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tv   Andrea Mitchell Reports  MSNBC  January 9, 2014 10:00am-11:01am PST

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himself i thought extraordinarily well in a difficult situation. he took on every question that the press had for a conference that lasted i guess almost two hours. this is a bizarre situation. the idea that someone political retribution would involve lane closures on the busiest bridge in the world and somehow that's going to benefit somebody politically doesn't make any sense. if you and i were to read that in a novel, we would say, that can't happen, that's not true. so it's -- i suspect this will play out again over the next three or four weeks, will be -- or more, there will be legislative hearings and maybe other investigations, but, i don't think we've heard of last of this. >> the questions that remain are and even though he answered so many questions, how could he not have known and what is the atmosphere in his office that would permit these aides, top aides when we're talking about
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bridget kelly, how would she have even thought this kind of retribution was possible and desirable working for chris christie unless that atmosphere existed in that office? >> that's a very difficult question. the other difficult question is, can a deputy in the governor's office in one state order lane closures in the port of new jersey by a phone call or get people to do it? i think there are still unanswered questions. i think he came out very strong today. i've known him -- i've known him since he was a teenager, one thing about him, he never has lied to me. i've always believed him. you can criticize in a lot of ways, but i don't think you can cite size he's not a truth teller. i suspect he didn't know. how that atmosphere was allowed
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to exist and shou she says could give an order to the port authority and have it accepted and whether or not there are more than two or three people involved, that's going to come out over the next weeks or even months and we'll have a big effect on chris christie's future. >> and whether or not this was an isolated incident, whether there were actions taken against other democrats who did not endorse him as the mayor of fort lee didn't. let me ask you about new jersey politics. you always represented a bipartisan clean politics, but there is a reputation in new jersey, what he asked when he was asked by kelly o'donnell, i'm not a bully but politics ain't bean bag. what about the rough and tumble nature of the retribution at the local level affecting interstate commerce, already being looked into by jay rockefeller on the commerce committee in the senate. how has that happened?
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>> it's not typical and i'm not saying people in politics, particularly in new jersey retaliate occasionally if they can. but it usually is something that makes sense. this to me makes no sense. what the governor said today was that i never even asked that guy for his endorsement. now, if that's true, why are you -- who are you retaliating with when you don't get it? that makes no sense whatsoever. and the whole thing makes no sense and my hope is that as the investigations spin out that we'll learn something. in the meantime, this is and may still be the leading candidate for the republican nomination and still got more skills than anybody i've seen since bill clinton. and this is going to be interesting to watch. >> when we talk about his future, he's going to lead the republican governor and got
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national stature, about to have his inaugural. this was the quiet launch of what we thought was going to be a run for 2016 for the nomination. he says he's even begun to think about that. what he said today. but the obvious signs were all there. what about that and the fact that the other person affected by in is of course the person who was going to take over the republican party in new jersey, his former campaign manager implicated in this and now asked to step down. >> that has to be very painful to the governor because he was very, very close to the governor. he was a christie loyalist, all the way, christie brought him in, been his top guide and from a political point of view ever since. and cutting that tie and getting rid of him was probably the toughest thing that the govern had to do in all of this, but he realized that you have to -- you have to cut all of the ties to this thing if he's telling the truth, and i think he is, he has to show he's cleaned house and
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getting rid of him was part of cleaning house. >> thank you very much. tom kean. even though you are a fellow republican, you also had your political differences, he took action against your son. in the rough and tumble of new jersey politics, you haven't always been on the same side, correct? >> we haven't always been on the same side. most of the time but not always. >> okay, thanks, governor for joining me. joining me now is christie's opponent in the 2013 gubernatorial race, state senator barbara bono. thanks so much for joining us today. what's your reaction. >> my pleasure. well, you know, when this first surfaced back in september, i was convinced that christie was directing it. you get to know how he operates. he runs a para military organization, very strict
