The Christie Scandal Metastasizes

First Read analyzes the latest:

Christie’s biggest political problem right now is that he’s fighting wars on two different fronts, both of which increasingly look like wars of attrition. The first war is the two-week-old George port-authoritahWashington Bridge scandal, and 18 new Christie aides and associates have been subpoenaed by New Jersey Democrats now investigating the matter. And, at the very least, it promises months of new email revelations, testimony, and storylines. (Since this is being led by the state Assembly, it also means it will likely grind Christie’s second-term agenda to a halt before it even begins.)

The second war is Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer’s allegation, first made on MSNBC over the weekend, that the Christie administration threatened to hold up the city’s Hurricane Sandy relief aid unless she supported a private development project. That matter is now being investigated by a federal prosecutor, and it also promises weeks and months of potential headaches for Team Christie. “What we’ve got now is a federal criminal investigation into the Christie administration’s administration of Sandy funds,” NBC’s Michael Isikoff reported yesterday. As history teaches us, a two-front war is never an enviable position for the person fighting it.

Ezra puts the scandal in context:

It would be easier to dismiss Zimmer if not for the bridge closure. And it would be easier to explain away the bridge closure if not for Zimmer. That’s the problem for Christie: These stories are beginning to build. Each new revelation makes the past scandals more believable — and more damaging. And each new story intensifies the media’s efforts to find more.

Benen notes that Team Christie is trying to shift the focus to the media:

There is a pretty standard tactic in Political Crisis Management 101: discredit those asking the questions. The strategy, however, is not without flaw. For example, Team Christie has not yet uncovered any factual errors in MSNBC reporting, which would presumably be the prerequisite to any complaints. When allegations of wrongdoing surface, this is not a sound defense: “The allegations are wrong because they’ve been reported by journalists we don’t like.” A better defense would be, “The allegations are wrong and here’s why.”

Jeff Smith, speaking from personal experience, discusses the possible federal prosecution of the Christie administration:

What these pundits forget—and, as Christie, a former U.S. attorney, knows as well as anyone—is the old saw that federal prosecutors can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich. They don’t need a bulletproof case. And once they have a target, they aren’t limited to investigating the matter that caught their attention; public corruption probes often widen as new information emerges. Federal prosecutors rarely have just one attack route. Remember, they brought down Al Capone for income tax evasion, not bribery, bootlegging, or murder. The Fort Lee incident may be merely a bridge, if you will, to other Christie administration misconduct.