Gov. Christie has again declared a State of Emergency and authorized the closing of state offices today. Following the snowfall, sleet and freezing rain are in the forecast which could lead to power outages in some areas.
Does Christie listen to his lawyers or is he just doing it his way? Christie has made confusing, seemingly contradictory statements about what and when he knew information about Bridgegate. Christie’s most recent statement on 101.5 Monday night was:
Well, the decision was not made at the Port Authority, but in Trenton. Does Christie know when the decision was actually made to close the lanes? If he did know, wouldn’t he be aware of who made the decision and likely why the lanes were closed? Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Kelly’s e-mail (“Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.”) to David Wildstein was on August 13, 2013. It seems unlikely in the Christie Executive Office that she made the decision by herself. Wildstein’s response to a vague e-mail was “Got it,” which suggests there had been discussion before August 13 probably among various parties so he understood what he had to do. Thus it would seem that someone higher up the chain had made the decision earlier, transmitted it to Bridget Kelly, who then e-mailed it on to David Wildstein.
So if Christie knew nothing before “this decision was made,” and let’s say it was made on or around August 12, then any day thereafter, (which could be many days before the lanes were first closed on September 9), he did know something. Even if one accepts the notion that the decision was made at the Port Authority it could have been made as early as August 13 by Wildstein consulting with Wildstein and deciding to do it. There is no evidence of the Executive Director making any such decision. Either way what Christie is saying is that he might have had knowledge as early as mid-August.
What Christie knew and when he knew it impacts whether he deliberately engaged in a cover up. For example, in early December Gov. Chris Christie called New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to complain about a Cuomo appointee’s handling of a growing controversy over traffic pattern changes on the George Washington Bridge. Was this an innocent call or part of a coverup because of knowledge Christie already held?
Colin Reed, who seems to have replaced Michael Drewniak as Christie’s press spokesman, issued a statement on Friday: “As the Governor said in a December 13th press conference, he only first learned lanes were closed when it was reported by the press, and as he said in his January 9th press conference, he had no indication that this was anything other than a traffic study until he read otherwise the morning of January 8th.”
Christie’s Monday statement does not jibe with previous ones and creates confusion, but it is his most recent one so it is where he positions himself now. An awkward position. He acts like someone caught in quick sand, flailing around with new statements while he sinks ever deeper.
Christie has lawyers and access to management consultants. The first step for his lawyer would be to understand what and when Christie knew certain facts and to create a single, consistent statement upon which he could stand going forward. He would be advised to stick to the statement and not to continuously amend it. Maybe he did not have a lawyer who insisted on a consistent statement, but that would be surprising. Maybe he is inching toward the truth, but re-arranging his story periodically only reduces his credibility. Maybe he has the hutzpah to think that because he is a lawyer and an all-mighty governor he can do it his way. And that is generally a huge mistake in criminal matters.
Sen. Cory Booker and Sen. Bob Menendez: Yesterday Sen. Booker voted NO on the Federal Agriculture Bill which calls for substantial cuts in food stamps. Such will hurt many New Jerseyans while continuing to subsidize large agribusinesses and farmers who don’t plant their land. Booker was joined by conservatives like Ted Cruz and progressives like Elizabeth Warren. Sen. Menendez voted YES on the bill. The bill passed 68 to 32. Also Sen. Booker has made his maiden speech before the Senate urging an extension of unemployment insurance.
Gov. Christie has scheduled an RGA fundraiser in Dallas and Fort Worth tomorrow. If he was planning to fly out tonight will planes be taking off? Would he leave in the midst of a State Emergency? Will he leave in the morning? If he cancels the trip will the donors miss him?