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discipline. people don't sneeze or go to the bathroom without asking christie's permission. so to suggest that the people closest to him, his deputy, the young woman that he fired, his spokesperson for a long time his campaign manager, bill step yan, if anybody who run a statewide campaign, you get very close with your campaign manager and two highest appoint ees on the port authority, david sampson, chairman of the port authority that christie appointed, all of these people knew and orchestrated and took part in the cover-up of bridge gate. and yeah, unbeknownst to the governor this was not going on and i find that strains kred you'llty to say the least. it leaves no skin till la of doubt in anyone's minds. >> you're saying you do not
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believe what chris christie has spent two hours telling the american people? >> i haven't heard what he said. i didn't listen to it. what i will tell you is that i don't see chris christie as a victim and that all of these -- the people around him, his people in -- first he said that let's look at the lies told already. initially they said this traffic stop which was due to a traffic study, we know that's a phantom traffic study and that was a lie. two of mr. christie's appointees held that up as the reason. then the governor was asked and said none -- he had asked his closest appointees whether whether or not they had knowledge or involved in the fee sasco. they said no. now we know from looking at the e-mails because of the hard work of a reporter unrelenting and seeking out open public records
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documentation, only then did it become apparent that in fact those very close to the administration to his appointees in the port authority and in his political campaign, his campaign manager for two gubernatorial campaigns was intimately involved and talked about the cover-up and retaliating. >> senator buono, let me read you the text, ach the traffic jams and kids being late for school, one of the identified persons texted is it wrong i'm smiling no another unidentified person replied. i feel bad about the kids i guess. they are the children of buono voters responded the second, referring of course to you, the then democratic opponent. how did you react to that? >> i have to tell you, i was
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shocked. even though i knew that there is this web of underhanded sub tri fuj and political pay back that would lead to chris christie, the tone and tenor of these e-mails shocked the conscience, not just as a mother hearing this woman say it doesn't matter, they don't matter because they are going to vote for christie's opponent, but as a public official, i've been in public life for 20 years. i6 work i have worked very, very hard every day to gain the public's trust that i'm there to do the right thing and protect their interest. what this indicates is a shattering of that trust. it really is a bigger issue. it's an issue of bridge closure and public safety issues that arose out of it. the longer response time, 91-year-old woman that died when responding -- although it wasn't
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established definitively that's why she died. it certainly didn't help that these response time was longer. but what really bothers me is this abject just disregard and callous disregard for how their actions would impact on the people of new jersey, our vulnerable kids, those who are physically compromised. it just is -- it's more than just a bridge closure. it's about thwarting democracy. >> and i think the people of new jersey and the people of the united states of america need to know what this governor knew and when elknew it. and there are enough questions that have been raised that certainly warrant a federal investigation to determine that. >> the governor says he's now going to fort lee, wants to apologize or intended to apologize to mayor sokolich.
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the mayor says he doesn't want an apologize. what do you think about that? >> i have nothing to say about it. it's nice he's apologizing but more important thing is he needs to take responsibility. and he's doing anything but that. he needs to take responsibility that he runs this ship. he has a -- he runs a paramilitary type organization where chris christie knows everything that goes on, particularly at the higher esh lons and five weeks out before a campaign. he needs to take responsibility and answer questions under oath so that the people of new jersey and united states of america can have a comfort level that this individual's character is not fatally flawed. >> with all due respect and i know you've been busy doing your job today. he did spend almost two hours saying i take responsibility, i
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did not know. i was shocked. i learned about it when my -- finished about my trainer yesterday morning at 8:30. sleepless night last night getting to the bottom of it. i very quickly fired bridget kelly. >> no, he's known for 100 days, approximately 100 days since this surfaced in the beginning of september. you're telling me that he didn't look into it until yesterday? i mean, if that's the case, and i'll take it at face value, then that says to me -- that speaks to a greater failure in leadership that this governor knew this happened and let his inner staff andinner sank item amuck and people of new jersey be damned. >> what impact do you think this will or should have on any presidential ambitions in running for the 2016 republican nomination? >> i think it raises some serious character issues. it raises some serious issues
