"Time For Some Traffic Problems In Fort Lee"
January 8, 2014 9:00 AM   Subscribe

Email Links Top Christie Aide to GW Bridge Scandal. The week of September 9, 2013, traffic was bad on the approach to the George Washington Bridge -- the busiest bridge in the world. Cars were backed up into the streets of Fort Lee, NJ, gridlocking the entire city on the first week of school. The reason? Two tollboths leading to the GWB were closed by the Port Authority of NY and NY. The PA claimed it was for a traffic study, except that the head of the Port Authority, Pat Foye, appointed by New York Governor Cuomo, was not told about the closure, and neither was anyone else.

The closure was ordered by NJ Governor Chris Christie's high school pal David Wildstein. He claims it was for a traffic study, but that claim never held much water. There has been much speculation that it was done to punish Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich for not endorsing Christie in his reelection campaign. In spite of repeated denials by Christie, the email messages released today appear to confirm it.
posted by 1970s Antihero (780 comments total) 57 users marked this as a favorite

 
My favorite lines:

“I feel badly about the kids,” the person replied to Wildstein. “I guess.”

“They are the children of Buono voters,” Wildstein wrote, making a reference to Barbara Buono, the Democratic candidate for governor, who lost to Christie in a landslide in November.


Looks like the GOP's gonna need to find a new candidate for 2016.
posted by Asparagus at 9:05 AM on January 8 [4 favorites]


Wow, that's amazingly fucked up. Like banality-of-evil fucked up.

But. Is there concrete evidence that Christie knew about this? Not suggesting that he didn't, but if there's no evidence then I'm not sure how much this hurts him personally. He'll just fire his aides and say he's astonished and dismayed or whatever.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:06 AM on January 8 [7 favorites]


It's almost as if when conservatives aren't being crybabies, they are being children.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:07 AM on January 8 [57 favorites]


If only there were some form of communication more ephemeral than the written word.
posted by infinitewindow at 9:08 AM on January 8 [14 favorites]


They should have used Snapchat; that would have kept them safe. Plus, it's the favorite venue for children behaving badly....
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:09 AM on January 8 [19 favorites]


But. Is there concrete evidence that Christie knew about this?

Not sure it matters- either way his people are on record as being willing to screw the public to make a political point.
posted by Mooski at 9:10 AM on January 8 [2 favorites]


And as a reminder that bad traffic can be more than just a major hassle (from the 2nd link):

On Monday while all this was going on, we had to contend with a missing 4-year-old, a cardiac arrest requiring an ambulance and a car running up against a building," he said. "What would happen if there was a very serious accident?
posted by Asparagus at 9:10 AM on January 8 [3 favorites]


"Will no one rid me of this turbulent mayor?"
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:11 AM on January 8 [33 favorites]


Not sure it matters- either way his people are on record as being willing to screw the public to make a political point.

That might cause him some short-term problems as Governor, but it doesn't necessarily serious hamper him in the longer term or as a Presidential candidate. "I'm very disappointed that my staff engaged in such reprehensible activities, and I've apologized to the people who were harmed, and the staff in question are no longer with my team. Now, let's talk about how Mrs Clinton's socialist death panels are going to destroy America..."
posted by Tomorrowful at 9:13 AM on January 8 [17 favorites]


Nice town you got there, shame if something were to happen to it, knowaddimean?

You know there is going to be much more than this. Tbe phrasing is too business-as-usual for it not to be what anyone knows is plenty more business as usual.
posted by spitbull at 9:18 AM on January 8


Is there concrete evidence that Christie knew about this?

Doesn't matter. It was done by his people on his behalf. Letting him use the old "oh, but I'm just the boss -- I have no idea what my grunts are up to" is too easy of an out. Besides, one of the most important jobs of a governor (or President) is being able to hire capable people.

This is petty and despicable. And should be treated as a major insight into the true character of the man and his administration.
posted by chasing at 9:20 AM on January 8 [18 favorites]


How many other acts of 'sabotage' ordered by these aides were previously ordered and went unattributed?
posted by PenDevil at 9:21 AM on January 8 [2 favorites]


That might cause him some short-term problems as Governor, but it doesn't necessarily serious hamper him in the longer term or as a Presidential candidate. "I'm very disappointed that my staff engaged in such reprehensible activities, and I've apologized to the people who were harmed, and the staff in question are no longer with my team. Now, let's talk about how Mrs Clinton's socialist death panels are going to destroy America..."

And when's the last time you heard Christie sound like this?

IMO the problem isn't whether or not he's directly connected to it (although if he is, that's a BFD), it's how a man who has such a self-control problem that he'll flip out on camera at a schoolteacher will deal with pointed questions.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:21 AM on January 8 [2 favorites]


You know there is going to be much more than this.

Absolutely. Now there's blood in the water and journalists are going to keep digging. And I can guarantee there's one e-mail they won't find:

"Hey, everyone. I know we've been been the kind of people who put the well-being of the citizens of our state first in all cases, even when it harms us politically. But -- just this once -- let's fuck the good people of Fort Lee because their mayor failed to endorse our guy. Just this once. And then never do anything like this again."
posted by chasing at 9:24 AM on January 8 [34 favorites]


Lord knows, being hateful, stupid, incompetent or evil are no longer impediments to getting or keeping a political office. In fact, they all probably help.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 9:24 AM on January 8 [7 favorites]


This is just silly. Everybody knows that "the buck stops here" only applies to presidents, not governors.
posted by monospace at 9:24 AM on January 8


Doesn't matter. It was done by his people on his behalf. Letting him use the old "oh, but I'm just the boss -- I have no idea what my grunts are up to" is too easy of an out. Besides, one of the most important jobs of a governor (or President) is being able to hire capable people.

I think you'll find that the Republican primary rewards, rather than discourages, petty shit like this. In a sane world this would hurt him, but we don't seem to be living in one.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:25 AM on January 8 [11 favorites]


Jonathan Chait basically says what I'm saying here:

Chris Christie 2016: A Bridge to Nowhere
Several things come together to make this scandal especially devastating to Christie. One is that it’s very easy for voters to understand: He punished a town because its mayor endorsed his rival. There are no complex financial transfers or legal maneuverings to parse. Second, it fits into a broader pattern of behavior, documented by the New York Times, of taking retribution against politicians who cross him in any way. There is, in all likelihood, much more. Mark Halperin and my colleague John Heilemann reported in their book about the 2012 campaign that Mitt Romney wanted to put Christie on his ticket, but his staff was “stunned by the garish controversies lurking in the shadows of his record”:
There was a 2010 Department of Justice inspector general’s investigation of Christie’s spending patterns in his job prior to the governorship, which criticized him for being “the U.S. attorney who most often exceeded the government [travel expense] rate without adequate justification” and for offering “insufficient, inaccurate, or no justification” for stays at swank hotels like the Four Seasons. There was the fact that Christie worked as a lobbyist on behalf of the Securities Industry Association at a time when Bernie Madoff was a senior SIA official — and sought an exemption from New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act. There was Christie’s decision to steer hefty government contracts to donors and political allies like former Attorney General John Ashcroft, which sparked a congressional hearing. There was a defamation lawsuit brought against Christie arising out of his successful 1994 run to oust an incumbent in a local Garden State race. Then there was Todd Christie, the Governor’s brother, who in 2008 agreed to a settlement of civil charges by the Securities and Exchange Commission in which he acknowledged making “hundreds of trades in which customers had been systematically overcharged.
The investigations also “raised questions for the vetters about Christie’s relationship with a top female deputy who accompanied him on many of the trips.”

The swirl of potential and already-proven scandals would be enough to sink an ordinary candidate. But Christie, as I’ve argued before, is not an ordinary candidate. He’s an unusually vulnerable one, especially in a Republican primary. He suffers from a mix of ideological and regional vulnerabilities. Christie’s ideological heterodoxies include, but are not limited to, his decision to accept the Medicaid expansion in Obamacare and his fierce advocacy of gun control, either of which could be disqualifying in a contested Republican primary. What’s more, his brash Northeastern personality may play well among conservatives when he’s abusing Democrats, but probably won’t if and when he’s abusing fellow Republicans. A Republican painting Christie as a philosophical and cultural alien would have a very, very easy case to make.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:26 AM on January 8 [47 favorites]


I think you'll find that the Republican primary rewards, rather than discourages, petty shit like this.

Yeah, but I think a large part of Christie's brand is being a Republican who doesn't take part in the usual Republican douchebaggery. So it could hurt him in that the rabid right-wing already considers him too much of an Obama sympathizer and everyone else starts to view him as a corrupt, corpulent New Jersey stereotype.
posted by chasing at 9:28 AM on January 8 [10 favorites]


Too moderate for Iowa, too crooked for New Hampshire.
posted by box at 9:29 AM on January 8 [25 favorites]


This is exactly why Mitt Romney had all the email from his entire administration in Massachusetts expurged from the state IT infrastructure and destroyed.
posted by briank at 9:31 AM on January 8 [37 favorites]


But. Is there concrete evidence that Christie knew about this? Not suggesting that he didn't, but if there's no evidence then I'm not sure how much this hurts him personally. He'll just fire his aides and say he's astonished and dismayed or whatever.

Except it was a criminal act. So if people don't want to go to jail, they'll talk. Where do you think E-mails from personal accounts come from? From the fired employee's lawyers, of course. This is real, serious trouble.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:34 AM on January 8 [15 favorites]


TPM had a good article suggesting that
[Christie]'s managing so far to play into the hands of his political opponents and all national Democrats in the way he's handling the story. In fact, he's doing so so completely that I suspect he's in a situation in which he's simply not characterologically capable of behaving otherwise.
And I personally find this so delicious that I'm sure it's very fattening and bad for my liver, but I just can't refuse yet another slice.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:35 AM on January 8 [11 favorites]


I'm not convinced one way or the other as to how much this would affect him in a general for the presidency, but I actually think it would help him in a primary. The Republican base's main bone of contention with Christie is that he's not really one of them. This should convince them that he is.
posted by Flunkie at 9:37 AM on January 8


Were emergency vehicles delayed? Was anyone waiting for an ambulance, fire truck or police officer?
posted by R. Mutt at 9:37 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


For those of you who don't know what sitting in GWB traffic is like, it's more or less like this:

There are cars on the highway and they are standing still.
You may try to get off, but there are cars on every road you can see. Staying still.
Every single road you can see. And the ones you can't see.
And the ones you can imagine - there are cars on it.
Cars cover the world.
They do not move.
They get in your soul.
You are very stuck.
This lasts for hours.
posted by entropone at 9:41 AM on January 8 [90 favorites]


Anyone who thinks "bad traffic" is all this is about is highly, highly confused. You fuck with a giant vital system like this? I swear, people better be jailed over this.
posted by odinsdream at 9:42 AM on January 8 [13 favorites]


"characterologically"?
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 9:43 AM on January 8 [9 favorites]


Good lord, Christie's fucked. I'm honestly surprised at the liberals I know who are saying Christie will weather this one. He won't. I'm sure he can power through a full second term with enough subordinate resignations but he has ended his 2016 run with this.

There's a major corralary to the "Republicans love whoever pisses off liberals" rule- you also have to be liked. The difference between Sarah Palin being an asshole and Christie being an asshole is that Palin was the prom queen head cheerleader mean girl of your high school picking on other kids whereas Christie's just the obnoxious bully who's pretty stupid and has poor social skills but just happens to be a lot tougher and bigger than you so he can push folks around.

No one liked Chris Christie. Except the media, because he was the magical invented moderation-unicorn they're obsessed with but he's not a social conservative and dared to acknolwedge that in times of crisis a strong Federal government is necessary. The base of the GOP already hates him and never wanted him to be their candidate to begin with. This is just fuel for them.

He has no friends to help him and especially with the quotes Asparagus pointed out, what his cronies did really is just indefensible. This was the absolute definition of abuse of power right-wingers have been screaming about perceiving in Obama for six years now. This is all, of course, before even getting into the idea that the lane closures could very well have hindered fire trucks and ambulances and possible killed people, which in a sensible world would have us seeing people in prison. And the NJ legislature is in Democratic control, which means investigations have pretty much just started on this now.

The hugest, hugest difference as well is that there's no sane voter base with Republicans anymore. Not after the Romney loss. The state of denial is too great- in previous cycles Christie could use poll numbers and slide by on the notion that "he's the only one who can beat Hillary." The base doesn't care any more, because they refuse to believe that. They honestly think Ted Cruz could be elected president, so they are going to relish the chance to see Christie knocked out of the race.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:44 AM on January 8 [25 favorites]


This is exactly why Mitt Romney had all the email from his entire administration in Massachusetts expurged from the state IT infrastructure and destroyed.

Yet the officials are communicating gmail to yahoomail.

So if they had used their official emails like they are supposed to for state business then this wouldn't have come out?
posted by Rumple at 9:44 AM on January 8


Too moderate for Iowa, too crooked for New Hampshire. Too moderate for Republicans in Iowa. Big difference.
posted by cellphone at 9:45 AM on January 8 [6 favorites]


Sam: "[Ritchie] said this is how ordinary Americans got their entertainment."
Toby: "I've been to 441 baseball games at Yankee stadium; there's not a single person there who's ordinary."
Sam: "Heh I know."
Toby: "...you making fun of the Yankees?"
Sam: "No."
Toby: "They went to the Yankee game..."
Sam: "He's coming at intermission."
Toby: "Well, I'm not sure that suits me. Making an entrance after the President. [with lots of head bobbing and gesturing and crazy eyes] That's just not how we play bridge, it's not how we say cricket."
Sam: "Okay but you're starting to freak me out a little bit."
Toby: "Talk to me."
Sam: "There was an incumbent President who was facing a primary challenge, and on the day of the primary, his staff sent his motorcade into a district that was heavily favored by his opponent in order to tie up traffic. Now I would like to make it plain that I would never do anything to tamper with an election..."
Toby: [patting his cheek and squeezing his face] "I, am so, proud of you."
Sam: "You're really very much freaking me out."
-The West Wing, "Posse Comitatus"
posted by Navelgazer at 9:47 AM on January 8 [10 favorites]


Nah, Republicans like bullies just fine. What they don't like is people who claim that Muslims are human, and various things like that which Christie does.
posted by Flunkie at 9:47 AM on January 8 [2 favorites]


The Republican base's main bone of contention with Christie is that he's not really one of them. This should convince them that he is.

FOX is already spinning up for how this makes him such a capable, commanding GOP Daddy figure. The Village media are sure to follow.

This was the absolute definition of abuse of power right-wingers have been screaming about perceiving in Obama for six years now.

Maybe, but the only problem they've had with Obama's "abuses" is that they're of the 'socialist' variety. When Bush was abusing his power to lie the country into a war or three, the Right loved him for it. Abuse of power is all relative to them, depending on whether the goal of the abuse is to provide healthcare and raise taxes to balance the budget, or punish liberals/kill brown people.
posted by T.D. Strange at 9:48 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


From the NJ Criminal Statutes:
2C:27-3. Threats and other improper influence in official and political matters
a. Offenses defined. A person commits an offense if he directly or indirectly:

(1) Threatens unlawful harm to any person with purpose to influence a decision, opinion, recommendation, vote or exercise of discretion of a public servant, party official or voter on any public issue or in any public election; or

(2) Threatens harm to any public servant with purpose to influence a decision, opinion, recommendation, vote or exercise of discretion in a judicial or administrative proceeding; or

(3) Threatens harm to any public servant or party official with purpose to influence him to violate his official duty.

It is no defense to prosecution under this section that a person whom the actor sought to influence was not qualified to act in the desired way, whether because he had not yet assumed office or lacked jurisdiction, or for any other reason.

b. Grading. An offense under this section is a crime of the third degree.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:49 AM on January 8 [3 favorites]


Yeah, by Republican definitions this isn't a scandal. A scandal is thanking the President for federal disaster relief funding.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:50 AM on January 8 [33 favorites]


Josh Marshall editorializes as to why this is a big deal, which is pretty much what everybody else is saying but cuts to the chase:

This isn't some low level aide. This is part of his inner circle. And unless there's some wildly unexpected explanation, it's pretty clear that we've got the worst case scenario for the Governor in terms of the political damage. I doubted very much that we'd see any email smoking gun. And it's still not from Christie himself. But it came from the Governor's office and I think the weight of logic (though as yet no direct evidence) at least says that Christie himself knew about the order and may have ordered it himself.

I see no credible way now for Christie to say he bears no responsibility for what happened. Responsibility doesn't mean knowledge or culpability. But one of his top aides was involved. So he needs to discipline or fire her or at least say it was wrong. (Perhaps he can say it's okay or that the emails are being misunderstood. But good luck with that.) Regardless, it will be very hard not to provide some accounting of who else in Christie's office knew about this or was involved.

posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:50 AM on January 8


Erick, Son Of Erick, lets us know how a certain portion of the right will react :

The Politics of A–holes
[T]here’s more here and it is going to be the problem that haunts Chris Christie. I’m ambivalent on his run for the Presidency. But I don’t see him getting that far for the very reasons underlying this issue — he and his staff operate as divas.

I have had Congressmen, Governors, and the staffers of Congressmen and Governors tell me horror stories about dealing with Christie’s people. All of them seem to dread it.

One congressman tells me he wanted to talk to Christie about a matter and the staff would not put him through and would not even given him the Chief of Staff to talk to.

A Governor tells me that Christie’s staff treats incumbent governors as if they are low level staffers there to serve as Chris Christie’s advance team.

A Chief of Staff of a Governor once told me that Christie’s staff began lecturing the Chief of Staff’s Governor about the set up of an event and what that Governor needed to say. Both the Chief of Staff and Governor were rather hacked off by the arrogant tone.

Another senior staffer tells me that after dealing with Christie for an event, they decided they’d rather focus on drawing celebrities for instate functions because the riders and demands of celebrities tend to be much easier to deal with.

This was always going to be Christie’s problem. People want a winner. And they want an a**hole. But they want the person to be their a**hole, not an a**hole who tries to make everyone else his whipping boy.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:51 AM on January 8 [6 favorites]


a situation in which he's simply not characterologically capable of behaving otherwise

Is "characterologically" an actual word? Can I use that?

Also, what the hell's the point of militarizing the living hell out of our police departments if the Mayor can't just send a couple heavily armed SWAT teams out to open the damn bridge and hold it against any counter-assault?
posted by Naberius at 9:52 AM on January 8 [2 favorites]


Please oh, great and wonderful Baal, let there be one email that totally implicates this douchbag and sends him off to white-collar prison.

Thank you.
*drips blood into sacrificial fire*

(BTW, lovely poem, entropone)
posted by BlueHorse at 9:52 AM on January 8 [3 favorites]


Anyone who thinks "bad traffic" is all this is about is highly, highly confused. You fuck with a giant vital system like this? I swear, people better be jailed over this.

My first thought when I saw this story was to wonder if this falls afoul of any DHS terrorism laws. And since this disrupted shit in more than one state, would this end up being a Federal case (in addition to a state one)?
posted by rtha at 9:54 AM on January 8 [6 favorites]


Soooo.. if I am parsing the tea leafs right from the Democrats standpoint Christie is the perfect candidate to get the nom
posted by edgeways at 9:55 AM on January 8


IMO the problem isn't whether or not he's directly connected to it (although if he is, that's a BFD), it's how a man who has such a self-control problem that he'll flip out on camera at a schoolteacher will deal with pointed questions.

2nd-ed. But yeah, I don't get the people who think this enhances Christie's chances with the base. They're all for power politics and throwing out all stops to oppose the dems, but this a) was directed at a fellow republican (Reagan:"no enemies to my right"), b) mostly harmed actual people, not the politician in question, and most importantly c) plays into all the negative stereotypes that make them inclined to distrust and dislike Christie in the first place --- vain, petulant, hotheaded, corrupt, big-city, gangsterish.
posted by Diablevert at 9:55 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


Of course you can use "characterologically". If you need some sort of pseudo-authority to tell you you can, and I am not sufficiently pseudo-authoritative, then how about the OED. It cites it back to 1963; "characterological" back to 1916; "characterology" back to 1903.
posted by Flunkie at 9:55 AM on January 8 [10 favorites]


characterological.
posted by item at 9:56 AM on January 8 [5 favorites]


Asparagus: "Looks like the GOP's gonna need to find a new candidate for 2016."

I'd say that it's a long time to 2016 and possibly enough time to move on from this, but I'm already seen conservatives saying, "Of course he's corrupt. He's a RINO that only libtards like."

He's always been a "severe" conservative who plays at being bipartisan, and I think that combined with this may have totally screwed him.
posted by brundlefly at 9:57 AM on January 8


So this went on for four days?

Doesn't that kind of blow away the whole "I didn't know what was going on" excuse for Christie?
posted by JoeZydeco at 9:58 AM on January 8 [3 favorites]


Christie cancels today's public appearances.

It's gnaw-off-the-trapped-leg time.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:59 AM on January 8 [12 favorites]


I don't mean to be snotty, but the naivete of folks who think a GOP candidate's career is going to be derailed by evidence he's a power-abusing asshole with no regard for the welfare of his own citizens... Jesus, I don't know whether to laugh or cry.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:02 AM on January 8 [41 favorites]


As an outsider to the world of New Jersey/New York politics, this just smells like the things you expect of people involved in those politics. I don't think it will have the ramifications people are making it out to have, because to me, on a national scale this seems like expected behavior. People who like him will take it in stride that this side of him exists with the side they think exists and are fond of.

It will have to majorly escalate to the point of stepping down in disgrace or something before it mortally damages his presidential ambitions.
posted by Atreides at 10:03 AM on January 8


It's gnaw-off-the-trapped-leg time.

God I hope you're right.
posted by Aizkolari at 10:03 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


An unlovely word.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 10:04 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


Flunkie: You will do just fine. Thank you! I don't trust the lamestream OED anyway.
posted by Naberius at 10:05 AM on January 8 [3 favorites]


Wow, how amazingly juvenile, how short sighted, and how politically poisonous for Christie. Traffic is a huge sore point in New Jersey and New York, which remain critical electoral states in any Presidential election.

If I were Hilary, I'd be smiling quite a lot today.
posted by bearwife at 10:06 AM on January 8


Asparagus: " Looks like the GOP's gonna need to find a new candidate for 2016."

I still think he was never getting the nom. Not from his own party. They've spent the last 25 years practicing to be increasingly extremist and obstructionist.
posted by zarq at 10:08 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


I don't mean to be snotty, but the naivete of folks who think a GOP candidate's career is going to be derailed by evidence he's a power-abusing asshole with no regard for the welfare of his own citizens... Jesus, I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

His career might not be over, but his presidential ambitions may well be. Republicans aren't good judges of what the electorate as a whole likes. If they were they wouldn't have been so shocked when Romney lost.
posted by dortmunder at 10:10 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


I love the fact that both of these knuckleheads used their personal email addresses for the exchange, and those email addresses are their full names at Yahoo and Gmail. That's some serious cloak and dagger shit right there.
posted by dirtdirt at 10:10 AM on January 8 [23 favorites]


Is "characterologically" an actual word? Can I use that?

Well, it has now be inventorated so feel free promulgafy it.
posted by srboisvert at 10:13 AM on January 8 [16 favorites]


I don't mean to be snotty, but the naivete of folks who think a GOP candidate's career is going to be derailed by evidence he's a power-abusing asshole with no regard for the welfare of his own citizens... Jesus, I don't know whether to laugh or cry.


It's fine to be mean....to people we don't like. Not to people like us. A bunch of commuters and kids trapped in school buses falls squarely in the latter category.
posted by Diablevert at 10:13 AM on January 8 [5 favorites]


More from Josh Marshall:

Nixonian
Some of the lesser tier dirty tricks may have helped buttress [Nixon's] victory (helping assure McGovern was the nominee) and his team didn't know for sure in mid-1972 that it would be such a slamming landslide. But things looked very, very good.

And so all the Watergate villainy was really needless. He was already winning and on track to win big. For Nixon that went to some of the tragic elements of the man. Because for Nixon is was the deep paranoia which drove him.

That last part isn't like Christie. But the essential dynamic is pretty similar. All year last year it was clear that Christie was set for a massive win. So just think how needless this was. Whether he did it or his aides did, this was an effort to get a Democratic mayor to endorse him. A Democratic mayor. No one expects members of the opposite party to endorse you, though many did.

Now, there's some sense in which Christie didn't just want and need to win. His 2016 presidential strategy rested on racking up a big number, somewhat along the line that George W. Bush did in his second term as Governor of Texas. And this even more so in a blue state. But at the end of the day, just in the crassest and most cynical terms, there was simply no reason to do this.

With Christie, I doubt it's paranoia. In fact, I'm almost sure of it. I don't think the man has the sort of insecurities and self-doubt that drove Nixon to greatness and infamy. It seems more like some tough guy ambition and need to get everybody to fall into line - a crazy ambition to run the table.

Whatever it was, ironically, I think he or someone working on his behalf has dealt his 2016 ambitions a devastating blow.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:14 AM on January 8


I think it's important to note that Christie's opponent in the campaign for governor had NO CHANCE of winning. The political machines on both sides had already decided who was going to win, and Buono had no cash or help in the race. Which makes this punishment (as well as spending money on a special election for the senate seat that Corey Booker won in order to avoid having that race on the same ballot) seem even more ridiculous to me.

Interesting to note:
Baroni, the records show, was concerned about whether the governor’s office thought he performed well during his testimony on Nov. 25.
“You did great,” Wildstein wrote to Baroni.
“Trenton feedback?” Baroni asked in response.
“Good,” Wildstein responded.

posted by armacy at 10:15 AM on January 8 [2 favorites]


I don't mean to be snotty, but the naivete of folks who think a GOP candidate's career is going to be derailed by evidence he's a power-abusing asshole with no regard for the welfare of his own citizens... Jesus, I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

I don't mean to be snotty either, but these generic "Republicans walk like this, while Democrats walk like THIIIIIS" comments are meaningless. Why this particular candidate's career is going to be derailed because of these specific facts has been explained repeatedly in this thread.

It would be helpful for you to explain why you think this isn't a big story beyond the baseless "Republicans like assholes" canard. Volumes have been written on why this particular asshole isn't liked.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:15 AM on January 8 [2 favorites]


I'm stunned by the brazen pettiness and stupidity displayed in this crime.
posted by humanfont at 10:15 AM on January 8 [2 favorites]


Traffic is a huge sore point in New Jersey and New York, which remain critical electoral states in any Presidential election.
This is the opposite of reality (well, except the "traffic is a huge sore point" part). NJ and NY are not critical electoral states. They're irrelevant electoral states. Everyone knows they're going to go Democratic barring some total wackiness. Especially NY - it's been the #2 state by percentage margin of victory for quite some time now. NJ is typically top 10 or so.

Maybe Christie could pull/could have pulled off NJ in a presidential, but I wouldn't count on it, and I'd bet that his election team wouldn't either. The critical electoral states in 2016 will be the same as always: Ohio, Florida, and such.
posted by Flunkie at 10:16 AM on January 8 [2 favorites]


It's fine to be mean....to people we don't like.

I don't know about that... you can cut veterans' benefits, you can turn down free Medicaid funding to make a point, you can replace a mayor with a "city manager" and have him dismantle public services...
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:16 AM on January 8 [5 favorites]


Could this be like the too-good-to-be-true Bush National Guard memos that were dangled out there for a little while (10 years ago, come to think of it) and then revealed to be planted forgeries to inoculate the candidate against all future charges of corruption?
posted by vibrotronica at 10:17 AM on January 8


I'm of the opposite view, that if anything, Christie will become more popular because of this. People love a bully, if they're not the ones on the receiving end.

Reason and ideology have very little to do with the votes in play.

Whether he actually gets the nomination, I have no idea, but that this is the thing that kills him off? Not at all.
posted by Capt. Renault at 10:18 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


Whatever it was, ironically, I think he or someone working on his behalf has dealt his 2016 ambitions a devastating blow.

Exactly. For all the tone deaf super right pandering in the primaries, the GOP has always ended up nominating the most moderate candidate, and that person in 2016 will be Christie. But this story, which says a great deal about who he chose to put in power, whether or not he can convince people he didn't know about their incredible abuse of that power, is really going to hurt him in NJ and NY in the general election.
posted by bearwife at 10:18 AM on January 8


Could this be like the too-good-to-be-true Bush National Guard memos that were dangled out there for a little while (10 years ago, come to think of it) and then revealed to be planted forgeries to inoculate the candidate against all future charges of corruption?

Two of the people in the revealed emails have already resigned, and these emails were pulled from State servers via a subpoena.

So, very unlikely. Christie's people really appear to have been this petty and stupid.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:19 AM on January 8


Could this be like the too-good-to-be-true Bush National Guard memos that were dangled out there for a little while (10 years ago, come to think of it) and then revealed to be planted forgeries to inoculate the candidate against all future charges of corruption?

I doubt it. Several of the aides involved in this lawyered up a couple weeks ago, so unless it's a really long con, there's something there.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:19 AM on January 8


Nate Silver had a nice set of five questions leading to how damaging a scandal could be:

1. Can the potential scandal be described with one sentence, but not easily refuted with one sentence?
"He shut down a road to fuck with a guy who did not like him." Not only one sentence, but with one-syllable words only. The refutation is what, "it wasn't me, it was just all of my top staff and close advisers working together in a concerted fashion"?

2. Does the scandal cut against a core element of the candidate’s brand?
Chris Christie's brand in 2016 is the Electable Republican, who works across the aisle in a Bipartisan fashion with Democrats. Turns out that the bipartisanship was done at gunpoint. If the Republicans want to pick someone who is a firebrand against Democrats, there are plenty of non-Northeastern, non-pro-choice gentlemen happy to fill the bill.

3. Does the scandal reinforce a core negative perception about the candidate?
A New Jersey politician who leans on guys to get support? Let me quote Diablevert above: vain, petulant, hotheaded, corrupt, big-city, gangsterish

4. Can the scandal be employed readily by the opposition without their looking hypocritical, risking retribution or giving life to a damaging counter-claim?
This seems like the ideal scandal for that, unless it turns out that Elizabeth Warren had the T shut down to punish... I can't even complete this sentence without it sounding foolish.

5. Is the potential scandal occurring amid an otherwise slow news cycle?
Looking at CNN, after this scandal the most important politicial figure making news is Dennis "The Worm" Rodman.

It seems to me that this is the exact sort of scandal that could potentially have legs, particularly since the scenario of creating a traffic jam to fuck with a mayor is exactly the sort of thing the average person can envision themselves being hurt by. (Fort Lee is a middle-income place; ranked 303 of 545 places in NJ by median household income.) Cut welfare all you want, that only hurts poor people who deserve to be hurt because they are bad because they are poor. Cut roads? The reason that there isn't an NRA type advocacy organization for drivers is that they don't need one. Everybody, everywhere, thinks traffic is a major problem.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 10:20 AM on January 8 [100 favorites]


It would be helpful for you to explain why you think this isn't a big story beyond the baseless "Republicans like assholes" canard. Volumes have been written on why this particular asshole isn't liked.
Which of those volumes contains "He's an asshole" as one of those reasons?

The Republican base loves people who push others around. You say this is a "canard", but I see it as self-evident. I mean look at the people they idolize. Limbaugh. O'Reilly. Hannity. Random guy of the week who brings a gun to a town hall meeting so he can say he brought a gun to a town hall meeting. And on and on.

That Christie is not liked by a lot of the Republican base for a variety of reasons in no way implies that being an asshole is going to hurt him with them. In fact it seems to me that the fact that he's an asshole is one of the few things that they like about him.
posted by Flunkie at 10:21 AM on January 8 [5 favorites]


Also, though I never think any big electoral state should be ignored for any election (particularly NJ, for a former NJ governor), the bigger and lasting damage from this story is what it says about Christie's ability to appoint the right people and manage them well.
posted by bearwife at 10:21 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


It would be helpful for you to explain why you think this isn't a big story beyond the baseless "Republicans like assholes" canard. Volumes have been written on why this particular asshole isn't liked.

I didn't say it wasn't a big story. I'm saying the Republican electorate has a mind-blowing ability to ignore or rewrite stories that, because of cognitive dissonance, do not fit their chosen narrative.

Truthiness kicks truth's ass every time on that end of the political spectrum.

I also agree with Capt. Renault that this kind of bullying may even make him more popular in certain segments.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:22 AM on January 8 [2 favorites]


The leftosphere seems pretty much evenly divided today as to what this portends for Christie in 2016. Chait makes some good points, but others, notably Charles Pierce, think he'll be fine once he axes some low-level flunkies.

Of course, a lot of this depends on what further information comes out, but I think I'm with Chait, in that Christie has enough other vulnerabilities in a GOP primary field that he's a dead man walking even if no proof is found that he was personally involved. I think this is finally the election cycle that the GOP, after nominating (in their mind) RINOs for a couple of cycles, sends a dyed-in-the-wool conservative.

Perhaps Rand Paul, who has had a feud going with Christie for quite some time, decides to capitalize on the scandal. Or maybe they go out of left field with a Nikki Haley or Susana Martinez to try to check some minority boxes. But Christie's only real solid constituency is the media, and they're loving the big bad bully story so much that I'd expect them to stick with it even if it turned out to be overstated or completely false.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:22 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


Christie never had a realistic shot anyway.
posted by planetesimal at 10:22 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


Homeboy Trouble: "If the Republicans want to pick someone who is a firebrand against Democrats, there are plenty of non-Northeastern, non-pro-choice gentlemen happy to fill the bill."

He's not pro-choice.
posted by zarq at 10:24 AM on January 8 [3 favorites]


It would be helpful for you to explain why you think this isn't a big story beyond the baseless "Republicans like assholes" canard. Volumes have been written on why this particular asshole isn't liked.

Because here and elsewhere, we have repeatedly discussed people in politics who do horrific things that should have ended their careers/put them in jail and suffer no real consequences?

After a while, one develops a thick, cynical varnish about these things.

I can believe Christie would lose the nomination because he's not Tea Party enough. It's much harder to believe the national Republican party (as opposed to his state party, maybe) gives a rip about stranded schoolkids or people dying in ambulances. I mean, we are talking the party of "poor kids don't deserve lunches" "we should get rid of child labor laws" "healthcare access is worse than Hitler" etc. etc.

It's entirely possible that the wing of the Republicans who already hate Christie would use this as an excuse to keep him out, but again, given their track record on advocating the starvation or death by lack of medical care of 99% of the population, it seems an unlikely tack for them to take.

I would be delighted to be wrong, but very very surprised.
posted by emjaybee at 10:24 AM on January 8 [8 favorites]


Homeboy Trouble's breakdown above is fascinating though. Maybe it will be a thing that impoacts Christie's trajectory. Who knows.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:24 AM on January 8


The Republican base loves people who push others around. You say this is a "canard", but I see it as self-evident. I mean look at the people they idolize. Limbaugh. O'Reilly. Hannity. Random guy of the week who brings a gun to a town hall meeting so he can say he brought a gun to a town hall meeting. And on and on.

The Republican base loves people who push bad guys around, whether they are powerful international political leaders or poor people who might be getting a penny of benefit they did not "earn". Drivers commuting to work and dropping their kids off at school are the opposite of bad guys.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 10:24 AM on January 8


The imagery of (a) Christie (aid) cackling over schoolkids being unable to get to school is going to be effective. Only thing better would be to find some hardworking father-of-3 who died in an ambulance stuck in traffic after a freak heart attack.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 10:25 AM on January 8 [2 favorites]


this is completely congruent with what was said about Christie when he was running against Corzine.

There is absolutely nothing surprising about this. I always assumed this sort of stuff would be revealed after he was a presidential candidate, not before. So i guess in that sense I am surprised.
posted by JPD at 10:26 AM on January 8


I also agree with Capt. Renault that this kind of bullying may even make him more popular in certain segments.

Not moms with school-age kids. This was timed for the first day of school. And they told themselves it was OK because they were "the kids of Buono voters."

The tell here is how Christie's been acting. Guilty, Guilty, Guilty. And this is a corruption case from the criminal side. People will talk.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:26 AM on January 8 [13 favorites]


The Republican base loves people who push others around. You say this is a "canard", but I see it as self-evident. I mean look at the people they idolize. Limbaugh. O'Reilly. Hannity. Random guy of the week who brings a gun to a town hall meeting so he can say he brought a gun to a town hall meeting. And on and on.

they love to watch those guys dance - they like how the hatred drums up the fear in their base. but they don't generally put them in elections - or rather, they use them in much the same way in the primaries, but once we get down to the general election it's formerly bipartisan war heroes and mormons with car elevators and the like (sarah palin is a good example of what happens when they forgot that). i'm of the mind that chris christie never had a real shot, but he certainly has less of one now.
posted by nadawi at 10:27 AM on January 8


I doubt it. Several of the aides involved in this lawyered up a couple weeks ago, so unless it's a really long con, there's something there.

The twenty first century has taught me that being double secret paranoid is not paranoid enough.
posted by vibrotronica at 10:28 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


Were emergency vehicles delayed? Was anyone waiting for an ambulance, fire truck or police officer?

Christie Administration's Bridge Lane Closure Slowed Search for Missing 4-Year-Old, Says Official
"There was a missing child that day. The police had trouble conducting that search because they were tied up directing traffic," says Jan Goldberg, a Fort Lee city councilman who works with local emergency personnel. Police found the missing child, a four-year-old. "But with the streets in the condition they were, I would venture to say that the search took longer," Goldberg says.

Ila Kasofsky, a Fort Lee city councilwoman, tells Mother Jones that ambulances and other emergency vehicles could not get through the gridlock. In the aftermath of the lane closures, Kasofsky says she spoke with a Fort Lee resident who couldn't get over the bridge to support her husband through major surgery. Another Fort Lee woman was unable to pick up her son after his dialysis session.

