Thursday Open Thread [1.9.14]

Filed in National by on January 9, 2014

Here is a complete timeline of the Christie Corruption Scandal, otherwise known as Bridgegate, from TPM.

I wonder if Governor Christie or his chief of staff can be charged with involuntary/voluntary manslaughter because of this:

“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 Bergen Record reports.

“The woman later died, borough records show.”

NY Daily News: “In the best possible light, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie built a top staff of lying thugs who threatened lives and safety to serve his political ends. If not, Christie is a lying thug himself.”

Indeed, from Booman: “In order for Christie not to be a big fat liar, it would require a lot more than “a member” of his staff to have been misleading him. It would require that Mr. Bill Baroni and Mr. David Wildstein, the Port Authority’s executive deputy director and director of interstate capital projects, respectively, both resigned without ever informing Christie that they were acting on the orders of his deputy chief of staff. It would require that Christie’s own campaign manager (and now state GOP chairman), Bill Stepien, never clued him in. It would require that Christie’s spokesman, Michael Drewniak never told him that his own staff had ordered the closings.”

Adam Weinstein: “So place your bets. Bet No. 1: Chris Christie is the slappy, snippy, sly dog he’s played for us these past few years, the kind of guy who runs a ship so tight and digs so deeply into a problem that something like Bridgegate could never happen on his watch without not only his knowledge, but his blessing. Bet No. 2: He’s a bumbling moron.”

“The governor would prefer you take Bet No. 2. That should tell you everything you need to know about Chris Christie.”

“David Wildstein deserves an ass-kicking. Sorry. There, I said it.” — Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich (D), quoted by the Newark Star Ledger, on the Port Authority official responsible creating traffic by closing lanes on the George Washington Bridge.

Politico: “Democrats predictably condemned the New Jersey governor after a bombshell report Wednesday tied one of his top staffers to a burgeoning scandal that’s already been dubbed ‘Bridge-gate.’ More notable was the dearth of Republicans who rose to Christie’s defense — and, privately, the schadenfreude expressed by some of them that a man who’s never been shy about taking shots at others was suddenly on the receiving end.”

New York Times: “The usually verbose and swaggering Mr. Christie, who once mocked questions from reporters about the abrupt closing of lanes to the bridge, seemed at a loss for how to respond on Wednesday.”

Jonathan Chait: “To this point, Chris Christie has treated the George Washington Bridge closure story as a joke, and national reporters have regarded it as a minor irritation. The public release of e-mails among his staff changes all that. The e-mails prove that Christie’s loyalists closed the bridge deliberately as political retribution, not as a ‘traffic study’ as claimed. They display an almost comical venality bordering on outright sociopathy. And they will probably destroy Christie’s chances in 2016.”

Chris Cillizza: “Molehills can grow into mountains in politics. This is now a serious problem for Christie.”

Andrew Sullivan: “Perhaps it is no big surprise to discover that governor Chris Christie is a vindictive, petty egomaniac contemptuous of the people he serves. But it’s hard to avoid that conclusion when you’ve pored over the new tranche of emails that show how he and his staff made life miserable for a large number of New Jerseyans – and, yes, trapped unnecessarily in traffic is misery, even when you have the gorgeous scenery of the George Washington Bridge to absorb. The point was punishment of a mayor who didn’t endorse the governor, whose re-election was cruising for a landslide victory in any case.”

Christie has more than one problem here. He has been revealed as a deeply petty man, willing to sacrifice the public good to pursue narrow political vendettas – not exactly a qualification for a president. But he has also repeatedly denied all of this. Is he a bully? Or a liar? Or both?”

Andrew Sullivan is my barometer on the moderate former Republican who is a social liberal, to whom Christie was very attractive. Obama won those voters in two elections. If Christie has lost Sullivan, his campaign for the presidency is already over.

Brendan Nyhan: “On the one hand, it’s important not to overhype the significance of events like this to ordinary voters, very few of whom are paying close attention to the jockeying among potential 2016 candidates. The problem for Christie is that his principal asset in a Republican primary is an aura of electability. That aura may now start to dissipate along with his previously impressive favorable/unfavorable ratings, which were already looking more like those of a conventional politician. Moreover, widespread coverage of the bridge controversy could renew fears among elites about other potential skeletons in his closet and embolden GOP rivals and operatives who oppose his candidacy. Research by political scientists suggests that those party elites play a critical role in choosing the party’s nominee. If Christie is not seen as the most electable candidate, he’s unlikely to get much traction given his previous ideological heterodoxies.”

Marc Ambinder: “The fact that Christie’s deputy chief of staff believed it was morally permissible to cause pain to innocents in order to retaliate against a perceived slight, without seeking his permission, and then refused to own up to it, tells us something about the culture that Christie creates around him. She assumed the boss would be okay with what she did. And so did many other Christie advisers, including his campaign manager. And since Christie denied having anything to do with the bridge study, he apparently has fostered a culture where it’s okay to lie to the boss in order to protect him.”

Ezra Klein: “It’s entirely possible that Christie didn’t know very much about the bridge episode. It might just be the product of the culture he’s created, or permitted, to arise around him. What’s dangerous for Christie, though, is that now every political reporter in the country will begin believing rumors of his punishments and hunting down evidence of his retaliation. And things Christie was able to do before to wide applause — like berate a schoolteacher and then have his staff upload it to YouTube — will begin feeding a very different kind of narrative.”