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about this man's temperament. he aspires to run the largest armed forces in the world and yet this raises serious questionses about his ability to manage the largest bridge in the world. i think at the very least -- look, if chris christie were a u.s. attorney now and we had a democratic governor and the same facts were presented, he would have already begun conducting a federal investigation and that would have been merited. but at the very least we need to have an independent law enforcement authority independent of the governor because the governor's attorney general is appointed bid him. the governor's comptroller is appointed by him. we need an independent legal authority such as the u.s. attorney's ochffice to come in d get to the bottom of this. >> to find out what he knew and
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when he knew it. i think he's going to be forced into it -- >> i didn't want to cut you off. >> he's going to be forced into it otherwise people won't have the comfort level they need to place their faith and trust in him again. >> thank you for being with us today as this continues to evolve. we want to go to the state assemblies transportation committee which is having an open hearing with david wildstein, one of the key players in this. >> the right to refuse to answer questions of this committee is not permitted under those rules. >> i understand this committee's view of the rules and what the rules might say, but in my plel opinion, the federal and state constitutions trump the rules that the chair is making reference to. >> okay -- >> that is the attorney for david wildstein who was the other person on the e-mails, member of the port authority and the person who wrote back to
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bridget kelly, got it when she suggested the traffic jam in new jersey going back to the hearing. >> but threats have been made by different persons to the media in connection with the alleged lane closures of the george washington bridge. and if for example, there were charges relating to his former employment and whether he was a public official at the time, the answer to the question that the chair just posed would be evidential. and could be used by prosecutor in his or her chain of proofs. >> thank you. >> i certainly disagree. >> understood. >> we will continue with the question. the committee does have the right to find your client's failure to respond to validly asked questions to be in contempt of this committee's subpoena and to take a vote on
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that and that matter may be referred to the appropriate law enforcement authorities, dours? >> that is understood. >> i would like to continue with questioning and we will address your client's objections and failure to comply at the conclusion of those questions. >> that is acceptable. >> thank you very much. mr. wildstein, i would like to ask you questions about the documents you have submitted to this committee through your attorney. in particular, i would like to draw your attention to page 751 of the documents and that may be tabbed. >> i guess they are. >> could you just give me a
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moment please. >> if you need the assistance of a committee aide -- >> i see the number. >> page 751, does it contain communications dated august 5th, 2013? >> on the advice of counsel, i again, assert my right to remain silent. >> and that document refers to a meeting with port authority chairman david sampson, does it not? >> on the advice of counsel, i assert my right to remain silent. >> and that also refers to a
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meeting with the governor of the same date? >> mr. chairman, on the advice of counsel, i assert my right to remain silent. >> for the edification of the committee and i certainly want to ask counsel, yes, sir. >> if it is your client's intention to assert that right on every single question? >> yes, sir. >> so i want to be clear. so that any question that i may ask or that any of the members of this committee may ask, it is your intention or your advice to your client to assert the right to not answer the question based on the fifth amendment? >> i anticipate that to be so in every instance. >> okay, i don't want to belabor the point but go through a couple of documents and see where we stand on that issue. >> i understand fully. >> okay. >> am i correct in understanding in regard to page 751, you are not answering on the basis of
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your right under the fifth amendment? >> yes. >> i then would like to draw your attention to the document at page 706. >> joining me now on the political explosion over all of this, a couple of guests but i'm going to go back to the hearing to hear a few more responses then bring in our panel. zbls we have it in front of ugs, sir. >> this e-mail communication, is it not? >> on the advice of counsel i assert my right to remain silent, sir. >> you can't tell me whether it's an e-mail or text message? >> same answer. >> okay. that's an e-mail between bridget kelly the deputy chief of staff
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and yourself? >> same answer. >> and that says it's time for traffic problems in fort lee? >> same answer, sir. >> you respondeded to that e-mail? >> same answer, sir. >> okay, then moving forward, there is on page -- page 753 -- sorry. i'm sorry. i strike that. 757.
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>> i'm not sure that one is marked, sir, 757. -- 751. followed by 774. >> we apologize for the inconvenience. we'll help you locate that. no problem.
