Last night Rachel Maddow dedicated her entire show to the New Jersey Bridge scandal, and who could blame her? When other cable news outlets scarcely mentioned it, Rachel Maddow has covered this story numerous times over the last several months. Below the orange squiggly, I have embedded the video for each segment of last night's show, except the final one which is just below.
All the cable news channels had been covering the scandal all day long when the 22 pages of documents were released that linked the scandal to the office of Governor Chris Christie now that there was definitive proof that a member of Christie's staff gave the order to close three lanes to the George Washington Bridge.
It was seven hours after the release of the documents that Chris Christie put out a statement. My reaction was, "It's been hours since the emails broke ... this all he could come up with?" Since Chris Christie wasn't appearing before cameras yesterday, the news stations kept playing clips of previous comments he made about the brewing scandal and how there was nothing to see here. I saw clips of him saying that he had interviewed everybody on his staff, and knew every thing there was to know about the closing of the lanes, and this was what he decided to go with?
What I've seen today for the first time ...Okay. Maybe he was being literal. He only saw the actual printed version today. Before that he only heard about what happened from his staff. All those previous denials of knowledge began to make sense when I watched the discussion between Rachel Maddow and Steve Kornacki, when Kornacki explained that subpoena power of the Assembly was about to run out next Tuesday. I found an article from December explaining that Assemblyman Wisniewski was seeking to extend the subpoena power. Suddenly, all those ridiculous statements Christie had been making for the last few months made sense. He was simply deflecting until next Tuesday when he was counting on the investigation to be over. And the fact that David Wildstein had filed a lawsuit trying to block the subpoena he had received was all about running out the clock too.
Watch the segment (or read the transcript) for yourself:
Video of Governor Chris Christie
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 it’s because of the gravity of the issue. It’s because I am a national figure.Video of Governor Chris Christie being interviewed on radio:
Question: Are you convinced at this point that you know all there is to know about whatever happened there?Rachel Maddow (RM): Joining us now is Steve Kornacki, the host of Up with Steve Kornacki here on MSNBC. Steve is as well versed in New Jersey politics as they come. Steve worked for a nonpartisan Jersey political website that was owned by David Wildstein from 2002 to 2005; although he didn’t know that at the time because David Wildstein operated the site under a political pseudonym. It’s so hard to start. Where do you start with all this?
Governor Christie: Yeah I’ve asked; listen, I’ve asked my staff to give me a full briefing. They’ve told me everything that we know and none of it makes sense, Eric. It’s all about politics.
Steve Kornacki (SK): Yeah, I could take 15 minutes and tell you right now …
RM: you did on our show…
SK: I did on your show once before so hopefully people will remember that. [Note: Kornacki guest hosted the show on 18 December 2013, and explained his entire connection to Wildstein. You can read the Transcript.]
RM: See, let me just ask you. What do you think is the most important revelation from today, and how much bigger is this story today than it was yesterday?
SK: I mean the biggest single revelation, obviously, is that this extends into the Governor’s office; that you have emails with the Deputy Chief of Staff, so you can’t just say this was two sort of rogue people at the Port Authority. This is now in the Governor’s office. And the reason that’s so significant besides just the PR value is there is an issue of timing here that has to do with the subpoena power of the State Assembly in New Jersey which is due to expire next Tuesday.
RM: Yeah …
SK … because the legislative session is due to expire next Tuesday; and for a variety of very complicated sort of only in New Jersey reasons, there was reason to believe until really today that that subpoena power by the incoming Assembly Speaker might not be extended.
RM: Which might end the investigation?
SK: Exactly. And I believe that’s what the Christie people were kind of hoping for … that that would sort of be the end of it because the incoming Speaker is a Democrat, but one of the stories about New Jersey politics that you always have to keep in mind is that Christie, at least until now, has had an alliance with some major Democratic power brokers in the state. And this incoming Speaker is the product of that alliance. So there was reason to believe before today that that incoming Speaker might say, I’m not going to extend this. Now he has no choice.
RM: The Christie administration test, I think that comes up next is whether or not Chris Christie can find it within himself to say publicly, you know what, Mr. New Assembly Speaker, you ought to keep the subpoena power. You ought to let them have it because we need to get to the bottom of this because I’m as outraged as anybody about this.
RM: This makes us all look terrible, but Fort Lee never should have … I mean, is he capable of that?
SK: Well, I mean, that’s one the … from a PR standpoint there are so many things that Chris Christie should do, but the question that hangs over all of this is what did he know? It’s the old Watergate question, what did he know and when did he know it? Because every action he takes right now, you know if it’s firing this person, firing that person. If, if … and I don’t know … but if Chris Christie did know. If he had some knowledge; if there are more documents out there that could definitively link Christie to this, then every person that he kind of ticks off or throw overboard right now, has a reason to cough up any information …
RM: A reason to cough up … David Wildstein’s fighting the attempt to testify tomorrow; the effort to make him testify under subpoena. He’s, in fact, filed a lawsuit in order to do that. If he is compelled to testify under oath, is that potentially a big development tomorrow?
SK: It will be fascinating to watch. I mean, I think that the fact that he’s fighting this just tells me I’m not expecting there to be, you know if he does testify, I’m not expecting there to be any bombshells from his testimony. But again, my suspicion is that that fighting the subpoena has to do with trying to run that clock out to the end of the session, which again, that’s not going to happen now.
RM: Steve Kornacki, host of Up with Steve Kornacki, weekend mornings here on MSNBC. Steve, this has been; it’s been a real asset to us here to have you to talk to about this. Thanks for helping us.
SK: Thanks. It’s been a little weird here …
RM: Very weird; very, very weird. That does it for us to night. We will see you again tomorrow night.
NJ bridge scandal reaches Christie’s doorstep
Rachel Maddow reviews the story of the questionable New Jersey traffic jam, up to developments today that bring the scandal to the office of Governor Christie.
Investigation of NJ traffic scandal heats up
New Jersey state assemblyman John Wisniewski, who is investigating the New Jersey traffic jam case, talks with Rachel Maddow about the day’s developments.
Maddow: ‘God bless local reporters!’
Rachel Maddow salutes the local New Jersey media that kept on the bridge traffic story against heavy discouragement from Chris Christie.
Lots going on in today’s news (and then NJ!)
Rachel Maddow reviews some of the major stories in the day’s news, leading up to heated remarks from the mayor of Fort Lee, NJ.
How a local reporter broke the Christie story
Shawn Boburg, reporter for the Bergen Record, talks with Rachel Maddow about his pursuit of the story behind a traffic jam of dubious origins.