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  1. auntie dem says:

    The tone and callousness of this reminds me of stuff that went on during the Enron scandal. Hubris is a dangerous thing. Exposed hubris can become lethal.

  2. Jason330 says:

    “I wonder if Governor Christie or his chief of staff can be charged with involuntary/voluntary manslaughter…?”

    That’s a reach, but certainly criminal conspiracy. When Kelly tells Wildstein, “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee” and Wildstein replies “Got it.” It reveals a prearranged plan to commit a crime. There must be someone doing jail-time at the end of this.

    Who knows? Maybe Kelly will roll over on Christie if it looks like she is going to be the one going up the river?

  3. pandora says:

    If you believe Christie you have to believe that:

    1. He never questioned why the bridge was shut down, even after the “traffic study” was proved to be nonsense? Altho… now he’s not sure, maybe there was a traffic study???

    2. He never questioned when his friends resigned?

    3. No one told him their emails were subpoenaed?

    4. He only found out about this through the press – in the last 48 hours?

    This is crazy – crazy good for me!

  4. Jason330 says:

    lol. I have to admit. I am LOVING THE SHIT OUT OF THIS!!!

  5. Jason330 says:

    Our old pal Ginger Gibson digs up some other instances in which Christie was a bullying dick bag to people for being “obstacles.”

  6. pandora says:

    Questions, questions, questions. This presser is only creating more questions. Here’s one from Jed Lewison:

    “Why were Wildstein and Baroni removed before the emails were released if Christie felt they did nothing wrong?”

  7. Jason330 says:

    So Christie has put himself in a box. He either knew everything, or didn’t find out anything until 48 hours ago.

  8. pandora says:

    Actually, I was wrong… his timeline seems to be he found out yesterday morning… but he hasn’t slept in two nights?

    And he seems to be following McCain’s advice to answer every question. Always a big mistake. He should end this (of course, I hope he doesn’t!) because he’s contradicting himself and raising a TON of new questions. I can’t believe this presser is still going on.

  9. Jason330 says:

    “Baroni and Wildstein have already resigned to spend more time with their lawyers.”

    From Salon. Lol.

  10. Delaware Dem says:

    He’s lying. He knew all along, and in fact he probably ordered it.

  11. Jason330 says:

    Christie is trying to thread the needle the way Bill Clinton did. When he says he just heard about “it” he is speaking about the emails. That’s plausible.

  12. puck says:

    Oh man. Christie reminds me of some Three Stooges episode where Curly gets his foot stuck in a paint can.

  13. cassandra_m says:

    Oh no, we’re on the *feelings* part of this clown show now.

  14. pandora says:

    Approaching one hour and forty-five minutes. Clown show, indeed.

  15. liberalgeek says:

    This sort of filibuster is setting him up for a future Senate run.

  16. SussexAnon says:

    Conspiracy? Yes.

    What would the list of crimes be?

  17. Jason330 says:

    “Misuse of Position and Government Resources” That’s what this would be called if it was federal. New Jersey probably has something similar.

  18. Jason330 says:

    Via Salon:

    This is Christie’s defense
    His aides don’t tell him what they’re up to, he asked them if he/they could be connected to the bridge thing and they told him no, when he found out that the emails would be published he fired Kelly for lying about whether or not the lane closings could be connected to his office.

  19. liberalgeek says:

    Creating a public nuisance? Endangerment? Involuntary manslaughter?

  20. fightingbluehen says:

    Follow where the girl that he fired ends up working, and what her salary will be, and you will know if Christie lied or not.

    If you take a fall for a politician, you better land somewhere soft, right?

  21. Geezer says:

    “Christie has more than one problem here. He has been revealed as a deeply petty man, willing to sacrifice the public good to pursue narrow political vendettas”

    Yeah, that really ended the political careers of Joe Biden and Tom Gordon, didn’t it?

  22. SussexAnon says:

    Petty and politician are synonyms. Its only when you get caught in public doing it in an epic way that they (usually) pay a price.

    The list certainly doesn’t stop at Biden and Gordon.

  23. Jason330 says:

    Christie’s hubris blinded him, and he thought he wasn’t bound by the normal rules of politics. In this case the rule he broke was a big one – don’t fuck with American’s cars.

  24. Truth Teller says:

    A town in his state has 4 days of massive traffic jams emergency services are effected and one person dies and the governor is not interested enough to make inquiries, and now he portrays him self as a victim Give me a break.

  25. fightingbluehen says:

    The political divide between Democrats and Republicans is vast ,and I believe that if we were to investigate, we would find that political retribution is more wide spread than we realize.

    From not collecting the trash in certain areas, to not supplying adequate snow removal, the possibilities and opportunities for political punitory shenanigans are numerous.

    I remember on a few occasions where snow removal was suspiciously non existent here in Sussex County, and people were actually grumbling that it could be political.

  26. bamboozer says:

    Knew this was coming but I didn’t think it would be this big, I stand corrected. Also notice some Dems are having fun abusing the word Impeach, perhaps we need to insert a section in the national curriculum to explain this part of the constitution. And unlike Benghazi ( that’s Benghazi!!!! for you conservatives ) I think there’s more to come out at this point. Ah, sweet mystery of life!

  27. jason330 says:

    Help me out. Apparently, in the wingnut mind, this is like Benghazi because…. ? An executive was not well served by his subordinates? Or, an executive let subordinates take the fall even though the Kenyan usurper was pulling the strings? I don’t really get it.

  28. puck says:

    Benghazi! Slowly i turned… step by step….