Thursday, January 09, 2014

Will the Feds Investigate Chris Christie?

As the day has gone by the circus surrounding Chris Christie and "bridgegate" as some have coined it  seems to keep growing.  One of Christie's aids has taken the 5th Amendment and now their is talk of a federal investigation.  If Christie is shown to have been involved, along with Virginia's Bob McDonnell's "giftgate" demise, it may become a case study on how to destroy one's political future.  Here are highlights from the New York Times:

In a remarkable day of swirling political drama, Gov. Chris Christie tried on Thursday to control the damage from revelations that his administration ordered the revenge-closings of traffic lanes at the George Washington Bridge by firing a top aide, cutting ties with a longtime political adviser and repeatedly apologizing in a nearly two-hour news conference. 

Sounding somber and appearing contrite, the normally garrulous Mr. Christie said he had had no advance knowledge of the lane closings and had been “humiliated” by the entire episode.

Mr. Christie’s emotional news conference unfolded as the United States attorney began an investigation and as — just down the hall — a former associate who was involved in the lane closings refused to answer questions posed by Democrats investigating the matter, saying that he would tell his story only under immunity from prosecution. 

The Democrats promised to release more documents on Friday morning and issue more subpoenas of Christie aides. And the national news media that has so far bathed Mr. Christie in a distant, generally positive light descended on his doorstep here with a phalanx of television cameras and harsh speculation about whether the scandal would hurt his aspirations to be the Republican nominee for president in 2016.

Mr. Christie fired Bridget Anne Kelly, the deputy chief of staff who sent an email approving the lane closings, whom he called “stupid” and “deceitful.” Her deception, he said, led him to mislead the public, but he did so unwittingly. 

He also asked his two-time campaign manager, Bill Stepien, to step down as a consultant to the Republican Governors Association and to withdraw his name from consideration to lead the state Republican Party.

Democrats argued that the increasing number of resignations and dismissals — two other aides resigned in December — and the names of the governor’s staff members on the emails made it hard to believe that the pettiness was, as the governor argued, “the exception and not the rule” of his administration.

“I find it hard to believe that Bridget Kelly on her own came up with the idea to divert traffic lanes in Fort Lee,” said Assemblyman John Wisniewski, a Democrat who has been leading the investigation.

“You have an administration that is very hands-on,” he said. “It strains credibility to say that somebody in as high a position as a deputy chief of staff, somebody in as high a position as the governor’s principal spokesperson, somebody in as high a position as his campaign manager, all of whose names are in these emails, didn’t ever communicate this to the governor.”

The United States attorney for New Jersey, Paul J. Fishman, opened an inquiry after the matter was referred to his office by the inspector general for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Some legal experts, however, said it was difficult to imagine how the scandal could yield criminal charges.

The fallout from the release of the emails, which are as brazen as they are blunt, reverberated nationally, threatening to undermine Mr. Christie’s carefully cultivated image.

The controversy is unlikely to abate anytime soon, with New Jersey Democrats vowing to subpoena everyone mentioned in the emails. The State Assembly on Friday will release an additional 900 pages of documents turned over by David Wildstein, a high school friend of Mr. Christie’s who worked at the Port Authority, which could continue to produce more embarrassing revelations.

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