Police Chief Keith Bendul cited these problems when he spoke to New Jersey press in late September. "On Monday, while all this was going on, we had to contend with a missing four-year-old, a cardiac arrest requiring an ambulance, and a car running up against a building," he said. "What would happen if there was a very serious accident?"

Goldberg called the messages revealed on Wednesday "outrageous," saying, "It's unimaginable that they could stoop to that level."

"I was furious," adds Kasofsky. "To affect the lives of thousands and thousands of people, their safety, their basic quality of life—how could anybody do such a horrible thing?"
posted by zombieflanders at 10:28 AM on January 8 [7 favorites]


for reasons related to Camden and teachers, I hate Christie. I hate his deceptive charm. If he goes down for this, I'm not going to pretend to care about the merits: I'm just gonna dance.
posted by angrycat at 10:28 AM on January 8 [8 favorites]


Someone please explain to me how the party that fucks over hard-working Americans as a political philosophy is going to drop their most electable Presidential candidate over getting caught fucking over hard-working Americans.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:30 AM on January 8 [8 favorites]


He's not pro-choice.

I stand corrected; I believe he's pro gun control, and had mixed up my Republican sacred cows. In any case, not a true-faith hardcore conservative orthodoxy guy.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 10:30 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


I would like to believe that GOP voters will empathize with the parents and other citizens trapped in traffic. But--and I hesitate to put it this plainly as I really don't mean to go all herfderfassholerepubs on you--but my experience with GOP voters is that not only their empathy is not likely enough to get someone in say, Virginia, worked up over a New Jerseyite's commute time, not only is it not likely to get a downstate GOP voter worked up over the traffic his fellow state resident in New Jersey had, it's not even likely sufficient to get someone worked up who had the day off or took a different route and was not personally in one of these traffic jams.

Blindness to other people's problems whenever possible is a central tenet.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:31 AM on January 8 [6 favorites]


Blazecock Pileon: "Someone please explain to me how the party that fucks over hard-working Americans is going to drop their most electable Presidential candidate over getting caught fucking over hard-working Americans."

Because they don't market themselves as the party that fucks over hard-working Americans, so he's not electable anymore.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:31 AM on January 8 [4 favorites]


The Republican base loves people who push bad guys around, whether they are powerful international political leaders or poor people who might be getting a penny of benefit they did not "earn". Drivers commuting to work and dropping their kids off at school are the opposite of bad guys.
When those people are from a town that votes Democratic? Hardly. And especially not when it can be viewed as payback against a Democratic mayor. Those commuters weren't "the opposite of bad guys". They were socialist sympathizers.
posted by Flunkie at 10:31 AM on January 8


zombieflanders: " Christie Administration's Bridge Lane Closure Slowed Search for Missing 4-Year-Old, Says Official "

The GWB is literally the busiest motor vehicle bridge in the entire world. On average over a quarter of a million vehicles traverse it every day. Some of those commuters no doubt have important jobs. A lot of them are probably Republicans. Virtually none of them will find this amusing.

The irresponsibility here is staggering. Whether Christie knew or not (and it seems increasingly unlikely that he didn't,) he's ultimately responsible for the actions of his staff.
posted by zarq at 10:34 AM on January 8 [3 favorites]


For the record, I would adore being wrong on this. I would positively love it if Christie's career path suffered for this. But from where I'm standing, I'd have to have faith in the empathy of GOP voters and an unwillingness on the part of the right to tolerate a bully. And neither of those things seems worthy of my faith, really.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:34 AM on January 8 [3 favorites]


If he'd been able to aim this solely at public transportation, Republican support would be a lot more certain.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:35 AM on January 8 [4 favorites]


Someone please explain to me how the party that fucks over hard-working Americans is going to drop their most electable Presidential candidate over getting caught fucking over hard-working Americans.

because the tea partiers in the primaries are going to hang him with it. he's not really liked in his own party - his bipartisan stuff was the best thing going for him, which he just shot full of holes. all it's going to take is one good political ad, ominous tone , sounds of kids playing in the distance, sounds of car horns, a catchy slogan, and boom. done. i mean howard dean got sunk by a funny laugh. it's easy to excuse shit like this for candidates that are wanted, but easy to shove them out for those that aren't.
posted by nadawi at 10:36 AM on January 8 [2 favorites]


Because they don't market themselves as the party that fucks over hard-working Americans, so he's not electable anymore.

All they have to do is spin complainers as Muslims or NYTimes readers or some such. I don't see how this really hurts his chances. Screwing the other guy is what makes the GOP great in the eyes of GOP voters.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:36 AM on January 8 [3 favorites]


“I do believe, and I told Chairman Samson this, that we should look at this policy because I don’t know why one town gets three lanes. One lane? Maybe. Three lanes, for one town, I don’t quite get it.”

I would have thought that this whole incident made one thing clear, Fort Lee really does need those toll booths.
posted by shelleycat at 10:36 AM on January 8 [2 favorites]


It's a bigger issue than whether he is a candidate who messed with hard working Americans. How could he hire people who were willing to do so? Did he miss their mean spirtedness and willingness to abuse their power for political payback? And if he knew, he's politically dead in a general election, even assuming he escapes criminal consequences. This is classic corruption.
posted by bearwife at 10:36 AM on January 8


DirtyOldTown: "I'd have to have faith in the empathy of GOP voters and an unwillingness on the part of the right to tolerate a bully. And neither of those things seems worthy of my faith, really."

Or maybe you're just forgetting that he's a Mid-Atlantic Republican that the hardcore conservatives were going to have to hold their nose for anyway, and now they have a good excuse not to.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:37 AM on January 8


'twill be interesting to see if this has enough legs to make the Sunday morning talk shows.
posted by Ardiril at 10:37 AM on January 8


This is classic corruption.

Honest services fraud.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:38 AM on January 8 [2 favorites]


All they have to do is spin complainers as Muslims or NYTimes readers or some such. I don't see how this really hurts his chances. Screwing the other guy is what makes the GOP great in the eyes of GOP voters.

It's not the scandal itself, it's the fact that Christie is an egotistical loudmouth with a short fuse. It seems like only a matter of time before he goes off on someone talking about heart attack victims being stuck on the GWB with a "now listen here, you goddamn bloodsucker..." It may be catnip for the base, but it's not the kind of thing that wins over moderates or general election voters.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:40 AM on January 8


Oh New Jersey, land of my birth, you never fall to reinforce the stereotypes about you.
posted by octothorpe at 10:40 AM on January 8 [4 favorites]


It seems to me that this is the exact sort of scandal that could potentially have legs

I think Nate Silver's "five questions" are smart, but you need to be careful whether or not you're answering them with a thumb on the scale, which I think you may be doing.

1. Can the potential scandal be described with one sentence, but not easily refuted with one sentence?
"He shut down a road to fuck with a guy who did not like him." Only in local politics are people going to have really visceral opinions about this. "Shutting a road down" is not an immediately obviously evil and inhumane thing to do (yes, obviously, it can have awful consequences, but the question here is "is this a story that forces people who are otherwise well-disposed to Christie to give up on him" not "if you already dislike Christie, will you automatically leap to worse-case scenarios"); you have to know the road, and feel personally threatened by what its closure means for it to really impress you. It's not "he kicked a puppy" or "he cheated on his taxes." You need to add in quite a lot of information about the significance of the road and the reason for "fucking with the guy" etc. before you really understand the scandal.

The refutation is what, "it wasn't me, it was just all of my top staff and close advisers working together in a concerted fashion"?
I think the 'refutation' will be "it wasn't me." Again, if you're already predisposed not to like Christie you'll think "yeah, right!" But otherwise, that's a pretty good refutation, unless concrete evidence of Christie actually being involved turns up.

2. Does the scandal cut against a core element of the candidate’s brand?
I'm not sure it does, really. Christie's "brand" is a somewhat complex one. Yes, the Hurricane Sandy "he's willing to put the people ahead of politics" thing helped him enormously, but "he's a tough, take-no-prisoners guy who gets things done" is also a part of his "brand." People are distressingly willing to forgive a fair bit of bullying on the part of politicians. I'm sure there'll be quite a few people who say "well, this is how you have to play the game in New Jersey politics; we need someone who knows how to bang a few heads together to get his way." People are much more concerned by personal corruption than by political power plays.

3. Does the scandal reinforce a core negative perception about the candidate?
There's something in this one, no doubt, but, again, part of the "core perception" that this reinforces is actually part of what people like about Christie.

4. Can the scandal be employed readily by the opposition without their looking hypocritical, risking retribution or giving life to a damaging counter-claim?

Well, I'm sure Christie's people are desperately looking for "they did it too" stories to get circulating--but there's no point deploying them until we're actually in the campaign cycle. The real question here is whether he can deploy some kind of "you're a hypocrite" counter-narrative against rivals in the GOP primaries (first) and then against, presumably, Hillary Clinton in 2016. Given that there's a pretty strong "cross the Clintons and they'll punish you" narrative out there he's probably got a decent chance of neutralizing the story if he makes it through the primaries. And will GOP voters care if he was putting the hurt on a Democratic politician?

5. Is the potential scandal occurring amid an otherwise slow news cycle?
It is, but it also doesn't really matter right now--what matters is how the scandal plays as the 2016 campaign heats up. He's got a lot of time to play this off. Unless this blows up so big that he's forced to resign (which seems unlikely) the current news cycle isn't all that significant.

This might end up being a death blow to Christie's 2016 hopes, but we've all seen politicians come back from worse. I think the really crucial question is whether or not Christie gets directly, personally tied in. If not, I think he can weather the storm.
posted by yoink at 10:41 AM on January 8 [8 favorites]


He's fucked. He fucked with kids getting to school. He jeopardized lives. Look at the ire people have when someone calls in a bomb scare, or fakes a missing person. Its on that level of harm. And to do this on the first day of school? Most people are parents before they are republicans or democrats--this will kill Christie.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:41 AM on January 8 [3 favorites]


and it's not that the gop as a party suddenly cares about people in other states or kids not getting to school or petty political posturing - it's that, like nate silver/ Homeboy Trouble breakdown up thread - it's easy to describe, difficult to defend, and as a bonus, is a big flashing sign to his other bully tactics/diva behaviors/turncoat opinions. if this were mike huckabee or rick perry, they would have already slimed through the storm. christie has a reputation already that this just enhances in a way that in no way helps him with republicans.
posted by nadawi at 10:42 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


BTW my nut job conservative NJ friend thinks Christie should go to jail for this.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:43 AM on January 8 [5 favorites]


For the record, I would adore being wrong on this. I would positively love it if Christie's career path suffered for this. But from where I'm standing, I'd have to have faith in the empathy of GOP voters and an unwillingness on the part of the right to tolerate a bully. And neither of those things seems worthy of my faith, really.

Here's the FreeRepublic thread ripping Christie a new one over this, because right-wingers already hate Chris Christie. Here's the RedState one. So on one hand you've got actual conservatives who already hate Christie saying how this makes him even more unpalatable, based on actual things they are saying, and on the other, you've got half this thread freaking out that it "makes Christie MORE likeable to them" because of what they think imaginary conservatives will do. Faith, indeed.

If you're part of the kneejerk "Republicans love all assholes; they'll love Christie more for this" team, it would be nice at this point to maybe post a link to a right-winger of any prominence, you know, defending this. Because based on actual words made by actual right-wingers, they're not, and based on this thread I've seen more liberals insist that this is no big deal for Christie than conservatives and that's kind of sad.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:44 AM on January 8 [32 favorites]


Blazecock Pileon: " I don't see how this really hurts his chances."

Let's wait and see if the New York Post starts running "Terrorist Muslim Sympathizer Chris Christie Shuts Down Nation's Busiest Bridge for a Week" headlines.
posted by zarq at 10:45 AM on January 8 [3 favorites]


BTW my nut job conservative NJ friend thinks Christie should go to jail for this.

But presumably he already thought Christie should go to jail, no? Again, the question here is not "do people who already hated Christie get steamed about this"? The question is "will people who thought Christie was great before this story broke get sufficiently steamed about this to have it sway their voting decisions a couple of years from now"?
posted by yoink at 10:46 AM on January 8 [4 favorites]


If you're part of the kneejerk "Republicans love all assholes; they'll love Christie more for this" team

I think it's more of a "Republicans seem to get caught abusing power in repugnant ways all the time and seldom suffer for it" team, inasmuch as there is a "team." And I don't think anybody here is happy about that, it's just a pattern we've seen repeated over and over until it's disheartening.

Again, the question here is not "do people who already hated Christie get steamed about this"? The question is "will people who thought Christie was great before this story broke get sufficiently steamed about this to have it sway their voting decisions a couple of years from now"?

Yes, this.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:47 AM on January 8 [3 favorites]


zarq: " Let's wait and see if the New York Post starts running "Terrorist Muslim Sympathizer Chris Christie Shuts Down Nation's Busiest Bridge for a Week" headlines."

We can't be more than a day or two away from Fox News "accidentally" running the
CHRIS CHRISTIE (D-NJ)
banner.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:47 AM on January 8 [26 favorites]


Here's the FreeRepublic thread ripping Christie a new one over this, because right-wingers already hate Chris Christie. Here's the RedState one.

Jim Geraghty at the National Review doesn't seem to have a high opinion of it either.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:47 AM on January 8


Ugh. My day gig was in Fort Lee for just over a year. It doesn't need any help being The Worst Place To Drive Ever. What an utter bastard.
posted by mintcake! at 10:47 AM on January 8


I'm with the people who think that this is serious bad news for Christie's presidential ambitions. Even the worst tea party governors come up with fig leaf explanations for the policies that are plainly designed to mess with disfavored groups - they say that drug testing welfare recipients is necessary to save the public money and that voter ID laws are needed to safeguard the sanctity of elections or whatever. Not even the most supervillainish governors will come out and say that a policy is a good idea because it hurts an unpopular group.

There's no way to spin this event as a positive for anyone. "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee" shows that all this harm was deliberately caused for political reasons. Plus, drivers aren't a disfavored group at all - the GOP base lionizes drivers as Real Americans. Certainly they're highly favored over cyclists and public transit users.
posted by burden at 10:47 AM on January 8 [3 favorites]


David Wilstein, the Christie appointee at the Port Authority on those crucial e-mails, is scheduled to testify tomorrow before a panel of NJ legislators. Isn't that great timing? I'm wondering if he will plead the 5th.
posted by Area Man at 10:50 AM on January 8


eh, i think the question is more "will those who were indifferent, not really aware of christie besides being that fat guy from new york or whatever who jokes about twinkies, be more swayed by those who hate christie on both sides or his supporters (who are hard to qualify and only seem to be referred to in the third person)?" he basically handed those against him the ammunition they needed to solidify his negatives into a tidy little talking point.
posted by nadawi at 10:51 AM on January 8 [3 favorites]


I can't wait to re-read this thread in a couple years time with a little 20-20 hindsight. Because I genuinely have no idea what to expect from this scandal.
posted by stoneweaver at 10:56 AM on January 8 [18 favorites]


"Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee" shows that all this harm was deliberately caused for political reasons.

The most that could be said is that it implies deliberate action. The political stuff would need to be tied on.
posted by Slackermagee at 10:56 AM on January 8


I think the most important part of scandals is often not the scandal itself but the aftermath. The real question for Christie is whether he can get control of the narrative over the next couple of weeks. He needs to make a big "this is unacceptable behavior! Heads will roll!" noise and make a credible bid to show that he's not attempting any kind of cover up. If he's smart, he'll have made damn sure never to have put anything in writing tying himself to the decision and if he looks like he is genuinely providing all available information about how this happened to the press and to the legislature he could do a huge amount to distance himself from the story. If, on the other hand, he starts shouting at reporters and invoking executive privilege etc. he'll really start to bury himself.
posted by yoink at 10:56 AM on January 8 [2 favorites]


we've all seen politicians come back from worse

And not. This feels to me like the news story that felled Mike Huckabee-- his decision as Arkansas governor to commute the sentence of a convicted rapist who (much later) shot four Seattle area police officers. This kind of misuse of gubernatorial power tends to haunt Presidential candidates a lot more than personal misbehavior like DUIs and divorces.
posted by bearwife at 10:57 AM on January 8 [4 favorites]


I really hope the people saying this will bring Christie down are right. I do.

But still... if I took $100 bets and gave even odds every time a Republican pol got caught being a power-abusing asshole on whether or not it'd derail his/her career and I took the "will have no effect" side, I'd be in Aruba right now instead of the temporarily arctic Midwest.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:58 AM on January 8 [3 favorites]


Has there ever been a more appropriate time for the term "dick move" to be used in a political discussion?

I want to think more about this in terms of what it means to Christie's political chances but I just can't get over how hugely awful but also hugely petty this whole thing is.

It feels too petty to even use "Nixonian" -- which is really saying something.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:59 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


There was NO WAY the right wing base was going to support a "moderate" Northeastern state governor in the first place - not after the bitter taste of Romney, and no way in hell after the Hurricane Sandy pictures of him embracing the Kenyan Muslim Socialist himself. The only thing Christie had going for him was his "moderate" credentials (again with the scare quotes) and the hope that enough centrist classical Republicans would turn out to drag him over the line in the primary and then the base would hold their nose and vote for him over Hillary.

Now, there's the perfect rebuttal to his moderate cred - he's basically revealed as a New Jersey thug and a classic bully. He might gain a few "we love assholes" voters, but he'll lose a lot more of those moderates, and most importantly, he'll lose the fawning press coverage.

It's not like he had a realistic chance - now I bet he doesn't even bother running. Or he's one of the first to drop out, like good ole T-Paw.
posted by RedOrGreen at 10:59 AM on January 8 [2 favorites]


*checks calendar*

Yep, the first primary is still two years away. That's more time than it took Anthony Weiner to be a legitimate candidate again.
posted by Etrigan at 10:59 AM on January 8 [10 favorites]


File dump.
posted by monospace at 11:00 AM on January 8


'twill be interesting to see if this has enough legs to make the Sunday morning talk shows.

They're all primed for Robert Gates' new book.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:00 AM on January 8


(The first primary is two years away, yes, but the fundraising has already started. And no one likes the smell of a loser.)
posted by RedOrGreen at 11:01 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


It feels too petty to even use "Nixonian"

Nothing was too petty for Nixon. He was the king of score keepers. We just forget that because of the really serious shit he was also willing to engage in.
posted by yoink at 11:01 AM on January 8 [7 favorites]


Kasofsky says she spoke with a Fort Lee resident who couldn't get over the bridge to support her husband through major surgery. Another Fort Lee woman was unable to pick up her son after his dialysis session.

Naturally- NYP-Columbia Medical Center is about 5 minutes into NYC over the GWB, and tons of people come over from NJ to seek medical care there. What a terrible thing to do to your own people.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:01 AM on January 8 [3 favorites]


There's something in this one, no doubt, but, again, part of the "core perception" that this reinforces is actually part of what people like about Christie.

The people who liked Christie and voted for him are not the same people as the Republican primary voter. The slice of the political spectrum that makes you popular with a broad swathe of conservatives and moderates in NJ (and potentially the nation) barely overlaps with the tea party hardcore, and that's who you need for the nom.

The only way the dems could possibly fuck this up now is to be too openly gleeful.
posted by Diablevert at 11:01 AM on January 8


Etrigan: " Yep, the first primary is still two years away. That's more time than it took Anthony Weiner to be a legitimate candidate again."

Not for national office, and not for anything that had to do with his official duties as a legislator.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:05 AM on January 8 [3 favorites]


And let's not forget, Weiner got a whopping 5% of the vote in those primaries.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:08 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


May this song be the soundtrack of the rest of Christie's life
posted by Sys Rq at 11:08 AM on January 8 [5 favorites]


Etrigan: "*checks calendar*

Yep, the first primary is still two years away. That's more time than it took Anthony Weiner to be a legitimate candidate again.
"

Weiner got 4.9% of the vote for mayor. I'm not sure that I'd count that as a comeback.
posted by octothorpe at 11:09 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


Jinx!
posted by zombieflanders at 11:09 AM on January 8


The people who liked Christie and voted for him are not the same people as the Republican primary voter. The slice of the political spectrum that makes you popular with a broad swathe of conservatives and moderates in NJ (and potentially the nation) barely overlaps with the tea party hardcore, and that's who you need for the nom.

This was just as true--if not more true--when Romney--Romney from Taxachussetts, Romney who presided over Romneycare--won the GOP primaries. US presidential primaries bring out more than the hardest of hardcore base voters and they make even the pretty hard core voters think tactically.
posted by yoink at 11:10 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


This is not that complicated. Christie was a bit of a long-shot anyway, a lot of conservatives hate him. "He fucked with people's commutes just because he's an asshole" is a perfectly accurate and succinct attack. It doesn't even have to come from a Democrat, any Republican from the radical right to the imaginary moderate center could use it. And no, Christie is not going to start cackling "Those were the children of Buono voters" during a debate and watch his poll numbers surge to 100%, sorry to disappoint.

Every election cycle, only one guy gets his (or her) name at the top of the ticket. In my lifetime, the Republicans have not put forth a nominee whose main claim to fame was being an asshole.
posted by leopard at 11:11 AM on January 8


Weiner got 4.9% of the vote for mayor. I'm not sure that I'd count that as a comeback.

He was looking like a very genuine contender for the mayorship before the second wave of Instagram dick-pic scandals sank him. The first wave of dick-pic scandals had been almost entirely forgotten by then.
posted by yoink at 11:11 AM on January 8 [4 favorites]


The first wave of dick-pic scandals had been almost entirely forgotten by then.

The first wave of dick-pic scandals was what had given him the name recognition to lead in the polls in the first place.
posted by leopard at 11:13 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


What a terrible thing to do to your own people.

That's the thing that gets me about choosing this particular means of political retaliation - Christie's people were punishing the mayor of Fort Lee by making life difficult for the people of Fort Lee, making it clear that they knew that the welfare of the people of Fort Lee was a) important to their mayor and b) completely unimportant to Christie himself, even though he is just as much sworn to serve them as the Fort Lee mayor is.
posted by yarrow at 11:14 AM on January 8 [10 favorites]


He was looking like a very genuine contender for the mayorship before the second wave of Instagram dick-pic scandals sank him. The first wave of dick-pic scandals had been almost entirely forgotten by then.

And as stated in the Chait article I linked above, there's a ton of stuff that makes Christie seem ready-made for oppo research.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:16 AM on January 8


Potential repercussions for Christie aside, I love thinking about how much Bridget Anne Kelly is freaking out right now. She is FREAKING OUT.
posted by something something at 11:18 AM on January 8 [2 favorites]


XQUZYPHYR: "It would be helpful for you to explain why you think this isn't a big story beyond the baseless "Republicans like assholes" canard. Volumes have been written on why this particular asshole isn't liked."

DirtyOldTown did explain it; you simply disbelieve the explanation. And the "volumes that have been written on why this particular asshole isn't liked" have nothing to do with this instance.

So what it falls down to is: will Christie lose the nomination because of this scandal, will this scandal be ignored yet Christie remain unnominated because of his "RINO" image, or will Christie get the nomination for the same reason Mitt Romney did in 2012: he is the least detestable of all the GOP offerings?
posted by IAmBroom at 11:23 AM on January 8 [3 favorites]


And as stated in the Chait article I linked above, there's a ton of stuff that makes Christie seem ready-made for oppo research.

Which has not very much to do with the question of whether this scandal is the death knell for his future political hopes. Weiner would not have been hurt by the revelation that he'd sent dick-pics to more girls prior to the original scandal. What sank him was the fact that after he'd been caught and apologized publicly he continued to send dick-pics to random women on the Internet.

If Christie weathers this scandal and then some future Christie aides "punish" some local mayor by fucking up the traffic on a major artery then, sure, that's Christie dead and buried; but that's getting pretty speculative.
posted by yoink at 11:23 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


This sort of approach to politics and wielding the authority of political office has, I'm afraid, largely become the accepted norm. It's a big part of why there's so much waste in government projects. It's why there's so little collegiality in Congress. We live in the age of the politics of personal pique. This is what a lot of people think politics is supposed to be: Brutal, eye-for-an-eye combat; state authority hopelessly conflated with personal identity and social status.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:24 AM on January 8


vibrotronica: "Could this be like the too-good-to-be-true Bush National Guard memos that were dangled out there for a little while (10 years ago, come to think of it) and then revealed to be planted forgeries to inoculate the candidate against all future charges of corruption?"

There's no proof they were planted forgeries, unless you have information the mainstream press ignored. There's doubt as to their veracity. In high-stakes politics, those can be essentially equal.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:24 AM on January 8


If this is what the political playbook looks like for Republican aides, then God forbid the damage a Republican Presidential Administration could do the New York area. Oh wait.

I don't have even the slightest hint of remorse suggesting what I'm suggesting, and I'm not even trying to be political. This is just fucking bullshit.
posted by phaedon at 11:25 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


Is there really a big Republican base of people who would think, "fuck all those moms driving kids to school and commuters driving to work, those big city assholes deserve their terrible traffic and this was a great move by Christie"? And does it really require a lot of local knowledge to know that shutting down a bunch of lanes on a major bridge is going to be a traffic clusterfuck? Literally no one likes traffic, and it's not exactly stretching it to empathize with parents driving kids to school, people driving to work, and people driving to the hospital. I'm vicariously angry just imagining it.

This scandal doesn't require understanding any fiddly political or financial maneuvers, it just boils down to "caused hours worth of traffic and misery for thousands of innocent commuters, potentially endangering lives for the sake of political retribution." More people are going to identify with beleaguered commuters than not, so it's not like Christie or his people come out looking like heroic bullies. And I don't see how even the most batshit of Republican commentators can suggest Fort Lee residents could have bootstrapped their way out of this situation, particularly not if you get a few soundbites of tearful or angry people talking about how they couldn't make it to the hospital, or how their tax dollars are being wasted by such political games, etc.

It really seems like this scandal will have legs, because there's not really a way to downplay it. Dick pics are hilarious, financial shenanigans are difficult to parse, political maneuvering can be too byzantine or far-removed from the average person to be easily digested, but this is a clear narrative where there's obvious, non-politicized collateral damage to a lot of average people. The political ads write themselves: "Chris Christie closed parts of the busiest bridge in the world as part of his revenge on a political opponent. Thousands of innocent citizens were collateral damage in his act of revenge. Will Chris Christie screw you and your family over when he takes action against another political opponent as president?"
posted by yasaman at 11:28 AM on January 8 [9 favorites]


Heh, that first comment on that Gothamist article linked in the OP:

"Christie reached the level of SimCity where you're bored and you start messing things up on-purpose."
posted by longdaysjourney at 11:29 AM on January 8 [47 favorites]


"eh, i think the question is more "will those who were indifferent, not really aware of christie besides being that fat guy from new york or whatever who jokes about twinkies, "

I could be wrong but I doubt this will have any impact on the wider voting public. Will the "average voter" in Utah or Ohio really give a shit that two tollbooths were closed in New Jersey? I know there's a larger issue here but on it's face it looks like little more than a local/regional news story. Christie's moderate, for a Republican, politics are his big stumbling block, extended commutes for people working in "The City", eh, not so much.
posted by MikeMc at 11:31 AM on January 8


MCMikeNamara: "Has there ever been a more appropriate time for the term "dick move" to be used in a political discussion? "

Well, ... too easy.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:32 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


"Christie reached the level of SimCity where you're bored and you start messing things up on-purpose."

FILE > DISASTER > RIOT

X 40
posted by Think_Long at 11:33 AM on January 8


The reason that there isn't an NRA type advocacy organization for drivers is that they don't need one.

Say what? The AAA has plenty of juice and isn't afraid to bash bikes, transit and environmentalism whenever it wants.
posted by psoas at 11:35 AM on January 8 [6 favorites]


I could be wrong but I doubt this will have any impact on the wider voting public.

maybe, but one good political ad that uses this as the jumping off point to discuss his big city gangster tactics will play really well in the flyovers. and it sinks his one selling point- his bipartisanship (which is a detriment to some, sure, but also why he's floated as having a chance).
posted by nadawi at 11:36 AM on January 8


Man, I used to live in Fort Lee, and the traffic when school starts for the day is already horrible. This must've been insane. I really hope Christie suffers for it.
And also, saw this related tweet this morning.
posted by bashos_frog at 11:37 AM on January 8 [5 favorites]


Going once again to TPM for a sense of how a reader who tends to support Christie feels:
People who like Christie (and I count myself among them most days of the week) don't like him in spite of the fact that he's a bully. They like him because he's our bully. Whether it's unions, bureaucrats or the intolerance of the GOP he seems to be fighting for you and me.

I agree that ft lee is far from from fatal especially because there are almost certainly no fingerprints. But the risk isn't that he's perceived to be more of a bully than we thought. It's not that he appears petty and vindictive. We pretty much knew that. The problem is that he didn't give a shit about stealing hours from thousands of commuters lives. The risk is that ft lee shows that he doesn't actually give a shit about you and me at all.
posted by benito.strauss at 11:37 AM on January 8 [7 favorites]


So between Anthony Weiner and his cockshots and this email about bridges being sent by someone named Bridget Anne Kelly, does anyone else think names are a little bit too on the nose lately?

Like get a baby naming book already, God of Political Scandals.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:38 AM on January 8 [14 favorites]


How many here think it is remotely credible that Christie's deputy chief of staff independently came up with the idea that it was "time for some traffic problems" involving the George Washington Bridge? Especially when all of the other actors are certified, long-standing Christie pals like Wildstein? All roads here (irrespective of the number of open tollbooths) lead directly to the Governor's Office.

Christie has tried to bluster and "non-denial denial" out of this and has now placed himself in position to have folks say "Were you lying then or are you lying now?" Welcome to Zero Credibility World, Chris. . . .
posted by rdone at 11:40 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


Will the "average voter" in Utah or Ohio really give a shit that two tollbooths were closed in New Jersey?

Right, but that's where the question of framing comes in. "Two tollbooths in New Jersey" doesn't sound so bad. "Two tollbooths in New Jersey on the busiest bridge in the world during peak traffic hours just to fuck with a political opponent" sounds pretty fucking bad and is an easy soundbite and narrative, and short of the people living in isolated areas or in one road towns, literally everyone can imagine an analogous situation in their region. It will be really easy to make sure that literally everyone will imagine an analogous situation in their region.

And it's trivially easy to make sure that average voters won't be able to Other the random normal commuters who fell victim to this stunt. In order for a scandal like this to blow over without much impact, it would have to be easy to make those commuters the Other or the Enemy, but it's not really easy to do that.
posted by yasaman at 11:43 AM on January 8


Like get a baby naming book already, God of Political Scandals.

There was a micro-scandal during the Bush II tenure about his admitting to smoking pot in his college days as revealed in a book authored by (no joke) a guy named "Doug Wead" (pronounced "Dug Weed").
posted by saulgoodman at 11:44 AM on January 8 [2 favorites]


Christie has tried to bluster and "non-denial denial" out of this and has now placed himself in position to have folks say "Were you lying then or are you lying now?" Welcome to Zero Credibility World, Chris. . . .

Yeah, at this point he's either a liar, or he had no control of his staff and no knowledge of what they got up to. Either way he looks terrible.
posted by dortmunder at 11:44 AM on January 8


Should not have fucked with roads. Roads naturally trigger thoughts along lines of political bias every day - too much construction/not enough (who is doing the construction, is it cronyism? is the construction company robbing the taxpayers with their endless projects? are the construction workers here legally?), too much law enforcement/not enough (and who is getting pulled over?), too accommodating/not accommodating enough to cars/pedestrians/cyclists, bureaucracy and red tape, fines, too many or too few tax dollars going to it, differences in upkeep in rich/poor neighborhoods, cars as mobile displays of class and what happens when someone whose car's class indications or their race/gender marks them as part of a group you're biased against drives like an asshole, why the fuck haven't they plowed (did they blow the plow budget money on something stupid?), the back-of-your-mind personal bias that says you should be able to break minor traffic laws but others shouldn't - roads are like a political rorschach test you take daily, so anything relating to them triggers branching chains of political thought. Everyone has a political opinion about roads, and everyone can justify their own political beliefs by talking about roads, they're really touchy subjects and so low-level and mundane that they just get ingrained, get totally under your skin. And this guy with big government power turned them against regular working people and kids. That's the killer here for him among small government conservatives. He didn't just use government power against people for a personal vendetta, which is bad enough but they're always willing to overlook when it's not them being affected, he used the one thing government can use that affects everyone daily, the one thing that's like a hair trigger political opinion bomb. It's a poor choice of weapon on Christie's part. There are countless other ways he could have fucked over that mayor by even blatantly abusing the power of his office and come out smelling like roses, but he went and picked the one thing that even the most politically apathetic can latch onto politically. Even the most strawmannish big government liberal gets pissed off when government screws with the roads.
posted by jason_steakums at 11:44 AM on January 8 [12 favorites]


leopard: " The first wave of dick-pic scandals was what had given him the name recognition to lead in the polls in the first place."

Not in New York City. He had name recognition here way before he ran for mayor.

Weiner received a lot of positive attention here back in 2010 when his rant on the floor of the House went viral. He lambasted Republicans who were trying to kill the 9/11 Health and Compensation Act -- a bill that would have set aside funds for sick and disabled 9/11 first responders.
posted by zarq at 11:44 AM on January 8


I just called my mother and asked her if she heard what Chris Christie did in New York and she said, "Is it worse than what de Blasio is doing?" I just hung up the phone. Fuck my life.
posted by phaedon at 11:46 AM on January 8 [26 favorites]


I think a big part of the significance of this scandal is that it is the first concrete example of what we've been hearing about Christie for a long time...that he has a lot of skeletons in his closet that make him unsuitable for running a national campaign for President. We already knew that Romney vetted him for VP and passed because of reasons. Now we're seeing a prime example.

If Christie stays in the spotlight, there will be much more controversy to come. On this issue, but also on who know what else?
posted by obscure simpsons reference at 11:47 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


It's not like Christie just withdrew funding to repair some potholes in Ft Lee or something. That is the kind of petty brinkmanship votes have come to expect of politicians. But he shut down the busiest bridge in the world for absolutely no reason. That is something wholly different.
posted by Asparagus at 11:47 AM on January 8


Is there really a big Republican base of people who would think, "fuck all those moms driving kids to school and commuters driving to work, those big city assholes deserve their terrible traffic and this was a great move by Christie"?

Of course not, but you're presuming that the narrative that will predominate in the coming weeks and months will be the one most harmful to Christie's chances. It's like saying "are there really any Democratic voters who would vote for someone who was in favor of death panels for the elderly?"

We don't even know yet whether the narrative line that "Christie must have been in the loop on this" will prevail. It's all very well asking rhetorical "how could he have not known" questions, but in politics there is a vast gulf between "we have a smoking gun to prove you did X" and "we think it's bleedin' obvious you did X." Again, if Christie can get out in front of the story and show a genuine willingness to "punish wrongdoers in my administration" and "put in place checks and balances to make sure nothing like this ever happens again" and can demonstrate--as much as one can--that his own hands were clean on this issue, the whole thing could slide off him.
posted by yoink at 11:48 AM on January 8


yoink: " the whole thing could slide off him."

Enough to serve the rest of his term as Governor? Sure. Enough to win the 2016 GOP Presidential nomination? I don't see how.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:53 AM on January 8


We don't even know yet whether the narrative line that "Christie must have been in the loop on this" will prevail. It's all very well asking rhetorical "how could he have not known" questions, but in politics there is a vast gulf between "we have a smoking gun to prove you did X" and "we think it's bleedin' obvious you did X." Again, if Christie can get out in front of the story and show a genuine willingness to "punish wrongdoers in my administration" and "put in place checks and balances to make sure nothing like this ever happens again" and can demonstrate--as much as one can--that his own hands were clean on this issue, the whole thing could slide off him.

He's done nothing of the sort so far, a critical indicator that there might be fingerprints he's worried about. This story has been in the papers since September. He said he was out moving the cones himself in one press conference. And the criminal aspects preclude that. He's no dummy. He knows it is illegal to do what was done in order to obtain favors.

He's done the opposite of what you've suggested, which would be the way to do it unless you figure your people will turn on you to avoid a conviction.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:56 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


He's done the opposite of what you've suggested,

Sigh...so many people do.
posted by yoink at 11:58 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


Chris Christie is an asshole? This is not news.
posted by MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch at 12:00 PM on January 8


Should not have fucked with roads....Even the most strawmannish big government liberal gets pissed off when government screws with the roads.

Reading this, I thought "well, yes, of course they do" and then realized, of course, that I am actually the big government liberal being described in this situation. I should seriously rent myself out as a scarecrow on this issue.

But then the reason it is so frustrating to me someone who thinks government can and should work, is that stunts like this makes government not work as well as it should and makes it harder for me to convince others that it can.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:01 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]


Should not have fucked with roads.

This is how, despite the city's notorious political machine, Chicago's incumbent mayor Bilandic lost to a nobody former City Hall staffer named Jane Byrne in 1979. You do not fuck with the roads.
posted by phaedon at 12:01 PM on January 8 [7 favorites]


“Is it wrong that I’m smiling,” the recipient of the text message responded to Wildstein. The person’s identity is not clear because the documents are partially redacted for unknown reasons.

Is it possible the unknown recipient is Christie himself, and that's why it was redacted?
posted by dnash at 12:03 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]


Not in New York City. He had name recognition here way before he ran for mayor.

Weiner received a lot of positive attention here back in 2010 when his rant on the floor of the House went viral. He lambasted Republicans who were trying to kill the 9/11 Health and Compensation Act -- a bill that would have set aside funds for sick and disabled 9/11 first responders.


Yeah I remember that -- he was on the front page of the Post and Daily News for weeks... wait, I barely remember that at all (beyond a Daily Show episode), despite being a New Yorker with some interest in politics.

