The Christie Scandal Isn’t Over


First Read says that “it’s looking like only the end of the beginning”

The Bergen Record reports that New Jersey Democrats plan to issue a new round of subpoenas as soon as today. “Assemblyman John Wisniewski said he plans to issue subpoenas demanding documents from the governor’s former deputy chief of staff Bridget Anne Kelly and spokesman Michael Drewniak, along with other aides whose names surfaced last week in documents related to the lane closures in early September.” Wisniewski even dropped the “I”-word — impeachment. “The Assembly has the ability to do articles of impeachment” if necessary, said Wisniewski, who added, “We’re way ahead of that, though.” (Still, mentioning the I-word only ratchets things up.)

Corn and Kroll highlight texts that may refer to other Christie officials:

Christie asserts that Kelly was the only member of his political team in on the bridge caper. But if others were aware of Baroni’s stonewalling, the governor has a problem—especially if that includes McKenna, whom Christie has used to probe the bridge scandal. At the least, it might be ill-advised for the governor to have a fellow who apparently praised Baroni’s bogus testimony in charge of penetrating the cover-up.

Then there’s the feds’ new investigation into alleged misuse of Hurricane Sandy funds for a p.r. campaign. And the NYT has uncovered more rather brutal politicking with Steven Fulop, the mayor of Jersey City – another local figure abruptly punished and cut off from Christie because he wouldn’t add another endorsement to the governor’s landslide re-election prospects. Andrew McCarthy’s view:

Do I believe Chris Christie instructed his people to retaliate against Sokolich, Fulop, and perhaps other specific Democrats? Highly unlikely. Do I believe Christie directed his trusted aides — officials who’d been with him a long time and had a good idea of the limits of their authority — to line up as many supportive Democrats as possible and not bother him with a lot of details about how they went about it? Well now . . .

Before the NYT story on Fulop went up, Cillizza wondered if more examples of political retribution would surface:

Democrats have long argued that Christie is a political bully masquerading as a straight talker (Buono said Christie runs a “paramilitary organization” on MSNBC Thursday) and that there are many more episodes of political intimidation out there.  Are there? We all know about Christie’s famous/infamous confrontations with reporters and teachers but will something new come to light that shows the sort of tactics on display in bridge-gate were closer to standard operating procedure than the exception to the rule? Every media organization in the country is currently looking into past decisions made by the Christie Administration to answer that question.

Maggie Haberman raises further questions:

Will Christie be subpoenaed?

Officials on the legislative committee that subpoenaed documents from former Port Authority appointee Wildstein have not ruled out the possibility that they will subpoena the governor himself to testify.

Christie was adamant that he knew nothing about the issue, pinning the blame entirely on rogue staffers. There’s been nothing released so far to contradict that.

But if the governor is forced to testify, it will be a spectacle. He could deliver a strong performance that strengthens his case that he knew nothing about the mess. But it will also draw maximum attention to the scandal, and it’s never a good look for a sitting elected official to be compelled to swear they’re telling the truth and nothing but the truth.

Hertzberg thinks Christie “has probably lost his chance to be the Republican Presidential nominee in 2016”:

With so much more Bridgegate baggage still to be delivered, the load is just too heavy. I expect that the Republicans, once the Rand Paul-Ted Cruz Punch-and-Judy show exhausts itself, will go with some intermittently rational-sounding intercoastal governor. Tea Party or no Tea Party, they usually end up picking one of their most electable—anyhow, least unelectable—candidates. That might’ve been Christie. It isn’t anymore.

Update from a reader:

When I saw the headline about the new investigation, the Sandy funds used for commercials, I initially thought, ok, doesn’t sound so terrible. But then when you read deeper, the investigation isn’t about using Sandy funds for advertising the state to tourists; it is that Christie’s people rejected another, lower bidder because the one they chose had planned an advertising campaign featuring Christie and his family and not so much New Jersey as the other proposal did – the allegation being essentially that they were using the funds for campaign ads. However, if you look at this man’s approach to everything, it is likely that featuring him in ads was not campaign related specifically, but because the man is such a narcissist he and his people probably felt featuring him was the best way to sell the state. Look at the keynote RNC speech where he spent 90% of the time talking about himself; the press conference last week, which was all about Chris Christie and his feelings, and oh, the bridge thing. All politicians are narcissists, but Christie takes it to a new level; it is fascinating, he is the Beyoncé of politicians.

Well there’s a mental image.