You’d think politicians – especially Republicans – would have learned something from Richard Nixon and Watergate: the cover-up is worse than the crime. But it appears Gov. Chris Christie may not have learned that lesson.
All along, Gov. Christie’s been saying he didn’t know anything about 4-day traffic snarl, at first sarcastically dismissing any question of his involvement: “I worked the cones. Unbeknownst to anyone, I was working the cones.” But he also scoffed at the idea his staff was involved, which developments since then would appear to contradict. Particularly as they concern Bill Stepien, Christie’s campaign manager and former deputy chief of staff (who was replaced by Bridget Anne Kelly). New Jersey taxpayers are on the hook for $10 million in Bridgegate legal bills for an “investigation” that claims Christie is uninvolved, but that “investigation” has been heavily criticized as unprofessional and deliberately leaving information out.
Former Christie aide Christine Renna says Christie lied: We now know the substance of a text exchange between Christine Renna, who worked under Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Anne Kelly, and Peter Sheridan, who worked on Christie’s 2013 re-election. That conversation took place in real time as Christie gave a press conference on Dec. 13, 2013 and took questions about the lane closures on the George Washington Bridge. Wall Street Journal outlines the text convo:
RENNA: “Are you listening? He just flat out lied about senior staff and (former deputy chief of staff Bill) Stepien not being involved.” She added, “He lied. And if emails are found with the subpoena of (campaign) emails are uncovered in discovery if it come to that it could be bad.”
SHERIDAN: “I’m listening, Gov is doing fine. Holding his own up there.”
RENNA:“Yes. But he lied. And if emails are found with the subpoena or ccfg [Chris Christie for Governor] emails are uncovered in discovery if it comes to that it could be bad.”
Kelly and Baroni on trial: Both Bridget Anne Kelly and Bill Baroni, Christie’s highest-placed political appointment at the Port Authority, have been charged with nine counts of conspiracy, fraud and related charges. They are accused by David Wildstein, a lifelong friend of Christie’s and placed by him at the Port Authority in a high-paying job created for him without a job description. Wildstein, who is cooperating with prosecutors, alleges the plot was politically-motivated, and an attempt to punish Sokolich. Kelly and Baroni are scheduled for trial Sept. 12, which happens to fall during the 3rd anniversary of the 4-day Bridgegate traffic snarl and scandal. They have both pleaded not guilty.
As the traffic was backed up on the NJ side of the busiest bridge in the world, Mayor Sokolich texted Bill Baroni, then Deputy Exec. Dir. of the Port Authority (since resigned). When that news got to Wildstein – the founder of PolitickerNJ and its longtime secret-identity columnist “Wally Edge” – he texted to an unknown person that they were the “children of Buono voters.” Sen. Barbara Buono had been Christie’s Democratic opponent for governor.
We’re glad to have been on the right side of this mess all along, along with many others. Former senator Buono has now left New Jersey for a more promising state. Damn sorry she’s not our governor.