Everyone in the city knew who he was after the dick pics.
posted by leopard at 12:08 PM on January 8


Please can someone tell me if there is a google maps .kmz or something that shows which two lanes were closed? I would also like someone to mock this up in simcity and minecraft kthxbye.
posted by joecacti at 12:09 PM on January 8


Chris Christie is an asshole? This is not news.

Do you honestly think that the story in the FPP is NOT news?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:13 PM on January 8 [4 favorites]


Facts ain't worth shit. Just like the sad parable of Rainbow Fish, the public has wormed its wormy way into collectively owning a once-precious resource just so that everyone can feel better about themselves (meanwhile, Rainbow Fish wants nothing more than a sharp hook to end it all). You got some facts that could hurt Christie? Christie['s PR team] can and will devise a set of facts that counter your facts. Doesn't matter if the former are actually accurate and the latter are... well we'll see what kind of rhetorical pathos they come up with but whatever it is will sound fact-y so its facts. NPR might run a story about how said facts aren't very fact-y when fact-checked but no one who has already decided to believe those facts will ever hear it, even if you blasted the radio signal directly to that persons brain. They won't hear it.
posted by Taft at 12:14 PM on January 8


leopard: " Yeah I remember that -- he was on the front page of the Post and Daily News for weeks... wait, I barely remember that at all (beyond a Daily Show episode), despite being a New Yorker with some interest in politics."

The actual clip was covered on the national networks, CNN, MSNBC, FoxNews, etc. He was interviewed on the morning talk shows.

*shrug* Weiner replaced Chuck Schumer in the House back in '98 when he switched to the Senate. Was in office for 12 years. He wasn't exactly an obscure pol to anyone paying attention to local politics.
posted by zarq at 12:16 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]


*shrug* Weiner replaced Chuck Schumer in the House back in '98 when he switched to the Senate. Was in office for 12 years. He wasn't exactly an obscure pol to anyone paying attention to local politics.

He definitely had a bigger national profile prior to the scandal than, say, Bill de Blasio did prior to the mayoral race.
posted by yoink at 12:20 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]


For the rest of his political career, every time there is a traffic jam that makes news anywhere in the world, Letterman, Leno, O'Brien, Kimmel and Fallon will be making low-hanging fruit jokes about Christie's involvement in that traffic jam. Commuters in New Jersey and New York will be making "I wonder if Christie is behind this one" jokes every time they're in gridlock. People get into traffic jams every day and Christie just became that asshole who is potentially responsible for every single one of them in the Tri-State area.
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:21 PM on January 8 [15 favorites]


Blazecock Pileon: "All they have to do is spin complainers as Muslims or NYTimes readers or some such."

Never underestimate the ability of modern conservatives to come up with a conspiracy theory to explain away anything.
posted by brundlefly at 12:23 PM on January 8 [2 favorites]


You got some facts that could hurt Christie? Christie['s PR team] can and will devise a set of facts that counter your facts. Doesn't matter if the former are actually accurate and the latter are... well we'll see what kind of rhetorical pathos they come up with but whatever it is will sound fact-y so its facts.

A PR team's facts are useless in a federal district court against the United States Attorney.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:24 PM on January 8 [3 favorites]


If you're having a hard time grokking this issue, just imagine if the mefi post button was disabled on September 11th.
posted by blue_beetle at 12:24 PM on January 8 [2 favorites]


Never underestimate the ability of modern conservatives to come up with a conspiracy theory to explain away anything.

Sure, and that works for the hard core ideologues. But those folks are at best 20% of the electorate. They never get their candidate nominated for a national general election. And general elections are decided by swing voters/independents, who I predict will care plenty about this.
posted by bearwife at 12:27 PM on January 8


A PR team's facts are useless in a federal district court against the United States Attorney.

That only matters for Christie if Christie himself is the one getting indicted. If it's people close to him, then whether or not that actually touches his prospects is a matter of spin.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:27 PM on January 8


A PR team's facts are useless in a federal district court against the United States Attorney.

But nobody is arguing that Christie will be unhurt by this if he is proven in a court of law to have played a role in the decision. So far, though, I don't see any suggestion that such proof has surfaced. And the US Attorney isn't going to prosecute on the basis of "of course he must have been involved, duh!"
posted by yoink at 12:28 PM on January 8


A PR team's facts are useless in a federal district court against the United States Attorney.

That only matters for Christie if Christie himself is the one getting indicted. If it's people close to him, then whether or not that actually touches his prospects is a matter of spin.


Its actually a matter of the deal the prosecutors offer the underlings. That's the issue for Christie. If the choice is a felony conviction or real time, then that love for the Governor is going out the door. And then Christie is in real trouble.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:36 PM on January 8


And the US Attorney isn't going to prosecute on the basis of "of course he must have been involved, duh!"

He's going to prosecute on the basis of Christie staffers getting a deal to avoid jail time by testifying in court against their former boss. I suspect they are getting ready to do just that. Its what happens when you lawyer up.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:38 PM on January 8 [2 favorites]


Well Ironmouth play the other side of the board for a moment. What would you be doing if you were Christie today? Is there a way he can bargain or buy his way out of this situation?
posted by newdaddy at 12:42 PM on January 8


It should also be noted that Christie turned away a huge chunk of money from the federal government that was going to be used to build huge new tunnels/bridges from NJ to NYC, and would drastically decrease congestion. He rejected the money to shore up his anti-federal government bona fides with the far-right. I'm surprised this hasn't been mentioned yet.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:46 PM on January 8 [16 favorites]


And let's not forget, Weiner got a whopping 5% of the vote in those primaries.

Nor let us forget that before Weinergate II broke in late July, he was in a neck-and-neck race with Christine Quinn while Bill de Blasio and Bill Thompson were trying to break into double digits for third place.
posted by Etrigan at 12:47 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]


Well Ironmouth play the other side of the board for a moment. What would you be doing if you were Christie today? Is there a way he can bargain or buy his way out of this situation?

If I were Christie? boy this is a tough one. If he really didn't know (totally unlikely), then you fire the staffers immediately and take personal responsibility, saying that you taught the staffers to play tough and its your fault they took it too far.

But he knows that already. But he hasn't done that. He's played the hand like it has been a loser the entire time. It isn't a good sign.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:47 PM on January 8 [2 favorites]


Ezra Klein says everything right about this.
It's not an accident that Christie emerged in a period when the Republican Party is out of power. His videos make them feel powerful at a moment when they're weak. They feel out of control. He is outrageously bold about asserting his control.

The problem is that Chris Christie is actually a bully. That doesn't mean he's not also a nice guy who cares deeply about his family and his constituents and his country. There's a lot about Christie that's deeply appealing. But there's one big thing that's not: He's someone who uses his personality and his office to intimidate people and punish or humiliate perceived enemies.

Watch this video of him screaming at a guy on the New Jersey Boardwalk. Watch him stalk toward the man, flanked by security and aides. Listen to what he actually says. "Keep walking. Keep walking." He asserts a physical dominance over this guy.

That's not typical behavior for an adult. It's definitely not typical behavior for a national politician. But it's typical behavior for a bully. In fact, it's not even very creative bullying. Anyone who's ever been a boy in an American middle school has heard "keep walking!"
That's not typical behavior for an adult. Fucking. A.

I'm sorry it took a lot of people five years and potential criminal activity to realize that being a bully should disqualify someone from having power; not encourage giving it to them.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:48 PM on January 8 [11 favorites]


Chris Christie’s problem is that he’s really, truly a bully (emphasis in original)
Christie inhabits a rare space in American politics: He's a bully. He's followed around by an aide with a camcorder watching for moments in which Christie, mustering the might and prestige of his office, annihilates some citizen who dares question him.
Almost everywhere Christie goes, he is filmed by an aide whose job is to capture these “moments,” as the governor’s staff has come to call them. When one occurs, Christie’s press shop splices the video and uploads it to YouTube; from there, conservatives throughout the country share Christie clips the way tween girls circulate Justin Bieber videos. “The YouTube stuff is golden,” says Rich Lowry, the editor of National Review. “I can’t tell you how many people forward them to me.” One video on Christie’s YouTube channel — a drubbing he delivered to another aggrieved public-school teacher at a town hall in September — has racked up over 750,000 views.

Now in Moorestown, Christie was hoping to create another such moment. After some introductory remarks, he opened the floor to questions. “For those of you who have seen some of my appearances on YouTube,” he cautioned, peeling off his suit jacket as he spoke, “this is when it normally happens.”
It's not an accident that Christie emerged in a period when the Republican Party is out of power. His videos make them feel powerful at a moment when they're weak. They feel out of control. He is outrageously bold about asserting his control.

The problem is that Chris Christie is actually a bully. That doesn't mean he's not also a nice guy who cares deeply about his family and his constituents and his country. There's a lot about Christie that's deeply appealing. But there's one big thing that's not: He's someone who uses his personality and his office to intimidate people and punish or humiliate perceived enemies.

Watch this video of him screaming at a guy on the New Jersey Boardwalk. Watch him stalk toward the man, flanked by security and aides. Listen to what he actually says. "Keep walking. Keep walking." He asserts a physical dominance over this guy.

That's not typical behavior for an adult. It's definitely not typical behavior for a national politician. But it's typical behavior for a bully. In fact, it's not even very creative bullying. Anyone who's ever been a boy in an American middle school has heard "keep walking!"
What makes Christie unusual is that he's a bully with power. That can be a dangerous combination. One of the questions Christie's public retribution has always raised is whether it carries into private retribution.
[...]
The bridge e-mails show that it's not just Christie. His aides are in on it, too. Christie staffer Bridget Anne Kelly e-mails David Wildstein, a Christie appointee on the Port Authority, saying, “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.” He's a bully with a staff of bullies.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:50 PM on January 8 [3 favorites]


Its worth remembering that Christie is a former U.S. Attorney. As the former U.S. Attorney for New Jersey, I assume he has some experience with prosecuting corrupt officials. He's been on the other side of the table. He knows they will try to turn his aides against him. He knows that he should cut the aides lose and distance himself if he really didn't have any involvement.
posted by Area Man at 12:53 PM on January 8 [2 favorites]


Please can someone tell me if there is a google maps .kmz or something that shows which two lanes were closed?

This page has an embedded Google Map with labels.
posted by smackfu at 12:57 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]


newdaddy: "What would you be doing if you were Christie today? Is there a way he can bargain or buy his way out of this situation?"

Burn the tapes.
posted by zarq at 1:00 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]


The documents that were released mention Christie directly on page 4:
"We are ready to do this, can someone call the Mayor of Springfield and tell him that Gov has approved $60k for their traffic study."
It is followed by some explanatory stuff about the Township of Springfield requesting a traffic study for a master plan re-examination report. (Incidentally, this explanatory stuff is reproduced in a larger point size than the "call the mayor" remark, which suggests that it had been copied and pasted.) Does the governor typically approve expenditures on individual traffic studies?

Is there any legitimate reason to close down multiple lanes on a major bridge 25 miles away from a town of 15,000 people just to see what it does to traffic on their main street?

This email in particular seems pretty damning; I'm surprised not to have seen its content referenced in the news media. Am I missing some reasonable explanation? Did Springfield Township actually request a $60,000 traffic study?
posted by compartment at 1:00 PM on January 8 [4 favorites]


He definitely had a bigger national profile prior to the scandal than, say, Bill de Blasio did prior to the mayoral race.

Yeah, but when he was running neck-and-neck with Quinn before Weinergate II, no one was saying "Anthony Wiener, who famously stood up for the 9/11 first responders, is a serious contender for mayor." The commentary was entirely "Wow, the dick pics guy is leading in the polls!" Which makes The first wave of dick-pic scandals had been almost entirely forgotten by then. inaccurate.

Sorry for the derail.
posted by leopard at 1:01 PM on January 8


Is there any legitimate reason to close down multiple lanes on a major bridge 25 miles away from a town of 15,000 people just to see what it does to traffic on their main street?

No, the Port Authority can just simulate this on a computer. This is the sort of thing that computer simulation was invented for, decades ago. It's orders of magnitude less complicated, and more accurate than, say, predicting the weather.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 1:04 PM on January 8 [10 favorites]


It makes no difference, since the Port Authority was never in the loop on any studies in the first place, necessary or not.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:06 PM on January 8


compartment: " Is there any legitimate reason to close down multiple lanes on a major bridge 25 miles away from a town of 15,000 people just to see what it does to traffic on their main street?"

Traffic engineering in that area is really complex and a study could conceivably be plausible, but this stuff is modeled virtually now. There's no need to shut down a major bridge any more.

On the NJ side of the bridge alone there are exits for local and thru routes. I-95 branches and leads to the Palisades, US 1, Routes 4, 9 and 46. Follow the right road and you'll reach the NJT, GSP and Route 17. Very complex section of road.
posted by zarq at 1:08 PM on January 8


The commentary was entirely "Wow, the dick pics guy is leading in the polls!" Which makes The first wave of dick-pic scandals had been almost entirely forgotten by then. inaccurate.

Obviously I didn't mean literally "forgotten" in the sense that no one could remember that it had happened--but it was "forgotten" in the sense that it no longer seemed to disqualify Weiner from holding public office. No one will have "forgotten" this Christie thing by 2016 either, but it may very well not be seen as a major liability for him either. That all depends on the development of the wider narrative over the ensuing weeks and months.

I really don't know why everyone is so sure about how this scandal will develop when almost everyone in this conversation must have seen cases of scandals blowing up that looked certain to destroy a politician's career and which the voters subsequently shrugged off for one reason or another.
posted by yoink at 1:11 PM on January 8 [2 favorites]


Pre-9/11 Rudy Giuliani was basically the Fredo of Gracie Mansion. Banging cocktail waitresses two at a time for the uninitiated. Offhand, I can't think of a single Tri-State politician that rose to national prominence. Christie's aspirations for national office might actually be his Achilles heel. Otherwise, this is shitbag local politics. Still not giving the guy a pass though.
posted by phaedon at 1:15 PM on January 8


I really don't know why everyone is so sure about how this scandal will develop when almost everyone in this conversation must have seen cases of scandals blowing up that looked certain to destroy a politician's career and which the voters subsequently shrugged off for one reason or another.

Because there are all the ingredients. Easy to understand. The machinery of investigation and the control of the organization supposed to be running the bridge in the hands of political opponents. The matter is criminal.

Furthermore, this is no personal peccadillo. This is deliberate interference with the everyday function of government that the voters use for political purposes.

Plus he's acting so guilty.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:15 PM on January 8


Plus he's a celebrity.
posted by Navelgazer at 1:16 PM on January 8


Plus the only thing the political media likes more than blowing up a balloon is popping it.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:20 PM on January 8 [5 favorites]


christie, last week - "I've asked my staff to give me a full briefing. They've told me everything we know."
posted by nadawi at 1:21 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]


I really don't know why everyone is so sure about how this scandal will develop when almost everyone in this conversation must have seen cases of scandals blowing up that looked certain to destroy a politician's career and which the voters subsequently shrugged off for one reason or another.

I don't think anyone is certain, but the thing with this scandal is that you can just land so many different blows very precisely against his specific personality, his public image, his rumored behind-the-scenes personality, his conservative credentials AND his moderate appeal with it. And that's just with what's out there right now, before it goes through the courts and before more comes to light. He screwed up in a way that just so perfectly can be used against him, and it's a simple enough scandal that it's easy to bring up again in the national spotlight even if people forget. Nobody has to stretch the truth or go hyperbolic to burn him with it, he can't fall back on a wishy-washy ideological justification, and the blame is cut-and-dried: he either screwed up by hiring the perpetrators or he screwed up by being personally involved, and the tone of his administration's behavior very clearly led to this no matter who was involved. So simple.
posted by jason_steakums at 1:23 PM on January 8 [2 favorites]


Former Port Authority exec files lawsuit to quash subpoena in GWB probe

David Wildstein, the executive at the center of the decision to close lanes at the entrance to the George Washington Bridge, filed a lawsuit in superior court today trying to quash the legislature’s subpoena of his testimony, according to a spokesperson for the court.
posted by rtha at 1:23 PM on January 8


I wonder how much the specter of Rob Ford's handling of his mess is hanging over the PR team and directly influencing their moves here, with Christie's known temper problems.
posted by jason_steakums at 1:28 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]


Is there any legitimate reason to close down multiple lanes on a major bridge 25 miles away from a town of 15,000 people just to see what it does to traffic on their main street?

I'm not really sure how Springfield gets involved here. As far as I know, the theoretical traffic study was to take the three lanes (toll gates) that are dedicated to Fort Lee (since it's right at the end of the bridge) and give two of them to the non-local traffic by using cones to force everyone in Fort Lee to merge into one toll gate. And to see how that improved the traffic leading up to the bridge and the traffic in Fort Lee. Which almost sounds plausible, except they kept it going for four days when the traffic in Fort Lee as a result was terrible and made the plan a non-starter.
posted by smackfu at 1:29 PM on January 8


Does the governor typically approve expenditures on individual traffic studies?

Is there any legitimate reason to close down multiple lanes on a major bridge 25 miles away from a town of 15,000 people just to see what it does to traffic on their main street?


It's all done with computers, has been for decades. These fine folks would be involved. Looking at travel movements by shutting down roadway lanes -- in particular by shutting down lanes on the busiest bridge in the country -- is the "traffic study" equivalent of doing a "biological study" by putting the cat in the microwave.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 1:36 PM on January 8 [10 favorites]


Well, the first statement comes out:
“What I've seen today for the first time is unacceptable," Christie said. "I am outraged and deeply saddened to learn that not only was I misled by a member of my staff, but this completely inappropriate and unsanctioned conduct was made without my knowledge. One thing is clear: this type of behavior is unacceptable and I will not tolerate it because the people of New Jersey deserve better. This behavior is not representative of me or my Administration in any way, and people will be held responsible for their actions.”
posted by Ironmouth at 1:36 PM on January 8


And the other thing here is... well two things.

1.) It doesn't appear like anybody particularly wants to spin this in his favor. As XQUZYPHR's links showed, the base is flaming him for this faster than the left ever could. His likability has been tied in many ways to his cartoonishness - he's basically the caricature of Mr. Joisey - and that is turned on it's head very easily by all of this. My understanding is that, from the GOP perspective, they've got a solid chance in 2016 and it's a wide-open field and nobody was ready to hand it to this guy, so nobody's gonna lay down for him now. Frankly I think this would have been better for him closer to the election than now - the ducks would have been in a row and the right would have responded with a thousand claims against Hillary doing something similar.

2.) How does a grown-up bully handle this sort of thing? WHen what you know is "keep walking," then what do you do here? When your instincet is to do the equivalent of, "nah, Mr. Belding, Mayor Sokolich and I were just playin' around, weren't we, Mayor," can your staff be counted on to tell you that isn't going to play?
posted by Navelgazer at 1:38 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]


But. Is there concrete evidence that Christie knew about this?

Millions upon millions of tons of it-- the biggest pair of concrete overshoes in history.
posted by jamjam at 1:38 PM on January 8


With everything you hear about New York and freedom and democracy, I'm surprised there hasn't been a "Pick of Sundance" documentary about this yet. You know. A black male teacher from New Jersey and and white female lawyer from New York. They're like "Wtf? Lane closures? This isn't what the [Xth] Amendment/abolition of slavery was for. We're not going to take it!" and they just reopen the lanes themselves, and all of New York cheers. Even the cops get in on it. They're like "Yeah, we were corrupt once, but now: unity!" Perfect opportunity for some helicopter shots of Manhattan, you hardly ever see those any more.
posted by turbid dahlia at 1:41 PM on January 8


“What I've seen today for the first time is unacceptable," Christie said. "I am outraged and deeply saddened to learn that not only was I misled by a member of my staff, but this completely inappropriate and unsanctioned conduct was made without my knowledge. One thing is clear: this type of behavior is unacceptable and I will not tolerate it because the people of New Jersey deserve better. This behavior is not representative of me or my Administration in any way, and people will be held responsible for their actions.”
Hey, he's started following my advice! Curses, I knew I was supposed to use my powers for good!
posted by yoink at 1:42 PM on January 8 [5 favorites]


Clearly, Christie was waiting for Ironmouth to tell them what to do.

On preview, yoink had it as well.
posted by China Grover at 1:43 PM on January 8


Homeboy Trouble: These fine folks would be involved.

You vastly underestimate the amount of interagency rivalry that's involved here.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 1:44 PM on January 8


so now he's saying that when he said his staff gave him a full briefing that they were outright lying to him (which is different than misleading, but whatever)?
posted by nadawi at 1:44 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]


Wildstein apparently isn't ready to take a plea-bargain and sell his friend out yet. Were these two actions (Christie's comments and Wildstein's action) meant to be coincident?
posted by newdaddy at 1:44 PM on January 8


Now the delicate dance really begins. Telling the world he hates the aide and she'll pay, telling the aide he'll take care of her and all will be fine.

We know how that turns out.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:46 PM on January 8 [5 favorites]


Smackfu, thank you for elaborating on the nature of the (supposed) traffic study.

I'm not really sure how Springfield gets involved here.

Springfield gets brought into it on the fourth page of the released files. There is a quoted email history that runs to the bottom of the page.
9/6/13 2:50 pm - David Wildstein: "Have someone call the mayor of Springfield and tell him that Gov approved $60,000 for their traffic study."

9/7/13 9:30am - Bridget Kelly: "Yes, I will let you know."

9/7/13 9:43 - David Wildstein: "I will call you Monday AM to let you know how Fort Lee goes."
So did I screw up my reading? Was there a completely unrelated, legitimate traffic study approved for Springfield that Christie actually approved? I initially interpreted "call the mayor of Springfield" as a bit of thinly veiled sarcasm, where "Springfield" means "Fort Lee".

But I think I may have been wrong, and that they really had been talking about an unrelated, legit traffic study before they switched gears to talk about Fort Lee. Oops.
posted by compartment at 1:46 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]


Wildstein apparently isn't ready to take a plea-bargain and sell his friend out yet. Were these two actions (Christie's comments and Wildstein's action) meant to be coincident?

He won't get a TRO, that hearing is going on tomorrow. He may not show up and will be found in contempt. Will Christie order the NJ State Police to bring him in to testify?
posted by Ironmouth at 1:47 PM on January 8


That precise statement is the only move he had available to make right now publicly. Unfortunately for him, the best and only choice of path to take is down the "I am in no way competent to lead a staff" road.
posted by jason_steakums at 1:48 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]


Thanks to smakfu, I have completed my armchair analysis of the "traffic study". My materials used in the analysis are the google maps image on this page. The image contains indications of where the cones were, and I can see that they were trying to determine if getting all the Fort Lee people to use one toll lane would alleviate congestion in the other lanes.

It's not an illegitimate question. Surely better handled with modeling though. Still, some engineer drew up the plans for the study and some project manager scheduled the crew to head out there and lay down cones. I wonder if they counted cars / measured the length of the delays? Those types of metrics might protect Christie here... If I was a reporter I'd be trying to find the road workers for that district...
posted by joecacti at 1:48 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]


In case anyone wants to look at the specific area here, I think this is the toll plaza in question. You can see the two vertical toll plazas, the one on the left is for the lower level and doesn't have street-level access. The one on the right has a local road leading right into the toll plaza. I assume those bottom few lanes were closed leading Park Ave to back up but leaving capacity for through traffic not coming from Fort Lee. I'm not 100% sure since I see 4 toll lanes in that plaza that are sort-of separated from the others not 3 but I can't find another toll plaza in the area so *shrug*.
posted by Skorgu at 1:48 PM on January 8


so now he's saying that when he said his staff gave him a full briefing that they were outright lying to him

Well, yeah. Given that he's also saying they did this horrible thing entirely without his knowledge it's not inconsistent to add that they lied to him about it when he asked them.

The point is, though, that this is a perfectly decent defense for him to mount so long as no evidence emerges to the contrary. No amount of eye-rolling "he must have known" stuff will make the charges stick with those willing to give Christie the benefit of the doubt.

It's also not impossible that he genuinely was not involved in this. There are a lot of politicians (and mobsters etc.) who know very well how to set a general "break a few kneecaps" agenda for their staff while making damned sure they are never on record anywhere as having ordered any specific person to have their specific kneecaps broken.
posted by yoink at 1:48 PM on January 8 [3 favorites]


Silver lining: Women can abuse power just as well as men. Yay equality!
posted by Renoroc at 1:50 PM on January 8


You know what would be great? Christie and Rob Ford should join forces in some kind of traveling road-show. Think of the ratings!
posted by orrnyereg at 1:51 PM on January 8


I like how he was unaware of the contents of the documents his office was ordered by subpoena to produce until after they were made public.
posted by Navelgazer at 1:52 PM on January 8 [12 favorites]


Is there an actual study, or did they just say they were doing a study? It will go hilariously bad for Christie's administration if they didn't actually make sure that a study was produced from this.
posted by jason_steakums at 1:53 PM on January 8


I wonder how much the specter of Rob Ford's handling of his mess is hanging over the PR team and directly influencing their moves here

Rob Ford is currently looking a near-lock for reelection. His case should be a pretty bright warning light for anyone saying it's "obvious" how a particular political scandal will play out--or how the politician in question should handle it.
posted by yoink at 1:53 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]


I don't think the Christie claims are likely to hold up. It would require a close aide and his highschool buddy running the NJ part of the Port Authority to have been lying to him. Also, he has to then explain how he just trusted this aide, did no checking on his own for months other than listening to the aide, etc. Plus he can't trash her too much, or she will tell all.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:58 PM on January 8


yoink: Hey, he's started following my advice! Curses, I knew I was supposed to use my powers for good!"

With great power comes great responsiblity. Listen to your old Uncle Broom...
posted by IAmBroom at 1:58 PM on January 8


Except the pertinent issue isn't Christie's chance for reelection, like it is in Rob Ford's case, but rather Christie's chance to with the Republican Presidential nomination in 2016.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 1:58 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]


Rob Ford is currently looking a near-lock for reelection. His case should be a pretty bright warning light for anyone saying it's "obvious" how a particular political scandal will play out--or how the politician in question should handle it.

Rob Ford's near-lock is for a local election with a specific electorate that allowed him to come to power in the first place and a specific field of opponents, though. Hard to compare to primaries for a presidential election in the US, or even to another city, or even to Toronto in a different time. This Christie thing is about a very specific political situation as much as the Ford thing is, and Christie started in a much much much more vulnerable position.
posted by jason_steakums at 2:01 PM on January 8


Rob Ford is currently looking a near-lock for reelection

Rob Ford will be convicted of crack possession if he tries to run again. Where's he going to get the money to run? Its one thing to be doing well in a few polls before the election. Its another to be able to actually mount a campaign without any support from your own party.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:02 PM on January 8


Plus he can't trash her too much, or she will tell all.

I don't really see that. Her rap doesn't get better for dragging Christie down with her (unless we're talking cutting a deal with the prosecution, but the prosecution will need more than her say-so to sink Christie; there'll have to be something in writing, and they should be able to get that, if it exists, with or without her help). But "showing she can keep her mouth shut and take the fall" is a definite plus on her resume if she wants to keep working in this business in the future. If she sticks the knife in Christie she can kiss goodbye any chance of getting work in this kind of area in the future.
posted by yoink at 2:03 PM on January 8


Almost everywhere Christie goes, he is filmed by an aide whose job is to capture these “moments,” as the governor’s staff has come to call them. When one occurs, Christie’s press shop splices the video and uploads it to YouTube; from there, conservatives throughout the country share Christie clips the way tween girls circulate Justin Bieber videos. “The YouTube stuff is golden,” says Rich Lowry, the editor of National Review. “I can’t tell you how many people forward them to me.” One video on Christie’s YouTube channel — a drubbing he delivered to another aggrieved public-school teacher at a town hall in September — has racked up over 750,000 views.

Man, I would love to know if that that aide's salary is paid out of state funds.

Also it really speaks to how awful the state of our infrastructure is if the closure of two toll booths is enough to gridlock a city. But apparently we can't spend anything on this stuff because deficits/socialism/etc.
posted by longdaysjourney at 2:03 PM on January 8


Rob Ford is currently looking a near-lock for reelection.

based on one poll that assumes that five candidates, three of whom are not registered in the mayoral race yet and at least one of whom may well not register at all, will all be on the ballot in October, so yeah, "near-lock" is something of an understatement when other polls show that over SIXTY PERCENT OF THE CITY WILL NOT VOTE FOR HIM UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES.
posted by mightygodking at 2:06 PM on January 8 [7 favorites]


I don't really see that. Her rap doesn't get better for dragging Christie down with her (unless we're talking cutting a deal with the prosecution, but the prosecution will need more than her say-so to sink Christie; there'll have to be something in writing

I disagree. Her sworn testimony will be more than enough for an indictment. That's been my experience.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:06 PM on January 8


But apparently we can't spend anything on this stuff because deficits/socialism/etc.

It's also because, while it's great to be the politician who fixes big things, it's really lousy to be the politician who signs cities up for months and years of gridlock and detours and lost business from construction. Awesome if you can get it done before your next election, or if you come into office shortly before or after the last pol's construction project is done, but that's hard to pull off.
posted by jason_steakums at 2:07 PM on January 8


Talk of indicting a sitting governor and likely presidential candidate seems pretty far-fetched at this point. The Obama DOJ hasn’t exactly been aggressive with high profile prosecutions, and a prosecution would be a right-wing media circus like has never been seen, which Obama has never shown any appetite to provoke where he can avoid it. It’s likely that any potential indictment of Christie himself by the US Attorney would get squashed on orders from Holder or Obama himself. The aide may get thrown to the wolves, but Christie is not about to stand trial for this.
posted by T.D. Strange at 2:13 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]


But "showing she can keep her mouth shut and take the fall" is a definite plus on her resume if she wants to keep working in this business in the future. If she sticks the knife in Christie she can kiss goodbye any chance of getting work in this kind of area in the future.

No one will ever hire her again in the political field. She's done. Anyone who hires her will instantly be set upon by any opponent saying why did you hire Bridget Kelly? H.R. Haldeman didn't work in the political field again. None of them did. What she did was commit a crime under New Jersey law. This woman may be prosecuted.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:13 PM on January 8


>> But. Is there concrete evidence that Christie knew about this?

> Millions upon millions of tons of it-- the biggest pair of concrete overshoes in history.


Sorry, there isn't concrete on the Geo. Washington Bridge. If email hadn't been invented you could have referred to the incriminating cables unearthed today, which will lead to a suspension of Christie's presidential hopes.
posted by benito.strauss at 2:14 PM on January 8 [2 favorites]


I disagree. Her sworn testimony will be more than enough for an indictment.

Enough for an indictment, maybe; not for a conviction, absent other evidence. If it's nothing but her say-so she's simply too vulnerable to the accusation that she's saying whatever the prosecution wants her to say in exchange for leniency.

More to the point, there is, so far as I know, not even a criminal investigation of Bridget Anne Kelly underway, let alone a prosecution.
posted by yoink at 2:14 PM on January 8


Talk of indicting a sitting governor and likely presidential candidate seems pretty far-fetched at this point. The Obama DOJ hasn’t exactly been aggressive with high profile prosecutions, and a prosecution would be a right-wing media circus like has never been seen, which Obama has never shown any appetite to provoke where he can avoid it. It’s likely that any potential indictment of Christie himself by the US Attorney would get squashed on orders from Holder or Obama himself. The aide may get thrown to the wolves, but Christie is not about to stand trial for this

Obama isn't going to interfere in that decision. It would be totally improper. They are going to get the woman. She'll turn on Christie. It doesn't matter if he actually gets indicted or not.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:15 PM on January 8


H.R. Haldeman didn't work in the political field again.

Comparing this minor, local-political kerfuffle to Watergate is pretty silly. If Christie didn't have national office ambitions this would barely make it to the front page of newspapers outside of the Tri-State area.
posted by yoink at 2:16 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]


Enough for an indictment, maybe; not for a conviction, absent other evidence

Uh, thousands of people are put away each year on the basis of sworn oral testimony of co-conspirators. There is zero legal impediment to a conviction because the testimony is oral and there is no written evidence.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:17 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]


It's also because, while it's great to be the politician who fixes big things, it's really lousy to be the politician who signs cities up for months and years of gridlock and detours and lost business from construction.

Christie could have been known as the governor who helped improve transportation in NJ. But instead he'll be remembered as the person who killed the ARC tunnel and shut down the busiest bridge in the world to punish a politician who'd pissed him off. I know what legacy I'd rather have.
posted by longdaysjourney at 2:17 PM on January 8


But instead he'll be remembered as the person who killed the ARC tunnel and shut down the busiest bridge in the world to punish a politician who'd pissed him off.

Currently, Al Queda couldn't have caused more damage on their best day.
posted by mikelieman at 2:18 PM on January 8


Comparing this minor, local-political kerfuffle to Watergate is pretty silly. If Christie didn't have national office ambitions this would barely make it to the front page of newspapers outside of the Tri-State area.

The tri-state area is 23 million people. That's more than 5% of the entire US population. This isn't the IN-KY-IL tri state area.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:19 PM on January 8 [2 favorites]


thousands of people are put away each year on the basis of sworn oral testimony of co-conspirators

Sure. Not people like Christie, however. No prosecutor is going to take a sitting New Jersey Governor to trial with nothing more to go on than the say-so of one easily discredited witness. I'll be glad to bet real cash money on that.
posted by yoink at 2:19 PM on January 8 [2 favorites]


Obama isn't going to interfere in that decision. It would be totally improper.

Sure, maybe in your Fantasy Democratic Politics League. In the real world that indictment is not going to happen.

Uh, thousands of people are put away each year on the basis of sworn oral testimony of co-conspirators. There is zero legal impediment to a conviction because the testimony is oral and there is no written evidence.

Those people are street level offenders represented by overworked public defenders, not Chris Chistie. Fantasy League Lawyering as well.
posted by T.D. Strange at 2:20 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]


Martha Stewart spent a year in federal prison. IIRC at the time she sat on NYSEs board? I could be misrembering.
posted by mikelieman at 2:22 PM on January 8


And Martha Stewart came out of jail looking more human than when she went in, but they are two different sets of circumstances.
posted by Navelgazer at 2:26 PM on January 8


Here's a Christie quote from the New Yorker website (didn't say when he said it);

“I think we should review that entire policy,” he said. “Because I’ve sat in that traffic, before I was governor, at the George Washington Bridge, and the fact that one town has three lanes dedicated to it, that kind of gets me sauced.”
posted by newdaddy at 2:27 PM on January 8


18 USC 1001 is pretty easy to break. All he needs to do is fib to a fed and blingo blango.
posted by mikelieman at 2:31 PM on January 8


Martha Stewart spent a year in federal prison.

Martha Stewart was governor of what state, again? And her conviction was based on the otherwise unconfirmed testimony of what single eyewitness? (And don't say "Faneuil" because the Stewart wasn't even convicted of the actual insider-trading charges that Feneuil's testimony bolstered--she was convicted of obstruction of justice.)
posted by yoink at 2:35 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]


Navelgazer: "I like how he was unaware of the contents of the documents his office was ordered by subpoena to produce until after they were made public."

Quite a testament to the outstanding performance of his Secretary of Plausible Deniability. If only he'd had similarly talented staff in charge of the Port Authority.
posted by tonycpsu at 2:38 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]


Obama isn't going to interfere in that decision. It would be totally improper.

Sure, maybe in your Fantasy Democratic Politics League. In the real world that indictment is not going to happen.

Uh, thousands of people are put away each year on the basis of sworn oral testimony of co-conspirators. There is zero legal impediment to a conviction because the testimony is oral and there is no written evidence.

Those people are street level offenders represented by overworked public defenders, not Chris Chistie. Fantasy League Lawyering as well.


I'm an actual lawyer with a full and active litigation practice who has represented criminal defendants. You?

Put another way, what legal argument will prohibit Ms. Kelly from testifying against Christie? And if she does, why do you think that a jury will not credit her testimony? What basis do you have for that belief?
posted by Ironmouth at 2:42 PM on January 8 [6 favorites]


conspiracy, obstruction of an agency proceeding, and making false statements to federal investigator

Not obstruction of justice. Hmmm... If the FBI interviews Chris Christie and he tells a not-truth, and we have a co-conspirator ratting on him... That's 2 of the 3 Martha fell for... And I wonder if there's any federal law against fucking up critical infrastructure?
posted by mikelieman at 2:44 PM on January 8


My liver isn't ready for 2016
posted by hellojed at 2:46 PM on January 8 [10 favorites]


At the risk of sounding like a broken record: The issue isn't really whether or not Christie gets tarred with the scandal (apart from being directly involved, in which case Game Over), it's that it (1) feeds into the narrative of him as a bully, (2) tests whether he is able to maintain self-control when pressed over this issue and the ones waiting in the wings when self-control is not one of his strong suits, and (3) means his campaign staff (at least at first) will likely be made up of people who are vindictive assholes and not strategic thinkers. So, we're talking about a thin-skinned walking New Jersey stereotype who's so full of himself that he has a hired cameraman to film him being an asshole and put it up on Youtube, surrounded by people who encourage that in him. Combine that with former Romney campaign staff made up in no small part of people more interested in grifting his campaign than personal loyalty and who may have had access to oppo research, and what do you get?
posted by zombieflanders at 2:50 PM on January 8 [4 favorites]


This is promising:
[Democratic Assemblyman John Wisniewski] said between 3,000 and 5,000 pages of documents about the issue exist, according to reports. That’s vastly more than the roughly two dozen pages released Wednesday after state lawmakers issued a subpoena on the matter.
The same story offers a defense from the finance guy for the Republican Governors Association. He maintains that the closure was too "bush league" to have anything to do with a man of Christie's sophistication.
posted by compartment at 2:51 PM on January 8


I guess we can add "criminal or just incapable of being in control of his staff?" to the narrative as well:

Christie claims he was ‘misled’ by staff
We can’t yet say with certainty what the governor knew and when, but it is possible that some of the governor’s top political aides, including his own deputy chief of staff, orchestrated this dangerous scheme without Christie’s knowledge and then repeatedly lied to him about what transpired.

