The lawyer of former Port Authority official David Wildstein says that there is evidence that NJ Governor Chris Christie knew
about that now-notorious bridge closing as it happened. We do not know the nature of this evidence, nor do we know who has it.
But it is clearly meant as a threat to the governor. Indeed, the allegations make up just one 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.
One can learn more by reading the actual letter, which is here
. It's hard to imagine how a public official (and former close friend to Christie) could level such a threat against the governor unless there were something real
in back of it all.
This much is certain: Unless the Wildstein message can be explained away in a quick and convincing fashion, Christie's presidential ambitions are over
Wildstein, of course, is no kind of hero. He admits that he was willing to hide evidence of wrongdoing in exchange for coin.
We still have questions to ponder:
1. What was the true motive for the lane closing? Was Christie miffed because he did not get an endorsement? Or does Kornacki's theory hold water?
2. Did Christie bring about his own ruination, or was he attacked by an external force?
I would note that Jeb Bush is making noises about entering the 2016 race. Jeb appeals to the same sector of the GOP that Christie calls home -- that is to say, the non
-Tea Party sector. It has been said that Chris Christie's removal would open a path for Jeb.
Some Republicans are decrying a "librul" conspiracy against Christie. Possible. But where's the evidence?
Incidentally, we now have further data concerning the Dawn Zimmer allegations. See this HuffPo piece
. Also see this piece
on NJ.com, in which we learn that the director of a local housing authority is accusing Zimmer of corruption. Zimmer counters that these charges were trumped up by pro-Christie forces after she leveled her own claims against Christie.
Frankly, I've been a tad suspicious of Zimmer all along. True, she makes a good impression in interviews. But I can't help feeling that there is something more to the story she tells.
Christie's chances of becoming president may soon be as non-existent as those of John Edwards. Isn't it nice, though, that people are finally paying attention to non
-sexual scandals? Progress!
(website of the Star Ledger) has published an editorial calling for Christie to resign if Wildstein's accusation is true.
Forget about the White House in 2016. 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.
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.
Is Wildstein telling the truth? He faces a criminal investigation himself, so he has a powerful incentive to give prosecutors damning information they can use against a bigger fish. That would give him leverage to negotiate a plea deal. So it is too early to know.
But Wildstein says he has documents that prove the governor was lying at his famous two-hour press conference, when Christie blamed the event on the "stupid" actions of his own staff. And certainly, Wildstein was in a position to know the roots of this conspiracy. A Christie acquaintance since high school, he was appointed to a senior position at the Port Authority, despite having no expertise in transit issues. He was the governor's eyes and ears at the authority.
also thinks that this imbroglio will force a Christie resignation. At least one (very unscientific) poll
suggests that impeachment is likely.
There's one important point I should have noted in the first version of this post. Christie, in his response to Wildstein's claim, now claims that he did not have "prior knowledge of the lane closures before they happened." The wording suggests that he may have known as
they happened. (Technically, Christie's new statement could be taken as a simple admission that he lacks any ESP ability.)
My God. This is both sad and extraordinary. Not long ago, Christie ran ahead of Hillary Clinton in some polls. Right now, I doubt that he can rectify the situation. Even if Wildstein were to get the money he requests for attorneys' fees -- well, obviously, the pay-off itself would be damning.
I wonder: How many hours (or minutes) will pass before we hear a Republican pundit shout "BENGHAZI!"?