UPDATE 6:30pm: APP reporting Wildstein did not get the immunity he was seeking, but the idea he would plead guilty before charges are brought against anyone else raises the possibility he is cooperating.
UPDATE 5:13pm: Now hearing via Bloomberg legal reporter David Voreacos and his college Elise Young, that Wildstein’s plea is now rescheduled to Friday.
David Wildstein is going to plead guilty tomorrow, we hear. Of all the people involved in the Bridgegate scandal, he probably knows the most, and has the longest loyalty to Gov. Christie – who threw him under the bus. And he almost certainly has stories to tell. Bloomberg is reporting Wildstein will go to federal court in Newark tomorrow, and plead guilty, unclear to what charges. Wildstein said last year that Christie knew about the GWB lane closures while they were going on, that he informed Christie himself. The “order” to shut the lanes, which has been discussed as the “Time for some traffic problems” email, came from Christie’s inner office, from Deputy COS Bridget Kelly. Christie has distanced himself from both Wildstein and Kelly, and denies any wrongdoing. New Jersey taxpayers have spent a fortune on the self-exonerating Mastro Report, which jumped to that conclusion. But this may now be the floodgates, and the indictments, how high will they go?
Christie’s effort to skate away from Wildstein? Epic. A full take-down. Implied that he – as an athlete and class president – was above Wildstein’s lowly circle. Played him as a loser as a nerd. When the chips are down, Christie doesn’t return loyalty, even to somebody who’d been lapping at his ankles for decades. Christie claimed he barely knew Wildstein; now we know that was a lie.
David Wildstein spent years as the pseudonymous “Wally Edge,” founder of PolitickerNJ, and author of the insidery column named after a former governor of NJ. During that time, it appears he accepted plenty of leaks from U.S. Atty Chris Christie’s office, an office which isn’t supposed to be about political gamesmanship, but was under Christie. Wildstein never disclosed he was a lifelong friend of the now-Governor, and his identity came out only after Christie gave him a plum job, created just for him, high-paying and without an official description. He resigned that job in disgrace. The position no longer exists.
What Wildstein A/K/A “Wally Edge” was about in that job, was being Christie’s “eyes and ears inside Port Authority”. It isn’t too far a stretch to read that as “personal henchman at the Port Authority”. And that appears to include using the immense power of the PA to create mischief trading political payback on Christie’s behalf over the safety of motorists on the busiest bridge in the world. “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.”
The sweating. And the vodka: There’s going to be a lot of very nervous, formerly high-placed Republicans tonight, chattering their teeth and hitting the vodka hard while they wait to see what Wildstein has to say, and maybe who he implicates. This will be U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman’s first conviction in this series of interconnected scandals which all revolve around Gov. Chris Christie. His political future – and perhaps even more – hangs in the balance. And this time, the guy who did some of Christie’s worst, sleaziest bidding, who used his website to help create the Christie myth may be in the power spot. The loyal nerd, who Christie stomped all over. He may know everything and he may be in a mood to tell it.