But this won’t necessarily solve the governor’s problem. As the Star Ledger editorialized this afternoon, “His attempts to laugh this off now appear to be dishonest, though we can’t yet be sure that he personally knew about the correspondence of one of his top aides. Still, Christie bears responsibility either way. If it turns out he did know, he is obviously lying and unfit for office – let alone a 2016 presidential run. And even if he did not, his officials are liars. If Christie can’t control them, how can we trust him as a potential future leader of our country?”

At a certain level, the governor is saying this is less a Watergate-style story and more an Iran-Contra story – the person with all the power wasn’t calling the shots, he was simply ignorant, overseeing an operation filled with dishonest aides abusing their power.

In other words, the defense is that Christie wasn’t in control of his own administration, and his top allies orchestrated a scandal without bothering to let him know.
posted by zombieflanders at 3:16 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]


Doesn't matter. It was done by his people on his behalf. Letting him use the old "oh, but I'm just the boss -- I have no idea what my grunts are up to" is too easy of an out.

Right now, we have a Prime Minister who appears to be getting away with using that out.
posted by nubs at 3:44 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]


Rob Ford is currently looking a near-lock for reelection.

That is a ridiculous statement, exactly on a par with the folks here who are claiming to know with certainty what will happen in 2016. No one knows what will happen in Toronto, and Ford's recent icestorm bump may or may not last.
posted by mediareport at 3:49 PM on January 8


Put another way, what legal argument will prohibit Ms. Kelly from testifying against Christie? And if she does, why do you think that a jury will not credit her testimony? What basis do you have for that belief?

Nothing, assuming there's even an indictment, which there won't be. Which is what I said.

But as a lawyer, Im sure you know all about prosecutorial discretion, deferred agreements and all manner of pre-indictment negotiations. Seems a little quick to waive away all of that.

This is hardly as open and shut as you're claiming, argument from your own authority or no.
posted by T.D. Strange at 3:49 PM on January 8 [3 favorites]


In other words, the defense is that Christie wasn’t in control of his own administration, and his top allies orchestrated a scandal without bothering to let him know

The buck stops near?
posted by fings at 4:01 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]


This is hardly as open and shut as you're claiming,

a little hilarious since you're also talking in absolute terms.
posted by nadawi at 4:03 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]


Ironmouth: "Plus he's acting so guilty."

He looks guilty. He smells guilty. He IS guilty! And we recommend that he be fed to giant Iranian goat-eating cockroaches!
posted by Chrysostom at 4:03 PM on January 8


He maintains that the closure was too "bush league" to have anything to do with a man of Christie's sophistication.

"Yeah, Christie's been brushing up on his Gargoyles DVDs, real knack for the ol' Xanatos Gambit. If it was him, you'd know it was him."
posted by jason_steakums at 4:04 PM on January 8 [2 favorites]


Wow, does this mean Christie was a corrupt asshole the whole time? Color me amazed.
posted by nowhere man at 4:14 PM on January 8


Here's a Christie quote from the New Yorker website (didn't say when he said it);

December 2nd.
posted by smackfu at 4:22 PM on January 8


Nothing, assuming there's even an indictment, which there won't be. Which is what I said.

But as a lawyer, Im sure you know all about prosecutorial discretion, deferred agreements and all manner of pre-indictment negotiations. Seems a little quick to waive away all of that.

This is hardly as open and shut as you're claiming, argument from your own authority or no.


Huh? I never said it was "open and shut." What I said was that just PR spin will not make this go away because this is serious criminal activity, and prosecutors are not going to just ignore it--the US Attorneys have been far harder on this under the rubric of "honest services fraud" for the last 5 or 6 years.

The George Washington Bridge isn't the busiest bridge in the United States, its the busiest bridge in the entire world. You cannot impede interstate commerce to that level in an attempt to extort political favors or endorsements. Mind you, Rod Blagojevich is in the federal pen for far, far less.

An ambulance was delayed in reaching a 91-year old woman who later died at the hospital.

This is real shit. And it is a very serious problem for Chris Christie. All this talk of prosecutors looking the other way and the GOP will be excited to support Christie is all wrong. Who in this country is in favor of doing this? I can think of no person that will defend these actions and a whole lot that are going to get really pissed. When Dem ads start running in August 2016, if Christie is the nominee, you will see the face of the woman who died and a deep voice will come on: "Chris Christie wanted to force a mayor to endorse him and shut down the George Washington Bridge to do it. The resulting traffic jams delayed the ambulance from reaching Jane Smith in time. She died at the hospital. Is Chris Christie the type of leader you can trust to do what's right for you?"
posted by Ironmouth at 4:23 PM on January 8 [7 favorites]


That is a ridiculous statement, exactly on a par with the folks here who are claiming to know with certainty what will happen in 2016. No one knows what will happen in Toronto, and Ford's recent icestorm bump may or may not last.

Er, you missed the bit where I said "currently looking." You know, "currently" meaning "at this point in time" and "looking" as in "appearing," "seeming" etc. Unlike those claiming to know exactly what the public will come to believe about Christie's role in this scandal and exactly how that will influence their vote in 2016, I'm making no claims about the future whatsoever.
posted by yoink at 4:27 PM on January 8


Who in this country is in favor of doing this?

No one. But you are, once again, simply assuming, on the basis of no evidence whatsoever, that no one will buy Christie's claims that he did not approve of these actions and did not know of them.. You've invented a prosecution which may or may not happen and invented a scenario in which that prosecution leads to further evidence emerging that ties Christie concretely to the scandal. Both things may happen, but they haven't happened yet.
posted by yoink at 4:30 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]


MisantropicPainforest: " And to do this on the first day of school? Most people are parents before they are republicans or democrats--this will kill Christie."

First day of public school. Christie didn't send his kids to public schools, and would really rather if you all did the same as him. He's not a fan of public education, and is on record saying as much. Since the beginning of his gubernatorial career, he's toned down this rhetoric as he's gotten better at taking cheap shots at NJEA.

I don't understand how Christie crafted his "everyman" persona. The guy's a bully, and has been for a very long time. He's also almost certainly not on your side. I seriously do not understand his rise to fame -- there's very little merit to warrant it...

All in all, I'll be disappointed if this scandal brings down Chris Christie, because his terrible policy decisions should have been more than enough to do that already. Why can't we talk about that instead?

jason_steakums: "Should not have fucked with roads"

Ha. No kidding. Like others, I'm surprised that the ARC cancellation and NJTransit cutbacks aren't being looked at with a huge magnifying glass right now.

zombieflanders: "In other words, the defense is that Christie wasn’t in control of his own administration, and his top allies orchestrated a scandal without bothering to let him know."

George W. Bush was a perfectly fine president (no, really) who surrounded himself with some of the worst people in the world. Look how that ended up.
posted by schmod at 4:32 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]


I find this discussion fascinating and wanted to thank all the people who are commenting to explain the why's and wherefore's of the situation. Thank you.

Also thankful it's finally not our governor they're talking about.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 4:34 PM on January 8 [4 favorites]


"George W. Bush was a perfectly fine president..."


You start a sentence like that, you'd better be telling a joke, otherwise you've lost all credibility.
posted by stenseng at 4:40 PM on January 8 [5 favorites]


An ambulance was delayed in reaching a 91-year old woman who later died at the hospital.

On September 10, no less. Sure, it's simplistic, but "letting a 91 year old woman die the day before the anniversary of 9/11" seems like the kind of thing tailor-made for attack ads from both sides.
posted by zombieflanders at 4:42 PM on January 8


EMS responses delayed by GWB lane closures in Fort Lee

Emergency responders were delayed in attending to four medical situations

EMS crews took seven to nine minutes to arrive at the scene of a vehicle accident where four people were injured, when the response time should have been less than four minutes

It also took EMS seven minutes to reach an unconscious 91-year-old woman who later died of cardiac arrest at a hospital.

nearly an hour to arrive at a building where a person was experiencing chest pains
posted by R. Mutt at 4:46 PM on January 8 [3 favorites]


You know what would be great? Christie and Rob Ford should join forces in some kind of traveling road-show. Think of the ratings!

Think of the room service bills.
posted by spitbull at 4:55 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]


George W. Bush was a perfectly fine president (no, really)

No, really.
posted by spitbull at 4:56 PM on January 8 [4 favorites]


> George W. Bush was a perfectly fine president (no, really) who surrounded himself with some of the worst people in the world. Look how that ended up.

Not to join the riot, but come on. That should be the key talent of a president: picking the right people to administer decisions. The fact that he decided to surround himself with legacy vampires indicates he had no vision at all, and no clue.
posted by planetesimal at 5:01 PM on January 8 [2 favorites]


No one. But you are, once again, simply assuming, on the basis of no evidence whatsoever, that no one will buy Christie's claims that he did not approve of these actions and did not know of them.. You've invented a prosecution which may or may not happen and invented a scenario in which that prosecution leads to further evidence emerging that ties Christie concretely to the scandal. Both things may happen, but they haven't happened yet.

Stating that there won't be an investigation because there hasn't been anything revealed that would be revealed in an investigation seems like an odd way of explaining how there might not be an investigation.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 5:01 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]


Stating that there won't be an investigation because there hasn't been anything revealed that would be revealed in an investigation seems like an odd way of explaining how there might not be an investigation.

Reading "both things may happen" as meaning "this thing won't happen" suggests some fundamental problems with reading comprehension.
posted by yoink at 5:09 PM on January 8


Christie isn't going to prison. Some of his staff might, maybe, but he won't. Scooter Libby went to jail. Cheney didn't. Oliver North went to jail. Reagan didn't. G. Gordon Liddy went to jail. Nixon didn't.

His gubernatorial career might survive - depending on what else is in the documents - but his presidential hopes are toast. With luck, this will have some ripple effect on republicans elsewhere.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 5:12 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]


18 U.S.C. 1959 Murder involved in a racketeering offense
posted by mikelieman at 5:14 PM on January 8


Christie's actions in the wake of Hurricane Sandy can be seen as a betrayal of Romney over being insulted by Romney about his weight and passed over for the Veep nomination. They have so far been cited as evidence of the governor's pragmatism over partisianship style. It will be interesting to see if his opponents can shift the public perception.
posted by humanfont at 5:22 PM on January 8


Oh this is going to get fun. I just dug up one of the original stories with some fascinating details:
[Fort Lee Mayor] Sokolich writes [in a letter to Baroni], "Many members of the public have indicated to me that the Port Authority Police Officers are advising commuters in response to their complaints that this recent traffic debacle is the result of a decision that I, as Mayor, recently made."
and
The Port Authority Police Benevolent Association rejected the notion that any of its members would allow themselves to be used, willingly or otherwise, in such a retaliatory scheme. PBA President Paul Nunziato, whose union was one of the first labor groups to endorse Christie last year, released a wry statement ... If anyone believed there really was such a scheme, Nunziato said through a spokesman, “then I would suggest that we’re going to find Jimmy Hoffa’s body on the Leona Helmsley property in Fort Lee.”
posted by crayz at 5:28 PM on January 8 [2 favorites]


Henceforth he shall be called Governor Gridlock.
posted by humanfont at 5:31 PM on January 8 [8 favorites]


> Henceforth he shall be called Governor Gridlock.

As the man loves to push around people weaker than he is, and the man who spent $12 million of the taxpayers' money just so he wouldn't have to run in the same election as Corey Booker — not run against Booker for the same office, but even just appear on the same ballot — he will forever be known as Big Chicken.
posted by benito.strauss at 6:16 PM on January 8


Somewhere I saw "The Gutfather."
posted by spitbull at 6:17 PM on January 8


Who in this country is in favor of doing this?

No one. But you are, once again, simply assuming, on the basis of no evidence whatsoever, that no one will buy Christie's claims that he did not approve of these actions and did not know of them.. You've invented a prosecution


I said that (1) these are criminal acts under NJ Criminal law; (2) Some Christie aides are known to have engaged in the acts; (3) the likelihood that the aides will communicate information to the prosecutors which could implicate him in exchange for immunity is materially increased; therefore (4) the chances that mere PR spin would make this go away were low.

You don't get to impede the flow of traffic on the country's busiest bridge to obtain electoral advantage and force a person to endorse you in your race and walk away. It is a criminal act under New Jersey law to threaten anyone to obtain a recommendation in a political election. Its also honest services fraud--using the powers of public office to obtain something of value in contravention of the duty of honest service to the constituent.

These people are in real trouble. Additionally, there's the cover up. Who said what to whom when and why did people agree to fall on their swords and will they continue to do so if there is the pressure of a criminal investigation, let alone an indictment. The first thing they get is a target letter. Having seen a client get one, it isn't a laughing matter.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:17 PM on January 8 [5 favorites]


If he did this to an ambulance load of schoolkids, just imagine what he'd do to Obamacare.
posted by Ardiril at 6:18 PM on January 8


And I maintain that if this happened, lots else happened, and that will be Christie's undoing, not this episode alone. Pandora's box, it opens.
posted by spitbull at 6:19 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]


I loathe Chris Christie. I was accepted into a reputable PhD program at a state school in New Jersey. Since Christie gutted the school's budget, they had no funding for incoming students, the first time ever, and I couldn't/didn't go. I fucking hate him, personally. But please, can we not make fat jokes?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 6:22 PM on January 8 [25 favorites]


Think of the room service bills.

Somewhere I saw "The Gutfather."


Can we please chill with the fat jokes?
posted by lalex at 6:36 PM on January 8 [11 favorites]


Nate Silver take via Twitter: No one ever went broke underestimating the media's ability to predict which scandals will resonate with voters in 3 years...With that said, Christie has benefited a lot from positive mainstream media coverage -- far more than most GOP pols.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:52 PM on January 8


This interview with Fort Lee mayor Mark Sokolich is fascinating. I think Democrats are going to do everything they can to get the guy in front of a lot of cameras and microphones as this story unfolds. He's clearly just a guy who just wants to be small-town mayor and not get involved in national politics, and I can't think of a more New Jersey thing than going on TV and saying that Christie's aide deserves an "ass-kicking."
posted by tonycpsu at 7:00 PM on January 8 [2 favorites]


(Fat jokes MeTa.)
posted by box at 7:08 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]


That Mayor Sokolich seems like a really cool dude, the kind of person you want representing you in government. And as a Serb, I found this funny: As for the email calling Sokolich a Serbian, he notes that he is Croatian. “I have Serbian friends who I have to believe were insulted because it was said in a condescending way,” he said.
posted by stargell at 7:48 PM on January 8 [3 favorites]


Good lord, Christie's fucked. I'm honestly surprised at the liberals I know who are saying Christie will weather this one. He won't. I'm sure he can power through a full second term with enough subordinate resignations but he has ended his 2016 run with this.

There's a good chance that even if he does win the 2016 GOP nomination, he won't win New Jersey. And that's a problem. Why?

List of Democratic presidents who did not win their home states' Electoral College votes:
James K. Polk, 1844 (did not win Tennessee)
Woodrow Wilson, 1916 (did not win New Jersey)

List of Republican presidents who did not win their home states' Electoral College votes:
 
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 8:56 PM on January 8


Too moderate for Iowa, too crooked for New Hampshire.

Too crazy for Boys' Town; too much of a boy for Crazy Town.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:18 PM on January 8 [5 favorites]


you are, once again, simply assuming, on the basis of no evidence whatsoever, that no one will buy Christie's claims that he did not approve of these actions and did not know of them.

I'm willing to assume that, and it's a very safe assumption. Has anyone even gestured at floating the idea of saying out loud that they believe he didn't know and approve? No one believes the "I'm incompetent, not evil" defense, they just sometimes keep quiet because they don't have written proof of evil.

Even if they acknowledge the possibility that he just wasn't kept up to speed on it, it fits the narrative of Christie too neatly: If it wasn't him, it really sounds like him, and that's good enough for the scandal to "keep walking".
posted by fatbird at 9:20 PM on January 8


Christie could have been known as the governor who helped improve transportation in NJ. But instead he'll be remembered as the person who killed the ARC tunnel and shut down the busiest bridge in the world to punish a politician who'd pissed him off. I know what legacy I'd rather have.

It was also great fun when NJT monthly passes got 25% more expensive shortly after he took office.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 9:26 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]


Henceforth he shall be called Governor Gridlock.

Poster boy for the Gridlock and Obstruction Party.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 9:27 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]


I think he's done politically but I'm skeptical that anyone will have the will for serious prosecutions. I've seen too many crooked bankers and authorizers of torture walk to believe "But we can prove they broke the law" is enough to prosecute a powerful Republican. Blago's prosecution was helped out immeasurably by realtime wiretapping, evidence of that quality is not likely to pop up in my view.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:13 PM on January 8


George W. Bush was a perfectly fine president (no, really) who surrounded himself with some of the worst people in the world.

In politics, surrounding yourself with good people IS the job. If you fuck that up, then you fucked the job up.
posted by empath at 10:23 PM on January 8 [7 favorites]


George W. Bush was a perfectly fine president (no, really)

There are many things I could say with a straight face, but this is not one of them.
posted by Dip Flash at 11:26 PM on January 8


one more dead.... You forgot Al Gore lost Tennessee in 2000.
posted by spitbull at 4:26 AM on January 9


Oh sore, you meant people who won. My bad.
posted by spitbull at 4:28 AM on January 9


The news orgs are saying there'll be a press conference at 11a. I wonder if we get contrite Christie or the blowhard.

Also, on a side note: whatever poor Senate staffer that's in charge of keeping Chuck Schumer away from the cameras (they're like his second home!) deserves a five-figure bonus and a promotion.
posted by zombieflanders at 4:59 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]


Christie has called a press conference for 11:00 AM EST, which makes no sense since he clearly resolved all of this last night when he blamed everyone else.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 5:06 AM on January 9 [4 favorites]


Woodrow Wilson, 1916 (did not win New Jersey)

But did win Virginia, where he was born and raised.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:23 AM on January 9


And George W Bush lost Connecticut. But we're counting Texas as his "home state" for the same reason Jersey is officially Wilson's.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 5:25 AM on January 9


Yeah, I'm comfortable saying that the home state of the sitting governor of New Jersey is New Jersey.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 5:34 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]


I'm not going to pretend I have any idea if this will be problematic for his presidential run, but I find it pretty insulting that reporters who knew there was something fishy around election time didn't get the word out there. In fact, this story stood out to me when reading about his re-election, which paints Christie as a big friend of helping Democratic mayors. I find it very hard to believe that reporters could have the wool pulled so tightly over their eyes to now be shocked that the big bully wasn't so friendly with political opponents.
posted by lownote at 5:45 AM on January 9 [2 favorites]


Oh sore, you meant people who won. My bad.

No, you were right the first time.
posted by stevis23 at 6:02 AM on January 9 [5 favorites]


Time magazine's "The Elephant in the Room" cover is seeming prescient. I do agree with those who said he never had a chance in 2016 anyway, and assume this will make the decision to stay Gov. of NJ easier. But I am curious where the media's attention will shift to now. Next flavor of the month? Think we all know Rubio is toast (ongoing federal investigations and all that), Cruz? Coburn? Jindal is toast, Paul? Basically I think they are going to talk about anyone except Jeb Bush until the last moment- when he is named as the preemptive favorite before the convention. It will be fun watching the Christie thing play out over the next few weeks. But I would bet he will still be in office pushing people around after the dust settles.
posted by T10B at 7:07 AM on January 9


EMS responses delayed by GWB lane closures in Fort Lee.

Emergency responders were delayed in attending to four medical situations – including one in which a 91-year-old woman lay unconscious – due to traffic gridlock caused by unannounced closures of access lanes to the George Washington Bridge, according to the head of the borough’s EMS department.

The woman later died, borough records show.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 7:22 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]


Sure, maybe in your Fantasy Democratic Politics League. In the real world that indictment is not going to happen.
...
Fantasy League Lawyering as well.
posted by T.D. Strange at 4:20 PM on January 8


This is probably a joke, but just in case I'd totally be down for Fantasy Democratic Politics League. Also I'd give Fantasy Lawyering a good college try but 3 weeks into the season my interest would probably wane and I'd stop setting my lineup.
posted by DynamiteToast at 7:40 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]


The NY Times article this morning says that the redactions in the text & email documents were done by Wildstein himself in his response to the legislature's subpeona, which is interesting.

I wonder if this episode will have any effect on the murky workings of the Port Authority itself - it's pretty insane that it was even possible for Christie's people to do this. The Port Authority is this bizarre mixture of pillarized political patronage and semi-sovereign lack of accountability and it sits in the middle of a ton of cash flow, and it will be interesting to see if any daylight from this investigation is contained to this incident or if it can extend further.
posted by yarrow at 7:40 AM on January 9 [2 favorites]


"if there's no evidence then I'm not sure how much this hurts him personally. He'll just fire his aides and say he's astonished and dismayed or whatever."

For starters, the issue isn't so much how this plays out in the Presidential Election, as much as how it plays out in the Republican primaries. I think it plays pretty well there, actually, in that it undermines several of the key factors of Christie's electability.

The heart of the GOP power base is the South and Midwest, but many of their presidential candidates come from places like California or the Northeast. There's a reason for this, and it has everything to do with the ability of such candidates to deliver states outside the traditional GOP base. That said, the GOP base don't like to having to make such compromises.

Basically, there are only two reasons why most Republicans would vote for Christie over some other nominee:

1> Money (Does he have a clear advantage over the other candidates, due to his location and access to $$?)
2> Power base (i.e. Can he deliver wins in states that the GOP has lost recently?)

It seems to me that Christie stands to get seriously hurt, both as far as his access to New Jersey / NYC campaign contributions, his power base, and his level of grassroots support if this issue becomes a serious -- but largely localized -- issue.

To me, Christie comes off of this without anywhere near Romney's level of deep financial support, without the likelihood of delivering a state outside of the GOP heartland, and without Romney's grassroots support, which was largely driven by Mormons and religious evangelists.

The big money centers in elections usually are California, New York / N.J., Florida, and Texas. If Christie fumbles like it appears he might, then that makes choosing a candidate with deep financial connections in Florida and/or Texas to lead the party. It also means that the GOP will be at a distinct financial disadvantage over the last election, which isn't good news at all for them.

In short, it gives the GOP base more of a reason to choose the kind of insular ideologue that they'd prefer... which is good news for the Democrats.
posted by markkraft at 7:52 AM on January 9 [2 favorites]


Christie's political career is as dead as Eliot Spitzer's. The only question left is will he be forced to resign in exchange for not going to Federal Prison.
posted by mikelieman at 7:55 AM on January 9


Man, Christine Todd-Whitman could take over the GOP at at this point and rebrand it as 'not crazy anymore' if she played her cards right.
posted by mikelieman at 7:56 AM on January 9 [2 favorites]


Aaaaaand here comes the U.S. Attorney investigation.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:59 AM on January 9


And now the New York Post is reporting Christie has fired Bridget Kelly
posted by DynamiteToast at 8:01 AM on January 9


*doink doink*
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 8:02 AM on January 9 [3 favorites]


C'mon "Spend more time with my family..."!
posted by mikelieman at 8:02 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]


It'd be crazy for the feds to not be involved in something like this, where the home state prosecutors are appointees of the principals involved. I doubt anyone will find any smoking gun connecting Christie, but federal charges might get some folks of the falling-on-sword persuasion to roll up on their superiors.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:03 AM on January 9


The feds are involved. Note the update at the bottom - a US Attorney (federal prosecutor) is investigating.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:04 AM on January 9


Has anybody linked the livestream yet?
posted by Rory Marinich at 8:07 AM on January 9


This was supposed to start at 11. Maybe he's stuck in traffic.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:07 AM on January 9 [13 favorites]


No, but I can't watch it at work so y'all should comment on it regularly.
posted by DynamiteToast at 8:08 AM on January 9


He's speaking now. "Ashamed and embarrassed", yadda yadda.
posted by Rory Marinich at 8:08 AM on January 9


Maybe he's stuck in traffic.

Hopefully he's wearing a seat belt, at least.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 8:10 AM on January 9


He's blaming his staff entirely.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 8:10 AM on January 9


Bridget Kelly goes under the bus....
posted by mikelieman at 8:10 AM on January 9


Bridget to Nowhere
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:11 AM on January 9 [8 favorites]


"emails that I saw for the first time yesterday"
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 8:11 AM on January 9


Looks like he's going the "I merely have no fucking clue what my top staff is doing" route.

Christie 2016!
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:11 AM on January 9 [4 favorites]


He's not coming across as very convincing here. Or am I just not used to the level of over-narrating that happens at a press conference?
posted by Rory Marinich at 8:12 AM on January 9


Looks like he's going the "I merely have no fucking clue what my top staff is doing" route.


It's worked for Governor Walker.
posted by drezdn at 8:13 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]


"Heart broken"? "Betrayed my trust"?

I have become far too cynical if words like these make me gag in this scenario, but here we are.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:14 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]


I wonder what Bridget Kelly's lawyer will have to say about this?
posted by mikelieman at 8:15 AM on January 9


I can't wait to see what The Newsroom does with this story in 2019.
posted by Rory Marinich at 8:15 AM on January 9 [4 favorites]


This Sgt. Schultz defense will work for Christie as long as nobody flips on him, at least for keeping his current job. He's done for 2016, though.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:15 AM on January 9


Wait! Bill Stepien also goes under the bus...
posted by mikelieman at 8:16 AM on January 9


There's two depositions to the Federal Prosecutor I can't wait to read...
posted by mikelieman at 8:17 AM on January 9


Tuesday:

"I’ve asked Bill Stepien to be our new State Party Chairman because no one better understands how to grow our party, communicate our message and, most importantly, win elections,” Christie said in a statement. “Bill Stepien is the best Republican operative in the country, and New Jersey Republicans will be fortunate to have him leading our Party."

posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:17 AM on January 9 [6 favorites]


He says that before the press conference in December, when he denied any involvement by his staff, he convened them and told them that if they knew anything about it they had an hour to go to his chief counsel or chief of staff and tell them. He relied on the fact that no one came forward when he told the press there was no involvement by his office.

He was very clear in talking about firing Bridget Kelly that he was firing her because she lied to him about her involvement (rather than because of her actions wrt Fort Lee). That feels like it could be some sort of attempt to soften the legal case against her.
posted by yarrow at 8:18 AM on January 9


Did he say he was sorry yet? I thought that was the best part of Jon Stewart's bit on the Daily Show last night (pointing out that Christie hadn't said the words "I am sorry").
posted by longdaysjourney at 8:18 AM on January 9


"I was blindsided" is a soundbite made for attack ads.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:19 AM on January 9 [3 favorites]


Yes, he led with an explicit apology and just said he is going to Fort Lee this afternoon to apologize to the mayor and the people of Fort Lee in person.
posted by yarrow at 8:19 AM on January 9 [2 favorites]


Going to Fort Lee MIGHT NOT be the best PR event you want to go with, dude...
posted by mikelieman at 8:20 AM on January 9


Yeah, I kinda wish that was live streamed too. But I'm a bastard.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:21 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]


They should put it on pay-per-view. I mean, the Fort Lee mayor promised us an asskicking...
posted by DynamiteToast at 8:21 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]


"I AM NOT A CROOK!"

Worked well last time, right?
posted by mikelieman at 8:23 AM on January 9


Yeah, he just said he was sorry.
posted by SkylitDrawl at 8:23 AM on January 9


Yeah, apart from minor quibbles, Christie is saying mostly the right things here. The question is whether or not that's enough, especially in the face of the stuff that the NYT and others are saying is just waiting to be disclosed.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:24 AM on January 9 [2 favorites]


He won the election with more than a 20% margin - this is truly Nixonian vindictiveness (Nixon, I believe, could have run his 1972 campaign like he was Jimmy Stewart, or at least without break-ins and wiretaps, and won fairly easily).
posted by thelonius at 8:25 AM on January 9


Actually, as somebody who likes to watch a lot of history that was covered by TV, this really does remind me of nothing more than the Checkers speech.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:25 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]


Enough to salvage a 2016 prez run, I mean.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:25 AM on January 9


Also: the way that he's speaking in absolutes gives him zero wiggle room in any investigations. He's staking his governorship on this, regardless of any future political plans.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:28 AM on January 9


What do you think the "I am not a bully." claim is going to look like next to the video tape already in the can when it comes to crafting attack ads? "Blindsided" and this... in the same press conference. I stand by my "Go golfing with Eliot Spizer, dude..." advice.
posted by mikelieman at 8:28 AM on January 9


na·ive
nīˈēv/
adjective
adjective: naive; comparative adjective: naiver; superlative adjective: naivest; adjective: naïve; comparative adjective: naïver; superlative adjective: naïvest

1.
(of a person or action) showing a lack of experience, wisdom, or judgment.
"the rather naive young man had been totally misled"
(of a person) natural and unaffected; innocent.
"Andy had a sweet, naive look when he smiled"
synonyms: innocent, unsophisticated, artless, ingenuous, inexperienced, guileless, unworldly, trusting; More
gullible, credulous, immature, callow, raw, green, wide-eyed;
informalwet behind the ears, born yesterday
"don't be fooled by his naive manner of speaking"
antonyms: worldly
of or denoting art produced in a straightforward style that deliberately rejects sophisticated artistic techniques and has a bold directness resembling a child's work, typically in bright colors with little or no perspective.

Origin
mid 17th cent.: from French naïve, feminine of naïf, from Latin nativus ‘native, natural.’
posted by mikelieman at 8:30 AM on January 9


It's kind of funny to watch him try to modulate his tone and keep up with the soft-spoken contrition. He already called the folks he fired "idiots" and he just had difficulty not snapping at the reporter who asked him about whether he was a bully.
posted by yarrow at 8:30 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]


@ThePlumLineGS: Interesting. Christie not willing to say that more information won't come out. Says he has to be "circumspect."
posted by zombieflanders at 8:30 AM on January 9


What do you think the "I am not a bully." claim is going to look like next to the video tape already in the can when it comes to crafting attack ads? "Blindsided" and this... in the same press conference.

Yeah this is some serious short-term hopes that it wins him a news cycle and gets fawning reviews. Long term it seems kind of ridiculous.

Is he seriously arguing he was "blindsided" by the notion that his staff is filled with vindictive assholes? He has a paid staffer to videotape him yelling at people.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:31 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]


"In the minds of some people, there were political undertones." Give me a fucking break.
posted by longdaysjourney at 8:31 AM on January 9


This is the first "-gate" scandal in a long time I haven't minded being called that since it was so Nixonian.
posted by DynamiteToast at 8:32 AM on January 9 [3 favorites]


He said that he is not a “micro-manager.”

Ahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha
posted by enn at 8:32 AM on January 9


Now he's saying he doesn't even know who the mayor is? Never met him?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 8:36 AM on January 9


Now the Right Might Close Ranks with Christie:
A source with knowledge of the plans said that the United States attorney for New Jersey, Paul J. Fishman, would announce the investigation on Thursday morning.
You know how this will be spun on the right, don't you? Eric Holder's Justice Department is now investigating Christie after refusing to investigate blah blah blah blah blah. Now the right has a liberal enemy in this matter. Game on.

Fishman is an Obama appointee who once (cue sinister music) worked for Holder in Washington. He was expected to get the U.S. attorney's position in 2001 if Al Gore (boo! hiss!) had become president (George W. Bush chose Christie instead). Wikipedia says he's a registered Democrat. The Montclair Times says he's done outreach to Arab and Muslim families and argued that "We're never going to arrest our way out of" our violent crime problem.

Appalled yet? If you were a wingnut, you would be.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:36 AM on January 9


"MIGHT have met him at some thing in Bergen county...."
posted by mikelieman at 8:37 AM on January 9


Now he's saying he doesn't even know who the mayor is? Never met him?

And that there might still be a valid traffic study? This guy just made Politifact's day.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:37 AM on January 9


MisantropicPainforest: "Now he's saying he doesn't even know who the mayor is? Never met him?"

He said he's met him, but "couldn't pick him out of a lineup." Which is weird, because Sokolich said on MSNBC last night that he's "broken bread" with Christie several times, and (I'm paraphrasing) that Christie probably knows him better than he's letting on.

My guess is Sokolich's phones are ringing off the hook right now if they weren't already.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:38 AM on January 9


And the US Attorney in New York opens a criminal investigation into the bridge closing. Even faster than I expected.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:40 AM on January 9 [2 favorites]


He didn't know he was trying to get endorsements from strategic democratic leaders? Governor, give me a call because **I** totally knew your campaign was trying to do that, and I'm nobody.
posted by armacy at 8:42 AM on January 9


This guy who 'he couldn't pick out of a lineup' or 'might have met him'?

Man. This has passed schadenfaude and now I'm just sad.

http://www.nj.com/hudson/index.ssf/2014/01/christie_-_fulop_timeline.html
May 14: Steve Fulop is elected mayor of Jersey City. Gov. Chris Christie calls to congratulate him.

July 1: Christie speaks at Fulop's inauguration. During his speech, the governor congratulates Fulop's non-existent wife.
posted by mikelieman at 8:43 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]


"Now he's saying he doesn't even know who the mayor is? Never met him?"

A helpful refresher.
posted by komara at 8:43 AM on January 9 [4 favorites]


As a Jersey City resident, I should add that some like to gossip that Fulop is gay (I have no idea either way), which makes the "wife" comment more interesting.
posted by armacy at 8:45 AM on January 9


I kind of love how many people in this thread literally found evidence of Christie lying before he even finished the sentence containing the lie.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:46 AM on January 9 [13 favorites]


Wildstein's Hail Mary to avoid testifying to the NJ legislature fails.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:47 AM on January 9


He said he found this out yesterday morning, but earlier he said he had trouble sleeping the past two nights. WELL WHAT IS IT CHRISTIE?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 8:47 AM on January 9 [3 favorites]


Anyone else catch the line about Christie not having a lot of sleep in the last two nights — even though he claims to have found out about this at 8:50 yesterday morning?
posted by compartment at 8:49 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]


I kind of love how many people in this thread literally found evidence of Christie lying before he even finished the sentence containing the lie.

We truly live in a Golden Age...
posted by mikelieman at 8:49 AM on January 9


On (lack of) preview, the answer to my question is, apparently, yes.
posted by compartment at 8:50 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]


And they asked about it...
posted by Drinky Die at 8:50 AM on January 9


Christie jammed the highway with broken heroes.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 8:50 AM on January 9 [8 favorites]


And now the real danger to a campaign, the usually sycophantic DC press may be starting to turn:

@chucktodd: Taking Christie at his word, he is now admitting that he is a hands OFF manager. Totally opposite of image he has sold for 5 years

@morningmoneyben Christie seems fixated on why his aides lied to him not on what they actually DID. That's his biggest error here.

Worse, even an editor at the far-right National Review seems unconvinced:

@jimgeraghty Let me be clear: I hired a bunch of callous vindictive psychopaths who never tell me anything.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:50 AM on January 9 [5 favorites]


It's hard to get a good night's sleep when your brain is racing to figure out what lies and obfuscations you're going to have to come up with.
posted by rtha at 8:50 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]


He's starting to crack!
posted by mikelieman at 8:51 AM on January 9


He couldn't sleep because he was PUMPED for his WORKOUT. Did I mention he worked out yesterday?
posted by armacy at 8:52 AM on January 9 [2 favorites]


I hate waiting for the gym to open at 5am, myself.
posted by mikelieman at 8:52 AM on January 9


armacy: "He couldn't sleep because he was PUMPED for his WORKOUT. Did I mention he worked out yesterday?"

I'm envisioning a Rocky style training montage where his political advisers are peppering him with questions and he's spitting out answers as fast as he can.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:53 AM on January 9


But I grew up in Philadelphia, so I probably envision Rocky style training montages way more often than I should.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:54 AM on January 9 [10 favorites]


I'm envisioning a Rocky style training montage

F-You, tonycpsu. Now I got "Gotta Fly Now" earworming it's way into my brain for the next hour as I watch this....
posted by mikelieman at 8:54 AM on January 9


"I probably wouldn't know a traffic study if I tripped over it."
posted by compartment at 8:55 AM on January 9


mikelieman: "Gotta Fly Lie Now"

FTFY
posted by tonycpsu at 8:56 AM on January 9 [3 favorites]


"This could go back to the nuance of what constitutes a traffic study." Such a lawyer.
posted by yarrow at 8:56 AM on January 9


Christie needs to start pulling out the public speaking tricks... "What is a mayor, really? Websters dictionary defines a mayor as..."
posted by drezdn at 8:57 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]


Keep hearing that name as Senator Brony.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:57 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]


"I probably wouldn't know a traffic study if I tripped over it."

Well, that's comforting to know about a man who wants to have the ability to have control over the entire country's infrastructure (to say nothing of launching nuclear weapons).
posted by zombieflanders at 8:58 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]


Expected a press conference, got an SNL Unfrozen Caveman Governor sketch.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:59 AM on January 9 [20 favorites]


Man, do I miss Phil Hartman
posted by mikelieman at 9:00 AM on January 9 [14 favorites]


I hired a bunch of callous vindictive psychopaths who never tell me anything.