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>> managing editor of post, mark halperin, senior analyst for msnbc and "time" and steve kornacki, host of "up" and steve i was fascinated by your description on "morning joe" how your first news job out of school was working and didn't know you were working for david wildstein because he was running a blog that had an anonymous handle. explain and tell me about your reactions to all of this? >> yeah, i don't even know how to describe my reaction watching that scene right there. david wildstein was my boss for three years from 2002 to 2005. he ran a anonymously owned political news site, nonpartisan political news site in new jersey. i was fresh out of college. i was sort of getting ignored for jobs everywhere. they gave me a shot. i was from massachusetts and knew nothing about new jersey.
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i covered the election in 2003. it's surreal to watch this. but to take that aside, yeah, i didn't know him personally for the three years i was there because he was anonymous. he had great sourcing from the insider sources from both sides of the aisle. you really couldn't detect much of an idealogical bent to the site. he gave me the option, listen, do you want to know who i am and who your boss is? no, everybody is going to be asking that question, i want to look them in the eye and say no. for three years i was there and got a job from roll call and said do you want to meet? we went to a steakhouse a mile or two from the george washington bridge and told me who he was. we stayed in touch here and there through the years i've not spoken with him since this all started? but yeah, it's actually bizarre to watch this. >> in watching this, is it
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credible that chris christie does not know what was going on underneath him? >> we're looking at this as a binary thing, even chris christie knew and in on the planning or completely dupeed by this situation. my instinct comes somewhere in the middle. chris christie is a smart guy. with all of the reporting and questions being raised by the press, it seems likely to me he probably put two and two together at some point a long time ago. the issue of this, the issue of timing in terms of state legislature that has been carrying this story along. it's the reason you're showing david wildstein before the state assemb assembly. this committee has been their subpoenas, the power to subpoena, to get somebody like dave wildsteen was due to expire next tuesday at the end of the legislative session. the incoming assembly speaker and you have to understand the intri catcies of politics here,
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but the speaker is there because of this coalition of pro chris christie democrats and chris christie. until yesterday, he was not expected to renew the subpoena power of the state assembly. this is all guess -- me just spitballing here but a plausible scenario is he put two and two together. didn't want to ask questions and didn't ask questions and hoped we could get to next tuesday when the state session would expire and subpoena power would expire and almost got there. if this story had not come out yesterday and not been directly linked to the governor's office, we wouldn't be having the conversation we're having right now. now as it stands, that new assembly speaker made it clear yesterday he intends to extend that power and now it's getting so much bigger because of what came out yesterday. you have calls for the u.s. -- there's a whole back story, calls for the u.s. attorney to step in and investigate and indications that he might be looking at doing that.
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you have the issue with the u.s. senate, with jay rockefeller and commerce committee and now a whole slew of things are suddenly in motion that weren't yesterday because of the revelations yesterday. >> mark halperin, you spent a lot of time with chris christie in preparing for "double down" and your first book. let's talk about chris christie as a national political figure, how damaged is he or how propelled is he by the way he handled this today? >> just from the point of view of politics of 2016 and how he did today, he helped himself just on that measure quite a bit because people were a little uneasy yesterday, donors and republicans around the country and washington because he didn't come out and speak to the camera. he came out today, didn't make the ferraro two-hour mark but spoke for a long time and took lots of questions. there's more investigating to go on. if he knew anything about this, he's dead politically not just nationally. but the big unanswered questions
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for most part involved, how could this have happened with just this small group? how could more people not have been involved. from a political point of view, governor christie performed in a way very few people could, wasn't flawless but reassured people that he's not afraid of this and he's dug in now. if there are -- if there is no new information, just the fact that he -- his staff and rogue people on his staff, the fact that initially he was not -- did not seem to be in the december press conference taking all of this very seriously, all of that would be survivable politically and he would do his business and continue to build -- he's lost a couple, at least one person who would have been a key part of a presidential campaign. if there's no new facts today was the beginning of putting this to rest. there's so much investigating to come and even republicans breathing a little sigh of relief still wonder, the ones who know this operation, how
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could it be a deputy chief of staff would do this without telling him and lie to him and no one else on board in advance of the bres conference and the fact that the e-mails were turned over to the democrats on the committee and still wasn't telling anybody else she had done this, that's for a lot of people there's missing elements there. may not involve governor christie but it begs a lot of questions for people. >> chris cillizza joining ugss well. was this the fix for chris christie or does have he a lot of questions to answer after almost two hourds. >> to echo mark, the most interesting thing -- zero wiggle room if anything that comes out in any way shape or form disputes i didn't know anything or had nothing to do with this and then learned about it at ten of 9:00 on wednesday morning
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narrative. if nothing else comes out beyond that, it is certainly a bump in the road, chris christie would rather not have this on the march to the presidential candidacy at least. it's survivable. if anything that comes out that disputes that narrative, to show -- that's probably it for him. he's making a big gamble and he feels he is on the right side of this thing and he's willing to take the hit that comes with how could you possibly be so out of the loop because that hit is a lot less bad politically than the you knew about this and you didn't say anything. >> kelly o'donnell is in trenton and had a front row seat. kelly, i want to play the answer to you -- to your question. there you are on camera. i thought you were already on your way to fort lee.
