that was collected from this machine. hello, richard engel. we see you are coming to sochi to cover the games. here is some information that you might want. as soon as i clicked on that, that first computer was compromised. the other computer was a popup window that said, oh, by the way, you're going to need this extra software. each device was different, but each, all of the attacks were quite sophisticated and once you fell for them or went for the come-ons, your computer was compromised or phone was
compromised. >> the international context with this today, the white house not exactly overtly accusing russia, but all but accusing russia of having carried out that surveillance on the diplomat's phone call and having leaked that crystal clear recording of their phone call. obviously the united states is very upset about this. the united states has taken a lot of grief for listening in on other foreign leaders' phone calls. how is that news received in russia? what kind of impact does that have there? >> reporter: well, there was an article in a russian newspaper earlier today talking about how russia's already won the gold medal for surveillance for these games. there is a lively debate about how much surveillance is going on in the country. how much surveillance is happening in the lead-up to the games. there was a law passed in the run-up to the olympics in which russia said openly that it would be collecting data from journalists, from athletes, from judges with the idea of
preventing sabotage or preventing counterterrorism. so the government quite openly does some of the things that the nsa has been revealed to do. some people in russia criticize it, but the surveillance continues. >> richard engle, you actually are covering the sort of scariest part of the beat being in russia but you seem to have a good time doing it. which makes me envy you. thanks so much for being here. >> it's still time. you can be here. we'll make that call together. >> i'm going to wash my hair. >> we don't know that the water [ female announcer ] did you know the average person smiles
>> i believe that we're at a point where we could say that we see light at the end of the tunnel. >> you can use your however you like. you can drink it, bathe in it, use it how you like. >> i don't have any problem. i've been drinking the water for the last couple of weeks. and the only thing that we can rely upon is what the experts tell us. we must assume that it is safe. can i tell you it's 100%? no. a. >> i drank a couple of sips. it had an after taste and an odor, i could not finish the glass. we had this event, and i drank the whole glass. it did have a little bit of an after taste. the odor wasn't there. but i drank the whole glass. my wife didn't like that. >> this is an element fair school located on beach avenue in charleston, west virginia. at 6:00 a.m. this morning, one
of the cooks at that elementary school arrived at school, she turned on the dishwasher and ran the hot water into the sink. modely she smelled a strong scent of black licorice and her eyes started watering. by 10:00 a.m., they sent home all students. this is watts elementary school on the west side, a little bit more than a mile. licorice scent was first detected in the kindergarten students. all students were sent home by 11:15 this morning. then it was overbrook elementary school, about a nine-minute drive. the syrupy smell came from the hot water. and the same thing today, kids were sent home by noon. yesterday, it was two other schools. it was midland trail elementary and riverside high. both on the banks of the river, about 20 minutes away from the other schools. both midland trail and riverside high were closed again today. after they started running the
water yesterday morning, a teacher fainted. students and employees complained of being sick and light-headed. one student and one teacher were hospitalized yesterday for those schools. so that's three schools today, two yesterday. in total, these five schools in charleston were shut today. a month after what everybody thought was a ter blg accident but one that was over, supposedly. a totally preventible accident. obviously terrible conditions maintained by a shady company operating in a virtually unregulated industry. but the lack of emergency planning for a chemical spill of this kind, the lack of sufficient planning to protect the drinking water intake for charleston, west virginia, and frankly, the botched response after the fact by officials who keep declaring the all-clear before it's actually all-clear, all of these things have combined to lead to a situation where the national science foundation is now calling one of the largest human made
environmental disasters in this century. and for our fellow americans in west virginia, this ongoing large scale botch job has left the people of west virginia with no real idea of who to believe or why they should believe them. the head of the local health department in charleston explained to reports that although he's personally trying to drink the water at his house, it smells pretty bad and his wife, who is also a public health doctor thinks he probably shouldn't drink it. he says he has twin teenage daughters and one of them is showering in the water but one of them will not shower in the tap water and is using bottled water instead. the head of the state bureau of public health says she's absolutely drinking the water, no problem. but then she unveiled kind of casually new advice that maybe west virginians should let their showers run for a while before they get into that hot water. after the state announced that more than 400 people had been treated at ten local hospital since the spill, that state public health official blamed it on new season saying you know,
people are getting viruses, as they do every winter. then the local department head responded to that saying hey, we obviously cannot explain 400 people going to the hospital by saying it's a flu. okay. so if you're in west virginia and you're trying to understand how to keep yourself safe, if you're trying to understand what just happened here, who do you believe? and do you drink the water? i mean, following the governor's early assertion that it's every west virginians own personal decision to make about whether they believe their water is safe, now it's the cdc who has sent an official to charleston who yesterday told reporters that pregnant women specifically should follow their own instincts and do what they think is good for them. and if your instinct is to maybe ask the cdc, well, then enjoy the circuitous logic. this is an ongoing crisis. they're starting up bottled watered distribution in charleston again a month in. five schools are closed today because of the water. schools that were open as
recently as the beginning of this week, but they're closed now. why are the expose sure issues starting up again? they say the chemical spill is stopped at the original broken tank. well, is it still leaking from something else there? from the ground water or the soil on that site? charleston gazelle" reports this week still nobody knows the extent of that kind of contamination of the ground water and the soil at the site. so maybe there is new leaking from the contaminated ground water or the soil. maybe there is, maybe there isn't. nobody knows. if it isn't leaking newly from the site of the spill, then is the new exposure at these schools and continuing exposure in, say, the head of the health department's house is, that coming from on site pipes and plumbing at people's homes and schools and businesses? does this stuff get into, say, your water heater and stay there forever? if so, are people just going to keep getting sick and passing out and having to go to the hospital in west virginia indefinitely? the authorities keep saying they're testing the fire hydrants, which is all well and good if you want to know if it's safe to drink out of the fire hydrant.
but what about the tap in your home? the guy at the epa who's responsible for water protection in the region where the spill happened confidently told the kbt charleston gazette" on tuesday that people's homes are being tested to see if the water is safe there. actually, they're not president .gazette reporter had to tell the guy from the epa that neither the state nor the water company nor anybody else is doing testing in people's houses. huh, news to room. one month in. a few hours later, the epa spokeswoman checked okay, the testing isn't happening. they just assumed it was. who is in charge here? ott november only fixing this, but communicating honestly about what's being fixed and not being fixed. it's not the company that caused the accident in the first place, the water company, the health official, the federal health officials or anybody else you think you could talk about this problem. one of the largest man made disasters of the century are botched and embarrassing and
confusing and unserious national response to this disaster is as scary as the spill itself. . . . good friday morning. let the games begin. who is rumored to be lighting the olympic torch. putin, president obama speaks out. thank you, jay. the leader of late night television bids farewell again. but is this really the final good-bye? plus, the biebs could get slabbed with a felony if l.a. sheriff investigators have the evidence to prove it speaker boehner shutting the door on immigration reform in 2014 while senate republicans choose to deny unemployment