Well, they are republicans. After the administrations of Christie, Walker, Bush, Reagan and Nixon, I'm beginning to think that you surround yourself with republican staffers at your peril.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:00 AM on January 9


Straight shooter says he's totally not even thinking about running for president. Too busy not knowing about traffic studies.
posted by armacy at 9:01 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]


Just to remind everybody, this is a former U.S. Attorney's office prosecutor we're watching express absolutely no curiosity about what goes on in pretty much his entire management structure.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:01 AM on January 9 [3 favorites]


haha "David and I were not friends in High School"
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:01 AM on January 9


so sad

sad in private

sure wil be ngry
posted by mikelieman at 9:01 AM on January 9


When does he bring up giving cunnilingus to his wife?
posted by Chrysostom at 9:02 AM on January 9


The last 20 minutes of this presser have been like a Phoenix Wright game.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:06 AM on January 9 [5 favorites]


"I would never have come out here four or five weeks ago and made a joke about these lane closures if I had ever had an inkling that anyone on my staff would have been so stupid but to be involved and then so deceitful as to just -- just to not disclose the information of their involvement to me when directly asked by their superior. And those questions were not asked, by the way, just once; they were asked repeatedly.

So I take this action today because it's my job. I am responsible for what happened. I am sad to report to the people of New Jersey that we fell short.

We fell short of the expectations that we've created over the last four years for the type of excellence in government that they should expect from this office."

...

"Ultimately I am responsible for what happens under my watch -- the good and the bad. And when mistakes are made, then I have to own up to them and take the action that I believe is necessary in order to remediate them."
This section won't be what anyone takes away from the speech, but it was the right thing to say. The buck stops with him, and he's taking responsibility.
posted by zarq at 9:08 AM on January 9 [2 favorites]


haha "David and I were not friends in High School"

in an impulsive, angry response, David asks Christie's best friend Lauren to Reunion Prom, crosses out Christie's face in yearbook
posted by Rory Marinich at 9:09 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]


The buck stops with him, and he's taking responsibility.

Which you could say if that's where he stopped and did not then spend 45 minutes saying this is all the fault of people he doesn't know anyway, also where am I?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:10 AM on January 9 [4 favorites]


Christie sounded convincing to me, until the WNYC reporters afterwards pointed out that so many of his answers made no sense. So I kind of expect that people will go for it.
posted by angrycat at 9:10 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]


"Standing there in my bedroom with my ipad"

Cannot unsee.
posted by mikelieman at 9:14 AM on January 9 [3 favorites]


Great question about how his staff will be ordered to deal with the U.S. Attorney's office.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:14 AM on January 9


If he is *really* taking responsibility for this, he'd be making efforts to compensate those affected by this. Just saying "oops" isn't really taking responsibility.
posted by lownote at 9:14 AM on January 9


I'm honestly surprised the press conference has gone on this long, I expected it to be much shorter.
posted by DynamiteToast at 9:19 AM on January 9


This section won't be what anyone takes away from the speech

Well, it's not what anyone here at Metafilter will take away from it, but absent any concrete evidence disproving his claim that he was mislead by his aides it may well be what the wider public takes away from it. He is certainly making the right moves at the moment--apologizing, firing everyone linked to the scandal, sounding pretty candid about the whole thing. I wonder if he's hired a really good crisis-PR manager?

Of course, it all goes South immediately if evidence of direct involvement does arise, but he's got a shot at dodging it all. We'll see.
posted by yoink at 9:20 AM on January 9 [2 favorites]


I'm honestly surprised the press conference has gone on this long, I expected it to be much shorter.

I think the worst mistake he could make is looking like he's worrying about self-incrimination or worrying about "controlling the message" or what have you. The smartest thing he can do is to make it look like he has nothing to hide and everything to gain by being as open as possible.
posted by yoink at 9:21 AM on January 9 [3 favorites]


If he had a good PR manager, they would have physically pulled him away from the podium an hour ago, before he started saying a whole bunch of easily-disprovable stuff.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:23 AM on January 9


Well, it's not what anyone here at Metafilter will take away from it, but absent any concrete evidence disproving his claim that he was mislead by his aides it may well be what the wider public takes away from it.

My gut feeling is that the public will think that where there's smoke, there's fire.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:23 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]


Totally agree, if he stands there for another hour til everyone's out of questions it just makes it look like he has nothing left to hide, which is exactly what he wants.
posted by DynamiteToast at 9:23 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]


If the reporters run out of questions they should just start taking questions from Twitter. Or start a Iama on reddit.
posted by DynamiteToast at 9:24 AM on January 9 [4 favorites]


"Openness and Transparency". I'm going to lunch.
posted by mikelieman at 9:25 AM on January 9


I haven't been able to watch, has anyone asked him directly if the investigation will back up his claims? Just wondering if he hedges on his answer.
posted by jason_steakums at 9:26 AM on January 9


he'd be making efforts to compensate those affected by this.

I don't know how one would compensate most of the people affected by traffic. And didn't someone die in an ambulance that was delayed? Not much you can do to compensate for that, either.
posted by immlass at 9:26 AM on January 9


Well you could make the tolls free for a day or two I guess.
posted by DynamiteToast at 9:29 AM on January 9


"I'm telling you I had nothing to do with this." Looks up and to his right, a cue that the person is lying.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:30 AM on January 9


I want to see the US Weekly analysis of his body language.
posted by armacy at 9:30 AM on January 9


I wonder what Bridget Kelly's lawyer will have to say about this?
I'm really, really rooting for a huge outbreak of everyone-for-themselves to come out of this.
posted by Flunkie at 9:32 AM on January 9


"I'm telling you I had nothing to do with this." Looks up and to his right, a cue that the person is lying.

Wait, was this whole thing L.A. Noire DLC?
posted by stevis23 at 9:34 AM on January 9 [4 favorites]


Yes, he led with an explicit apology and just said he is going to Fort Lee this afternoon to apologize to the mayor and the people of Fort Lee in person.
Boy, I hope he doesn't try to go there by car.
posted by Flunkie at 9:34 AM on January 9 [3 favorites]


Unfortunately, one of the fired aides was responsible for giving the signal to end news conferences.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:35 AM on January 9 [16 favorites]


I'm hoping he's the Marina Abramovic of press conference givers.
posted by armacy at 9:36 AM on January 9


If he had a good PR manager, they would have physically pulled him away from the podium an hour ago, before he started saying a whole bunch of easily-disprovable stuff.

The mistake politically-interested people always make about how political events actually play out in the real world is to vastly overestimating the wider public's interest in politics. Most people in the US are probably barely aware of this story as it is. Those who are aware--in the vast majority of cases--are not reading blogs and discussing the minutiae of Christie's responses. What matters for Christie is what clips get played on the evening news tonight and whether anything false or misleading he has said in this news conference blows up into a new "scandal" in its own right. So far, if you look at headlines and first-para reports on major media outlets covering this event, he's getting exactly the coverage he wants. It's all "Christie apologizes," "Christie outraged," "Christie sacks aides" etc. etc.

The only really material falsehood he might get caught in here would be the central one. If information comes out that proves that he knew about this bridge closure before the event (or, even, if he knew it had been done vindictively before these emails leaked to the press) he's sunk. But absent that he has a real chance of weathering this storm, and he's certainly playing it right thus far.
posted by yoink at 9:36 AM on January 9 [5 favorites]


Looks up and to his right, a cue that the person is lying.

Oh come on.
posted by yoink at 9:37 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]


stevis23

No, he's right; I saw it on an episode of C.S.I. once, and it was in one of the first few seasons, before they switched to doing werewolves and furries.
posted by The Confessor at 9:38 AM on January 9 [2 favorites]


Christie sounded convincing to me, until the WNYC reporters afterwards pointed out that so many of his answers made no sense.

Could someone elaborate on this? What did he say that makes no sense?
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 9:39 AM on January 9


Love his dodge on what he would do if subpeonaed. "Not going to speculate."
posted by Ironmouth at 9:39 AM on January 9


I'm honestly surprised the press conference has gone on this long, I expected it to be much shorter.

This is what Christie does when answering to something controversial. Talk until there are no more questions. He did this after he took the state helicopter to his son's Little League game and on other occasions (which I'm forgetting).
posted by plastic_animals at 9:44 AM on January 9


By the way, re the bogus NLP eye movement crapola: here's a nice study refuting it.
posted by yoink at 9:45 AM on January 9 [2 favorites]


Let's just measure the shape of his head! That will tell us whether he's a charlatan!
posted by stenseng at 9:46 AM on January 9 [12 favorites]


I don't know how one would compensate most of the people affected by traffic. And didn't someone die in an ambulance that was delayed? Not much you can do to compensate for that, either.

Well, he could not contest civil suits from that family over his not controlling his staff? If he's truly responsible, of course.

But, really, that's the point. It's really easy to say you're responsible if there are probably not going to be any consequences.
posted by lownote at 9:47 AM on January 9


Ironmouth: "Love his dodge on what he would do if subpeonaed. "Not going to speculate.""

Of course he isn't. However, his answers seem consistent.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but couldn't the state soon be fighting a number of lawsuits from those affected by the situation? Would it be wise for him to openly speculate about what he'd do under those circumstances?
"Q: Governor, you were a U.S. attorney, very high profile, in fact investigated one governor -- (off mic) -- governor's office and a state party. You now are a governor who has a U.S. attorney investigating people that were connected to your office. What instructions are you giving, have you given to your staff? What will you do? And can we expect to see claims of executive privilege and, no -- (off mic) -- you cannot have documents, or are you going to cooperate fully and very helpfully?

GOV. CHRISTIE: Listen, I have absolutely nothing to hide. And I have not given any instruction to anyone yet, but my instruction to everybody will be to cooperate and answer questions."

posted by zarq at 9:48 AM on January 9 [2 favorites]


Dear Lord the man was a top-tier prosecutor how can he not keep his own story straight?
posted by Navelgazer at 9:52 AM on January 9


Christie wound up, finally. Wildstein is about to testify in front of the NJ legislature hearing - livestream here.
posted by yarrow at 10:00 AM on January 9


The mistake politically-interested people always make about how political events actually play out in the real world is to vastly overestimating the wider public's interest in politics. Most people in the US are probably barely aware of this story as it is. Those who are aware--in the vast majority of cases--are not reading blogs and discussing the minutiae of Christie's responses. What matters for Christie is what clips get played on the evening news tonight and whether anything false or misleading he has said in this news conference blows up into a new "scandal" in its own right.

Well, no, pretty much nothing of what goes on today really matters for at least several months, which is what I've been saying all along. Compare it to, say, Mitt Romney and Bain, where the story had already been well-reported on in MA, but it didn't penetrate the national consciousness until Obama and the Democrats started putting it in TV ads. The only thing that makes this go away is if there is there is both zero connection of Christie to this and nothing waiting in the wings. The fact that he's saying a whole bunch of stuff that a 15-second search on the web can disprove doesn't really mean anything now, but it does mean that it is trivially easy to paint him as a guy who has a hard time with the facts. And considering that this guy worked in one of the top legal jobs in the country, it's not hard to wonder how he could be so naive and uninformed about most of the people working directly for him. That also puts a fairly big hole in the "competent administrator" persona he's been building up for himself, which Politico-types were lapping up like it was candy. If he gets flustered and angry, or quiet and shifty, it speaks right to how he's been portrayed. And like Romney and how he appeared callous to those he considered beneath him, it will in all likelihood stick in the voters' consciousness.

Personally, I don't really believe Christie had anything to do with this, although I'm less convinced that he was "blindsided" until 8:50a yesterday. What I do think is that there is other stuff that can be pinned on him, either in one big situation or several smaller ones that build a bad picture of him. Some of it will come from news sources (as I've said, the NYT has been coming up with links to stuff already), some of it will probably come from former Romney staffers working for a primary opponent. Some might even come out of the investigations into everything he's done since 2009 that will last well into election season, when testimony gets "accidentally" leaked, if not the investigations themselves magically ending just in time for it to be of least convenience for him.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:01 AM on January 9 [2 favorites]


Wildstein is about to testify in front of the NJ legislature hearing
Please say he knew all about it, please say he knew all about it, please say he knew all about it....
posted by Flunkie at 10:06 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]


FWIW I still think that, barring the a increasingly unlikely total collapse of Obamacare (or something similarly catastrophic) and/or a horribly compromised Democratic ticket, Christie is still going to be the one to beat in 2016. I just feel that this makes it seem a little easier for whoever's opposing him in the primaries and potentially in the general.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:11 AM on January 9


WOO HOO! Fifth Amendment FTW!
posted by mikelieman at 10:13 AM on January 9 [2 favorites]


it does mean that it is trivially easy to paint him as a guy who has a hard time with the facts

It's trivially easy to paint any politician who has been in office for a while as having a hard time with the facts. Attack ads saying "Christie said X when REALLY it was Y" just aren't going to matter a damn unless the particular lie is seen as damning. Whoever Christie is running against will also have to face their own barrage of "they said A when REALLY it was B" ads--unless they're coming from outside of politics, in which they'll be facing "can you really trust this person with no track record?" ads. All that's just the usual campaign noise.

If Christie gets tied convincingly to the decision to close these lanes, then he's cooked, for sure. And footage of him saying how "outraged" he was and how "blindsided" he was alongside screenshots of the email or the cocktail napkin or whatever in which he wrote "kneecap that podunk mayor" would be kryptonite in any future political campaign. But he must be fairly confident that there's nothing of that sort out there or he wouldn't be playing the game this way.
posted by yoink at 10:13 AM on January 9


Ruh-roh. Wildstein's pleading the fifth.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:13 AM on January 9 [2 favorites]


Yeah he's taking the 5th.
posted by Justinian at 10:13 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]


Shit just got real. (I find this "can I or can I not plead the 5th in this situation when there are no charges yet but they have been threatened?"" so interesting.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:15 AM on January 9


Fred Armisen is watching Wildstein tesitfying and screaming "Yes! Opening skit for me!!!!"
posted by benito.strauss at 10:15 AM on January 9 [2 favorites]


Dear Lord the man was a top-tier prosecutor ...

I first heard the name Chris Christie back in 2005 in a This American Life episode. Christie was a G.W. Bush appointee as U.S. Attorney. After 9/11 the Bush administration put out orders to gin up some high profile Muslim terrorist cases to feed to the press. Christie complied by setting up some poor schmuck in a ludicrous case of entrapment. Christie became John Ashcroft's star example of "How America is Winning the War on Terror."

It was clear at the time that Chris Christie as an ambitious sociopath who would do anything to get ahead.
posted by JackFlash at 10:16 AM on January 9 [11 favorites]


It's trivially easy to paint any politician who has been in office for a while as having a hard time with the facts[...]And footage of him saying how "outraged" he was and how "blindsided" he was alongside screenshots of the email or the cocktail napkin or whatever in which he wrote "kneecap that podunk mayor" would be kryptonite in any future political campaign. But he must be fairly confident that there's nothing of that sort out there or he wouldn't be playing the game this way.

Which is why I provided a whole bunch of context that works well if you don't just make it out like I was talking about this specific incident and this specific press conference.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:17 AM on January 9


Which is why I provided a whole bunch of context that works well if you don't just make it out like I was talking about this specific incident and this specific press conference.

Sure. I largely agreed with your comment. I was just commenting on that one specific point, not trying to pretend that it was the only point you made. Sorry for giving the wrong impression.
posted by yoink at 10:21 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]


I'm rather impressed at how fast this seems to be moving.

To help a non-American who doesn't quite know all the players yet in this, what are the implications of Wildstein taking the 5th? I get that he's trying to avoid self-incrimination, but what does this say about Christie/others potentially?
posted by nubs at 10:21 AM on January 9


Could someone elaborate on this? What did he say that makes no sense?

One thing that I remember is how he spent a lot of time on whether or not there was a traffic study, when the record is clear that there was not one. The specifics of that may be wrong, not sure. But there were other examples that made Christie's thing about being so gobsmacked after receiving the news yesterday less credible, I think because of attention the Dem State Legislature has paid to this matter.
posted by angrycat at 10:22 AM on January 9


Sure. I largely agreed with your comment. I was just commenting on that one specific point, not trying to pretend that it was the only point you made. Sorry for giving the wrong impression.

Ah. Noted and agreed, then.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:23 AM on January 9


Before all this fifth-pleading, Wildstein's lawyer started by presenting the same two objections to the subpeona that they were unsuccessful in presenting in court this morning, which were quickly swatted aside. But there were mysterious allusions to a "third objection" which was never explained and which the committee chair said was "not appropriate" for the committee to address. Wonder what that was about.
posted by yarrow at 10:23 AM on January 9


what are the implications of Wildstein taking the 5th

It's open acknowledgement that (likely) criminal behaviour is what was responsible for the closure. The traffic study story is a dead letter. The focus of the scandal moves to what Christie knew, and when he knew it (assuming evidence that he directly ordered it doesn't surface).
posted by fatbird at 10:23 AM on January 9


Talking Points Memo has some good coverage of the conference.
posted by nubs at 10:24 AM on January 9


what does this say about Christie/others potentially?

Nothing, really, one way or the other. I mean, the only reason to plead the Fifth is to save yourself from potential prosecution. There's no way in which he gets to have entirely clean hands in this, but to be pleading the Fifth solely to protect Christie. So it could be he knows stuff that would harm Christie and it could be that he doesn't, but his taking the Fifth doesn't make one scenario more likely than the other.
posted by yoink at 10:24 AM on January 9


i can't believe at the beginning of the press conference he was all "i'm going to fort lee to meet with the mayor after this" and then the end of of the news conference was all "the mayor doesn't want to meet with you." how do you not have the meeting scheduled (or not) prior to the press conference??
posted by nadawi at 10:24 AM on January 9 [3 favorites]


Thanks for all the updates. I'm eating pomegranate chip ice cream and reading all the posts and I don't know which one tastes sweeter.
posted by cashman at 10:25 AM on January 9 [3 favorites]


But there were mysterious allusions to a "third objection" which was never explained and which the committee chair said was "not appropriate" for the committee to address.

"If Chewbacca lives on Endor, you must acquit"
posted by yoink at 10:27 AM on January 9 [7 favorites]


Will Scandal Cost Christie the Invisible Primary?
...[T]he presidential campaign doesn’t begin in 2016 with the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary. It began months ago, with the invisible primary. That’s the competition to secure support from key party actors, including politicians, party-aligned interest groups, campaign and governing professionals, formal party officials and staff, activists, and the partisan press. In effect, it’s the efforts of these party actors to coordinate and compete over the leadership of the party.

The invisible primary helps to structure, and often determines, what happens in the nomination battle. After all, by the time of the 2012 Iowa caucuses, it’s possible that Mitt Romney had the whole thing won. Seemingly viable contenders, including John Thune, Haley Barbour, Mitch Daniels, Tim Pawlenty and, yes, Sarah Palin had all dropped out by then. It’s misleading to say that all of them simply didn’t run; each certainly would have accepted the nomination if it could have been had. Each made at least some effort in the invisible primary, only to find that the price of continuing was too high given the probable chance of success.

Moreover, unlike voters, party actors can make more complex decisions than simply which candidate to support. They can back multiple candidates simultaneously, or spend their political and financial capital opposing an especially disfavored candidate. They can influence other party actors and send important signals about candidates through the press.

These party actors are far more influential than almost all other voters. And they care a lot about nomination battles. They may care intensely about ideology or about particular public policy positions; they may care intensely about electability, since many of them have a highly personal stake in whether their party captures the White House, what their personal relationship to the potential president is and how the presidential campaign affects down-ballot races.

So we can speculate about how voters might react to this scandal two years down the road. But we will learn more from good reporting about how Republican Party actors are handling the news -- both actors who were prepared to support Christie and those who would've found him at least minimally acceptable as the party's nominee.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:27 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]


I wonder about Wildstein pleading the 5th. Christie spent an awful lot of time emphasizing his ignorance of the situation and denying his involvement. If Wildstein implicates Christie in testimony... actually, if anything comes out now or in the future which shows Christie knew what was going on prior to the Bergen Record article, he's truly screwed.

The voters might forgive Christie for being clueless, since he jumped in, took responsibility and fired Bridget Kelly. They won't ever forgive him for repeatedly lying to them.
posted by zarq at 10:30 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]


big-name donors are not going to touch this guy. he's radioactive. a friend who is a high-level Senate staffer yesterday said he had meetings with his counterparts in GOP senator's offices and they all agreed, Chris Christie is done. He is not the man to beat, he is already beaten.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:31 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]


It's open acknowledgement that (likely) criminal behaviour is what was responsible for the closure.

You know, taking the Fifth is a constitutional right and really shouldn't be seen as tantamount to admitting criminal wrongdoing.
posted by yoink at 10:31 AM on January 9 [5 favorites]


...just said he is going to Fort Lee this afternoon to apologize to the mayor and the people of Fort Lee in person.

A cynic might think he was trying to upstage the mayorial reaction to the presser and control the media narrative. Much better for him if he could tie the mayor up in an apology photo opp to avert the scenario of the mayor going from news show to news show running his mouth about his reaction to the presser.

Interesting angle that Steve Kornacki explored with Rachel Maddow last night: that Christie was trying to run out the clock on Assembly subpoena power - and almost succeeded.
posted by madamjujujive at 10:33 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]


You know, taking the Fifth is a constitutional right and really shouldn't be seen as tantamount to admitting criminal wrongdoing.

Actually, it is, in some senses tantamount to an admission. In civil court, a lawyer can ask for a presumption that the person would have answered the question in a way detrimental to one's self.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:35 AM on January 9


sorry, inference, not presumption.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:36 AM on January 9


I wonder what the long game is on continuing to go over each item for Wildstein to plead the 5th on each?
posted by benito.strauss at 10:38 AM on January 9


You know, taking the Fifth is a constitutional right and really shouldn't be seen as tantamount to admitting criminal wrongdoing.

Yeah, all it means is that the subject matter at issue here is likely to be the subject of a criminal investigation, and thus anything he says about it could be used as evidence later.

That said, when somebody asks you to read the date on a page and your response is the fifth amendment, you should think very hard about the life decisions that have led you to that point.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:39 AM on January 9 [18 favorites]


A cynic might think he was trying to upstage the mayorial reaction to the presser and control the media narrative.

except the meeting wasn't actually scheduled and the mayor said that it would be "premature and disruptive" for christie to come over to fort lee and he didn't want christie to "waste the gas." that is sub par control by christie, to say the least. i really can't believe he publicized his travel plans and then gave a nearly 2 hour press conference, thinking that the mayor wouldn't respond in that time.
posted by nadawi at 10:40 AM on January 9


You know, taking the Fifth is a constitutional right and really shouldn't be seen as tantamount to admitting criminal wrongdoing.

I understand the sentiment behind this, but in practical terms no one takes the fifth except to avoid revealing something, and it's really hard not to factor that into one's perception of the situation, even if you carefully mentally bracket that fact when evaluating Wildstein's credibility.

Perhaps if there was a general habit of people invoking the fifth, requiring a subpoena-ing party to then demonstrate the need for the testimony or something, the invocation might not seem damning--much like putting a letter into an envelope doesn't imply the writer has something to hide, just because it's habitual rather than deliberate. But until that day comes, it strains credulity to not read into Wildstein taking the fifth.
posted by fatbird at 10:40 AM on January 9


That said, when somebody asks you to read the date on a page and your response is the fifth amendment, you should think very hard about the life decisions that have led you to that point.

Hey, when you play "The Fifth Amendment" card, you play it 100%. Which doesn't disprove your hypothesis at all. I;m sad again.
posted by mikelieman at 10:41 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]


"He won't be able to tell me who the Mr. Stepien is in that email?"

Political theater it may be, but those questioning Wildstein were definitely ready to play their role well.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:44 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]


That said, whoever put this binder's tabs together ought to be fired.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:49 AM on January 9 [2 favorites]


nadawi: "i can't believe at the beginning of the press conference he was all "i'm going to fort lee to meet with the mayor after this" and then the end of of the news conference was all "the mayor doesn't want to meet with you." how do you not have the meeting scheduled (or not) prior to the press conference??"

Presser was prescheduled. Meeting with the mayor might have been a last minute idea, and one that wasn't finalized prior to the press conference. He wants to say the meeting will take place because it's a good idea, shows him eating crow and looks like a good faith gesture. So he hopes that by saying it publicly, it will be a fait accompli and the mayor won't snub him.

As madamjujujive notes, this could also be an attempt to prevent the mayor from badmouthing him to news outlets.
posted by zarq at 10:51 AM on January 9


Wow, this is great political theater. Every question just drives the nails into the coffin. This won't go away and the 5th Amendment invocation is really, really driving this home. Christie is about to shut up. The big long presser makes a lot of sense. It makes it easier for him to avoid questions as more information comes out. He already answered all the questions in a big presser immediately.

But this was going to go criminal very quickly. The prosecutors will focus hard on Wildstein now. His own invocation indicates criminal activity to them as well it is.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:53 AM on January 9


zarq - yeah, i get that - but, it seemed to be a gamble that failed (and you'd think someone in the governor's office could have figured that out since the mayor was threatening asskickings last night). it seems like it would have been better to say "i've called the mayor and asked to speak with him further after this and he said...." and spin that whatever way instead of being blindsided at the end by reporters saying the mayor has told you not to bother and that being the end of the questioning.
posted by nadawi at 11:00 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]


Charles Pierce has changed his mind from yesterday. Thinks Christie's in a lot more hot water than he originally realized.
posted by Rory Marinich at 11:03 AM on January 9 [5 favorites]


the sparring over this misdemeanor finding is fascinating. The GOP is basing their answers on committee counsel's recommendation. very weird. they are kind of legally dancing around it for some strange reason.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:14 AM on January 9


<this is some of Sorkin's best work in years>
posted by benito.strauss at 11:16 AM on January 9 [13 favorites]


Actually, it is, in some senses tantamount to an admission. In civil court, a lawyer can ask for a presumption that the person would have answered the question in a way detrimental to one's self.

In civil court, yes, but not in criminal proceedings, which is surely what matters here?
posted by yoink at 11:18 AM on January 9


But this was going to go criminal very quickly. The prosecutors will focus hard on Wildstein now. His own invocation indicates criminal activity to them as well it is.

And this is what I mean; it is illegal and unconstitutional for prosecutors to make any such inference. And if this was, say, someone like Snowden taking the Fifth, Mefites would, for the most part, be outraged at any hint of a suggestion that doing so was tantamount to admission of guilt.
posted by yoink at 11:20 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]


nadawi: "zarq - yeah, i get that - but, it seemed to be a gamble that failed (and you'd think someone in the governor's office could have figured that out since the mayor was threatening asskickings last night). it seems like it would have been better to say "i've called the mayor and asked to speak with him further after this and he said...." and spin that whatever way instead of being blindsided at the end by reporters saying the mayor has told you not to bother and that being the end of the questioning."

Oh, definitely. The whole thing should have been handled better. It's in character for Christie (and I guess his staff, too) to assume he's going to get what he wants. It's also a calculated, slight risk for Mayor Sokolich by embarrassing the governor. But this isn't much worse than what he did yesterday, going on CNN and saying Christie knows more than he's telling.
posted by zarq at 11:22 AM on January 9 [2 favorites]


it is illegal and unconstitutional for prosecutors to make any such inference

Perhaps, but as a prosecutor, when someone you're investigating takes the fifth when asked the questions you want to ask, are you supposed to not think that the person has just confirmed that you need to ask those questions?
posted by fatbird at 11:24 AM on January 9


And this is what I mean; it is illegal and unconstitutional for prosecutors to make any such inference. And if this was, say, someone like Snowden taking the Fifth, Mefites would, for the most part, be outraged at any hint of a suggestion that doing so was tantamount to admission of guilt.

I get your meaning, but Snowden's maybe not the best example since he's proudly taken credit for his illegal actions since day one so why plead the 5th?

But anyways, there's no reason prosecutors can't focus hard on Wildstein since he plead the 5th. All that means is they won't get his testimony, they can still look at everything around him. He's still at the center of the investigation.
posted by jason_steakums at 11:24 AM on January 9


And this is what I mean; it is illegal and unconstitutional for prosecutors to make any such inference.

What? It is unconstitutional for a prosecutor sitting in their office to say "we got to take a look at this guy, he pled the Fifth?" Where do you get that from? It is unconstitutional for them to say to a jury that you should infer guilt because of the Defendant's right not to testify. It isn't for them to use that as a piece of information to decide to further investigate someone. I do not know what case has ever held anything remotely similar to that.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:25 AM on January 9


Are people just disagreeing because some are talking about how we draw inferences and choose to act outside of court and others are talking about what can be used as evidence in the court of law?
posted by benito.strauss at 11:26 AM on January 9 [2 favorites]


he's going to have a colloquy with the U.S. attorney to discuss immunity. Moving so fast. so fast. I expected my predictions upthread to unfold over weeks. We're a day in.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:27 AM on January 9


Oh geez, looking for an immunity deal already? Yeah, there's something there.
posted by jason_steakums at 11:28 AM on January 9


Chris Christie’s 2-hour pity party: A mix of narcissism and bullying

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is a very sad person today.

That’s what he told us Thursday, in a two-hour implosion of narcissism, self-pity and even a little bullying, although he also reassured us, “I am not a bully.” It was a shea-culpa: He blamed the George Washington Bridge scandal on Bridget Kelly, his deputy chief of staff, and said that he’d fired her without even talking to her, deriding her as “stupid.”

Oh, and Kelly’s partner in the plot to punish Fort Lee’s Democratic Mayor Mark Sokolich, high school friend and Port Authority appointee David Wildstein? Not a high school friend. In fact, in high school, Christie told us, “I was the class president and an athlete, I don’t know what David was doing.” Burn. And Sokolich? Christie never met him – although there are photos of the men meeting – and in fact, “I didn’t know his name until yesterday.”

In Christie’s telling, he was just another victim of the scandal: When he found out about the damning email published by the Bergen Record Wednesday morning, he’d just finished his workout for Chrissake! Over and over he said he’d been “betrayed” by his staff and he was “heartbroken.” He shared his “stages of grief,” and confided he hasn’t reached the anger stage yet. “The emotion I’ve been displaying in private is sad,” he said weirdly. “I am a very sad person today.”

But he missed a chance to express sadness about the 91-year-old woman who died when paramedics were delayed by Fort Lee traffic, saying, “It’s awful to hear,” but adding callously: “I’ve also heard conflicting reports about the cause of death.”

posted by madamjujujive at 11:31 AM on January 9 [5 favorites]


Are people just disagreeing because some are talking about how we draw inferences and choose to act outside of court and others are talking about what can be used as evidence in the court of law?

I think so. Not that semantics aren't important, but it is possible to think the Fifth Amendment is a HUGELY IMPORTANT good thing and to also think that invoking it makes you look hella guilty of something. The court of public opinion doesn't have to be as fair as the court that can send you to jail.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:31 AM on January 9 [10 favorites]


Exactly: Taking the 5th can not and should not be used as evidence against you in a criminal court. We, however, are not a criminal court and it is perfectly acceptable for us to say this guy looks guilty as hell of something.
posted by Justinian at 11:34 AM on January 9


Ironmouth, do you know if Wildstein complied with the letter of the law when he personally redacted the subpoenaed documents? Is it unusual for a person in his position to do so?

A lot of people falling on swords. If Wildstein is motivated to shield Christie from damage, the only reason to redact a recipient's name is because the recipient is too important to fall on a sword — that, or maybe he thinks the recipient would incriminate Christie if exposed. Other than Christie, who else is too important to sacrifice? Who might flip under pressure?
posted by compartment at 11:36 AM on January 9


Yoink is making a stronger claim than that, Justinian: He's saying that prosecutors should not view his taking the fifth as cause to investigate further.
posted by fatbird at 11:37 AM on January 9


Exactly: Taking the 5th can not and should not be used as evidence against you in a criminal court. We, however, are not a criminal court and it is perfectly acceptable for us to say this guy looks guilty as hell of something.

And a lawyer in a civil suit can infer that someone taking the fifth in a proceeding did commit the act in question to a jury or judge.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:37 AM on January 9


I'm no lawyer but that seems like an absurd position to take. Am I wrong?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 11:38 AM on January 9


I'm no lawyer but that seems like an absurd position to take. Am I wrong?

Whose and what positions?
posted by Ironmouth at 11:43 AM on January 9


It is unconstitutional for them to say to a jury that you should infer guilt because of the Defendant's right not to testify.

I've always wondered how well the distinction works in practice, because how could the jury members not have their take on a case colored by the fact that someone took the 5th, whether a prosecutor says they should or not? I am all for the distinction, I don't think a prosecutor should be able to point to pleading the 5th as an indicator of guilt in a criminal case, but I also don't think they really need to. Same deal as inadmissible evidence and unringing the bell.
posted by jason_steakums at 11:44 AM on January 9


Yoink is making a stronger claim than that, Justinian: He's saying that prosecutors should not view his taking the fifth as cause to investigate further.

No, I'm saying that at no point can they lawfully refer to his taking the fifth as part of their case against him. They have plenty of reasons to investigate regardless of his taking the Fifth.

And I'm also saying that people who cherish the constitutional protections offered by the Fifth are often wildly hypocritical about whether they choose--outside of a courtroom--to see invoking the Fifth as proof that you're a filthy weasel who is using legal double-talk to beat an obviously justified rap or not.
posted by yoink at 11:45 AM on January 9 [2 favorites]


A lot of people falling on swords. If Wildstein is motivated to shield Christie from damage, the only reason to redact a recipient's name is because the recipient is too important to fall on a sword — that, or maybe he thinks the recipient would incriminate Christie if exposed. Other than Christie, who else is too important to sacrifice? Who might flip under pressure?

No, he's fishing for an immunity deal. He's indirectly talking to the US Attorney through the committee. Letting them know he has something of value to trade.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:46 AM on January 9 [4 favorites]


As a Canadian I can't help but draw parallels to Prime Minister Harper throwing his Chief of Staff under the bus last year over the Senate expenses scandal. While it hurt his popularity and that of his party, that wasn't a knockout and 2015 is a long time away. I don't really see this being a defining moment for Christie's chances for 2016. Hell, I'd peg Rob Ford's re-election chances at 50-50.

Sure, he's not Republican enough for many in the GOP, but having him as the candidate will push exactly 0 GOP voters to vote for Hillary, Biden, Warren, or whatever the Dems end up offering, even if it turns out he ordered this himself.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 11:48 AM on January 9


LOL, today's Nixon's birthday. Not kidding.
posted by Flunkie at 11:48 AM on January 9 [7 favorites]


They did discuss the redactions during the hearing - Wildstein's lawyer said that the redacted sections were either from dates the subpoena didn't cover or outside the scope of the subpoena in subject matter. The committee chair replied that usually when that's the case, they get a log of the redactions and their causes, which the lawyer said he would work on providing.
posted by yarrow at 11:50 AM on January 9


Right-wing Twitter responds to Chris Christie’s epic press conference
posted by zarq at 11:50 AM on January 9


Hell, I'd peg Rob Ford's re-election chances at 50-50.



Rob Ford is irrelevant because he is a mayor in a different country--its a totally different situation.

Sure, he's not Republican enough for many in the GOP, but having him as the candidate will push exactly 0 GOP voters to vote for Hillary, Biden, Warren, or whatever the Dems end up offering, even if it turns out he ordered this himself.

not true at all, and GOP voters aren't the only voters, and turnout is more important anyway.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 11:51 AM on January 9


No, I'm saying that at no point can they lawfully refer to his taking the fifth as part of their case against him. They have plenty of reasons to investigate regardless of his taking the Fifth.

Okay, I see the distinction you're making.

And I'm also saying that people who cherish the constitutional protections offered by the Fifth are often wildly hypocritical about whether they choose--outside of a courtroom--to see invoking the Fifth as proof that you're a filthy weasel who is using legal double-talk to beat an obviously justified rap or not.

One can see Wildstein taking the fifth as simple acknowledgement that his testimony likely has important legal implications in line with the gathering criminal investigations focused on him, with consequent implications for the larger scandal, without being hypothetically hypocritical.

Part of my mental backdrop to all this is questioning how much of this was going on this openly in other matters. The casual way it was committed via emails and texts imply pretty strongly that this was routine behaviour in character, and there was little concern at the time that its exposure would be damaging. I think Christie has a plausible claim to not knowing about it at the time, but only by saying "this was routine stuff, the sort of playing tough that I encourage in my staff, that got out of hand, and now they have to face the consequences." In other words, the only plausible way to say he didn't know is to admit that this sort of thuggery is so normal it's beneath his attention.
posted by fatbird at 11:53 AM on January 9 [2 favorites]


if it turns out he ordered this himself.

If he is proven to have ordered it himself he will be convicted.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:54 AM on January 9


Ironmouth, can you say again what you think the criminal charges would be in this case?
posted by yarrow at 11:58 AM on January 9


No, I'm saying that at no point can they lawfully refer to his taking the fifth as part of their case against him. They have plenty of reasons to investigate regardless of his taking the Fifth.

Supreme Court Rules Silence Can be Used Against You

Taking the 5th can now be used against you.
posted by humanfont at 11:58 AM on January 9


Right-wing Twitter responds to Chris Christie’s epic press conference

This is what I was expecting would happen - absolutely nobody's going to make any real effort to stand up for Christie, but they will all use the situation to fling a bunch of weaksauce at Obama. Christie's got no friends, and he's always really only been useful for people to project their own narratives on on the national stage.
posted by jason_steakums at 11:58 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]


(I guess I'm wondering how much any charges will hang on the motivation being connected to the endorsement, which seems like the piece of the puzzle for which there is the least amount of evidence at this point.)
posted by yarrow at 11:59 AM on January 9


One can see Wildstein taking the fifth as simple acknowledgement that his testimony likely has important legal implications in line with the gathering criminal investigations focused on him, with consequent implications for the larger scandal, without being hypothetically hypocritical.