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tell me about your response after his response. let's play it. >> i feel passionately about issues and i don't hide my emotions from people. i am not a focus group tested blow dried candidate or governor. now, that has always made some people as you know uneasy. i am who i am but i'm not a bully. in this instance, the language ugsed and conduct displayed in those e-mails unacceptable to me. i will not tolerate it. the best i can do, when i see stuff like that to end it. that won't satisfy everybody but i'm not in the business of satisfying everybody. >> kelly o., i'm not a bully will go down-- politics ain't bean bag, tell me about
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being in the room and how it all felt? >> reporter: it was an intense nearly two hours. there were about 20 cameras in the room, an extraordinary number and there was a real sense of this was a political moment that could absolutely make or break for the long term future. he has a job to do and a lot of other issue s for the people of emergen new jersey. he had to convey some kind of apology that the public would determine whether or not it was sufficient to answer for thinks judgment in putting these people in positions of authority, to speak to the fact that this was not according to these e-mails and pretty much acknowledged it displayed a level of political vendetta that people suspected of the christie operation. and that's why i asked him, are you a political bully? that has been the rap. when a scandal breaks, if it reinforces what people already believe about a figure, that's
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more damaging. for him to say i'm not a bully and taking action, is a key part of what he's got to do today. the next part is that trip to fort lee. i spoke to aides who say they don't have anything set up yet but he is absolutely going to be in fort lee today. they are going to try to work that out with the mayor of fort lee. that was a big part of the conversation, if not, what should he do? there's a bit of an on the fly type of moment happening for the christie team. off to my right in the room, the governor's left were his key advisers who are watching this throughout. i was told it went on so long in part because i didn't want to stop it and be accused of not taking a sufficient number of questions. i was pleased i got a second and third question in as did other colleagues. there was a sense towards the end of it that a lot of things had been asked, would it be sufficient to deal with the questions that are answerable today, there are many questions that will need more documents and more time and maybe even
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subpoena power to get to bottom of. he really boxed himself in, that he knew nothing about this and did not authorize it and doesn't condone the kind of conduct. that does not give him much room. will his mea culpa be enough. it was one of the extraordinary moments to seem a national political figure in that moment. andrea? >> and kelly and chris and i just wanted to, steve, take a listen to this. this was mark sokolich, audio of a news conference in response to what governor christie said. >> he or she would be welcomed with open arms and view it as an absolute honor, there's no question about that. however, and i'm saying this as respectfully as i can, i'm not trying to sound callous or trying to -- >> that was mayor sokolich we'll
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get more in a moment. let's talk about chris christie and new jersey politics and how plays on the national stage. he has gotten past this with the performance today. but what about the sort of residual doubts about the rough and tumble politics of new jersey in a republican primary? >> well, i mean, i think that's the important thing to keep in mind as we talk about his performance today. let's be honest, politically if you wanted to survive anywhere after this, there is nothing he could say today other than what he said. if he is i had any knowledge of this or role in the planning, political career is over on the spot. he had to say what he had to say. the question is what's going to happen now that these mechanisms are in place and are in motion, there's going to be more to the stortry even if he wants to move on and national republicans want to think about something else, whether it's the state assembly which is going to be renewed subpoena power starting next
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week. if it's the u.s. attorney that gets involved, if it's the senate commerce committee that gets involved, this is something that's going to linger and we're going to learn more about it. i don't know what we're going to learn, but learn more about it. the other thing to keep in mind. i was talking to a republican in new jersey today and asked the question, you had governor kean on earlier and he had maybe his reason for being upset with chris christie but he has an iron clad grip on the state republican party in new jersey. how come we didn't hear them rushing to his defense as of this morning? the republican told me, on the one hand republicans are shocked by this. shocked because chris christie is a politically smart guy and talented, can't believe he would get into some kind of mess like this. on the other hand, however, this is completely unsurprising because it is basically pay back politics, retribution politics. tgs the reputation of chris christie's administration and reputation of his operation.
