Testimony: Chris Christie laughed when told of bridge closures

Image: Flickr/Gage Skidmore

Earlier this year, Chris Christie appointee David Wildstein pleaded guilty to ordering lane closings on the George Washington bridge in 2003 to punish a New Jersey mayor for not supporting Christie's gubernatorial bid. Wildstein is now a star witness against two other people in Christie's inner circle who've been charged with conspiring to close the bridge lanes. Testifying in federal court today, Wildstein said that when Christie was told about the plot, Christie laughed and joked about it.

From New York:

"Mr. Baroni said, 'Governor I have to tell you about something,'" Wildstein testified, saying that Baroni and Christie often adopted a "very sarcastic tone" when they were talking politics. "Mr. Baroni said to Governor Christie, 'Governor, I can tell you there's a tremendous amount of traffic in Fort Lee this morning, major traffic jams, and Mayor [Mark] Sokolich is very frustrated." He alleged that Baroni then added, "You'll be pleased to know that Mayor Sokolich is having trouble getting his telephone calls returned."

According to Wildstein, Christie replied with similar sarcasm, "I imagine he wouldn't be getting his phone calls returned." ... The governor still called Wildstein by the pseudonym he used on the [influential political blog] website, "Wally Edge." So Christie surely understood the import of what Baroni allegedly told him next: "Mr. Baroni said to Governor Christie that I was monitoring the traffic, I was watching over everything," Wildstein testified. "Governor Christie said in the sarcastic tone of the conversation, 'Well. I'm sure Mr. Edge would not be involved in anything political." Then, Wildstein said, "he laughed."

"This was our one constituent.

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Prosecutors and defense lawyers agree - Chris Christie knew about bridge lane closures as they happened

Image: Wikipedia/Gage Skidmore

New Jersey governor Chris Christie has vehemently denied knowing anything about his staff's scheme to punish a local mayor by ordering lane closures on the George Washington Bridge in 2013. But today, prosecutors in the trial against two former Christie staffers charged with closing the lanes said Christie knew about it all along.

Via NYT:

Prosecutors from the United States attorney’s office said that two of the alleged co-conspirators in the case, David Wildstein and Bill Baroni, had bragged to the governor about the lane closings, and that they had been done to “mess” with the mayor of Fort Lee because he had declined entreaties to endorse the governor’s re-election.

The prosecutor, Vikas Khanna, instantly advised the jury that they should not consider the actions of “others” or wonder why they were not charged.

The details of the plot that Mr. Khanna laid out were largely familiar by now: that one of the defendants, Bridget Anne Kelly, sent an email in August 2013 saying “time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee” after confirming that the mayor of that borough would not endorse Mr. Christie. A month later, two of three access lanes to the George Washington Bridge were shut down, and the other defendant, Mr. Baroni, the highest ranking official at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs the bridge, studiously ignored the mayor as he pleaded by text, email and a handwritten letter for the agency to reopen the lanes.

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Chris Christie support at 1%


New Jersey governor Chris Christie's presidential favorability ratings have been falling since December 2014. He is faring so poorly that a Langer Research poll conducted for ABC News and The Washington Post released today didn't even bother to put Christie on a graph of the Republican candidates. The report did publish Christie's raw numbers so I made a graph that shows how far he's fallen (above).

Christie's support among registered Republicans is 1%, so it's no surprise that he is scolding the press to "stop blathering" about Bridgegate and report on Hillary Clinton's email problems instead. But his tactic isn't working. Christie donors are pulling out in anticipation that the growing list dirty dealings at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will destroy any small chance Christie has of winning the Republican primary.

Tom Moran of New Jersey's Star-Ledger says that Christie's latest scandal involving United Airlines CEO Jeff Smisek could "finally sink him."

Christie has been lying about Bridgegate on national TV as a habit, saying that federal prosecutors have ruled out filing more charges. That's not close to true, but it's revealing. He knows this scandal could kill him.

Another indictment would bring it back to center stage. [Former Port Authority Chairman David] Samson's role in the lane closures isn't clear, in part because he refused to answer questions during Christie's internal investigation. But if he is indicted over any of his behavior at the Port Authority, this scandal will be back in the news.

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The Christie Tracker is a godsend for Bridgegate scandal obsessives like me

.picture { background-color: #FFFFFF; font: 12px/1.5em Arial; color:#888888; sans-serif; } .picture img { vertical-align:middle; margin-bottom: 3px; } .right { margin: 0.5em 0pt 0.5em 0.8em; float:right; } .left { margin: 0.5em 0.8em 0.5em 0; float:left; } A protestor outside a Chris Christie town hall meeting in Middletown, NJ (Matt Katz)

Carla is bemused by my obsession with the New Jersey Governor Christie Christie Bridgegate scandal. I can't really explain it myself, other than to say it is interesting to watch public servants who can't keep their psychopathy under control and shut down the world's busiest bridge traffic out of spite. (I'm not saying Christie shut the traffic down, I'm saying the bad apples he surrounded himself did).

Until now, I've had to keep myself satisfied with Rachel Maddow's excellent, unrelenting, obsessive coverage of the scandal on her nightly show, but now I can get mini-fixes throughout the day, thanks to The Christie Tracker, a website created by Matt Katz of WNYC. I'm so excited!

Here's my prediction of how this will play out (I posted it to Facebook on January 21):

Once he runs out of people to throw under the bus, Christie will make a deal with investigators to resign in exchange for an end to the investigations and subpoenas. In his resignation speech Christie will say he is innocent of all accusations but is stepping down to stop the bad Democrats from harming the great state of New Jersey with their witch hunt. After a couple of months he will get a job on Fox News. Read the rest