Or you could look at any Metafilter thread about whether or not one should voluntarily talk to the cops about anything at all and see that when it's not someone that we regard as a natural political enemy, most of us think that only a fool would hand any kind of potential ammunition to prosecutors in any circumstances whatsoever. But when the case does involve a political enemy, we think the prosecutors are the spotless Guardians of Truth and Virtue and that an unwillingness to talk to them (directly or indirectly) can only be evidence of "having something to hide."
posted by yoink at 12:00 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]


Supreme Court Rules Silence Can be Used Against You

Taking the 5th can now be used against you.


Try reading further. The whole point of that decision was that the guy clammed up without expressly invoking the Fifth. Had he expressly invoked the Fifth, the prosecution would have been tossed.
posted by yoink at 12:01 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]


Ironmouth, can you say again what you think the criminal charges would be in this case?

(1) NJ statute I cited above, search my name, it was yesterday--yoi'll see entire text of law.
(2) RICO
(3) Honest services fraud, using your office to get something of worth personally-Rod Blagojevich was convicted on this.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:01 PM on January 9


Ironmouth, can you say again what you think the criminal charges would be in this case?

Someone fucking died because of this. It would be nice if that was the highlighted issue of outrage, both here and with all the bobbleheads on teevee who apparently think this all has to be tied to "what are Christie's election chances now?"
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:02 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]


But when the case does involve a political enemy, we think the prosecutors are the spotless Guardians of Truth and Virtue and that an unwillingness to talk to them (directly or indirectly) can only be evidence of "having something to hide."

No one else ever said any of that on this thread.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:03 PM on January 9


But he missed a chance to express sadness about the 91-year-old woman who died when paramedics were delayed by Fort Lee traffic, saying, “It’s awful to hear,” but adding callously: “I’ve also heard conflicting reports about the cause of death.”

Might be worth pointing out that the woman's daughter says the bridge thing had nothing to do with her mother's death.
posted by yoink at 12:03 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]


Yeah, the point of the Supreme Court decision is that remaining silent is not the same thing as invoking your right to remain silent, which has many and varied implications for the transmutation of Constitutional rights into magic spells that only work when you recite the proper incantation while burning eye of newt, but doesn't really touch on what happens when you do expressly invoke.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:03 PM on January 9 [2 favorites]


Earlier I asked:
How does a grown-up bully handle this sort of thing? WHen what you know is "keep walking," then what do you do here? When your instincet is to do the equivalent of, "nah, Mr. Belding, Mayor Sokolich and I were just playin' around, weren't we, Mayor," can your staff be counted on to tell you that isn't going to play?
and then later...
"i can't believe at the beginning of the press conference he was all "i'm going to fort lee to meet with the mayor after this" and then the end of of the news conference was all "the mayor doesn't want to meet with you." how do you not have the meeting scheduled (or not) prior to the press conference??"
So there it is.
posted by Navelgazer at 12:04 PM on January 9


No one else ever said any of that on this thread.

Everyone saying "he took the Fifth, so obviously he's guilty" (including, to my enormous surprise, you) is saying exactly that. They are saying that there can be no legitimate reason for an innocent person to fear talking to prosecutors.
posted by yoink at 12:05 PM on January 9


Might be worth pointing out that the woman's daughter says the bridge thing had nothing to do with her mother's death.

Might be worth pointing out the medical professional also quoted in the same article says it did.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:06 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]


GhostintheMachine: "Sure, he's not Republican enough for many in the GOP, but having him as the candidate will push exactly 0 GOP voters to vote for Hillary, Biden, Warren, or whatever the Dems end up offering, even if it turns out he ordered this himself."

Christie was not invited to speak at CPAC last year. The reason they gave was "some of the decisions he's made" He needs both CPAC and the platform they provide to funders in order to raise the money he needs to run a campaign. GOP candidates can't get by on grassroots funding efforts. So they've sent a message that he's not conservative enough for mainstream Republicans right now, which will be followed by those in lockstep with the party line. More to the point, he's dared to criticize Boehner and the GOP establishment -- a huge no-no.

He doesn't have a lot of time to rectify matters. This is the only year he'll have for that, after which it will be too late to fundraise properly, as the competition will have gotten a head start.
posted by zarq at 12:06 PM on January 9


Might be worth pointing out the medical professional also quoted in the same article says it did.

It would certainly be worth pointing out if it were true. Sadly it is not. He says they were delayed. He does not say that the delay was the cause of her death or that absent the delay she would have been revived.
posted by yoink at 12:09 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]


Or you could look at any Metafilter thread about whether or not one should voluntarily talk to the cops about anything at all and see that when it's not someone that we regard as a natural political enemy, most of us think that only a fool would hand any kind of potential ammunition to prosecutors in any circumstances whatsoever. But when the case does involve a political enemy, we think the prosecutors are the spotless Guardians of Truth and Virtue and that an unwillingness to talk to them (directly or indirectly) can only be evidence of "having something to hide."

That is not the only interpretation, jeez. It's perfectly reasonable to think that the 5th should be cherished and protected and used to its fullest and also think you come across looking guilty as fuck when using it. It's always been a calculated risk to plead the 5th because of that. If someone I supported wholeheartedly plead the 5th, the first thought in my mind would be "I really wish you didn't have to do that, because that makes you look like you're hiding something."
posted by jason_steakums at 12:10 PM on January 9 [3 favorites]


Or you could look at any Metafilter thread about whether or not one should voluntarily talk to the cops about anything at all and see that when it's not someone that we regard as a natural political enemy, most of us think that only a fool would hand any kind of potential ammunition to prosecutors in any circumstances whatsoever. But when the case does involve a political enemy, we think the prosecutors are the spotless Guardians of Truth and Virtue and that an unwillingness to talk to them (directly or indirectly) can only be evidence of "having something to hide."

Most obvious counterpoint: There's a big difference between not voluntarily talking to the cops, at least not without a lawyer present, and invoking the fifth to avoid testifying under subpoena. More materially, we have plain documentary evidence of malfeasance on Wildstein's part, so him invoking the fifth seems pretty obviously motivated by wrongdoing that we all think is at least plausible. Claiming that ideological bias comes before those two is really reaching.

Everyone saying "he took the Fifth, so obviously he's guilty"

No, we're saying we have the emails that make his guilt obvious; taking the fifth in light of that acts as confirmation. If he were an uninvolved party who suddenly sprung the fifth on the committee, we wouldn't suddenly crown him as the ringleader of the conspiracy.
posted by fatbird at 12:11 PM on January 9 [2 favorites]


Oh, I totally want this to be punishable as a crime. (And I am totally on board with the irritation at all of the discussion about 2016.) I'm just wondering how the law works. If they could prove Christie ordered it but couldn't prove what his motivation was or how he benefited, would that matter for criminal liability?
posted by yarrow at 12:12 PM on January 9


i don't think that metafilter's general "don't talk to the cops unless forced" means that metafilter thinks that people who hold positions in government or government related agencies should never answer questions when called to testify in front of the legislator under the argument that anything you say on the record could maybe be used by a prosecutor. no one is saying the prosecutors are pure or whatever - but that when a dude hasn't been charged with anything and then tries to not testify to the legislator and then the entirety of his testimony is pleading the 5th that maybe just maybe he's worried about future prosecution and how his answers could influence that.
posted by nadawi at 12:13 PM on January 9


No, we're saying we have the emails that make his guilt obvious; taking the fifth in light of that acts as confirmation.

If the emails prove guilt then what is it, exactly, that requires "confirmation"? Look, I don't think the emails leave any doubt that he participated in wrongful and probably criminal acts. I'm not trying to argue that Wildstein is some kind of saint. What I am objecting to is the inference people are drawing that taking the Fifth proves anything beyond what we know from other sources. There are plenty of situations where the best possible advice you could give an entirely innocent person is to "take the Fifth." One of those situations is when there's a big public scandal brewing and you know that heat is on the prosecutors to get a result. Our opinion of Wildstein's guilt and of the extent of his knowledge of criminal acts beyond what have already been indicated in the public record should be unchanged, one way or the other, by the fact that he took the Fifth.
posted by yoink at 12:19 PM on January 9


If the emails prove guilt then what is it, exactly, that requires "confirmation"?

This is disingenuous. The emails prove he was central to the closing, and that it was done under orders from Christie's office. That doesn't mean there isn't a lot we don't know about what happened, or that other explanations are possible with new evidence. Taking the fifth confirms, as in 'adds evidence', that the prima facie interpretation is the correct one.

Who here is arguing that taking the fifth proves something other than what was already believed or adduced from everything else?
posted by fatbird at 12:25 PM on January 9


Who here is arguing that taking the fifth proves something other than what was already believed or adduced from everything else?

You are when you write: "Taking the fifth confirms, as in 'adds evidence', that the prima facie interpretation is the correct one."
posted by yoink at 12:28 PM on January 9


Yeah, in this particular case, with the facts that we have in front of us now, him taking the fifth gives many of us, rightfully so, the impression that he has something to hide. Trying to tie this observation, in this particular case, to aver that mefites are hypocrites because we think people shouln't talk to cops is fatuous.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:37 PM on January 9 [2 favorites]


You're asking for a level of scrupulousness in thinking about this that is unrealistic, to say the least, outside of a more structured environment like a courtroom. And this in the same comments where you counterfactually assert that I would argue differently for a different person, and do so on the basis of ideological blinders.

Rhetorician, heal thyself.
posted by fatbird at 12:37 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]


I guess the bit I don't get is Christie distancing himself from his high-school barely-acquaintence David Wildstein during the presser. The heck with the mayor - Christie needs to be schmoozing up Wildstein now. He needs to be BFF with Wildstein now.
posted by newdaddy at 12:40 PM on January 9


Four Questions That Chris Christie's Endless Press Conference Didn't Answer

2. If Christie really didn’t know about any of this, who else in his inner circle did? Already implicated by the e-mails released this week are Bridget Kelly, his deputy chief of staff, and Bill Stepian, his longtime campaign manager. But there were many names and numbers redacted from those e-mails. What about Kevin O’Dowd, Christie’s chief of staff and Kelly’s boss? Well, legislators will have a chance to ask him about this: He is Christie’s nominee to be attorney general, and has a confirmation hearing scheduled later this month. And if O’Dowd is confirmed, despite having presided, unknowingly or not, over Kelly’s Fort Lee operation, what are we to expect of any state investigation of the whole debacle? The same goes for any investigation launched by U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman, Christie’s successor—the ties between that office and Christie are not surprisingly very deep, starting with the fact that Christie’s deputy U.S. Attorney, Bill Fitzpatrick, is now Fishman’s first assistant.
posted by madamjujujive at 12:43 PM on January 9 [3 favorites]


There's "guilt" as a legal term of art that includes presumption of innocence until proven beyond a reasonable doubt, and there's "guilt" as a way of saying "I believe the person did what they're accused of." I don't see anyone arguing that Wildstein's invocation of the fifth means he is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of charges that haven't even been filed yet. Coming to a conclusion about whether they think he did the things he's likely to be charged with is not a sign of hypocrisy.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:49 PM on January 9 [4 favorites]


But there were mysterious allusions to a "third objection" which was never explained and which the committee chair said was "not appropriate" for the committee to address. Wonder what that was about.

The three objections from the motion to quash were that the (1) the committee can't issue subpoenas, (2) that the Chairman has a conflict of interest with the Port Authority due to business dealings as a lawyer, and (3) that the Chairman's signature was not legitimate on the subpoena. I wonder which one they skipped? (My guess would be the signature one since that's dumb.)
posted by smackfu at 12:56 PM on January 9


Lois Lerner took the fifth before Congress when Darrell Issa was investigating allegations that the IRS picked on conservative groups for extra scrutiny when applying for tax-exempt status. To my knowledge no criminal wrongdoing has been found, and Ms. Lerner retired from the IRS last September. The justification for taking the fifth was that Rep. Issa had already announced his intentions that someone go to prison for the alleged misdeeds, and given the political overtones of the legislative committee doing the investigating, it was reasonable to refuse to testify.

I am not saying that Wildstein is in the same position that Lerner was in; but it's entirely possible to take the fifth when one has done nothing wrong, no criminal acts took place, and no charges are ultimately filed.
posted by ambrosia at 1:00 PM on January 9 [3 favorites]


smackfu, it was #2, about the conflict of interest.
posted by yarrow at 1:01 PM on January 9


My Fellow Americans, Look At Me: Do I Look Like A Corrupt, Vengeful Bully?
posted by gaspode at 1:02 PM on January 9 [5 favorites]


GhostintheMachine: "Sure, he's not Republican enough for many in the GOP, but having him as the candidate will push exactly 0 GOP voters to vote for Hillary, Biden, Warren, or whatever the Dems end up offering, even if it turns out he ordered this himself."

I think the idea is to not have Dem or Dem-leaning voters not defect to him.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:02 PM on January 9


No one else ever said any of that on this thread.

Everyone saying "he took the Fifth, so obviously he's guilty" (including, to my enormous surprise, you)


No, no person said the thing you just put in quotes. If there is a specific quote you think where anyone said that, let's see it.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:42 PM on January 9


Christie, from the presser:

"Prior to yesterday, I believed that if I looked someone in the eye who I worked with and trusted and asked them that I would get an honest answer. Maybe that was naive, but that's what I believed."

and later ...

"And what does it make me ask about me? It makes me ask about me what did I do wrong to have these folks think it was OK to lie to me? And there's a lot of soul-searching that goes around with this. You know, when you're a leader of an organization -- and I've had this happen to me before, where I've had folks not tell me the truth about something -- not since I've been governor but in previous leadership positions -- you always wonder about what you could do differently."

Flashback: Christie Fired State Official In 2010 For Allegedly Misleading Him
posted by madamjujujive at 1:45 PM on January 9


Sure, he's not Republican enough for many in the GOP, but having him as the candidate will push exactly 0 GOP voters to vote for Hillary, Biden, Warren, or whatever the Dems end up offering, even if it turns out he ordered this himself.

It's true that most voters will vote for a ham sandwich if their party of choice nominated one, but that doesn't mean that ham sandwiches are particular likely to get their party's nod. When Christie wants a GOP donor's money or a GOP politician's endorsement, he needs to offer more than just being a Republican.
posted by leopard at 2:03 PM on January 9


That Onion article hits the nail on the head. Hilarious.
posted by leopard at 2:09 PM on January 9


Daily Show from last night on BridgeGate.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:13 PM on January 9


wow, can't believe I missed this:

2C:27-5. Retaliation for past official action
A person commits a crime of the fourth degree if he harms another by any unlawful act with purpose to retaliate for or on account of the service of another as a public servant.

L.1978, c. 95, s. 2C:27-5, eff. Sept. 1, 1979.

It is explicitly illegal in NJ.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:40 PM on January 9 [2 favorites]


Hmm, but does an endorsement count as official action, or is an endorsement made as a private citizen?
posted by jason_steakums at 2:42 PM on January 9


Hmm, but does an endorsement count as official action, or is an endorsement made as a private citizen?

It doesn't say "official action" in the operative portion of the law. It says on account of the service of another as a public servant. Not sure if the meaning of that phrase has been litigated yet. I do think the section right before, the one I cited up thread 2C:27-3
2C:27-3. Threats and other improper influence in official and political matters
a. Offenses defined. A person commits an offense if he directly or indirectly:

(1) Threatens unlawful harm to any person with purpose to influence a decision, opinion, recommendation, vote or exercise of discretion of a public servant, party official or voter on any public issue or in any public election; or

(2) Threatens harm to any public servant with purpose to influence a decision, opinion, recommendation, vote or exercise of discretion in a judicial or administrative proceeding; or

(3) Threatens harm to any public servant or party official with purpose to influence him to violate his official duty.

It is no defense to prosecution under this section that a person whom the actor sought to influence was not qualified to act in the desired way, whether because he had not yet assumed office or lacked jurisdiction, or for any other reason.

b. Grading. An offense under this section is a crime of the third degree.
also:
2C:27-12. Crime of corruption of public resources; grading.
1. a. A person commits the crime of corruption of public resources if, with respect to a public resource which is subject to an obligation to be used for a specified purpose or purposes, the person knowingly uses or makes disposition of that public resource or any portion thereof for an unauthorized purpose.

(1) If the public resource involved is subject to an obligation to be used to perform or facilitate the performance of a governmental function or public service, corruption of public resources constitutes a crime of the first degree if the amount or value of the public resource involved is $500,000 or more; the offense constitutes a crime of the second degree if the amount or value involved is $75,000 or more but is less than $500,000; and the offense constitutes a crime of the third degree if the amount or value involved is less than $75,000.

(2) If the public resource involved is not subject to an obligation to be used for a purpose to perform or facilitate the performance of a governmental function or public service, corruption of public resources constitutes a crime of the second degree if the amount or value of the public resource involved is $500,000 or more; the offense constitutes a crime of the third degree if the amount or value involved is $75,000 or more but is less than $500,000; and the offense constitutes a crime of the fourth degree if the amount or value involved is less than $75,000.

b. Except as otherwise provided in section 97 of P.L.1999, c.440 (C.2C:21-34), a person commits a crime if he makes a material representation that is false to a government agency, officer or employee (1) with the purpose to obtain or retain a public resource, or (2) with the purpose to mislead or deceive any person as to the use or disposition of a public resource. This offense constitutes a crime of the second degree if the amount or value of the public resource involved is $500,000 or more; the offense constitutes a crime of the third degree if the amount or value involved is $75,000 or more but is less than $500,000; and the offense constitutes a crime of the fourth degree if the amount or value involved is less than $75,000.

c. For purposes of this section, "public resource" means any funds or property provided by the government, or a person acting on behalf of the government, which shall include but is not limited to: (1) money or the equivalent of money paid by the government directly or indirectly to or on behalf of a person or his employer; (2) transfer by the government of an asset of value for less than fair market price; (3) fees, costs, rents, insurance or bond premiums, loans, interest rates or other obligations that would normally be required in the execution of the contract, that are paid, reduced, charged at less than fair market value, waived, or forgiven by the government; (4) money loaned by the government that is to be repaid on a contingent basis; (5) money loaned by an entity based upon or in accordance with a guarantee provided by the government; (6) grants awarded by the government or an entity acting on behalf of the government; and (7) credits that are applied by the government against repayment obligations to the government. For purposes of this section, a purpose is unauthorized if it is not the specified purpose or purposes for which a public resource is obligated to be used, and the government agency having supervision of or jurisdiction over the person or public resource has not given its approval for such use.

d. Each act of corruption of public resources shall constitute an additional, separate and distinct offense, except that the amounts or values of public resources used for an unauthorized purpose in separate acts of corruption of public resources may be aggregated for the purpose of establishing liability pursuant to this section.

e. Proof that a person made a false statement, prepared a false report or if the government agency having supervision of or jurisdiction over the person or public resource required a report to be prepared, failed to prepare a report concerning the conduct that is the subject of the prosecution, shall give rise to an inference that the actor knew that the public resource was used for an unauthorized purpose.

f. Nothing in this act shall preclude an indictment and conviction for any other offense defined by the laws of this State.

g. Nothing in this act shall preclude an assignment judge from dismissing a prosecution under this section if the assignment judge determines, pursuant to N.J.S.2C:2-11, the conduct charged to be a de minimis infraction.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:47 PM on January 9 [2 favorites]


More Onion: Voters Shocked Christie Botched Such An Easy Political Cover-Up
posted by 1970s Antihero at 3:46 PM on January 9 [7 favorites]


Wildstein held in contempt for pleading 5th
posted by krinklyfig at 4:47 PM on January 9


Wish I had noted this before, but hats off to relentless local reporters who dogged this story and ferreted it out - against much pressure, no doubt. Thank you, local reporters!

The Record nails Christie story

How a local reporter broke the Christie story

Here are good places to follow some of the key reporters:
John Cichowski Road Warrior blog
Shawn Boburg's Twitter
@NorthJerseybrk
posted by madamjujujive at 6:00 PM on January 9 [12 favorites]


View from outside the bubble, gist of the conversation at work today:
"What's all this about the GWB and Christie in the news?"
"His aides caused traffic jams 'cause the mayor didn't endorse him, it got out, now the Democrats are trying to blame him."
"I don't think he's that much of dumbass to order that, definitely wouldn't create anything incriminating in any case."
"Yeah, loose cannons probably."
"News is making a big deal of it, he's definitely guilty, etc."
"Obviously, the Democrats put their news guys on it. They're scared of Christie, would love to take him out if they can swing it."

I loosely concurred with the general consensus.

I rather doubt you will see a persecution. Do you think the Republicans, even if they don't want him Pres., want him destroyed?
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 6:04 PM on January 9


Do you think the Republicans, even if they don't want him Pres., want him destroyed?

If it becomes a liability for his presidential aspirations, I don't think the party will care about him. Nobody was all that excited about him in the first place. And in the meantime, nobody's really rushing to his defense because between this being such a plausibly Christie move and the rumors of even more skeletons in his closet (which the Romney campaign took one look at and ran far away from) there's a chance he'll go radioactive any minute.
posted by jason_steakums at 6:18 PM on January 9


They don't have to destroy him, just not help him.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:19 PM on January 9


Guess I should have been clearer upthread. I just don't see this hurting whatever chances Christie had. I don't think this will change anyone's opinion of him, either as governor or as potential Presidential candidate. It's not going to make Dems like him any more, and it's not going to make Repubs like him any less.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 6:24 PM on January 9


Wow, Maddow is putting out theory that retaliation wasn't for lack of endorsement but for this:

@owillis maddow is noting that retribution for not endorsing him doesnt fit with hitting ft lee, but revenge for the state supreme court does

@owillis maddow uncovered that a nj supreme court justice that christie pulled really angered him and the rep who he felt responsible is from ft lee

@technopundit @GregMitch Nutshell: Christie was angry with Dems over need to pull nomination. Head of Senate Dems represented Ft. Lee.
posted by madamjujujive at 6:31 PM on January 9 [5 favorites]


It's not going to make Dems like him any more, and it's not going to make Repubs like him any less.

This seems too simple. There are Democrats who like him because "he's our bully", and because in comparison to Corzine he's been vastly more effective as governor. There's a large "centrist" population who saw him publicly thank Obama for help during Hurricane Sandy, and think he's just the guy to cut through partisan gridlock. There's Republicans who hate him for supporting gun control and for talking down other Republicans. All it takes is for each sub-constituency to shift a few points in the wrong direction, and he's suffering.

Mostly, I think this hurts him because, in Josh Marshall's theory of bitchslap politics, he's now getting slapped when before he'd been really good at portraying himself as the slapper. Now he's playing defense, and it directly tears at the myths he'd carefully constructed.
posted by fatbird at 6:37 PM on January 9


This seems too simple. There are Democrats who like him because "he's our bully", and because in comparison to Corzine he's been vastly more effective as governor. There's a large "centrist" population who saw him publicly thank Obama for help during Hurricane Sandy, and think he's just the guy to cut through partisan gridlock. There's Republicans who hate him for supporting gun control and for talking down other Republicans. All it takes is for each sub-constituency to shift a few points in the wrong direction, and he's suffering.

And then there are the various funding sources thinking about risk/reward. Three years out is a particularly bad time for any scandal for a presidential hopeful, you don't want potential donors waiting to see how this all pans out for you while your opponents are out fundraising without that hanging over them.
posted by jason_steakums at 6:47 PM on January 9


Listening to Christie's press conference, it's very reminiscent of Rob Ford - lies, emotionally loaded words, self-pity. It's both infuriating and frightening to consider how disingenuous and manipulative these "master politicians" can be.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:54 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]


I don't know whether this will be the one scandal that formally ends Christie's aspirations for further office (though it's guaranteed if anything occurs to incriminate him directly), but I don't know whether it matters, either. This is the kind of thing that can be found when we peek into the workings of his administration. How many commercials could be made about just the smaller abuses of power and acts of petty revenge that have received fresh attention in the wake of this? They all cut away at his ostensible strength, which is appeal across the aisle.

I think it's pretty clear that he's not going to be president, whether it's over this issue or another, whether he falters in the primary or the general or just decides not to run. You can't operate with this little discipline for any length of time and expect to survive the months of constant scrutiny required in a modern presidential run.
posted by Epenthesis at 6:59 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]


Wow, Maddow is putting out theory that retaliation wasn't for lack of endorsement

Yeah, the endorsement explanation didn't ever really hold water. Maddow's theory makes much more sense.

Looks like MSNBC just posted the segment.
posted by zixyer at 7:05 PM on January 9 [9 favorites]


And the circle begins to close.
posted by valkane at 7:36 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]


Wow. That Maddow stuff is pretty strong.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:40 PM on January 9 [3 favorites]


Refresh my memory--where did that meme about the retribution for not endorsing Christie come from in the first place? It's been taken as gospel by so many even though it never made any sense.
posted by leftcoastbob at 7:51 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]


I don't know originally, but it's been alleged by the mayor himself (in addition to others). And what I've seen of the emails doesn't exactly knock the theory down. For example, there's stuff like the following (not exact quotes, just vague rephrasing of what I remember off the top of my head):

* "It's gonna be a tough November for this little Serbian", seemingly (in context) in reference to the mayor (who is Croatian, not Serbian, but close enough for a Republican)

* After the mayor asks them what's going on, says it's crazy, and asks for their help, they comment among themselves jokingly about how happy they are

* Again after the mayor contacts them, one of them asks another something like "Should we respond?", and is told "Radio silence - his name comes right after Mayor Fulop". Mayor Fulop is another Democratic mayor who refused to endorse Christie.

Of course all of this is compatible with the idea that they were seeking retribution against someone else (e.g. the person mentioned in the Maddow thing), and were just happy to have the mayor as collateral damage. But it doesn't seem inconceivable to me, especially given the "right after Fulop" one - at the very least they were fully conscious and happy about the fact that they were taking it out on a mayor who did not endorse Christie (whether that mayor was the primary target or not).
posted by Flunkie at 8:51 PM on January 9


leftcoastbob: "Refresh my memory--where did that meme about the retribution for not endorsing Christie come from in the first place? It's been taken as gospel by so many even though it never made any sense."

It was the theory repeated by Sokolich, among others, in the initial wave of backlash in NJ at the time of the lane closings and immediately after. It is the most obvious assumption -- Sokolich is the political leader of the town that was affected, he was kept in the dark and blown off, he's a Democrat, Christie's courting of Dem endorsements was all over the news, and Christie is known to be a bully with a quick temper over even minor perceived slights.

In the email/texts, Sokolich says to Baroni that multiple reporters calling to talk with him are indicating that their sources suggest it was punitive.

As for why it didn't get more closely questioned once the emails were released, there's all that sarcasm and smarminess about ignoring Sokolich's pleas for help and referring to him as Serbia, so there is a current of "eh, fuck that Sokolich guy" running through the communications that superficially seems to fall in line with the initial assumption.

I think the retaliation scheme outlined by Maddow sounds a whole-goddamn-lot stronger as a primary target, though.
posted by desuetude at 9:18 PM on January 9


>>Do you think the Republicans, even if they don't want him Pres., want him destroyed?

I guarantee you that a lot of Republicans want him destroyed, simply for thanking Obama on the SuperStorm Sandy cleanup (to Romney's detriment).

And 100% of the other Republican candidates for president want him destroyed. They have a lot of pull and connections in right-wing circles. Never forget that with this Supreme Court, extreme right-wingers have exponentially more money every election. Moderates do not.
posted by msalt at 10:23 PM on January 9 [2 favorites]


I think the retaliation scheme outlined by Maddow sounds a whole-goddamn-lot stronger as a primary target, though.

It is interesting that the discussion isn't about "Is he capable of this kind of political retribution?", but rather "What perceived act of betrayal is he exacting retribution *for*?" and it seems that even his own staff can't keep the straight all of the people they've gotten even with to prove the point, "You do NOT fuck with the gov".
posted by mikelieman at 2:32 AM on January 10 [1 favorite]


oh man that Maddow piece was very well crafted.
posted by angrycat at 4:39 AM on January 10 [2 favorites]


That Rachel Maddow piece. Oy gevalt.

The Christie administration looks even more bizarre now.

Also, I had no idea about the judge nomination stuff. Even if this had been totally unconnected to the bridge situation, it would still be vile.

...

The GOP doesn't care about Christie. At least, they won't care about him any more than anybody else. They will not stick their collective neck out for him.

Unless the GOP has silently changed its national strategy, Christie as a political product doesn't really help them out. The GOP has been stuck trying to present "moderate" national candidates as actually being hard right-wingers, and vice-versa. Chris Christie is too Northeastern and too moderate-seeming to play well on the national level.

Mitt Romney's run was a failure, for a variety of reasons, but one of Romney's biggest problems was how he was constantly trying to reframe his history as the "moderate" governor of one of the most liberal states in the union. Romney's message became very muddled. Indeed, the most clear message we got from the Romney administration was from surreptitiously recorded remarks that he hadn't even intended for public consumption!

Christie had been doing a decent job of branding himself as someone who could later potentially be an alternative to a Dem candidate, but after the Romney election, many conservatives are neutral-to-bitter about the GOP repeating the Romney strategy, of running a GOP moderate to oppose a Dem moderate.

Indeed, as I snoop around on RedState, the New York Post comments section, and even /pol/, very few of the commenters are supporting Christie in this. Nobody respects this kind of behavior.

Indeed, the most toxic remark that I saw from online conservatives is the most seemingly neutral: it was something along the lines of, "this is not a Republican issue or a Democratic issue, this is a corruption issue". In other words, not only was this person not defending the Christie administration, but this person didn't even want to associate the Christie administration with the Republicans at all.

Christie was not particularly desirable a week ago. And now? No matter the resolution of this case, the guy is radioactive.

...

The Serb/Croatian thing is driving me nuts, in a small, quiet way. THESE PEOPLE ARE NOT EVEN GOOD AT MAKING OFFENSIVE ETHNIC JOKES. C'mon, guys, 14-year-olds do this all the time. As Eugene Mirman once said, "You can't just make up random information and say it sarcastically and have it make sense."

Were they calling him a Serb because he was actually Croatian, as they thought that would be insulting? Because, that just makes you look dim. Or, were they calling him a Serb because they truly didn't know what they're talking about? If they were that ignorant about who has what ethnicity, then why did they refer to him as being from any ethnicity at all? Why care that anyone has ever been a Serb?

I mean, even according to the offensive logic of ethnic jokes, wouldn't it be "funnier" to make fun of him for being Russian, i.e. the "joke" would be that, since he is a Slav from an ethnicity that is relatively obscure in the US, then he shall instead be referred to as being from a much more famous and numerous Slav ethnicity, even though that is obviously not the case? In the alternative, still according to the offensive logic of ethnic jokes, wouldn't it be "funnier" to pretend that he's from either Borat's Kazakhstan, or from a wholly made-up country, or to keep referring to him as being from a series of countries, i.e. throughout the email chain, keep referring to him variously as being "the little Serb", "the tiny Croatian", "the minuscule Bulgarian", "the infinitesimal Laotian," "the microscopic Kazakh", "the diminutive Manxman", etc.?

I mean, those are offensive remarks and inappropriate in any context, but at least they have some sort of underlying structure as jokes.

Or, am I just pretending that people put more thought into these things than they actually do?

I'll show myself out.
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:40 AM on January 10 [7 favorites]


Chris Christie: Dimwitted dupe or demented liar?
I obviously can’t claim to know how much of Christie’s “Bridgegate” account was true and how much was false — intentionally or otherwise.

But the problem for Christie — politically, probatively, legally — is that what we already know, combined with what he said on Thursday, means that eventually the story will settle around one of two conclusions:

1) That after two decades in politics and four in the New Jersey governor’s office, Christie’s no better prepared to serve than an unlikely Prince Hal surrounded by a merry band of younger Falstaffs; or

2) He’s one of the most audacious liars in 21st century American politics.

There’s very little gray area here in which he might redeem his judgment and managerial skill without admitting that he lied about his knowledge of or involvement in the scandal.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:56 AM on January 10 [4 favorites]


Oh god. It's way too early to be drinking, but get a load of this:
... political operatives get high on winning. They start to think nothing can touch them when they're with a winner. They get full of themselves. And they think only winning counts, because winning is their job.
...
Young operatives are ... acting out what they see in a million other movies and shows -- "Scandal," "The Good Wife."

There's a twist on this you can see in the Christie story. You read the emails and texts his operatives were sending, and you realize: This is TV dialogue. It's movie dialogue. They get everything off the screen, not real life, and they're imitating the sound of tough guys.

Those emails and texts, they were "Sopranos" dialogue. "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee" is pure Tony. "Got it" is pure Silvio. "I feel bad about the kids," is druggy Christopher, or maybe Adriana. "They're the children of Buono voters" is Paulie Walnuts, in all his aggression and stupidity.

Christie operatives are not the only ones in politics who talk this way. And they all do it not because they're really tough but because they think that's how people like them -- rock-'em sock-'em operatives -- would talk. They don't have the brains, heart or judgment of people who've lived a life because they haven't all lived a life. They're 30 or 40 and came of age in a media-saturated country. They saw it all on TV. They saw it on a screen.
Peggy Noonan, ladies and gentlemen. (The linked blog entry also points out that, no, these people aren't 30 or 40. Christ, what a maroon.)
posted by tonycpsu at 7:42 AM on January 10 [6 favorites]


Best line in that blog piece is "Hey Peggy, whatever happened to personal responsibility?"

And of course, she's the queen of excusing people who should be held accountable for their actions.
posted by zarq at 7:45 AM on January 10 [3 favorites]


Just keep walking, Peggy; you're obviously not qualified to comment.
posted by The Confessor at 8:05 AM on January 10


Christie’s no better prepared to serve than an unlikely Prince Hal surrounded by a merry band of younger Falstaffs

Someone apparently never got more than halfway through Henry IV Part I.
posted by yoink at 8:20 AM on January 10 [1 favorite]


Christie's "control room" (gif) by Christoph Niemann at the New Yorker.
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 9:32 AM on January 10 [15 favorites]


That gif is pretty priceless.
posted by OmieWise at 9:49 AM on January 10


The screen with the ARC tunnel, lol....
posted by longdaysjourney at 9:53 AM on January 10


More documents coming out later today. The story ends on a high note: "The person dressed as a hamburger did not indicate whether he was a Christie supporter."
posted by compartment at 9:54 AM on January 10 [6 favorites]


Just keep walking, Peggy; you're obviously not qualified to comment.

Ah, fuggedaboutit!
posted by nubs at 10:01 AM on January 10


compartment: ""The person dressed as a hamburger did not indicate whether he was a Christie supporter.""

CJ Cregg: Didn't you teach that girl not to engage a chicken?
posted by zarq at 10:12 AM on January 10 [2 favorites]


Pierce, again:

The Passion of Big Chicken, Part Two
Now I understand better that National Review hit piece on kindly Doc Maddow wherein it was explained that she is getting her gay lesbian liberal cooties all over the MSNBC brand, and perhaps giving Mika and Joe a sad every morning before their daily playdate with the other kids. KDM and her crew have been killing it on Chris Christie and the George Washington Bridge business almost from jump and, last night, they proposed a theory of motive that pretty much undercut everything that Big Chicken had to say in his extended exercise in self-absolution yesterday afternoon, but which also is a more plausible explanation than the one involving the mayor of Fort Lee's refusal to endorse Big Chicken last fall, which always had lent to the whole business a slight air of $1000 worth of punishment for a ten-cent crime. The Doc's theory is that the whole thing has its roots in an incredibly nasty, prolonged shit-fight between Big Chicken and the Democrats in the New Jersey state legislature over the state Supreme Court.
[...]
I could be convinced that he knew nothing about it if it were just some get-back for an endorsement he didn't seek and didn't need. It would be hard, but you could convince me. But if it was retaliation for something as serious as a brawl with the legislature over Supreme Court justices, then it's impossible to imagine the governor learned about that on Wednesday. It also makes more sense in light of the gathering notion that, rather than being blissfully ignorant of the whole thing until this week, the governor's office was playing for time.
Turns out, though, that Christie was running out the clock in more ways than one. In New Jersey, a legislature's subpoena power into a particular investigation ends when the legislative session ends. In this case, that's next week: January 14. That might not mean much, because the assembly (where the investigation is taking place) is in Democratic hands in the current (ending) session, and will remain in Democratic hands in the next one, so one might assume the new legislature would renew the probe. But here's the wrinkle: The speakership of the assembly is changing hands, from Sheila Oliver, who has a rocky history with Christie, to Vincent Prieto, who has no such history. So maybe there was a chance that Prieto wasn't going to continue the investigation. Indeed, he'd refused to say one way or the other for a long time as the scandal percolated. But once these damning emails came out, Prieto had little choice, and sure enough, he finally said Wednesday that the investigation will continue into the next session.
It is not good when the people looking into your conduct can explain it in ways that make more sense than you can. Big Chicken's in big trouble still. What's the over/under number on when someone leaks the full vetting file the Romney people put together on him ?

Four?

Weeks? Days? Hours?
posted by zombieflanders at 10:31 AM on January 10 [9 favorites]


For those of you who don't know what sitting in GWB traffic is like, it's more or less like this:

There are cars on the highway and they are standing still.
You may try to get off, but there are cars on every road you can see. Staying still.
Every single road you can see. And the ones you can't see.
And the ones you can imagine - there are cars on it.
Cars cover the world.
They do not move.
They get in your soul.
You are very stuck.
This lasts for hours.


Unless the George Washington bridge is more than 500 miles long, I'm afraid the 401 has you beat.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:40 AM on January 10 [1 favorite]


If Peggy Noonan had been born forty years later the internet would have collapsed under the weight of her expert (if unintentional) trolling. I swear there is nobody on earth who can send my rage from zero to sixty with a single sentence faster than she can.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:46 AM on January 10


If Peggy Noonan had been born forty years later the internet would have collapsed under the weight of her expert (if unintentional) trolling.

