U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman is leaning on former Port Authority officials David Samson, Bill Baroni and David Wildstein and Charles McKenna, Governor Chris Christie’s former Chief Counsel, to”filp” on Christie, according to a report published on Esquire today.
Esquire’s two anonymous sources “with intimate knowledge” of Fishman’s investigation into “Bridgegate” said that Samson, Baroni and Wildstein each face “near-certain” indictment.
Esquire says that Baroni and Wildstein have implicated Samson and that “if Sampson doesn’t give Fishman Christie, Sampson is toast.”
Kevin O’Dowd, Christie’s chief of staff, entered Drumthwacket, the governor’s mansion in Princeton, as usual by the side entrance, filing through the kitchen and the dining room, where he was surprised to see Gov. Chris Christie sitting huddled…
TRENTON — New e-mails released today by the legislative panel investigating the George Washington Bridge lane closings link Gov. Chris Christie’s chief political strategist, Mike DuHaime, to discussions about the scandal and show more intimate involvement…
On Aug. 5, 2011, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey issued a jaw-dropping proposal to immediately raise bridge and tunnel tolls by $4 for E-ZPass subscribers and $7 for cash customers, followed by another increase in 2014. The proposed hikes…
Governor Chris Christie and Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Kelly. Photo via facebook
Emails and text messages published by NorthJersey.com appear to implicate Governor Chris Christie’s Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Ann Kelly in the planning of the George Washington Bridge lane closures that disrupted traffic in Fort Lee for a week last September. The documents support contentions by Democrats in the legislature and media reports that the lane closures were executed as political retribution against Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich for failing to endorse Christie’s reelection.
NorthJersey.com’s extensive coverage can be found here.
Prior to today’s revelations, the Christie Administration’s official story was that the lane closures were order by Christie’s top appointees to the Port Authority of NY/NJ, David Wildstein and Bill Baroni, as a traffic study regarding the appropriateness of Fort Lee having three dedicated toll lanes to the George Washington Bridge.
The documents show that Christie’s campaign manager, Bill Stepien, and the Governor’s chief spokesperson, Michael Drewniak, participated in conversations on how to respond to media inquiries about the lane closures. Stepien was named Christie’s choice to replace Sam Raia as Chairman of the NJ GOP yesterday. The documents also indicate that Baroni was very concerned about how Christie’s staff evaluated his testimony before the Assembly Transportation Committee on the lane closures in November.
Some members of New Jersey’s presscorps, along with Senator Loretta Weinberg, Assemblyman John Wisniewski and the Democratic National Committee seem think they finally have an issue to thwart Governor Chris Christie’s rising star. They’re hoping traffic jams in Fort Lee will prevent Christie from becoming President of the United States.
The Star Ledgerhas an article this morning quoting Democrats and academics saying “the scandal” could hurt Chrisite’s national ambitions.
But questions about the incident have fueled a scandal that even Christie’s masterful team of brand managers can’t make go away.
Stile and The Star Ledger’s reporters have it wrong. Christie deftly accepted “ultimate responsibility” for the mistakes made in Fort Lee last September, while deflecting blame, at his press conference on the matter on Friday. As NJTV’s Michael Aron said on Reporters Roundtable, the issue is ‘fundamentally over.” If the ‘Bridgegate’ story gets any ink at all in 2014 and beyond, it will be deep in the back pages.
It’s doubtful that the subpoenas that Wisniewski, as Chairman of the Assembly Transportation Committee, issued will result in any smoking gun that proves that Christie or anyone in his inner circle other than Port Authority’s Bill Baroni or David Wildstein knew about the George Washington Bridge lane closures that tied up traffic in Fort Lee for a few days is September. Even if a smoking gun is discovered, as Hillary Clinton would shout, “What difference does it make?”
Now that Christie is a legitimate presidential contender, the front runner in the early polls, it is perfectly appropriate that the press and his opponents attempt to make mountains out of traffic jams and other mole hills as part of the vetting process for a president. Barack Obama got a pass from the press and his opponents in 2008 and 2012. Look what that got us.
Governor Christie: I wouldn’t characterize myself as angry Matt. It just you know, I don’t like when mistakes are made, because of the question you asked me, right? Like, are you ultimately responsible? Yeah. I mean it’s OK when I make the mistakes, you know, that I’m responsible. When others make the mistakes I’m you know, it bothers me. But I think anger would probably be a little bit too strong a word. Bothered probably would be the better word, you know? I was bothered by it but, you know, folks around here – when I’m angry you tend to be able to see it. I don’t hide it all that well. I’m not angry but I’m bothered when people make mistakes that wind up reflecting poorly on their performance, because their performance is the performance of this Administration, and so I’d rather have us all doing things well, and so I’m bothered whenever that happens. But, you know, as I said before, I commend Senator Baroni for his service, for his four years there. I know how hard that job is and he worked very hard at it. So did Mr. Wildstein at the job he had and, you know, it’s unfortunate for them that a mistake got made near the end of their tenure but, you know, that’s just the way life works sometimes and no, I wouldn’t call myself angry, but bothered, yeah. I mean, I’d rather not be doing this, but, you know, this is the job. So, you know, when you lead this is what you’ve got to deal with sometimes, but other times, you know, I’m standing behind here when the folks that work for me have done extraordinary things, herculean things, that I get to smile and stand here and put my arms around them and take credit for it. So if you’re going to do that you got to be prepared to do this too, and that’s OK. I’m a big boy. I can handle it.
Governor Chris Christie has announced that former State Senator Bill Barnoni has resigned as Deputy Executive Director of the Port Authority of NY/NJ.
Deborah Gramiccioni has been tapped to replace Baroni. Gramiccioni is a long time Christie staffer, going back to his tenure as U.S. Attorney. She is the wife of Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.
Christie said he had been planning to the change ” a while back.” He said that Baroni offered his resignation and he accepted given the “distraction” over ‘Bridgegate.”
Christie said that Baroni had acknowledged that ” a mistake was made” regarding the George Washington Bridge closure last September, and that Baroni has taken responsibility for it.
By any measure, the last four years of Democratic control of the Legislature yielded the party little political benefit. But the Democrats may be able to recover some lost ground, courtesy of what started as a hellacious tie-up on the George Washington…
Karin McQuillan, a retired psychotherapist and author who served in the Peace Corps in Senegal, writes at American Thinker that Hillary Rosen’s recent rant that Ann Romey never worked a day he her life is part of the Obama political strategy rooted in the politics of envy. Worse, she says the strategy is deeply rooted in Obama’s psyche as a result of his upbringing.
Closer to home, our friends at InTheLobby have a hilarious account of how Port Authority Deputy Executive Director Bill Baroni turned the table on U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg during the senator’s hearing this week over the fairness of toll increases and patronage at PA.
Turns out that Lautenberg as a former commissioner of the PA he had a free EZ pass for decades and didn’t pay tolls from 1978 through 2006 when the PA stopped issuing free EZ passes to cronies.
Regarding patronage, a former Lautenberg campaign staffer joined PA in 2002, and U.S. Senator Bob Menendez’s son is an intern at PA now.
West Virginia U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller came to Lautenberg’s defense. New Jersey Democrats have been silent, just as they were during Lautenberg’s dust up with State Senate President Steve Sweeney and George Norcross over the Rutgers-Rowan merger earlier this month.