If you’ve been around long enough, that’s a term you associate with the disgraced 37th president of the United States, whose innermost circle perpetrated and then covered-up a third-rate burglary, the break-in of DNC headquarters at the Watergate by five men in business suits. Before it was over, Richard Nixon’s men went to jail. And Nixon, in service of whom the politically-motivated vandalism was done, never went to jail. But he remained Watergate’s unindicted co-conspirator; the guy at the top whose henchmen paid the price. And as Nixon would tell you, if only he could, it’s the cover-up that gets you.
Today, a federal judge ordered U.S. prosecutors to release the names of unindicted accomplices in the shut down of access lanes on the George Washington Bridge that caused traffic chaos for 5 days – including the first day of school and the 9/11 Anniversary, with the busiest bridge in the world a potential terrorist target. The sabotage was in apparent retribution to Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, who refused to endorse Christie’s 2013 re-election, when other Democratic politicians had capitulated to Christie’s power. Today’s ruling came in the case of Gov. Chris Christie’s former Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Anne Kelly and Bill Baroni, once a NJ Republican state senator and the highest ranking Port Authority executive appointed by Christie. U.S. District Judge Susan Wigenton said the public had a right to know who else might be involved in the case – or in the cover-up.
So, does that mean that Bridgegate will track to Gov. Christie, the way Watergate tracked right smack up to President Nixon?
No, probably not. Almost certainly not. Assume that Republicans who want to sabotage their political enemies – as Nixon’s men did – nevertheless don’t want to get caught at it. And the world’s a different place; not a world of paper trails anymore, and text messages can be erased. And Republicans at the top, particularly if they’re former prosecutors, know how to insulate themselves. If, in fact, they were ever guil… oh never mind.
To date, only Baroni and Kelly have been ensnared, and those two only because David Wildstein – near-lifelong Christie friend, political appointee to Port Authority, and former editor at PolitickerNJ – named them. Unlucky for them. But it’s hard to imagine they’re the only ones in on it, given what we know of the absolute loyalty required to be admitted to Christie’s inner circle. But who else in that inner sanctum will be exposed? Five months ago, the names of those individuals – who have never been charged – was provided under seal to Baroni and Kelly’s defense attorneys but kept from the public by federal prosecutors.
Wigenton hinted that we already know these names, saying, “There is very little that is private about the lane closures or the lives of the people allegedly connected to them. Further, individuals thus far identified as being involved in the lane closings have been public employees and/or elected and appointed officials.” No timetable is set for those names to be released to the public. The case is called North Jersey Media Group v. U.S., 16-cv-267, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey (Newark). The request was filed by news organizations including the publishers and owners of publishers and owners of The Record, Bloomberg News, WNBC-TV, the New York Times, nj.com, the Wall Street Journal, the Associated Press, NJTV and New York Public Radio.
Anyone know who the illustrator of this featured image is? I’ve never been able to read the signature on it, the graphic is everywhere. and I’d like to give credit.