Peggy would never have had a career if she'd been born in the Internet age. What columnists like her, and David Brooks and that racist shitbag WaPo keeps paying, demonstrate is just how shallow the commentariat was before the high volume of commentary brought by web made a lot of tricks obvious. Brooks is basically a big old concern troll. Noonan is a clueless troll. Cohen is a shock troll. Before their schticks became obvious, you could make a career out of it, but the readership has grown up a lot.
posted by fatbird at 11:04 AM on January 10 [12 favorites]


Next week’s New Yorker cover, “Playing in Traffic.”
posted by zombieflanders at 11:13 AM on January 10 [2 favorites]


entropone: "For those of you who don't know what sitting in GWB traffic is like, it's more or less like this:"

You missed something.

The bridge, like most bridges, moves. It moves up and down very gently as traffic moves across it, and maybe when there's a very strong wind. It's subtle, but definitely palpable. And when you sit on the bridge for a long period of time in rush hour, especially when there's traffic moving in the other direction, you can feel the bridge bounce gently up and down. When a truck goes by in the other direction and you're stuck sitting in the fast lane that bounce gets markedly more pronounced.

It's a truly unnerving feeling. You're in a car, which must weigh a ton or more, and there are many other cars around you, just sitting there and each of them weighs a ton or more. And then there are the dozen or so trucks you can see in your immediate vicinity which must weigh many tons each... and the road doesn't feel solid.

So you sit, bouncing ever-so-gently up and down and remember that damned Gallopin' Gertie video and think, "Gee, the Tacoma Narrows bridge was actually shorter than this one. And there are more cars here than there were then. Was this bridge designed to take 279,000 cars a day? Is it even possible to engineer any bridge to carry that sort of incredible capacity day in and day out for years and years without something going wrong? Shit, that's a long way down, isn't it? And we're really far from solid ground here."

Ugh.
posted by zarq at 11:26 AM on January 10 [7 favorites]


Gee, the Tacoma Narrows bridge was actually shorter than this one. And there are more cars here than there were then. Was this bridge designed to take 279,000 cars a day? Is it even possible to engineer any bridge to carry that sort of incredible capacity day in and day out for years and years without something going wrong? Shit, that's a long way down, isn't it? And we're really far from solid ground here.

The Tacoma Narrows bridge did that because it was slender and didn't weigh very much. The GWB is a completely different story and was actually investigated because one of Ammann's other designs, the Bronx-Whitestone bridge, had some of the same design flaws as the Tacoma Narrows bridge but the GWB was found to be fine. After 80 years of service you're probably pretty safe. /bridgeofframp
posted by crashlanding at 11:48 AM on January 10 [1 favorite]


I'll take it over the Tappan Zee any day of the week, zarq.
posted by whuppy at 11:50 AM on January 10


Those thousands of pages of additional documents just got dropped.
They're here.
posted by qnarf at 11:54 AM on January 10


I could be convinced that he knew nothing about it if it were just some get-back for an endorsement he didn't seek and didn't need. It would be hard, but you could convince me. But if it was retaliation for something as serious as a brawl with the legislature over Supreme Court justices, then it's impossible to imagine the governor learned about that on Wednesday.

How does that work? The question here is "were Christie's aides willing to take an action like this without specific authorization from Christie and without informing Christie?" How is it less likely that they'd do it if it's retaliation for something "serious" than if it is retaliation for something "trivial"? In fact, the logic seems to go entirely the other way to me. You go kill Thomas a Becket if you've heard your boss say "Who will rid me of this troublesome priest" and you assume he'll thank you for it later when he finds out what you've done. You probably check with your boss before saddling up, though, if all you heard him say was "man, I really don't like the hats that priest wears."
posted by yoink at 11:57 AM on January 10 [2 favorites]


I'm interested in the story of Bill Stepien, Christie's former campaign manager. (Just dropping this comment here while waiting for other people to dig through the thousands of pages and report on the interesting parts.) Anyway, Stepien--Christie said he took action against him because of the callousness of Stepien's tone in the emails, although there was nothing in the emails to contradict Stepien's claim that he hadn't known about the bridge closings.

But there has to be more that Christie knew, because there's nothing particularly damning about Stepien's "tone." All he does is respond to reports of news articles about the lane closings with comments to the effect of "it could have been worse." He does call the Fort Lee mayor an idiot, but good grief, Christie's called people worse than that in public!

As to "callous indifference," nothing Stepien said comes close to Christie's own mocking of reporters over the past few months.

It just doesn't add up. Christie had to know more about Stepien's involvement/knowledge than is revealed in the emails.
posted by torticat at 12:44 PM on January 10 [1 favorite]


Yeah, and from what I heard Stepien and Christie were pretty close.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:48 PM on January 10


More about Bridget Anne Kelly and Bill Stepien: Former NJ Governor Tom Kean said, "My feeling is (the governor) doesn’t have anybody who tells him he’s wrong, but a Bill Stepien is as close as you get to that."
posted by 1970s Antihero at 12:57 PM on January 10 [1 favorite]


N.J. Lawmaker: New Docs Mention Christie Meeting With Port Authority Chair
New Jersey Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D) in a statement drew particular attention to a document showing an apparent meeting between Christie and one of his top appointees at the Port of New York and New Jersey, which oversees the bridge, just days before his deputy chief of staff wrote an email to a Port Authority executive saying it was "time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee."
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:58 PM on January 10 [1 favorite]


Released emails from PANYNJ's Baroni: "Am on way to office to discuss. There can be no public discourse."
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 1:00 PM on January 10


crashlanding: " After 80 years of service you're probably pretty safe. "

"probably"

Oy. :)

It's not so much the reality of the situation as an illogical, impending sense of doom.
posted by zarq at 1:01 PM on January 10


I wonder how frequently Christie meets with the head of the port authority?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 1:08 PM on January 10 [1 favorite]


XQUZYPHYR: "Released emails from PANYNJ's Baroni: "Am on way to office to discuss. There can be no public discourse.""

This is not a smoking gun.

It's standard crisis communications procedure to try to prevent people from releasing statements to the public until you have a definite handle on a situation.
posted by zarq at 1:09 PM on January 10 [2 favorites]


What Christie said in the presser about Stepien:
"I had earlier conversations with Bill Stepien where, as I expressed to you at the time, that Bill told me he knew absolutely nothing about this. So -- you know, and certainly the emails yesterday, and emails involving Bill Stepien were all after -- well after the fact. So -- but that's not the basis upon which I made my decision on Bill, Matt (sp). My decision on Bill was made based on the fact of the tone, the tenor and the conduct that was evidenced in those emails. I lost confidence in his judgement. And that's why I made the decision I made as to -- as to Bill."

So much bullshit. And interesting how careful he is to explain his precise reasons for taking the actions he did, as if he's negotiating around some legal line (but I can't figure out what that might be). He did the same with Kelly, over and over saying she was terminated ONLY for lying to him.

But I have to say, even though it seems clear to me that Christie was dancing around some stuff and definitely not being as straightforward as he claimed, he is a scary good liar. Like almost sociopathic-good.
posted by torticat at 1:09 PM on January 10 [3 favorites]


zarq, there's nothing wrong with refusing to deal in absolutes. There's a probability of failure for everything. Hell, quantum mechanics says there's a probability that your computer can up and fall through your desk! :)

I understand, just couldn't resist talking about bridges with regards to fear of them.
posted by crashlanding at 1:14 PM on January 10 [1 favorite]


This is not a smoking gun.

No, it's just an email dated a week before Christie mocked the issue claiming no one contacted the Port Authority about it.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 1:14 PM on January 10 [2 favorites]


Adding, so was "crisis communications procedure" to include "let's not tell the governor at all about this, so he can either lie or look like he's lying?"

Is Christie's "crisis communications procedure" to not ask why, exactly, Baroni resigned a few days later?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 1:19 PM on January 10 [1 favorite]


XQUZYPHYR: " No, it's just an email dated a week before Christie mocked the issue claiming no one contacted the Port Authority about it."

Context would be helpful when you're presenting new evidence.
posted by zarq at 1:23 PM on January 10


The Times has mirrored the documents here.
posted by qnarf at 1:26 PM on January 10


XQUZYPHYR: "Adding, so was "crisis communications procedure" to include "let's not tell the governor at all about this, so he can either lie or look like he's lying?"

Is Christie's "crisis communications procedure" to not ask why, exactly, Baroni resigned a few days later?
"

Might I suggest that you try again, without trying to put words in my mouth that I clearly did not say or imply.

One of the interesting things about Christie's speech is that it was very "by the book" to public relations professionals like me, who have experience in crisis communications. Some of the actions of his staffers also bear the hallmarks of that training and advice. Keeping the media at bay, controlling the presentation of facts and public impression of the crisis. It was noted today that Baroni sent repeated emails ordering Port Authority public relations workers to ignore media inquiries about the crisis. Again, not unusual. But there's a larger context which will take time to piece together.

During Christie's speech, he tried to give an impression of transparency and the impression that he was taking responsibility for what has happened. And that he was attempting to prevent future incidents. Classic crisis communications procedures. Questions remain, including 'What did Christie know and when did he know it?' We don't really know yet. We can assume, but we don't know. Right now, he has plausible deniability, in part because it would certainly have aided his staff's efforts to present an "everything is fine, nothing to see here" image to the public by keeping him in the dark. However, I sincerely doubt we'll find Christie as ignorant of what was going on as he continues to claim. Past precedent for his bullying behavior alone makes that unlikely.

There is value in pointing out and understanding why people might be acting a particular way. It not only shows us how they responded publicly and privately to a collapsing situation, but it can also provide insight to ways they thought they could control what was happening. The latter will helps us piece together what happened.

In this case, Baroni was clearly attempting to maintain control over a situation that rapidly spun far, far out of his hands, and it's rather fascinating to watch.
posted by zarq at 1:39 PM on January 10 [1 favorite]


anyone have Exhibits A and B? the site is so swamped you can't view them.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:02 PM on January 10 [1 favorite]


If anyone wants to witness the death of irony, you should turn to Fox News right now, where a panel is discussing how other news channels are "obsessed" with the Christie story.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 2:11 PM on January 10 [3 favorites]


No, it's just an email dated a week before Christie mocked the issue claiming no one contacted the Port Authority about it.

XQUZYPHYR, trying to understand your point here. The emails in the linked tweet are all just internal communication at the PA, no? What do they have to do with whether the governor's office was in contact?
posted by torticat at 2:31 PM on January 10


If anyone wants to witness the death of irony, you should turn to Fox News right now, where a panel is discussing how other news channels are "obsessed" with the Christie story.

Death of irony, or just trolling Jon Stewart?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:32 PM on January 10


No, this is trolling Jon Stewart.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:47 PM on January 10 [2 favorites]


The more I hear about Mayor Mark Sokolich, the more I like him.

He sent a letter to Bill Baroni, the deputy executive director of the Port Authority, complaining that the agency's police officers were telling commuters that the George Washington Bridge lane closings were his fault. Class act that he is, he wrote: "I am writing this correspondence to you and am refraining from copying any other party in the hopes that a recent decision by the Port Authority will be reversed quietly, uneventfully and without political fanfare."

A little different style than Christie's, for sure.
posted by leftcoastbob at 4:23 PM on January 10 [15 favorites]


Also, I had no idea about the judge nomination stuff. Even if this had been totally unconnected to the bridge situation, it would still be vile.

I agree, the hypocrisy is galling, isn't blocking judicial nominations something you usually hear Democrats complaining about? Now that would be a hilarious out - confess, but he played such hardball only for the greater good of New Jersey when the Dems had been obstructing the proper operation of the judiciary.

Whatever trouble he's in just on the grounds of being the executive to an administration that would do such a thing, well, the NSA.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 4:34 PM on January 10


the more the judge stuff comes out, along with the timing of the decision to close the bridge, I think it gets harder.. Christie denied an opportunity for life tenure to a judge he held in high esteem because of the 'animals' in the legislature? And like the next day orders are given so that the leader of the 'animals' has fucked up roads? Please.
posted by angrycat at 4:39 PM on January 10


And like the next day orders are given so that the leader of the 'animals' has fucked up roads?

I find this theory difficult to follow and I'm surprised those who are so keen for this scandal to be Christie's death-knell are jumping on it so ardently. Wasn't the claim earlier that this was a really simple, one-sentence story with nice clear motivations and an obvious qui bono?

Now, suddenly, it seems that the story everyone was so sure was rock solid can be jettisoned in an instant. It seems that Christie was quite right to scoff at the notion that he would seek vengeance against this obscure mayor whose endorsement really didn't matter to him.

No, now we are to believe he was seeking vengeance against the Dems in the legislature. The only problem with this theory being--when would legislators ever take the heat for road closures? That's an executive issue all down the line. Christie, in fact, would take heat for a "why can't they schedule these things properly?" blowback long before anyone in the legislature. And, sure enough, so little did anyone connect this issue to the legislature at the time that it's taken this long for anyone to discover what we are now supposed to think is the slam-dunk, "obvious" motive for Christie's actions. It just doesn't make sense.
posted by yoink at 5:48 PM on January 10


Let me ask a simple question. If Patrick Foye, the director of the Port Authority was so pissed about the closings that he wrote a bitch-slap E-mail saying that they likely violated federal and state laws, why on September 16th did he hand the goddamn response over to Baroni, the guy who did this? It is inexplicable.

Its all in Exhibit A. On Friday September 13, Foye sent this huge blow up E-mail stopping the study. Baroni E-mails back saying "this must not enter public discourse." Now look at p. 57 of Exhibit A, where the PR guy asks about how to respond to the WSJ. In a series of E-mails cc'ing Foye, Baroni tells him to issue the same statement they used Friday. The PR guy, kind of surprised, says "Are you OK, Pat?" to Foye. Foye E-mails back, telling the PR guy that now DED Baroni is taking it and defers to him!

Why would you do that? That's the guy that fucked up. Why would you hand the cover-up to the guy who did it?
posted by Ironmouth at 6:09 PM on January 10


I find this theory difficult to follow

But you appear, from every one of your comments in this thread, to be a Christie partisan. Your entire schtick seems to be that you can't understand why anyone would be taking this seriously. That's ok, but your stance is strange because you keep kind of presenting yourself as neutral.
posted by OmieWise at 6:10 PM on January 10 [3 favorites]


All possible motives for doing this seem crazy, yoink. It's a crazy thing to do. People who do crazy things don't always have clear motivations. It didn't make sense for Nixon to do what he did, but he did it.

With Christie, the Sokolich revenge theory might be more reasonable on certain dimensions, but less reasonable on others. Christie's also specifically tried to give the impression that he didn't care about Sokolich, so it makes sense to look at other motivations. There are weaknesses in the Weinberg revenge theory, but the timing does match up better, and Weinberg was certainly more of a thorn in Christie's side on policy matters than a small town Democratic mayor was electorally.
posted by tonycpsu at 6:19 PM on January 10 [1 favorite]


I find this theory difficult to follow

well your choices are (1) Christie lost his cool after the Democrats wouldn't let his Supreme Court justices through and did this to hurt the leader of the Dem Senate, or (2) Christie got mad because one small town mayor didn't endorse him, lost his cool and did this, or (3) Christie's version, which is that a cabal of rouge staffers, all of whom had been with him years and were perfectly great up to that point, just lost it and started ordering illegal diversions of public resources to harm Christie's opponents, and Christie was so out of touch with it, despite it having been in the news for four months, that he never figured it out.

Up to you which one you want to believe.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:20 PM on January 10 [8 favorites]


But you appear, from every one of your comments in this thread, to be a Christie partisan.

Christ no. But that's exactly proving my point that people line up on this thing based on their feelings about Christie, not based on the available facts.
posted by yoink at 6:20 PM on January 10 [3 favorites]


Christie's also specifically tried to give the impression that he didn't care about Sokolich, so it makes sense to look at other motivations.

Maybe Christie was lying on that one point and the rest was the truth? I mean, he basically suggested this had nothing to do with the mayor at all. Don't you believe him?
posted by Ironmouth at 6:21 PM on January 10


Of course it's possible he's lying, not just about Sokolich, about any number of things. I'm just saying that an making affirmative statement carries more risk than not making any statement at all.
posted by tonycpsu at 6:24 PM on January 10


you appear, from every one of your comments in this thread, to be a Christie partisan.

Christ no. But that's exactly proving my point that people line up on this thing based on their feelings about Christie, not based on the available facts.


I'm halfway through reading all the documents, watched Christie's whole speech, and the entire hearing for Wildstein. So I think I know a lot of facts.

I'm also not thinking that the Dems aren't going to smell rosy either. New York. What did Christie tell New York? Presumably they didn't spin many tall tales because New York gets to see the documents, unlike the public. What did Cuomo know and when did he know it?

Barbara Buono would like to know.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:24 PM on January 10


Christie Tried to Slow Down Investigation
Flashback to December 12, 2013 in the Wall Street Journal:

"Mr. Christie, a Republican, complained in a private phone call to Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, that Patrick Foye, the executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, was pressing too hard to get to the bottom of why the number of toll lanes onto the bridge from Fort Lee, N.J. was cut from three to one in early September, according to this person. The lane closures occurred without notice to local authorities, officials have said, and snarled traffic for a week in the small borough on the Hudson River bluffs."
posted by zombieflanders at 6:27 PM on January 10 [5 favorites]


Nice find zombieflanders!
posted by Ironmouth at 6:32 PM on January 10


Christ no. But that's exactly proving my point that people line up on this thing based on their feelings about Christie, not based on the available facts.

Well that surprises the hell out of me, given every single one of your comments in this thread. I'm not sure what the second part of your comment means, since your standard for non-partisan in this case seems to be to give Christie, whose administration callously fucked a huge number of people, the entire benefit of the doubt. I know we aren't allowed to accuse each other of this, and I am not accusing you of this, since you've said you aren't a Christie partisan here, but if I didn't know better (which of course now I do), I'd say you were a concern troll.
posted by OmieWise at 6:41 PM on January 10 [2 favorites]


Why would you do that? That's the guy that fucked up. Why would you hand the cover-up to the guy who did it?

It’s the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Foye, appointed by the governor of NY, has little to no authority over the NJ appointees. And yes, it’s a really fucked-up system.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 6:49 PM on January 10


Why would you do that? That's the guy that fucked up. Why would you hand the cover-up to the guy who did it?

It’s the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Foye, appointed by the governor of NY, has little to no authority over the NJ appointees. And yes, it’s a really fucked-up system.


He had enough authority to stop the lane shutdown in 2 minutes. You don't hand the media response over to a guy who just broke federal law. Read the September 13th E-mail from Foye. He totally hammers his staff and shuts down the operation immediately and says he's getting to the bottom of it. Two days later he hands it over to Baroni, the guy in charge of the diversion? Why would you fucking do that, ever?
posted by Ironmouth at 6:55 PM on January 10


From the third article I linked to in the FPP:
For his part, as enraged as Foye was, he testified Monday, there was nothing he could do. Wildstein, who resigned Friday for being a "distraction,"gets to stay on for several more weeks in what Wisniewski called a “no show job.”

"If he were a New York appointee, would you have called him into your office and said 'why'd you do this?'" Wisniewski asked.

Foye: Yes and shortly thereafter fired him.

Wisniewski: But he was a New Jersey appointee.

Foye: Yessir.

Wisniewski: And so you did not follow that course.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 7:02 PM on January 10


I'm enjoying the show, so far. Christie's case offers a rare glimpse behind the PR curtain, at how these operations really run, on the ground.

My only nagging fear is that people are going to see this scandal and think, "Man, that's a few really smelly eggs!" when IMO, more and more, this is becoming typical of how politics and big business are done today (don't know if it's ever been better or worse, but hard to imagine worse) to the detriment of us all. The reality is the inverse of our expectations. There's only a few good eggs per dozen, but we tend to want to believe we're getting our money's worth no matter how strong the evidence of our senses.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:02 PM on January 10 [1 favorite]


yoink's comments in this thread seem pretty reasonable and mostly correct to me. Politicians slip out of scandals all the time, and Christie has a pretty good chance as long as he isn't directly linked by new evidence.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:12 PM on January 10


From the third article I linked to in the FPP:
For his part, as enraged as Foye was, he testified Monday, there was nothing he could do. Wildstein, who resigned Friday for being a "distraction,"gets to stay on for several more weeks in what Wisniewski called a “no show job.”

"If he were a New York appointee, would you have called him into your office and said 'why'd you do this?'" Wisniewski asked.

Foye: Yes and shortly thereafter fired him.

Wisniewski: But he was a New Jersey appointee.

Foye: Yessir.

Wisniewski: And so you did not follow that course.


Mr. Foye is being self-serving here. He literally hands over the whole thing to Baroni, then on p 83, Ex. A jumps back into the email chain to say that he's "been underground" but that he just wanted to say his Sept. 13 E-mail was not sent "to Fort Lee Electeds." From demanding to know answers on Sept 13, to I did not rat on you to Fort Lee politicians. Cuomo could get hurt here, there is exposure.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:15 PM on January 10 [1 favorite]


It's the Christie Black Sox.

Pick an opponent, maybe a Democrat, maybe it's more plausible as a billionaire-backed primary challenger, to pin it on. That's the guy. You can't say their name, of course, but others will.

You see, your inner circle, your staffers, your team -- they took bribes, and they threw the game. That's how you were blindsided. That's why they were so cartoonish about their corrupt thuggery.

You're an honest guy. You know that's how it really went down. And now you're going to track down that mysterious billionaire if it's the last thing you do.

Now get out there and hit that drive.
posted by bigbigdog at 7:21 PM on January 10


Christie lied, and it wasn't targeted at Sokolich.

First Sokolich. Ted Mann of the WSJ writes an article on 11/13/13 where he asserts that Sokolich said that he thought he was being punished for not endorsing Christie about two weeks earlier. Except that the order to tie up the traffic was given on August 13 in the infamous "traffic problems" E-mail. There's no way that timeline jibes with the actual one.

Second. Christie lied.

According to Christie, the first time he knew of there being an actual problem was Wed. morning. Yet the WSJ article zombieflanders cited up there, from December 12, has Christie calling Cuomo about the problems with Foye looking into the situation. If Christie didn't know there was any problem, why was he calling Cuomo to call the dogs off. And we don't have a date on that phone call. It could have been any time, really.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:06 PM on January 10


By the way, the objection to the Chairman pushed by Wildstein's lawyer that no one wanted to talk about? P. 191 Ex. A says the Chairman's law firm got a no-bid contract for a $400,000,000 tax lawsuit against the Port Authority. I looked at the fee, he's not getting paid much $150 an hour which is really low rates, actually.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:16 PM on January 10


Maddow's piece about the really weird domain name squatting aspect to this is just...completely nuts. Summary:

Christie makes up a Port Authority job and gives the 100k+ position to his high-school buddy who lacks even a resume in his file. This guy goes on to purchase dozens of domain names in the format of FirstNameLastName.com of random people who crossed him or Christy over the most mundane shit.
posted by odinsdream at 8:32 PM on January 10 [6 favorites]


Wow, this is byzantine. There appears there was a study and the 15th floor wanted a 24X7 change to the one booth. All year long. The purported benefits were to Republican districts farther west. There's mention of several GOP districts and an assemblyman and a motor-carrier's association argument about the lanes. The trucks wanted those lanes. Nobody comes out very well, and Cuomo is going to have to answer questions.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:21 PM on January 10


I don't know why anyone is comparing Christie to Rob Ford. RoFo wishes he could have this kind of power.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:56 PM on January 10


Nobody comes out very well, and Cuomo is going to have to answer questions.

Why? All he has to do is keep his mouth shut with the "Won't comment about an ongoing investigation" excuse and have PR people point to the WSJ article from early December, where he was pressured by Christie to back off. That "Cristie tried his wannabe-mob-boss shit on me?" surely didn't help their working relationship, but I don't see Cuomo to be so ham-handed that there's going to be actual evidence of them helping get this story out there.
posted by mikelieman at 4:05 AM on January 11


Mr. Christie, a Republican, complained in a private phone call to Mr. Cuomo

Christie addressed that in the press conference and said that he had previously denied it and that Cuomo had too. If that's not the case, Cuomo could set it straight.

Ted Mann of the WSJ writes an article on 11/13/13 where he asserts that Sokolich said that he thought he was being punished for not endorsing Christie about two weeks earlier.... There's no way that timeline jibes with the actual one.

I wouldn't put too much stock in those dates (or trust that Mann had all the details right). Sokolich was seeking reassurance that the traffic jam wasn't retribution way earlier than that. And even now he seems unclear on whether the gov's administration even sought his endorsement. (Also, you're right that the timelines don't match up, so that would have been a bizarre claim for Sokolich to make. He couldn't have been that confused.)
posted by torticat at 5:55 AM on January 11


but I don't see Cuomo to be so ham-handed that there's going to be actual evidence of them helping get this story out there.

The actual evidence is in the documents. ED Foye, who is as much Cuomo's hand picked guy as DED Baroni is for Christie, comes out on Friday Sept. 13 with this huge E-mail ending the "TL 24" part of this study and saying he'll get to the bottom of this. Baroni replies that he's on his way in and "there can be no public discourse." Foye replies "That's the problem, Bill." Then Baroni forwards the E-mail to Solomon, the Christie appointee who chairs the PE saying "can I call upon you now, General?" Solomon comes down hard (those parts of the convo are in the 300 pages I have left to read or are omitted).

Next thing you know, Baroni is giving out the "traffic study" stuff. By Monday, Sept. 16, Baroni's in full charge and when the PR guy asks if Foye's ok with continuing to give out the statement, Foye says he's deferring to Baroni. For the next 12 weeks, Foye only jumps in the PR response to defer to Baroni, at least 4-5 times. Why? Foye had the power to shut down TL 24, said he was going to get to the bottom of this. Then he does nothing and watches, in the E-mai loop as Baroni directs a cover-up effort. Its amazing. You have to read the docs.

So Foye never went back to Cuomo and told him there was a problem? What did NJ tell NY? There's no use covering it up because NY can see the vast majority of the documents involved themselves. In fact, as late as early December, Cuomo is publically backing Christie saying he believes him that it was a traffic study. Cuomo could have ordered a complete investigation with a snap of the fingers. He didn't.

Why?
posted by Ironmouth at 7:58 AM on January 11 [1 favorite]


I wouldn't put too much stock in those dates (or trust that Mann had all the details right). Sokolich was seeking reassurance that the traffic jam wasn't retribution way earlier than that. And even now he seems unclear on whether the gov's administration even sought his endorsement. (Also, you're right that the timelines don't match up, so that would have been a bizarre claim for Sokolich to make. He couldn't have been that confused.)

At some point I think Ted Mann of WSJ talks to Sokolich and Sokolich is a source, saying that he was asked to endorse about two weeks before it started. The order for "traffic problems" came two weeks before that.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:01 AM on January 11


Put another way, Sokolich can't be asking why this is being done before it starts. And his decision to not endorse he sets way after the decision to not endorse is made.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:06 AM on January 11


saying that he was asked to endorse about two weeks before it started.

Two weeks before what started? So confused!

Okay so Mann wrote a lot of stories on this and discussed Sokolich's reaction in several of them. I am not understanding where the timeline confusion comes into it. An Oct 10 wsj story includes this:

In Bergen County political circles, people familiar with the matter said the closures were seen as a gesture from Gov. Chris Christie's appointees at the Port Authority to Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, a Democrat who had been asked — two weeks before the closures — to endorse Mr. Christie's reelection.

I haven't seen any actual quotes from Sokolich, though, saying he was asked for an endorsement. Several times he responds to (and inquires about) suspicions that political retribution was involved, but pretty much says he doesn't know why it would be aimed at him.
posted by torticat at 8:49 AM on January 11


Also Ironmouth, to respond to a question you raised upthread about why Foye would hand over the investigation to the guy who ordered the lane shut-down. Where is the evidence that Foye knew, back in September, that Baroni was involved/responsible? It looks to me like he thought Baroni was with him, at the beginning--he emailed "Bill we are going to fix this fiasco."

Foye's email saying he was reopening the lanes doesn't claim that there was no traffic study (although it was characterized in news reports as suggesting that). What he came down hard about was the process--that no one in Fort Lee was informed. So if Baroni (back in Sept) is still claiming there was a traffic study, and supposedly investigating how its implementation got so fucked up, why wouldn't Foye stand by while that internal investigation took place?
posted by torticat at 9:02 AM on January 11


Samson, not Solomon (different Old Testament character).

I think Foye's deferral to Baroni in the aftermath is reasonably attributable to the weird politics of the Port Authority. He does eventually order an internal investigation. I also sort of see why the NJ people thought Foye's email was written with an outside audience in mind, even if he didn't actively leak it.

The document I think is interesting is the letter from Sokolich to Baroni from November 2010 - it's in the Wildstein packet. Sokolich asks Baroni for help from the PA in dealing with bridge-related traffic in Fort Lee and threatens to cut off access to Fort Lee from the bridge approaches. I can see that pissing off Baroni and the Christie people - who does his guy think he is, making demands when his town is full of Democratic voters - and setting this all into motion.
posted by yarrow at 9:04 AM on January 11


Two weeks before what started? So confused!

The closings of the lanes on Sept 9. Sokolich said it was two weeks earlier he declined to endorse. But the decision to shut down the lanes was almost 4 weeks before it was done and 2 weeks before declining to endorse.

I think this is going to turn out to be a long-term plan to permanently deny Fort Lee the lanes so that people from Republican districts farther west can have a faster travel time. There's 20 pages of breakdowns of car traffic by legislative district. And in one E-mail an engineer says "this is a change the 15th floor wants 24x7."

The cones get removed after rush hour. They wanted the one lane permanently.

I also think this has been long-term for Christie. His people wanted to advantage GOP-leaning areas in commutte time from the beginning of his governorship.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:11 AM on January 11


Foye's email saying he was reopening the lanes doesn't claim that there was no traffic study (although it was characterized in news reports as suggesting that). What he came down hard about was the process--that no one in Fort Lee was informed. So if Baroni (back in Sept) is still claiming there was a traffic study, and supposedly investigating how its implementation got so fucked up, why wouldn't Foye stand by while that internal investigation took place?

First, there was a traffic study. It existed. There is an engineering firm in the chains and they were taking meausrements. In fact, they may permanently monitor. But TL 24 seems different, like an add on that Wildstein tossed in there. But its obvious the 15th floor wants this as a permanent change.

As for Foye, why is he so pissed at the Jersey side on Friday the 13th and then Monday he's deferring to Baroni. Foye's the executive director. He can see any document he wants. But rather than get to the bottom of it as he claims, he backs off and hands it to Baroni the guy running Wildstein. What happened. Samson comes in (he's called General because he used to be NJ attorney general) and pressures Foye. Hence the reference to Samson "retaliating" when Foye "gave back all three lanes to Ft Lee."

Foye didn't investigate or get to the bottom of it he, just took hands off and let Baroni stonewall the media until he resigned.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:21 AM on January 11


I don't think this thing was about political payback, although they may have seen that as a pleasant side effect. It was about class warfare. Christie had long before expressed resentment at the middle class takers in Ft. Lee getting more than their fair share of toll booth bandwidth. Christie simply wanted to reclaim more of that bandwidth for the makers coming from the rich suburbs.

So there really was a "traffic survey" in one sense. The Christie team delighted in seeing them stick it to the worthless takers in Ft. Lee.

Is this illegal? Probably no more illegal than cutting off unemployment insurance or food stamps. It's just business as usual for Republicans and their agenda of welfare only for the wealthy.

Politically the emails expressing joy at inflicting pain might be fatal, just as hearing Mitt Romney speak out loud his disdain for the 47%, but it probably isn't illegal.
posted by JackFlash at 11:02 AM on January 11


s this illegal? Probably no more illegal than cutting off unemployment insurance or food stamps. its massively illegal. Your analysis is spot on. The table listing traffic by legislative district. But I think there was a political aspect to it. The plan was there, but they waited until what they considered a good moment: in the midst of his re-election! A very stupid moment to do this. But Christie was straight up pissed he wasn't getting his judges.

You got to hand it to the NJ Dems. They played it well. They had a pretty good idea a while ago and then on the eve of the hearing released the bombshells. Drove interest sky high.

Terrible cover up. I think they thought NJ Dems wouldn't do this.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:13 AM on January 11


Baroni and Stepien go back at least 10 years: NYT Nov. 23, 2003:

This feat has made Mr. Baroni something of a folk hero among Republicans, newspaper editors and other sorts who like to talk about the good old days of politics.
''It's amazing,'' said Bill Stepien, his campaign manager, ''Bill has brought door-knocking back into style.''

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/11/23/nyregion/in-person-bucking-the-trend-one-republican-got-in.html
posted by Ironmouth at 11:26 AM on January 11


I assume that Foye has to operate within certain boundaries for the sake maintaining good relations with his New Jersey counterparts. Some New Jersey traffic jam fuckup, is only his concern as long as he's made of clear that New York wasn't responsible. Once the New Jersey folks said they were on top of it and were looking into it, there was nothing to do but let his New Jersy counter parts try to extract themselves from what he probably assumed was just some usual administrative fuckup. One wouldn't normally expect a traffic jam to be caused by a conspiracy.
posted by humanfont at 12:03 PM on January 11


But the decision to shut down the lanes was almost 4 weeks before it was done and 2 weeks before declining to endorse.

Oh gotcha.

Still, I don't think Mann ever makes it clear where the "2 weeks" timeframe came from. Again, I haven't seen any direct quotes from Sokolich saying anything like that; on the contrary, he seemed quite vague in his responses.

The traffic study that actually happened is really interesting. So... it could be that this thing was underway, but no one particularly wanted to draw attention to it (before or after the traffic jam) because of the political implications of who was affected; and Kelly and Wildstein had tacked on the lane closures just because they could?
posted by torticat at 12:13 PM on January 11


Samson comes in (he's called General because he used to be NJ attorney general) and pressures Foye.

Are you speculating here or can you cite some page numbers? (Sincere question, in case that's not clear.)
posted by torticat at 12:18 PM on January 11


Samson comes in (he's called General because he used to be NJ attorney general) and pressures Foye.

Are you speculating here or can you cite some page numbers? (Sincere question, in case that's not clear.)


give me a few minutes. I emailed it all to TPM last night, will just go over the emails. But its all in today's NYT article. Read it.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:23 PM on January 11


What happens is Baroni contacts Samson and asks for help. Then Wildstein e-mails Kelly and says Samsom is retailating on the NY side. I can't find the cites. I read 2000 pages since last night.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:33 PM on January 11


I got drunk and marathoned a Korean historical drama last night and...I'm not sure which one of us probably had more fun.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:47 PM on January 11 [5 favorites]


Yeah... I had read the nyt article and didn't think it said anything new. And honestly I don't fully trust all the reporting... for example, the NYT said that Baroni had said not to talk via email but only in person. In fact what Baroni said was "on my way into the office to discuss"... which could mean "Don't email," but that's inference.

Re Samson, what the NYT reports is no different from what Christie claimed in the press conference--he said that Samson said he had no idea what the "retaliate" language was about, that his involvement was all about concern about internal emails being leaked. I haven't seen anything in the email dump to contradict this either, but I haven't read all of it.

Re the actual traffic report that had TL24 tacked on (?), that too fits with Christie's comments about whether it was a traffic report that morphed into a vendetta or vice versa--which was roundly mocked by observers saying it was settled that no traffic report existed.

It's hard for me to imagine Christie's hands are clean; it's just that I'm still not seeing any smoking gun wrt him (or Samson).
posted by torticat at 3:20 PM on January 11 [1 favorite]


Yeah... I had read the nyt article and didn't think it said anything new. And honestly I don't fully trust all the reporting... for example, the NYT said that Baroni had said not to talk via email but only in person. In fact what Baroni said was "on my way into the office to discuss"... which could mean "Don't email," but that's inference.

Think there is another few emails in that exchange, actually. Also the NYT has actual sources, whom I'm assuming are in the Cuomo admin or Foye himself.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:28 PM on January 11


My suggestion for Chris Christie's 2016 campaign song.
posted by markkraft at 3:48 PM on January 11 [2 favorites]


Did anyone watch this from Steve Kornacki?

He discusses the fact that Sokolich mentioned a huge development the city was closing the financing for and says that the promoters highlighted the three lanes.

He says perhaps this was a permanent change. It was. As I noted above, on P. 882 of Ex. A, the assistant director of TB&T said in an E-mail to Jerry Quelch Supervisor of Planning and Operations the following:

"This is a 24x7 toll booth change the 15th Floor is seeking."
posted by Ironmouth at 11:42 AM on January 12 [1 favorite]


Who is Murray Kushner?

I think this gentleman's name is going to drop into the discourse very soon.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:50 PM on January 12



Who is Murray Kushner?

Sounds like an interesting family.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:01 PM on January 12


Why would you run so hard from a political retaliation story?

You wouldn't. You wouldn't cover this up like this if it was political payback.

What kills you isn't retaliation. It is pay-for-play. And if this is a pay-for-play scandal, Christie is in waaay, waaay more trouble than we've realized.

Let's put this in perspective.

Next to the GWB Fort Lee lanes is a giant development being built. Here are the facts.

On September 16, 2013, the financing for that project was tenatively agreed to.

Tucker Development-Led Partnership Closes on $218 Million Financing to Commence Construction of Phase I of Hudson Lights in Fort Lee, N.J.
Debt and Equity Capitalization Paves the Way for Development to Begin on Significant Mixed-Use Project Adjacent to the George Washington Bridge

FORT LEE, N.J. (Sept. 16, 2013) – A joint venture partnership of affiliates of Tucker Development Corporation, Ares Management and Kushner Real Estate Group (“KRE Group”) announced today that it has secured $218 million in financing for Phase I of Hudson Lights, a large-scale, one-million-square-foot mixed-use redevelopment of a prominent eight-acre site located at the base of the entrance to the George Washington Bridge in the heart of downtown Fort Lee, N.J.
That was the Monday after the week all of that pressure was put on Sokolich by clogging his streets.

