Sunday, June 07, 2015

Can Governor Krispy and his coven of legal KrispyKronies successfully cover up the Bridgegate cover-up?


Amazing! Somebody at Crain's has the idea (click to enlarge) that the Big Rat Bastard Gummer of NJ was "acquitted of all charges in Bridgegate in March 2014"! Is this just sniveling incompetence, or aiding and abetting the Big Rat Bastard's cover-up?

by Ken

"Acquitted of all charges"? I assume that by now the person who wrote this rot has been fired, or at least subjected to a fire-and-brimstone talking-to. Ironically, while the Crain's story merely skims the story of recent developments in Bridgegate, the head and deck do at least get the story more or less right.

The head:

"Gov. Chris Christie is not out of the Bridgegate scandal just yet"

And the deck:

"An investigative report that cleared the potential 2016 GOP presidential candidate might not even exist."

Just to restore the record to reality, what the idiotic caption seems to be referring to is that the Big Rat Bastard Gummer of NJ, in his capacity as alleged perp, had the unmitigated gall to personally hire -- at taxpayers' expense, of course -- a tame of crony shysters with a mandate to cobble together a whitewash purporting to show that the Big Rat Bastard knew nothing about the Bridgegate shenanigans of all those people he had put in assorted government positions to serve as his personal enforcersds. Not to mention the further mission to pave over the charges that the Big Rat Bastard had applied muscle to the Democratic mayors of Fort Lee (for failing to endorse him for reelection; his punishment -- Bridgegate) and Hoboken (for declining to go along with a crony-enrichment development scheme; her punishment -- threatened holding up of Sandy relief funds, federal money over which the Big Rat Bastard shouldn't have had any say to begin with).

The phony-baloney "Mastro Report" (more about this Mastro in a moment), assuming it actually exists (note the question raised in the Crain's deck), was always a scandal, and it should have been greeted with complete dismissal as substantively meaningless along with demands that the Big Rat Bastard step down from the governorship to allow for a proper investigation of both the original allegations and the cover-up. Unfortunately, once you install a crime boss as governor of a state, it's not easy for anyone to step up and say, "F.U., dirtbag. Why don't you cool your heels in the slammer while we get this mess sorted out?"

Now we're finally beginning to get scraps of insight into how the "Mastro Report" was actually engineered, and it's looking as if it's even more blatantly phony than we might have imagined -- that despite all those witnesses who were interrogated, the collage artist who assembled the finished product just wove bits and pieces into the phony-baloney whitewash their client was paying for. With, again, state money. So we've got the additional irony that the Big Rat Bastard used the occasion of his own suspected ethical and legal transgressions to engineer a payday for his legal cronies.

The point man in the operation would be Randy Mastro himself, the partner at the firm of Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher who engineered the whitewash on the Big Rat Bastard's behalf. Randy, of course, is from the same school of "law enforcement" as the Big Rat Bastard: using time in a U.S. attorney's office not to hone his crime-fighting skills but to prepare himself for a career in crime promotion, apparently on the theory that nobody knows how to make the law work for people who are prepared to pay for the service better than a U.S. attorney and his/her assistant USAs. Randy was an AUSA to USA Rudy Giuliani in the Southern District of New York, then went on to serve as a deputy mayor in Rudy's NYC mayoral administration, where they began putting into practice their theory that ex-USAs and ex-AUSAs know how to bend and break the law. Sure, they got caught at it a lot, and their standard response was, "You don't like it? Sue us?" Which lots of people did, and won, costing the city lots of money. But hey, it wasn't their money! And then there were all the victims who were intimidated into not suing, giving Rudy and Co. the double satisfaction of not only screwing those people but bullying them into shutting the fuck up.

The crux of the Big Rat Bastard Gummer's latest Bridgegate woes is that a couple of the KrispyKronies he threw under the bus aren't taking it the way soldiers who are truly loyal to the family are supposed to take it, which is to say taking one for the family.

As Brian Murphy, a history professor at Baruch College "who writes about the intersection of money and politics," wrote in a devastating piece for TPM:
Last week, Bridget Anne Kelly’s attorney, Michael Critchley, filed a request with the presiding judge to be given the power to subpoena Gibson, Dunn, and Crutcher. That’s the law firm Christie hired last January – at public expense – to investigate his administration and produce the so-called “Mastro Report” that exonerated him from any culpability in both Bridgegate and allegations leveled against him by the Mayor of Hoboken relating to Hurricane Sandy relief aid.

Critchley wants to look at the work product - interview transcripts, notes, and so forth - to see what people actually said and whether they square with the final report. Only one problem: Gibson Dunn told Critchley those notes and other work product don't exist.
"Would that be a big deal?" Brian asks.
Yes. Yes it would. It would be a big deal for a number of reasons but the most immediate would be that Christie hired Gibson Dunn on the State of New Jersey's dime.

The Mastro Report, which didn’t look or read like or conform to the standards of a conventional GAO-style investigative document, cost more than $3.5 million in taxpayer funds by the time it was released in March 2014. The firm billed the state more than $1 million during its first three weeks’ of work, then more than $2 million in February, causing a minor panic in the Christie administration as they saw a looming public relations disaster. The solution was to negotiate the firm’s hourly rate down from $650 an hour to $350 an hour.

But the work never ended.

