As noted in an earlier post yesterday that linked to a New York Times article, David Wildstein seemingly has decided not to fall on his sword to save Chris Christie's more than ample ass and is claiming to have evidence that Christie knew all about the George Washington Bridge government ordered traffic fiasco. Now, New Jersey's largest newspaper - which had endorsed Christie for re-election - is calling for his resignation or impeachment if Wildstein's allegations prove true. Here are excerpts from the Star-Ledger's main editorial:
Forget about the White House in 2016. The question now is whether Gov. Chris Christie can survive as governor.
David Wildstein, the man who ordered the George Washington Bridge lane closures, is now pointing the finger directly at Gov. Chris Christie, saying the governor knew about the lane closures in September when they occurred.
That directly contradicts Christie account at his Jan. 13 press conference when he made this statement: "I had no knowledge of this — of the planning, the execution or anything about it... I first found out about it after it was over."
If this charge proves true, then the governor must resign or be impeached. Because
that would leave him so drained of credibility that he could not possibly govern effectively. He would owe it to the people of New Jersey to stop the bleeding and quit. And if he should refuse, then the Legislature should open impeachment hearings.
By the governor's own standard, lying is a firing offense. Here's what he said about his deputy chief of staff, Bridget Kelley, at the same press conference: "There's no justification for ever lying to a governor or a person in authority in this government. As a result, I've terminated Bridget's employment."
One hopes that he would consider lying to the people of New Jersey as an offense of equal magnitude.
So for now, set aside the other scandals. Forget about the charge of extortion in Hoboken. Forget about the growing evidence showing that Christie used Sandy aid as a political slush fund, leaving the real victims short.
The lane closures in Fort Lee not only caused people to miss meetings, and lose out on business deals. It delayed ambulance responses in Fort Lee, and so put people's lives at risk. It was an abuse of government authority . . . .
Is Wildstein telling the truth? He faces a criminal investigation himself, so he has a powerful incentive to give prosecutors damning information they can use against a bigger fish. That would give him leverage to negotiate a plea deal. So it is too early to know.
But Wildstein says he has documents that prove the governor was lying at his famous two-hour press conference, when Christie blamed the event on the "stupid" actions of his own staff. And certainly, Wildstein was in a position to know the roots of this conspiracy.
Wildstein's staement means that others who have been implicated in this scandal will probably come forward now as well, hoping to strike deals with prosecutors before their testimony becomes redundant. And all this will happen as the administration answers dozens of subpoenas, and grapples with both criminal and legislative investigations.
When you layer on top of this the criminal investigation in Hoboken, and a separate investigation of Sandy spending by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, it becomes difficult to see how Christie can function. It should be clear even to him now that he should step down as head of the Republican Governors Association.