So who are these two entities? Who is Kushner Real Estate Group?

Well, Kushner Real Estate Group is run by Murray Kushner.

Now read this:
A blast from Christie’s past

There was something more interesting about Gov. Chris Christie’s campaign event in Jersey City last week than his endorsement by the Hudson County Building and Construction Trades Council.

It took place at 18 Park — a luxury building rising in the city’s downtown. One of the job’s two developers: Kushner Real Estate Group.

The company is headed by Murray Kushner, whose feud with his brother, Charles, led to one of Christie’s biggest takedowns as U.S. attorney — a case one could argue helped put him on a track to the governorship.

In 2001, Murray Kushner sued Charles — former Gov. Jim McGreevey’s biggest financial backer — alleging mismanagement and campaign finance irregularities. Christie’s probe led to guilty pleas for cheating on taxes, campaign finance fraud and retaliating against a witness — his sister — by setting up her husband with a call girl, taping the encounter and sending it to her.

So was the location of the campaign event just a coincidence?

Christie spokesman Kevin Roberts said the campaign knew Kushner was involved in the project, but there was no coordination. The Auditor did not notice Kushner at the event, and Roberts said he did not think he was there. Kushner Real Estate Group did not return a call for comment.
Kushner's own fate and Christie's have been tied up for a long, long time.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:17 PM on January 12 [10 favorites]


Well that is totally fascinating about the billion dollar development. But I am not seeing any angle from which it could be interpreted as pay to play. Who's supposed to be paying?

Not Sokolich. If he had understood the reason for the pressure and bowed to it, he would never have spent the next few months begging for answers about why the lanes were closed. He wouldn't WANT it to be investigated.

Kushner? I mean he's supposed to be Christie's crony in this scenario. And it's not like the lane closures could have played into securing the deal for him, or even finalizing financing or whatever, those things don't go from negotiation to press release over two days (a weekend moreover!). Besides which, the Christie people who knew about the lanes being closed were mad when Foye reopened them. It's not like they got what they wanted and let up the pressure. So how does that fit into the Kushner deal, which seemed to be chugging right along on its own independent timeline?

Also I don't agree with your assertion that political paypack in a scenario like this would not have been fatal for Christie! Not only would it be fatal to his national aspirations, it would open him up to impeachment now. It would be devastating. Maybe pay to play would be worse, though personally I just see payback as the stick to PTP's carrot; same deal basically. But whichever's worse, dead is dead, which is all that would matter as far as Christie's career is concerned.
posted by torticat at 8:08 PM on January 12 [1 favorite]


Don't mean to say this hasn't fatally harmed Christie even as a payback thing.

I don't have the cites, but there were some delays in the ribbon cutting, mainly with finance. Where Kushner is helped is if Sokolich is asking too much in the development deal. He thinks he can make Kushner cave. Kushner calls Christie, who has Sokolich taught a lesson. On Sept. 16 the deal closes.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:37 PM on January 12


Yes, the Bergen Record story said they had delayed from July, but they said they had wanted to complete negotiations with a high-profile tenant (which I guess was iPic Entertainment?) before finalizing their financing.

The problem with your scenario is there is no time for the cause-and-effect to have taken place; and the people applying the pressure didn't believe they'd gotten whatever they were after (they were mad the lanes had reopened); and Sokolich CLEARLY didn't know the reason for the lane closures. He couldn't have acceded to pressure without knowing what he was being pressured to do!
posted by torticat at 10:27 PM on January 12


So someone else needed some 'encouragement' to go along with the plans. Who gets hurt when the number of lanes gets permanently reduced? The entire project takes a hit, since access is a key point. If it's not Sokolich, who else would feel the pain? The bankers who are already in on the first phase?
posted by mikelieman at 10:36 PM on January 12


There just isn't time. There's no way traffic is jammed on Thursday and a press release is going out about the development's financing on Monday and those two things are related. Billion dollar projects don't work that way! Plus the attitudes/reactions in the emails don't support this.

Clearly Sokolich was worried about his huge pet project. And he did say to Baroni (as noted upthread) "I am writing this correspondence to you and refraining from copying any other party in the hopes that a recent decision by the Port Authority will be reversed quietly, uneventfully and without political fanfare." Josh Marshall has his own ideas about what the significance of that might be. But to me the most obvious explanation is that he's alarmed by the change in bridge access and he wants it reversed quietly before it gets any more press and the project's investors start getting jittery. In other words, up to this point things have been going fine with the development (which fits with the fact that the financing is announced a couple days later).

The thing is that Sokolich and Kushner are on the same SIDE, presumably, with regard to Hudson Lights. And neither of them, one would think, would welcome traffic disruptions that might jeopardize financing. Even if there were someone along the way who needed encouragement, removing the traffic lanes would be massive overkill as it could destabilize the whole project (which is, IMO, clearly Sokolich's concern).
posted by torticat at 12:01 AM on January 13


The Six Things to Watch For This Week.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 4:31 AM on January 13


he thing is that Sokolich and Kushner are on the same SIDE, presumably, with regard to Hudson Lights. And neither of them, one would think, would welcome traffic disruptions that might jeopardize financing.

Well, Sokolich might have selected a different financier, or there was a battle regarding interest rates, etc., and Sokolich wanted to pay less, etc.

It was set back from July? Hmmmm
posted by Ironmouth at 5:06 AM on January 13


The Six Things to Watch For This Week

Make it seven:

Chris Christie facing federal investigation over use of Sandy funds
The firm chosen by the state to put together tourism advertisements which featured Christie and his family submitted a bid of $4.7 million. A bid not selected would have cost $2.5 million, but the governor wouldn't have appeared in the ads, the report said.

The state was allocated $25 million to build a marketing campaign to promote Shore tourism following the October 2012 storm.

In August, U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone (D-6) asked the Department of Housing and Urban Development inspector general to look at how the funds were spend, according to CNN.

The inspector general's initial review of the spending determined a full probe should be started into New Jersey's use of the money. The investigation will take "several months," CNN said, and an official report will be issued upon its conclusion.

The winning bidder, East-Rutherford based MWW is a "prolific" political contributor, according to an August story published by the Asbury Park Press. The firm it beat out, the Sigma Group, has not donated to campaigns, that report said.
Not only does it show a pattern of questionable stuff from him and his staff, it also strikes right at the heart of his crossover appeal.
posted by zombieflanders at 5:11 AM on January 13 [1 favorite]


Also, NYT saying Sokolich was asked to endorse in March and just let the matter drop. So why in early August are they ordering the lane closures?
posted by Ironmouth at 5:51 AM on January 13


At Port Authority, Christie Appointees Took Control.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 6:15 AM on January 13


Ironmouth, are you just cataloging inconsistencies, or do you have a theory that you think (maybe the Maddow one) explains things better? I'm just trying to understand your comments.
posted by OmieWise at 7:09 AM on January 13


Ironmouth, are you just cataloging inconsistencies, or do you have a theory that you think (maybe the Maddow one) explains things better? I'm just trying to understand your comments.

I do have an alternate theory. First, I'm building on Steve Kornacki's reporting. The guy knows NJ politics. The idea is that it might have had something to do with a fiancing contract for the Hudson Lights I development, which was signed on Sept. 16. Hudson Lights I is only a few hundred feet from the Fort Lee toll lanes and it advertised to investors those three toll lanes.

The financing deal was for north of $150,000,000. Who was the main company that got it? Kushner Real Estate company, run by one Murray Kushner.

Murray and Christie go way back. Murray sued his brother Charles over the splitting of the biggest real estate empire in New Jersey in the early 2000's. Charles was the biggest Democratic financier in New Jersey, the biggest donor to NJ gov Jim McGreevy, and the biggest donor to Hillary Clinton in her 2000 Senate race.

At some point, Murray's suit involved allegations that Charles had illegally donated to McGreevy and the dems. You'll never guess who got involved. United States Attorney Chris Christie. Christie made a giant case out of it, sending Charles to jail and embarassing McGreevy and the Dems in the process. It helped force the case between Murray and Charles Kushner into arbitration. The big move was an unprecedented push for a "speaking indictment" where more than the charges were to be announced. The US Attorney's office pushed to read out loud in open court the factual allegations as well, causing Charles, who had enough money to string the case out for years, to plead out. The case is widely seen to be the one that put Christie in the Governor's mansion.

So, the theory goes like this. Sokolich made some sort of decision or took a position in negotiations for the financing of the deal which weren't to Murray Kushner's liking, either in the choice of financing partners or the payoff time, or the interest rate or something. Murray Kushner called on Christie for help. Christie's office called Wildstein, who put the traffic "study" into motion, fucking up Fort Lee. Sokolich caves and the Monday after the traffic study, the financing deal goes through.

Murrary and his wife Lee donated the maximum to Christie's general election campaign.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:29 AM on January 13 [3 favorites]


zombieflanders: " The winning bidder, East-Rutherford based MWW is a "prolific" political contributor, according to an August story published by the Asbury Park Press. The firm it beat out, the Sigma Group, has not donated to campaigns, that report said."

There are a few reasons why MWW might have been chosen over Sigma Group that have nothing to do with political contributions. The company that won the bid was going to have to design, coordinate and run an important campaign and reach as many people as conceivably possible.

MWW is a BIG company, with a massive client list, extensive track record and many branches, including offices in New York, London, DC, Dallas, etc. Their clients include Fortune 500 companies, political clients, travel and tourism clients, etc. They offer integrated PR, advertising and marketing services. Sigma Group is a local ad agency with one office that is quite tiny by comparison. I'm pretty sure SG's also strictly an advertising agency and would have to farm out public relations or marketing services. That latter point matters a great deal if you're planning a big campaign. It helps determine how many people it can conceivably reach.

Comparing the two companies in a newspaper without mentioning those factors is either stupidly negligent or deliberately biased. It gives readers the impression that the two agencies are equivalent, presenting the theory that federal monies have been squandered as a foregone conclusion.
posted by zarq at 7:49 AM on January 13


Ironmouth, you said up above:

I think this is going to turn out to be a long-term plan to permanently deny Fort Lee the lanes so that people from Republican districts farther west can have a faster travel time. There's 20 pages of breakdowns of car traffic by legislative district.

I think it must have something to do with this. I'm thinking right now that Kelly's email might have been just her cute way of saying "go ahead with the traffic study." And the rest of their commentary was just crass partisan joking (as you might expect from political hacks), as they watched how it played out, but their actual motive was not revenge. It actually makes more sense that "they're the children of Buono voters" would be a shock-value joke than a statement of honest vindictiveness. (Unless they truly are the Monsters they appear on the face of things.)

In support of this you have their brief exchange about how 1-95 traffic was speeded up by the closures ("that's good, right?"--"Very good"). Why would they care, if Ft Lee payback was the motive? Also, a small point--after Wildstein requested scenarios for restricting Fort Lee access, it was an engineer guy who suggested they could go all the way down to one lane "if necessary." That idea didn't even come from Wildstein, though he ran with it.

So then Foye shuts the thing down, and Christie deals with months of rumors and suspicions, and by the time "time for some traffic problems in Ft Lee" comes up, there is no WAY Christie's going to be able to go out and explain it didn't mean what it clearly seems to say (or why someone in his office is ordering up traffic reports anyway). So he fires Kelly--not for ordering the traffic study but for lying to him--and carefully avoids having the conversation with her in which she would explain that she hadn't actually ordered up a traffic jam for its own sake. She can be rehabilitated later, when everything blows over; right now Christie just has to act all decisive and executive and sorry (and so SAD) and hope to put the whole damn thing to rest. Once that email came to light, he really had absolutely no other option.

I don't know, I'm kinda looking for an occam's razor solution here because none of the speculations seem to fit. The Hudson Lights thing's a red herring, for all the reasons I listed above but most especially because Sokolich's behavior during and after the traffic crisis are absolutely inconsistent with the idea that he had knowledge of any shenanigans, on his part or on anyone's related to the deal.

But I could be dead wrong in my speculation too. It's a fascinating story because there are so many players and facts that don't seem to fit together, it's kind of maddening trying to figure out a key that makes sense of it all.
posted by torticat at 8:14 AM on January 13


And now State Senator Loretta Weinberg is jumping in on the question and raising the follow the money angle:
“I subscribe to the frat boy/mean girl theory,” said Weinberg, who had one more explanation. “The other one is to follow the money, the development theory.”
third theory

Weinberg was referring to a $1 billion real estate development in Fort Lee, whose first phase includes a 47-story apartment tower, The Modern, now nearing completion by SJP Properties.

Clogging local access to the bridge would undercut one of the project’s main selling points, and with so much money involved, Weinberg wondered whether the closures were some kind of message, whether to the project’s developer or someone else.

An official with SJP declined to comment Sunday.

Wisniewski said he could not rule it out.

“When you look at the history of things that have created problems in politics and have been the source material for inappropriate actions, real estate has been one of the common denominators,” he said.

“I’m looking at all possibilities.”
Personally, I think it is the Harbor Lights I development that is the likely piece. Its early in the contract awarding phase, its financing deal and ribbon cutting was held back by financing delays and the deal was closed on September 16th, the first business day after the closures ended.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:16 AM on January 13


Ironmouth, you said up above:

I think this is going to turn out to be a long-term plan to permanently deny Fort Lee the lanes so that people from Republican districts farther west can have a faster travel time. There's 20 pages of breakdowns of car traffic by legislative district.

I think it must have something to do with this. I'm thinking right now that Kelly's email might have been just her cute way of saying "go ahead with the traffic study." And the rest of their commentary was just crass partisan joking (as you might expect from political hacks), as they watched how it played out, but their actual motive was not revenge. It actually makes more sense that "they're the children of Buono voters" would be a shock-value joke than a statement of honest vindictiveness. (Unless they truly are the Monsters they appear on the face of things.)

In support of this you have their brief exchange about how 1-95 traffic was speeded up by the closures ("that's good, right?"--"Very good"). Why would they care, if Ft Lee payback was the motive? Also, a small point--after Wildstein requested scenarios for restricting Fort Lee access, it was an engineer guy who suggested they could go all the way down to one lane "if necessary." That idea didn't even come from Wildstein, though he ran with it.


Here's why I think maybe that isn't the piece anymore (while it still could be). All of that pushback seems to be from later in the game, after the scandal starts building. If you look through the exhibits, the focus on the districts seems to be later.

And it could all be wrapped up together. But I bet this has to do with real estate. PANYNJ is all about real estate development in the end.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:18 AM on January 13


And, on cue: Talking Points Memo - Is a Billion Dollar Development Project at the Heart of Bridgegate?
posted by immlass at 8:52 AM on January 13


And, on cue: Talking Points Memo - Is a Billion Dollar Development Project at the Heart of Bridgegate?

Yeah, that's from late yesterday. I've been back and forth with TPM on this for the last couple of days. Steve Kornacki is the first guy to really bring this up, based on some discussions he had.

There's a lot unanswered. Now there is a special counsel assisting the new investigation. Not a good sign for Chris Christie.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:57 AM on January 13


Well, if there is a billion dollar development just south of the bridge in Fort Lee for which all of the permits have been approved, presumably there is an actual traffic impact study for that project somewhere.

Something like this.
posted by yarrow at 9:15 AM on January 13


Another Mayor Faced Reprisal Over Christie, Files Suggest [NYT]
The meetings were offered by the governor’s office, to help with, as Ms. Kelly wrote, “what the Fulop administration will need in the beginning months of the term.”

“We’re looking forward to working closely with you and your administration,” Ms. Kelly wrote to Mr. Fulop and an aide. She added, “Some of the conversations may be simple and introductory, while others may focus on actual pending projects and issues.”

After Mr. Fulop told Christie aides on July 18 that he would not endorse the governor, the commissioners began calling to cancel. Almost all cancellations came within an hour, and the remaining ones followed close on their heels. That the commissioners called the mayor’s office personally shows an unusually close level of involvement for high-ranking government officials.

When Mr. Fulop then reached out to Mr. Stepien in early August to ask to reschedule – and asked if the timing was related to “political conversations” they had been having, he got no response.
posted by OmieWise at 10:32 AM on January 13 [1 favorite]


I am from New Jersey and I have been accused on various occasions of being a sleazy motherfucker, though for vastly different reasons than Christie. I do know that I'm glad as a clam I don't live there anymore, as even Texas seems to do (well, attempt to do - actually making a NJ/TX comparison might not win me any battles) things on the up-and-up in a way NJ could only hope to one day achieve.

My solution? Uproot and transport Jersey somewhere to the east of Midland/Odessa. It'll fit, no one will notice, everybody's more or less happy.
posted by item at 11:41 AM on January 13


Lawmaker Sent Early Letter To Christie Alerting Him On Closures
New Jersey Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D) provided a letter to TPM on Monday showing that she attempted to alert Gov. Chris Christie (R) about lane closures on the George Washington Bridge in September, just six days after the lanes reopened.

The letter gets to the heart of one of the major unanswered questions in a scandal that has erupted from the closures: what did Christie know and when did he know it?

The lanes were closed on Sept. 9 and re-opened again on early on the morning of Sept. 13. Weinberg, whose district includes part of Fort Lee, N.J., which saw days of traffic gridlock because of the closures, wrote the letter on Sept. 19.

The letter was addressed to William Pat Schuber, a commissioner of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which oversees the bridge, expressing her dismay about the lane closures. She also copied Christie on it.

"I am at a loss for words regarding the Authority's sudden change in the traffic flow pattern to the George Washington Bridge from Fort Lee. Reducing the number of lanes during peak traffic times has caused a significant hardship for many in the area. This decision, made with no public comment, has created significant congestion in Bergen County," Weinberg wrote.

At a news conference last month, Christie suggested he first learned of the situation in Fort Lee from newspaper reports published Oct. 1. At his marathon news conference last week, Christie modified his earlier statement and said he may have learned of the issue from "an earlier story." Christie's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from TPM about Weinberg's letter.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:56 AM on January 13 [2 favorites]


I think it will come out that this is just the tip if the proverbial iceberg. What's more likely that the Mayor of Fort Lee or some single real estate project was so important as to merit this act of petty punishment, or that these acts were so common that Christie's staff treated them as routine things to laugh and gossip on email and text messages?
posted by humanfont at 1:56 PM on January 13


Time to Play Deflection Bingo with Christie Defenders
Fox News’ Brit Hume does not think Chris Christie is a bully. He loves that guy. Why doesn’t everyone? Sure, that guy got famous by having his staff film him berating teachers and getting those YouTubes to go viral. Sometimes he shoots down female hecklers by suggesting they perform sex acts. These are more or less explicit examples of bullying, as is causing traffic chaos for political retribution, so sure, some people may consider Christie a “bully.” But here’s the real problem, Hume tells us over the weekend: women. And their effect on the culture. See, because of the women, everyone’s a pussy now and can’t handle a Guy’s Guy like Chris Christie:
posted by the man of twists and turns at 4:36 PM on January 13 [1 favorite]


Highlights from the traffic study.

My favorite is the conclusion: TBD
posted by leftcoastbob at 7:53 PM on January 13


Fascinating. Only one meeting of the Fort Lee Council in executive session last year dealt with the Harbor Lights I development--August 15, 2013, two days after the order was given to mess with Fort Lee.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:37 PM on January 13


Highlights from the traffic study.
It seems like we are punishing all for the sake of a few
posted by mikelieman at 1:01 AM on January 14


Highlights from the traffic study.

Yeah what I still find confusing is all the mixed messages from the Port Authority. Why was it reported that there was no traffic study when clearly there was--however shaky its basis? Why did Foye say traffic engineers weren't involved when there was input/analysis from engineers in the lead up to the trial? Why was Foye (and other higher-ups) so angry they weren't told, when the emails from other staff are asking "Why is the 15th Floor involved" (suggesting that wouldn't be typical)?
posted by torticat at 4:42 AM on January 14


It looks like they quickly slapped together something once they realized there was going to be blowback.
posted by empath at 6:09 AM on January 14


I think the computer spit out the daily numbers automatically. It's their job to keep track of cars per minute, delay time, etc, and gathering the results is likely routine reporting. "What happened yesterday" == "A Study".

We need a prosecutor to put a timeline into evidence.
posted by mikelieman at 6:26 AM on January 14


Ruh-roh. Wildstien and Christie were together on Wed of that week. Just reported by WSJ.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:45 AM on January 14


Ironmouth, what does that imply? Did one of them lie about being together?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:46 AM on January 14


Did one of them lie about being together?

From WSJ: Mr. Christie addressed Mr. Wildstein in a news conference last week, saying he had not encountered him “in a long time.”
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:07 AM on January 14 [1 favorite]


what does that imply? Did one of them lie about being together?


Photographs obtained by the Wall Street Journal show Christie standing next to Wildstein on Sept. 11. As the Journal pointed out, Christie said at a press conference last week that he had not had contact with Wildstein “in a long time.” “I have had no contact with David Wildstein in a long time, a long time, well before the election,” Christie said. “You know, I could probably count on one hand the number of conversations I’ve had with David since he worked at the Port Authority. I did not interact with David.”

Of course just because they were pictured together doesn't mean that they, you know, spoke to each other or anything.
posted by leftcoastbob at 10:12 AM on January 14 [1 favorite]


hhaha oh wow. Thanks for explaning!
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:14 AM on January 14


Christie, Official Who Arranged Bridge Closures Were Together During Fiasco
posted by gladly at 10:14 AM on January 14


Daily Show from last night on BridgeGate.

And the next night: Jon Stewart Takes on Christie Presser: Tone He’s Set Is Apparently in ‘F-U Sharp’
posted by homunculus at 11:07 AM on January 14 [1 favorite]


Brit Hume and Bill O’Reilly Think America’s Too “Feminized” to Appreciate Chris Christie
posted by homunculus at 11:49 AM on January 14


Who cares what those assholes have to say? Don't give them clicks.
posted by planetesimal at 11:51 AM on January 14 [9 favorites]


The Hudson Lights project is a billion dollar project because it offers unparalleled access to the George Washington Bridge. But take away that access and it’s no longer a billion dollar project.
posted by monospace at 12:44 PM on January 14


A New Jersey 'traffic study' wouldn't need lane closings: Software today is capable of simulating the impact of road changes on traffic flows, without messing up commutes
posted by homunculus at 1:17 PM on January 14 [1 favorite]


planetesimal: "Who cares what those assholes have to say? Don't give them clicks."

I do. Because they have the ear of several million Americans and work hard to persuade them every single night that reasonable, tolerant people like me should be marginalized, delegitimized and be forcibly kept from wielding political power.

Know thine enemy.
posted by zarq at 1:19 PM on January 14


Who cares what those assholes have to say? Don't give them clicks.

Those assholes at Slate? Okay, I'll give you Saletan. Who's the other one?
posted by box at 3:52 PM on January 14 [1 favorite]


Bruce Springsteen joins Jimmy Fallon as Bruce Springsteen in singing "Gov Christie Traffic Jam"
posted by Asparagus at 8:16 AM on January 15 [5 favorites]


That was great! Christie is such a Springsteen fan, I'll bet he's fuming over this one.
posted by leftcoastbob at 8:47 AM on January 15


Fuckers stole my joke.

Christie jammed the highway with broken heroes.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 11:50 AM on January 9 [8 favorites +] [!]

posted by MisantropicPainforest at 8:56 AM on January 15 [3 favorites]


Video.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:58 AM on January 15


And man, I really gotta take a leak...
But I can't
I'm stuck in Governer Chris Christie's
Fort Lee, New Jersey Traffic Jam
posted by mikelieman at 9:32 AM on January 15


Metafilter: Who cares what those assholes have to say?
posted by Chrysostom at 12:43 PM on January 15 [3 favorites]


In Praise of the Watchdogs (Rachel Maddow Op-Ed in the Washington Post today)
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:39 AM on January 16


By the way, my preliminary deep dive into the last 3 years of Fort Lee Council minutes shows that the Developer sued the Borough 3 times and may have sued their way on to the property.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:19 AM on January 16


I keep picturing Ironmouth with his Homeland-style cork board, cutting up various documents, spilling push pins everywhere, eating take out for days
posted by angrycat at 8:15 AM on January 16 [6 favorites]


mmm... takeout.... Chinese for lunch?
posted by mikelieman at 8:18 AM on January 16


Milhouse: [steps up to blackboard] Ahem. OK, here's what we've got: the Rand Corporation, in conjunction with the saucer people --
Bart: Thank you.
Milhouse: -- under the supervision of the reverse vampires --
Lisa: [sighs]
Milhouse: -- are forcing our parents to go to bed early in a fiendish plot to eliminate the meal of dinner. [sotto voce] We're through the looking glass, here, people...
posted by Chrysostom at 8:34 AM on January 16 [2 favorites]


his Homeland-style cork board,

AKA the "Wall of Crazy".
posted by Justinian at 11:58 AM on January 16 [1 favorite]


String. Lots and lots of string.
posted by Big_B at 12:49 PM on January 16


The important takeaway from this whole thing: National Dems scared shitless of Christie 2016.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 11:42 PM on January 16


The other important takeaway is that national Republicans are, too. Nobody's riding to his defense, and more importantly, they don't seem inclined to give him money. That's a much bigger deal than whatever Democrats feel.
posted by zombieflanders at 4:11 AM on January 17


National Dems are scared of Christie? What are you basing that on? I haven't been following this story as closely as some people, but it seems like big-time Democrats (outside NY/NJ, I mean) are mostly staying out of it. Have e.g. Barack Obama or Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid said anything about this situation?
posted by box at 5:43 AM on January 17 [1 favorite]


Nobody's riding to his defense

Well, Fox news, from what I understand, have been playing a pretty solid "there's no there there" line to the whole thing. Clearly they're willing to jump on the Christie bandwagon if he manages to weather this storm. (And right now, I don't see any reason to abandon my original take on this, that this is weatherable, absent some hard evidence linking him to the decision to close the bridge. National polling has repeatedly shown that people basically don't care about this story and the excitable game of "find the motive" that Maddow et al. have been playing has, as I predicted, simply muddied the narrative and made Christie's more eager denouncers look more concerned with finding a way to smear him than anything else.)
posted by yoink at 8:13 AM on January 17


Hiring an expensive New York Lawyer on the taxpayer's dime doesn't look too good for Christie's narrative, especially tied to this, The Port Authority CREATED A JOB for Christie's Best Friend story ( who he never talks to, totally, btw... )
posted by mikelieman at 8:27 AM on January 17


Well, Fox news, from what I understand, have been playing a pretty solid "there's no there there" line to the whole thing. Clearly they're willing to jump on the Christie bandwagon if he manages to weather this storm.

Fox News is mainly for the red-meat base. They're one of many big players in the game, and they'll drop him in a hot second for someone cooler, especially if purple-state governors like Walker or Kasich win re-election and start making noises in Iowa.

And right now, I don't see any reason to abandon my original take on this, that this is weatherable, absent some hard evidence linking him to the decision to close the bridge.

And as has been said over and over again, it's not this story that's going to be hard for him, it's repeated allegations, of which several are already in the wings.

National polling has repeatedly shown that people basically don't care about this story and the excitable game of "find the motive" that Maddow et al. have been playing has, as I predicted, simply muddied the narrative and made Christie's more eager denouncers look more concerned with finding a way to smear him than anything else.

Again, not really the issue:

Bridgegate Is Hurting Christie's 2016 Ambitions Right Now (emphasis in original)
I've seen two lines of skepticism about the idea that bridgegate is really all that damaging to Chris Christie's 2016 ambitions, and I think they're both wrong. One line of argument notes, correctly, that scandals are eminently survivable when they hit otherwise-popular politicians with otherwise-unpopular antagonists. The other line of argument notes, also correctly, that voters tend to be fairly myopic and there's no real reason to think the 2016 electorate will care much about something that happened in 2014.

Both true, but fundamentally wrong. The relevant things about the 2016 primary are that it's happening right now and that it's really hard to win.

It's happening right now in the sense that in order to win, any candidate needs to first gain the allegiance (or at least nonhostility) of a wide range of elites outside his immediate political circle. House members from South Carolina. State senators from Iowa. Anti-abortion activists in New Hampshire. Talk radio hosts. Fox News executives. Donors. Lobbyists. State-level Chamber of Commerce chiefs. These people are paying attention right now, and they're thinking about who they want to back and who they want to bandwagon against. And there's just no way this bridge thing is making any of those people more likely to support Christie than they were six months ago. Republican elites are mostly looking to find a candidate who is both conservative, effective, and electable and this makes him look less electable and less effective without making him look more conservative. It's bad news.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:03 AM on January 17 [2 favorites]


And as has been said over and over again, it's not this story that's going to be hard for him

But the original argument was over whether this scandal was, in itself, a death-knell for Christie's national ambitions. Nobody has ever disputed (how could they) that if it unleashes some string of future, ongoing scandals that that would be disastrous for him.

And, sure, this story comes at a bad time for Christie, but it is simply false that you have to be the hot front runner (or among the hot front runners) this far out from the primaries in order to have a chance. It's helpful, sure, but the primaries are much more unstable and unpredictable than the general election is. We often see putative front-runners implode and we often see people who have been written off as dead in the water reestablish themselves.
posted by yoink at 10:09 AM on January 17


The problem is that he's the shaky and getting colder not hotter frontrunner. His advantages are all front and center, easily visible; there are icebergs of scandals lurking just below the surface, and a large percent of the base automatically hates hims no matter what he does.

He's like Phil Gramm of Texas or John Connally of.... Texas, big blowhards from an unpopular state who look good on paper but have no real constituency or means of getting one. Christie's only card was the AG card, and he played it as aggressively and ruthlessly as anyone, but he has no more cards to play.

His hope was the succesful governor/good manager/bipartisan breath of fresh air image, and this scandal is a direct and lethal hit on that mirage.
posted by msalt at 10:45 AM on January 17


"Republican elites are mostly looking to find a candidate who is both conservative, effective, and electable and this makes him look less electable and less effective without making him look more conservative. It's bad news."

It certainly isn't going to help him, but there are a limited number of names out there that can do things like win big in New Jersey. Nothing that happens to Christie makes someone like Santorum any less unelectable.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:50 AM on January 17


Projecting an image of inevitability can be important in keeping otherwise viable candidates out of process.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:51 AM on January 17


Could be, but we all remember what happened to Hillary's inevitability. Anyone who is a serious threat to win will not be scared off. Christie was never seen as inevitable anyway.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:52 AM on January 17


It's worth noting that Roger Ailes really wanted to make Chris Christie the next president. Fox News is a difficult indicator to read, as they will support something/someone with utter dedication, until they just stop abruptly.
posted by benito.strauss at 11:09 AM on January 17


On first glance I thought you wrote that Fox "will support someone with utter defecation," and I was about to favorite it as a brilliant turn of phrase. But your version is nice, too.
posted by msalt at 5:50 PM on January 17


Now I wish I'd written ".... they will support someone with utter dedication, until they just pinch it off".
posted by benito.strauss at 6:49 PM on January 17 [1 favorite]


In college, Chris Christie was overjoyed when a bridge was kept open preventing traffic problems at his graduation (newspaper clipping from 1984).

More from Christie's college days: TPM has found one of the first times the brash political brawler faced [claims of political bullying and backroom dealing] was in the mid-1980s when he was an undergrad at the University of Delaware.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:30 AM on January 18


Mayor: I was told to expedite project to get more Sandy aid
posted by tonycpsu at 7:34 AM on January 18 [2 favorites]


NYT reporting this morning that the Harbor Lights I development is the center of their inquiry. The retaliation for failing to endorse theory is dead. This is a full-on, pay-for-play scandal. I've done a lot more research.

People are going to jail for this.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:41 AM on January 18 [4 favorites]


Zimmer shared this diary entry which she said she wrote later that day. “At the end of a big tour of ShopRite and meeting, she pulls me aside with no one else around and says that I need to move forward with the Rockefeller project. It is very important to the governor. The word is that you are against it and you need to move forward or we are not going to be able to help you. I know it’s not right – these things should not be connected – but they are, she says, and if you tell anyone, I will deny it.”

Does it get much more corrupt than this?
posted by leftcoastbob at 7:42 AM on January 18 [2 favorites]


I wonder if Christie would prefer to stay in Florida forever, at this point.
posted by angrycat at 10:54 AM on January 18


I wonder if Christie would prefer to stay in Florida forever, at this point.

He was an hour late today, probably because the Mayor of Hoboken said that. Really, we are now talking about incredibly serious criminal activity here, much bigger than I thought. If Christie is pushing buttons all over state development like this, then its a repeated pattern and we could see this repeated in different places in the state.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:31 AM on January 18


This story does have the potential to really, really wound the GOP brand.

But . . . it will undoubtedly tag some Dems as well.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:32 AM on January 18


Does it get much more corrupt than this?

Careful what you wish for!
posted by mikelieman at 11:38 AM on January 18


but Christie is finished. He can't resign to run for President. He needs the governor's office to give him resources to fight the criminal investigation. That's what looms so large now. These big numbers. If it really is this $218 financing deal and the later phase financing deals, there is no way the U.S. Attorney will look the other way. They simply cannot.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:39 AM on January 18


Remember when I used the phrase "RICO" earlier?
posted by mikelieman at 11:40 AM on January 18


Wow, its on, Baby. Christie operatives saying gloves off for the Hoboken mayor. Presser bought the Governor a week. Just a week.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:44 AM on January 18


Him going after this woman is dumb. He has to, but now he's reinforcing the bully narrative.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:46 AM on January 18


The problem for Christie isn’t what his aides did. It’s what they thought he wanted them to do.
The story here is devastating for the New Jersey governor: Dawn Zimmer, the mayor of Hoboken and a Christie ally, says the governor's office refused to release badly needed hurricane relief funds unless she approved a development project from a Christie-connected firm. Zimmer showed Kornacki a diary entry she wrote after spending a day with Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno:
At the end of a big tour of ShopRite and meeting, [Guadagno] pulls me aside with no one else around and says that I need to move forward with the Rockefeller project. It is very important to the governor. The word is that you are against it and you need to move forward or we are not going to be able to help you. I know it’s not right — these things should not be connected — but they are, she says, and if you tell anyone, I will deny it.
Zimmer said in another journal entry that the message was reiterated by Richard Constable, Christie's director of community affairs:
“We are mic’ed up with other panelists all around us and probably the sound team is listening. And he says “I hear you are against the Rockefeller project”. I reply “I am not against the Rockefeller project; in fact I want more commercial development in Hoboken.” “Oh really? Everyone in the State House believes you are against it — the buzz is that you are against it. If you move that forward, the money would start flowing to you” he tells me.
Christie's office says Zimmer is lying. They point to supportive tweets she sent out about Christie. But those tweets undermine their case. Zimmer liked Christie! She was awed by him, even. “I was emotional about governor Christie,” she wrote in a May 17 diary entry. “I thought he was honest. I thought he was moral. I thought he was something very different. This week I found out he’s cut from the same corrupt cloth that I have been fighting for the last four years.”

It would be easier to dismiss Zimmer if not for the bridge closure. And it would be easier to explain away the bridge closure if not for Zimmer. That's the problem for Christie: These stories are beginning to build. Each new revelation makes the past scandals more believable — and more damaging. And each new story intensifies the media's efforts to find more.

The problem for Christie isn't what his aides did. It's what they thought he wanted them to do.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:21 PM on January 18 [1 favorite]


It will be interesting to hear the testimony if/when Wildstein is granted immunity. Considering the high level of corruption, I wouldn't put it past anyone to pay him off to fall on his sword, though.
posted by leftcoastbob at 12:41 PM on January 18


There's now a separate thread for the Hoboken story.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:52 PM on January 18 [1 favorite]


It will be interesting to hear the testimony if/when Wildstein is granted immunity. Considering the high level of corruption, I wouldn't put it past anyone to pay him off to fall on his sword, though.

The charges are waaay too big if its connected to the 1.1 billion dollar development. And ye old mexican travellers' checks problem. How do you pay him off? Can't hand him a check and he puts it in an ATM.

He is taking on water really, really fast. They are in it deep.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:56 PM on January 18


The real reason the Tea Party hates Chris Christie: It's not because of his supposed embrace of Obama; it's because he acknowledges a role for the New Deal state
posted by homunculus at 12:18 PM on January 19


I thought the images of the mayor of Hoboken's journals were a parody at first. They look like the scrawlings of a drunken 6 year old.
posted by Justinian at 2:12 PM on January 20


Way better than my handwriting. God bless computers.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:13 PM on January 20 [3 favorites]


Way better than my handwriting. God bless computers.

In this case, better than its written.

In other news, I'm getting very close now.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:34 PM on January 20 [1 favorite]


Christie Knew About Lane Closings, Ex-Port Authority Official Says
posted by DynamiteToast at 12:51 PM on January 31


Christie Knew About Lane Closings, Ex-Port Authority Official Says
In a letter released by his lawyer, the official, David Wildstein, a high school friend of Mr. Christie’s who was appointed with the governor’s blessing at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which controls the bridge, described the order to close the lanes as “the Christie administration’s order” and said “evidence exists as well tying Mr. Christie to having knowledge of the lane closures, during the period when the lanes were closed, contrary to what the governor stated publicly in a two-hour press conference” three weeks ago.

“Mr. Wildstein contests the accuracy of various statements that the governor made about him and he can prove the inaccuracy of some,” the letter added.
posted by gladly at 12:51 PM on January 31 [1 favorite]


PDF link to the referenced letter.
posted by DynamiteToast at 1:07 PM on January 31


Ironmouth, did you find anything of interest?
posted by Chrysostom at 1:19 PM on January 31


Port Authority controversy runs deeper than Christie bridge scandal
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:51 PM on February 2


Far right learning to love Christie: Corruption, payback and bluster = GOP hero
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:07 PM on February 7


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