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if you look at some of the people that are talking about bill step yan, his former campaign manager, a guy who he said today no longer going to be the chairman of the state republican party, his job before being campaign manager in the governor's office was basically to go around the state and to involve himself in all of these different local fights. you know, this mayor needs to be pushed on this. it's your job to go and do that. this mayor needs this and it's your job to get that. that was his job and that became -- when he left to do the campaign, that became prbridget kelly's job, you can talk to gosh how much republicans you can talk to who are not like big fish republicans who have stories about, gee, i said i've got a call personally from chris christie because of something incredibly local and pelty seeming and the governor got involved. they got a phone call, i can't tell you how many new jersey republicans and i'm not talking
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about members of congress and mayors here, a lot lower on the tote up pole, they have stories like this. when a story like this starts to perk late and starts to say, it sounds crazy, right, it's the george washington bridge and there's no way that the governor's operation would have anything to do with it or have knowledge of this. republicans look at that and say, geez, that's in a way payback has been this guy's m.o. >> and mainer sokolich xperngsed that directly from bridget kelly and wildstein according to e-mails. the mayor had that news conference in fort lee we have craig melvin on the phone. tell me about his response to again, the governor's offer to come and apologize this afternoon. >> the response itself was it was bizarre. initially as you reported, mayor sokolich said, we don't want to the governor to come today. we would prefer he wait.
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then i asked him on a follow-up question after it was reported that governor christie said he's coming anyway. he says, that's fine, tell him to come. we're going to be hospitalable here and i asked him, when he comes, what's that conversation going to look like? what will you say to governor christie? he said, well, i'll accept the apology, but quote, i do not want to talk about some stupid traffic study. those were his words. during that two-hour news conference that governor christie had he thought the governor was candid today except when talking about that traffic study. he also said he was most offended that governor christie did not seem to respect the people of fort lee. he went on to call his office culture venomous, and great deal of time was spent talking about
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this 97-year-old woman who we've heard about over the past couple of days, especially this 91-year-old female, according to the office of emergency medical services here in fort lee, this was a woman who during the midst of this traffic snarl, there was a 911 call placed and it took emergency responders roughly seven minutes to get to her. that was according to the department almost double the amount of time it usually takes. nbc news has obtained a letter that was written to the mayor from the ems coordinator and there was -- there were a number of questions asked about this letter. the mayor refused to get into the specifics of the letter. but did say that that was part of the investigation that's happening here. they want to find out whether that delay that was caused by the governor's office, whether that delay was directly or indirectly responsible for this woman's death. that was -- that is something that the mayor said he would be
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bringing up with governor christie, should that meeting take place today. we're told by the mayor's office that when that meeting does happen this afternoon, it's going to happen here at the mail mayor's office and there may be talks the governor may be helicoptered in to a local high school. >> mark halperin, chris christie is about to take over the republican governor's association, this was the quiest launch of the campaign. what are the other republican governors going to do in the way they handle them? >> they are going to watch -- the more experience the -- the people i talk to, the most experienced about how governor's office works, they are the ones expressing the most skepticism whether we have all of the facts. can a deputy chief of staff to a governor on other own get the port authority of new york to take an action like this? there's a lot of skepticism. but christie got the job because they want him to be a great