So far, Gibson Dunn has been paid more than $7.75 million by the state of New Jersey to represent Christie and members of his administration in Bridgegate and related investigations. The vast majority of that money has been spent on the federal investigation led by U.S. Attorney for New Jersey Paul Fishman.
Brian goes on to provide some comparative context for the magnitude of the Gibson Dunn largesse from the Krispy administration. And not just from the so-called "Mastro Report investigation." This point will become important: "At the time Gibson Dunn was hired to represent Christie in the Bridgegate investigation in early January 2014, the firm had already billed taxpayers $3.1 million in 2013 to represent New Jersey in a fight to legalize gambling on sporting events -- a battle that is still ongoing (links onsite)." And this, says Brian, is "where Bridget Anne Kelly's lawyer wanting to subpoena Gibson Dunn comes into play."
With all that work under its belt, we can assume the firm was already familiar with the state’s manual of guidelines governing the standards and conduct of firms hired by the Office of the Attorney General as outside counsel.

This is important, because what Bridget Kelly’s attorney is asking the judge to subpoena are the notes and transcripts that Gibson Dunn’s attorneys used to draft the “Mastro Report,” the report which exonerated the Governor and tossed the now-indicted former associates under the proverbial bus. The report is named after the firm’s high-profile partner, Randy Mastro, who led the team that produced the document.

In the first months of 2014, Mastro and his team interviewed 75 witnesses, the vast majority of whom worked in the Christie Administration, to produce a 344-page report that, notably, went out of its way to awkwardly suggest that Bridget Kelly could have supported closing lanes on the George Washington Bridge because Bill Stepien, Christie’s former campaign manager, had broken off a relationship with her.
And the report, Brian shows, proceeds to claim all sorts of unsourced allegations that Kelly's and Stepien's Bridgegate behavior was the result of emotional turmoil connected to the relationship problems. And now Kelly's lawyer, Michael Critchley, "wants to see who said what in the interviews that were used by Gibson Dunn’s team to draw that conclusion, one of several in the report that insulated the governor while discrediting Kelly."

Critchley offers abundant evidence that during the questioning of witnesses there was "a paralegal or stenographer" in the room " 'feverishly' typing verbatim or near verbatim notes of everything that was said." And Gibson Dunn is denying that it has any such records, even though it would be work product, and Gibson Dunn was required by the state to retain all work product for seven years -- and to provide 60 day's notice before destroying any of it, and given the work that the firm had already done for the state it seems hardly credible that the people there didn't know.

The issue of the existence of the transcripts is underscored, Brian notes, by important challenges to what found its way into the "Mastro Report" by people who seem to be quoted in it but are on record as insisting they said no such thing. And without those transcripts, there's no way of answering a question that becomes increasingly pressing: "Did Gibson Dunn massage evidence to support a pre-determined conclusion that exonerates Christie?"

Brian explores at some length and in some depth all the angles on the existence or non-existence of the transcripts, and from each of them Gibson Dunn's performance looks at best suspect and at worst -- well, really, really bad. And he points out:
The hiring of Gibson Dunn by the Christie Administration was always problematic. One of the attorneys who worked on the Mastro Report, Debra Yang, was, like Christie, a fellow George W. Bush-appointed U.S. Attorney. She’d vacationed with the Christies and was called a “good and dear friend” by the governor in 2011. She also billed 118 hours in the first month Gibson Dunn was brought aboard to defend her friend.

If the judge agrees that the transcripts are material to Bridget Kelly’s defense, Gibson Dunn’s legal bills, interview memos, and their compliance with their state contract are all likely to become the target of scrutiny. And if it turns out that Gibson Dunn did indeed destroy documents, Critchley is asking the judge to convene a hearing so he can ask who at the firm did the shredding, when it took place, and who in the Christie administration gave their approval.

My bet is that we’re going to be hearing a lot about the Mastro Report again – a document that was supposed to distance the governor from the trials that will unfold this fall. That distance may soon become uncomfortably small.
And as Brian notes in an update, Michael Critchley's plea for those transcripts has been officially not-opposed by U.S. Attorney Fishman.

Now I don't really relish the Big Rat Bastard Gummer going down for the Bridgegate cover-up. He should go down, not just for Bridgegate but for whatever other illegal strong-arming he can be found to have done (see "5 Chris Christie scandals that are even bigger than #Bridgegate," below), and my guess is that a really thorough investigation should produce more than enough offenses to see him die in prison. But the important thing is that he be held somehow accountable for his Rat Bastardry. And how often have we heard that it's the cover-up that'll kill you?


Last month on The Daily Dot, Matt Rozsa reported on "5 Chris Christie scandals that are even bigger than #Bridgegate. You should read about them onsite. To encourage you to pull the trigger, here are the five:

1) Since becoming governor, reports indicate he has grossly abused his expense account
2) He has allegedly used Hurricane Sandy relief money for political purposes
3) He has purportedly misused billions in Port Authority funds for unrelated projects in New Jersey
4) He has privatized the state’s public pension system, enriching wealthy business interests at the expense of taxpayers and state workers
5) He has reportedly blocked reforms that would clean up New Jersey’s government
And these are just the things we have a glimmering about.

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At 3:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

IF Obama was a real Democrat and not a craven 1985 Reagan Republican (as he admitted to Univision in December 2012), and IF he had an Attorney General like Patrick Fitzgerald, who knew how to prosecute even if the perp was GOP, We'd be talking about Krispy's replacement as Gov by now. Instead, the NJ Rat Bastard gets a pass while the DC Rat Bastard pushes the Congress into surrendering the US to the TPP Tribunals and ending democracy in America.


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