Saturday, February 01, 2014

Maybe Christie And His Mafia Pal Michael Grimm Can Be Roomies In The Federal Pen


No one who reads DWT regularly wasn't already sure that Chris Christie directed the scandal now known as Bridge-gate. And of course he's been orchestrating the entire cover-up. Friday night, the NY Times broke the story that Christie has been lying his ass off from day one-- which only fools didn't already know.
The former Port Authority official who personally oversaw the lane closings at the George Washington Bridge, central to the scandal now swirling around Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, said on Friday that “evidence exists” that the governor knew about the closings when they were happening.

A lawyer for the former official, David Wildstein, wrote a letter describing the move to shut the lanes as “the Christie administration’s order” and said “evidence exists as well tying Mr. Christie to having knowledge of the lane closures, during the period when the lanes were closed, contrary to what the governor stated publicly in a two-hour press conference” three weeks ago.

During his news conference, Mr. Christie specifically said he had no knowledge that traffic lanes leading to the bridge had been closed until after they were reopened. “I had no knowledge of this-- of the planning, the execution or anything about it-- and that I first found out about it after it was over,” he said. “And even then, what I was told was that it was a traffic study.”

The letter, which was sent as part of a dispute over Mr. Wildstein’s legal fees, does not specify what the evidence is. Nonetheless, it marks a striking break with a previous ally. Mr. Wildstein was a high school classmate of Mr. Christie’s who was hired with the governor’s blessing at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which controls the bridge.

Mr. Christie’s office responded late in the day with a statement that backed away somewhat from the governor’s previous assertions that he had not known about the closings until they were reported in the news media. Instead, it focused on what the letter did not suggest-- that Mr. Christie knew of the closings before they occurred.

“Mr. Wildstein’s lawyer confirms what the governor has said all along: He had absolutely no prior knowledge of the lane closures before they happened and whatever Mr. Wildstein’s motivations were for closing them to begin with,” the statement said. “As the governor said in a December 13th press conference, he only first learned lanes were closed when it was reported by the press and, as he said in his January 9th press conference, had no indication that this was anything other than a traffic study until he read otherwise the morning of January 8th.

“The governor denies Mr. Wildstein’s lawyer’s other assertions.”

Mr. Christie, a Republican, made a brief appearance on Friday night at Howard Stern’s 60th birthday party in Manhattan and introduced Jon Bon Jovi, and the governor did not respond to reporters who shouted questions as he left. He has repeatedly said that he did not know about the lane closings until they were first reported by The Record, a North Jersey newspaper, on Sept. 13, the day a senior Port Authority official ordered the lanes reopened.

The letter was sent from Mr. Wildstein’s lawyer, Alan Zegas of Chatham, N.J., to the Port Authority’s general counsel. It contested the agency’s decision not to pay Mr. Wildstein’s legal fees related to investigations into the lane closings by the United States attorney’s office and the State Legislature. The allegations about Mr. Christie make up just one long paragraph in a two-page letter that otherwise focuses on Mr. Wildstein’s demand that his legal fees be paid and that he be indemnified from any lawsuits.

But Mr. Wildstein, a former political strategist and onetime author of a popular but anonymous political blog, seemed to be making an aggressive move against the governor at what should have been a celebratory moment for Mr. Christie, who had eagerly anticipated the playing of the Super Bowl in New Jersey this weekend.

Remember when every Republican in the country-- and their well-paid media flacks-- were all declaring Christie innocent and insisting he was handling this in an exemplary manner by "taking responsibility?" The biggest newspaper in New Jersey, the Newark Star-Ledger, which endorsed Christie for reelection, is making it clear that they think the ring of evidence closing in on Christie should make him start thinking about resigning. "Forget about the White House in 2016," began the editors. "The question now is whether Gov. Chris Christie can survive as governor."
If this charge proves true, then the governor must resign or be impeached. Because that would leave him so drained of credibility that he could not possibly govern effectively. He would owe it to the people of New Jersey to stop the bleeding and quit. And if he should refuse, then the Legislature should open impeachment hearings.

By the governor's own standard, lying is a firing offense. Here's what he said about his deputy chief of staff, Bridget Kelley, at the same press conference: "There's no justification for ever lying to a governor or a person in authority in this government. As a result, I've terminated Bridget's employment."

