When Did Christie Know?

Barro has a hard time believing that Christie was completely in the dark until yesterday:

Here’s what I don’t buy. Let’s stipulate that this hare-brained scheme was hatched by Christie’s staff and appointees without his knowledge. Therefore, he didn’t know about the lane closures or their motivations before Sept. 13, when Port Authority Executive Director Patrick Foye (a New York appointee) started complaining about them. There have been 117 intervening days, during which Christie accepted the resignations of two of his Port Authority appointees who are caught up in this scandal. I assume he and his top staff have had a lot of conversations during that time, trying to figure out exactly what happened in Fort Lee. Did his people really manage to keep him in the dark for that entire time such that he’s shocked today? If so, what does that say about his skills as a personnel manager?

After watching Christie’s presser, Barro asks four questions. Among them:

The governor says Kelly lied to him and said she had no involvement in the bridge lane closures. But Kelly wasn’t the only person who knew Kelly was involved. In August, she emailed David Wildstein, Port Authority Director of Interstate Capital Projects: “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.” Wouldn’t Wildstein have told the governor, in the process of tendering his resignation, that Kelly had told him to do it? Bill Baroni, Christie’s top appointee at the Port Authority, was also checking in with Wildstein about whether “Trenton” was happy with the handling of the closures. Why didn’t Baroni tell the governor his staff had known?

Josh Marshall points out that many Christie loyalists must have been involved:

Clearly, a lot of different people in Christieland were in on this, at least in the sense of knowing it was going on, if not taking a direct role themselves. And the tone is pretty much universally one of joking about it or enjoying it rather than in any sense seeing it as a major inconvenience they were trying to rectify. … The emails do not suggest a bad apple each at Port Authority and the Governor’s office up to no good. This is a range of Christie staffers and appointees sitting back observing and chuckling as a big multi-day traffic snarl unfolds.

If Christie didn’t know about this there must have been a concerted effort on the top of his top people to keep him in the dark.

Tomasky sees three possibilities:

1. He’s telling the whole and complete truth in yesterday’s statement, that this was the first he’d known that the lane closings were political;

2. He was in on it from the start and helped mastermind it or at least winkingly approved it;

3. The middle position, which is that he didn’t have prior knowledge but he learned it was political some time ago—not long after it happened, say—and is now lying about having just learned.

If it’s two or three, I’d say you can forget not only his presidential ambitions. He’ll have to resign the governorship. Right? Hard to see any way around it. To have lied to your people for months about something like this, if that’s what he did, is a pretty good definition of being unfit for office.

Allahpundit is on the same page:

[A]t this point, given his emphatic denials that he had anything to do with the lane closings, what’s the alternative to resigning if a smoking gun emerges proving that he did? He’s not going to stand at the podium, cop to having lied baldfaced to the world about his role in punishing the public in order to retaliate against a political enemy, and then say, “Oh well, see you tomorrow.” His whole shtick is that he’s a straight talker who tells the truths that more polished politicians are too afraid to tell. He can’t admit to having lied to protect himself and then go back to business as usual. So what’s the alternative to resignation if he gets caught red-handed? Which, I guess, is another way of saying that the odds of him getting caught red-handed are verrry low or else his denials wouldn’t be so emphatic.