Friday, January 31, 2014

Suddenly, Things Get Worse for Christie

Uh-oh, the Chris Christie scandal may get worse very quickly. This comes from Kevin Drum’s column on the Mother Jones Web site:
David Wildstein, the executive who was was said to be Chris Christie’s “eyes and ears” at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, is deeply implicated in last year’s scheme to close the Fort Lee lanes of the George Washington Bridge in order to conduct a “traffic study.” He has since resigned, and the Port Authority is refusing to pay his legal bills. Apparently this has pissed him off. Today he sent a letter asking them to change their mind, which included this lovely little nugget:

The New York Times, in which that damning nugget originally appeared, observed that “The letter marked the first signal that Mr. Christie may have been aware of the closings, something he repeatedly denied during [his two-hour news conference earlier this month.”

To which Steve Benen of The Maddow Blog adds:
We do not yet know what kind of evidence Wildstein has, but it obviously has the potential to be very damaging to the governor.

For context, note that in his press conference three weeks ago, Christie left himself no discernible wiggle-room--the governor emphatically insisted he had no idea what his top aides were up to when they conspired to punish Fort Lee. Re-reading the transcript of his remarks, I found multiple examples in which Christie spoke without ambiguity:

* “[J]ust so we’re really clear: I had no knowledge or involvement in this issue, in its planning or it execution, and I am stunned by the abject stupidity that was shown here.”

* “I knew nothing about this.”

* “I’m telling you, at 8:50 yesterday morning--I got done with my workout at 8:45. My trainer left. I’m getting ready to get in the shower and at 8:50 Maria Comella called me and told me about the breaking Bergen Record story, and that was the first I knew of any of the emails or the information that was contained in that story.”

To date, there is nothing definitive that has called these claims into question. But again, according to Wildstein’s lawyer, “evidence exists” that Christie knew about the Fort Lee scheme “during the period when the lanes were closed.” What’s more, Wildstein’s lawyer says he can prove it.
Has it come time yet to wonder whether the arrogant Mr. Christie’s hold on the New Jersey governor’s office might not last much longer? And what impact could his scandalous downfall have on his already unpopular fellow Republicans across the nation?

READ MORE:Christie’s Scapegoat Strikes Back: David Wildstein Wants to Talk,” by Joan Walsh (Salon); “New Jersey Gov. Christie Knew of Bridge Lane Closures, Attorney Says,” by Heather Haddon, Ted Mann and Patrick O’Connor (The Wall Street Journal); “Top Christie Aide Says Governor Was Aware of Bridge Lane Closures,” by Igor Volsky (Think Progress); “Chris Christie Knew All About the Bridge Lane Closings, Claims Ex-Friend Who Closed the Lanes,” by Joe Coscarelli (New York); “Bridge-gate: Key Figure Says Chris Christie Knew About Lane Closures,” by Harry Bruinius (The Christian Science Monitor); “The Official Who Oversaw the Lane Closures Has Turned On Christie. Here’s Why It Matters,” by Alec MacGillis (The New Republic); “Christie’s Office: Letter ‘Confirms What the Governor Has Said All Along,’” by Eric Lach (Talking Points Memo); “Christie Asks for Public’s Patience While He Comes Up with New Story,” by Andy Borowitz (The New Yorker).

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