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fundraiser and campaigning. er. if there are no new facts he can go back to doing all of that stuff. you look at the range of investigations there are now. we see now, my mystery science theater anotation of the other box. a top aide too governor christie taking the fifth -- pleading the fifth amendment. you've got two people who have been fired who's careers now will be hanging in the balance and sure to be pursued by the media and various investigations. >> and completely lawyered up. >> a federal investigation of governor christie spent the last day making calls. he tip toed around whether he should do investigations and whether he would urge people to testify, that's when he was at his most tentative. there's legitimate reason for that. because you dont want there to be interference in either judicial investigations or independent investigations by the u.s. attorney or by the committee and legislative
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committee. and at the same time governor christie has a very complicated life. lost two key advisers and all of the investigations to deal with and does have to continue to try to reach out to donors, et cetera. there's still going to be skept skepticism. as chris said, it's clear, he's now made it unambiguous, no knowledge of it in advance. he is going to face skepticism on that as the investigations play out. ize a talented guy but this adds a big burden in both his time and psychic energy, losing staff and also in terms of scrutiny. that is the type of scrutiny that's going to be real tough. the democrats have been driving this and that's the way our system works. the question now is how sofity indicated are they? people are accepting the leak coming out yesterday of the documents with the redakss, not all of the documents were released. what else is out there and will the democrats time this in a way to hurt him. what's the goal? do they want to wound him as a presidential candidate?
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what is the political goal? not taking anything from the fact there are legitimate things obviously to investigate here, you about how this happened in terms of oversight and accountability. >> mark, halperin, steve kornaci and chris cillizza. more on the extraordinary press conference today. >> prior to yesterday, i believed if i looked someone in the eye who i worked with and trusted and asked them, that i would get an honest answer. maybe that was naive. but that's what i believed. [ c] ♪ [ cellphone rings ] hello? [ male announcer ] over 12,000 financial advisors. good, good. good. over $700 billion dollars in assets under care. let me just put this away. [ male announcer ] how did edward jones get so big? could you teach our kids that trick? [ male announcer ] by not acting that way. ok, last quarter... [ male announcer ] it's how edward jones makes sense of investing.
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of course fort lee democratic mayor mark sokolich, jonathan de deanst joins me from new york. what investigations or inquires are even contemplated at this point? >> we heard the governor say mistakes are made. the question is were crimes committed? the u.s. attorney in new jersey put out a statement saying he has received a referral from the inspector general's port authority and they are going to do a preliminary look, preliminary review if you will to hear if any sort of federal crime might have been committed here. we're going to take a look. the fbi in new jersey and u.s. attorney's office in new jersey is going to do a preliminary review to see if the crime was committed. we've been speaking with legal experts around town and they point to 18 u.s. 1952, a statute on the books that says if you travel across state lines or use interstate commerce to promote or carry out an unlawful
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activity, that would be a crime. the george washington bridge connects new york and new jersey. that is a possible crossing of state lines when you tie up traffic if this was for some sort of political vendetta. all very early to say. other legal experts say there's a better fit in state charges, conspiracy to harass, or cause problems. remember, you have school kids trapped on school buses for hours and dialysis patients who couldn't get to treatments they needed and questions whether this 91-year-old woman didn't get an ambulance in time. all of this is out there. right now it appears the new jersey u.s. attorney's office and new jersey fbi will take a lead. we also know the u.s. attorney's office in new york and fbi in new york is standing by in case because we know chris christie, it's his former job, is there any conflict of his old office now looking at something that directly involves his people.