One hopes that he would consider lying to the people of New Jersey as an offense of equal magnitude.

So for now, set aside the other scandals. Forget about the charge of extortion in Hoboken. Forget about the growing evidence showing that Christie used Sandy aid as a political slush fund, leaving the real victims short.

The lane closures in Fort Lee not only caused people to miss meetings, and lose out on business deals. It delayed ambulance responses in Fort Lee, and so put people's lives at risk. It was an abuse of government authority that was almost too reckless to believe at first. If the governor did know about it as it occurred, he should have put a stop to it.

The order to close those lanes came from Wildstein, and was triggered by an email from Kelly. That much is not in dispute. And that alone is damning evidence that Christie's administration is dangerously out of control. But if the governor himself was involved, this moves to a new level.

…The governor's office put a statement Friday evening saying that Christie had no "prior knowledge" of the lane closures. But Wildstein's has not made that charge. His claim is that Christie knew of the lane closure while they were underway. The governor's statement is an evasion.

Wildstein's statement means that others who have been implicated in this scandal will probably come forward now as well, hoping to strike deals with prosecutors before their testimony becomes redundant. And all this will happen as the administration answers dozens of subpoenas, and grapples with both criminal and legislative investigations.

When you layer on top of this the criminal investigation in Hoboken, and a separate investigation of Sandy spending by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, it becomes difficult to see how Christie can function. It should be clear even to him now that he should step down as head of the Republican Governors Association.

This is a shocking development. Christie is now damaged goods. If Wildstein's disclosures are as powerful as he claims, the governor must go.
Liberal media scam? Murdoch owns the NY Post

Jonathan Chait, in New York yesterday listed half a dozen reasons Christie is probably guilty. "Probably"… lol.
1. Wildstein is claiming evidence exists that Christie knew. He would look bad if such evidence does not come to light.

2. Wildstein spent time with Christie while the lanes were closed. If you had been ordered to close traffic lines for punitive reasons, and you saw the governor, wouldn’t you either tell him about it, or else already know he approved? Undertaking an action like that without knowing the governor approved it, and without having any desire to take credit, seems like an implausible motivation.

3. Christie has changed his story about when he knew about the lane closings. Having first asserted he learned on October 1, Christie later claimed he learned earlier, though would not say when.

4. His campaign manager is pleading the fifth.

5. Carrying out petty retribution is fully in keeping with the pattern of Christie’s governing style of using petty retribution.

6. Hell, allegations of abuse of power predate even his governorship. I keep mentioning the report in John Heilemann and Mark Halperin’s campaign book about the Romney campaign vetting of Christie, because I find it mystifying that others aren’t taking it as seriously as I am. It’s not that partisan enemies are ginning up accusations. Republican Mitt Romney wanted to nominate Christie, but took a look at the vetting file and ran the other way:
More than once, Myers reported back that Trenton’s response was, in effect, Why do we need to give you that piece of information? Myers told her team, We have to assume if they’re not answering, it’s because the answer is bad.

The vetters were stunned by the garish controversies lurking in the shadows of his record. There was a 2010 Department of Justice inspector general’s investigation of Christie’s spending patterns in his job prior to the governorship, which criticized him for being “the U.S. attorney who most often exceeded the government [travel expense] rate without adequate justification” and for offering “insufficient, inaccurate, or no justification” for stays at swank hotels like the Four Seasons. There was the fact that Christie worked as a lobbyist on behalf of the Securities Industry Association at a time when Bernie Madoff was a senior SIA official-- and sought an exemption from New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act. There was Christie’s decision to steer hefty government contracts to donors and political allies like former Attorney General John Ashcroft, which sparked a congressional hearing. There was a defamation lawsuit brought against Christie arising out of his successful 1994 run to oust an incumbent in a local Garden State race. Then there was Todd Christie, the Governor’s brother, who in 2008 agreed to a settlement of civil charges by the Securities and Exchange Commission in which he acknowledged making “hundreds of trades in which customers had been systematically overcharged.” (Todd also oversaw a family foundation whose activities and purpose raised eyebrows among the vetters.)

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