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so that is sort of where things stand. no official criminal investigation underway. but certainly u.s. attorney federal prosecutors taking a look to see if they need to open a formal criminal investigation. >> jonathan, just to clarify, for a review to see whether an investigation should be even opened, does that involve em paneling a grand jury and taking testimony or is that something that is done even less formally? >> it's less formal. right now they are going to look and say what are the facts as we know it and look at the e-mails and reach out to the parties, anything you want to tell us. then they'll make a determination as they go over the law books to see, does it appear that there's a possibility or likelihood that a federal crime was committed? once they do, then they'll open up the formal investigation and once that happens, then you'll start seeing federal subpoenas being issued, perhaps a grand jury and fbi looking for documents, but again, that's
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getting ahead of ourselves right now. it's a look see situation. let's see if any crime was committed. >> jonathan, thanks very much. more now from governor chris christie'schristie's remarkable press conference. he talked to reporters for nearly two hours about the growing scandal surrounding the george washington bridge lane closures. >> i have not had any conversation with bridget since the e-mail came out. so she has not given the opportunity to explain to me why she lied, because it was so obvious that she had. and i'm not interested in the explanation at the moment. qualifying for my retirement. they had some cutbacks. i was the most skilled technician and also the highest paid. for my unemployment to end now, i wouldn't have money to go on an interview. my retirement is going away as a result of this. i do have a husband, thank god, or i would be homeless.
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chris and steve are still with us. while david continues to plead the fifth in that hearing going on in trenton. this is not going away. this is obviously the big
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political story that is going to continue. right now we know that the mayor said in fort lee he would not say no to a phone call, wouldn't turn down a phone call from the governor. and we know that the governor is going to be heading this afternoon probably by around 2:30, arriving in fort lee. >> right. i think chris christie would acknowledge that this press conference today was not ever going to be the sort of end of things, unless chris christie said yeah, i did know about this, and then it would be the end of his political career. but in terms of this ending in a way that keeps christie viable in 2016, today was never going to be the end of it. to me, the central question here that i think everyone's going to try to get at is did this woman who was let go, bridget kelly, did she act alone? was the deputy chief of staff empowered to tell the port authority yes, let's close this down? if she wasn't, who said it was
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okay for her to do that? seems to me the central piece. that's how this moves up the chain of command, if not to chris christie, higher up in his world. though i would say we're already pretty high in this world. this was his deputy chief of staff and people at the port authority that he had put there. so these are not just random people in a massive government. >> and the e-mails indicate, steve, that the former campaign manager, a key player, very close political ally was involved in that. he has now lost his option to be the republican state chairman. steve, you want to wrap it up for us here with your continuing exposition on new jersey politics? >> some people have made this observation. i know bridget kelly going back to 2002 when she was working for an assemblyman. i completely share the idea that's been put out there that it's very, very hard to imagine her acting alone, giving the order, being the sole person behind this. this really has the makings of a
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fall guy or fall woman scenario, whatever you want to call it, the singling out of bridget kelly. that's why the question is so interesting. but the other thing there is in terms of the news you just had from jonathan about the federal investigation, about the u.s. attorney from new jersey, it's just interesting that that u.s. attorney just put it out there, a frank lautenberg protege, very close to frank lautenberg and one of the people at the center of this, the port authority guy testified before the senate committee about a year or two ago and humiliated lautenberg at that hearing. there's an interesting back story there. >> you always know the back story. that's why we love you. thank you very much. that does it for us. it was a pretty remarkable day. stay tuned throughout the day to msnbc. that does it for "andrea mitchell reports." my colleague has a look at what's next on "news nation." >> thank you, andrea. reaction pouring in after
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governor chris christie's two-hour news conference, taking responsibility by the traffic jam orchestrated by his political team. plus, here's a live picture of the hearing where the christie appointee just pleaded the fifth, refusing to answer questions about lawmakers about his role in the lane closures. we'll have reaction from the democratic mayor who was targeted. also in the next hour, president obama will unveil his new plan to tackle poverty, an issue he calls "the defining challenge of our time." we'll bring you those remarks live from washington, d.c., next on "news nation."
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and his new boss told him two things -- cook what you love, and save your money. joe doesn't know it yet, but he'll work his way up from busser to waiter to chef before opening a restaurant specializing in fish and game from the great northwest. he'll start investing early, he'll find some good people to help guide him, and he'll set money aside from his first day of work to his last, which isn't rocket science. it's just common sense. from td ameritrade. i'm in for tamron hall this afternoon. the news nation continues to follow that developing story here in fort lee, new jersey, where governor chris christie is expected to helicopter in. we're told within the hour.