Bridgegate Continued: The Six Things to Watch For This Week

Sunday, January 12, 2014 - 09:00 PM

Chris Christie at a press conference discussing the scandal over lane closures on the George Washington Bridge (screenshot from Christie YouTube page/Youtube)

Here are the top six things to look for this week in the ongoing fallout from the Christie Administration's Fort Lee lane closure scandal.

More Subpoenas

The trove of emails, texts and other documents that have exposed close aides and associates of Governor Christie as complicit in orchestrating the lane closures were the result of subpoenas that Democrats in the state legislature issued. Assemblyman John Wisniewski, chairman of the Transportation, Public Works and Independent Authorities Committee, has vowed to issue more subpoenas on Monday or Tuesday. Targets are likely to include Michael Drewniak, Christie's spokesman, and Bridget Anne Kelly, the fired deputy chief of staff, Wisniewski said.

The committee's subpoena power, granted by an Assembly resolution last year, is due to expire this week, but incoming Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson) said Saturday he will convene a special session of the Assembly on Thursday in a bid to extend it.

More Involvement from Governor Christie's Inner Circle

New Jersey Public Radio's Matt Katz has been looking at how many of Christie's aides and associates were part of the email threads and texts that mention the Fort Lee lane closures. Several of these Christie loyalists have worked in at least two of four government entities: The Governor's office, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the U.S. Attorney's Office in New Jersey, and the New Jersey Attorney General's office.  For example, Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak was Christie's spokesman at the U.S. Attorney's Office, where Charlie McKenna, Christie's chief counsel in the governor's office, also worked. Also at the US Attorney's Office was Kevin O'Dowd, Christie's chief of staff. O'Dowd has been nominated to be Attorney General -- that nomination is now on hold because of this scandal. O'Dowd's replacement as chief of staff is Regina Egea, whose previous position was the head of Christie's Authorities Unit, in charge of overseeing the Port Authority. Meanwhile, another former NJ attorney general, David Samson, is the chairman of the Port Authority.

What Governor Cuomo Knew and When

The latest batch of documents and reporting by WNYC's Andrea Bernstein indicate Governor Cuomo was made aware of the so-called Bridgegate scandal early on. We know that after learning about the lane closures, Cuomo's appointee at the Port Authority, Executive Director Pat Foye, sent a scathing memo to Port Authority board members. Foye also wrote to the man in charge of bridges the day after the lanes reopened, adding "second floor request need ASAP." The second floor refers to the section of the capitol building where Cuomo and his top aides have offices. It's unclear what Cuomo did next. He didn't speak publicly about the lane closures for three months, when he said he knew "basically what's been in the newspapers." Cuomo's staff isn't commenting.

More Talk of Impeachment

While no document has shown Governor Christie had direct knowledge of the lane closure plan in Fort Lee -- and he has emphatically denied he did -- Democratic Assemblyman Wisniewski told NBC News over the weekend that "using the George Washington Bridge, a public resource, to exact a political vendetta, is a crime," he said. "Having people use their official position to have a political game is a crime. So if those tie back to the governor in any way, it clearly becomes an impeachable offense."

More Support for Christie from the GOP

Republicans took to the Sunday talk shows to defend the New Jersey Governor who is widely considered to be eyeing a run for president in 2016. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus told NBC's "Meet the Press" Christie could move past the scandal and still win support from primary voters in the 2016 presidential race. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a Republican, said on ABC's "This Week" he found Christie's explanation on Wednesday "pretty darn credible" that he didn't know what members of his inner circle were up to while he was running for re-election for governor.

More Scrutiny Than Ever for Christie's Budget Winners and Losers

As New Jersey Public Radio's Sarah Gonzalez reported on Friday, Democratic mayors from Hoboken, Jersey City and Elizabeth are just some of the New Jersey mayors wondering if the budget crumbs they received in the last round were retribution for not supporting Christie's re-election bid. As Christie said in his lengthy news conference on Wednesday, his people reached out to hundreds of mayors to support his campaign. He won some. He lost some. Either way, that's a lot of mayors looking for a lot of state dollars.

With reporting by New Jersey Public Radio's Matt Katz, New Jersey Public Radio's Sarah GonzalezWNYC's Andrea Bernstein and the Associated Press



Comments [13]

iMan9796 from New Jersey

This same type of Bridgegatesque corruption, cover-up & retaliation is standard operating procedure at the Port Authority Bus Terminal in NYC by Port Authority Supervisors.

Gov. Christie promised to disclose any evidence “that come forward that requires action to be taken.” He added, “I will take it, no matter how much it hurts me personally or dismays me, because this is the job I asked for, and I’ve got to do it.”

I wonder if that applies to the well documented rampant theft of Lost & Found property at the Port Authority Bus Terminal by Port Authority Supervisors, and the illegal written policy of throwing lost valid passorts in the garbage instead of mailing them to their respective embassies if their owners could not be found. Now just imagine the damage that a terrorist group or an identity theft ring could do with those valid passports. Google “Donna Lebourne abc news" & see the vile face of shame being confronted and exposed for the world to see.

If the Gov. is a man of his word, he can start by axing all the supervisors at the Port Authority Bus Terminal involved in this criminal activity, the supervisors that turned a blind eye to it, and all the supervisors who participated in the coverup and retaliation as well. Every single one of them must be fired & prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law for aiding and abetting this criminal activity.

As a matter of fact, Gov.Cuomo stressed that the traffic scandal did not take place on his side of the bridge, which is controlled jointly by New York and New Jersey.“It was done on the Jersey side of the bridge,” he said. “The Jersey officials handled it.

The thefts from the PABT’s Lost & Found Dept. by PABT Supervisors along with their illegal written policy of throwing valid lost passports in the garbage happened on the NY side of the GWB, so the New York officals should handle it. Gov. Cuomo it’s your turn to act, & don’t act like you didn't know. I've come to realize that ignorance is not only bliss, it is also contagious & spans both sides of the GWB. The ball is in your court.

The new investigatory panel should investigate these well documented crimes as well because the Port Authority has degenerated into a cesspool of crime, corruption, cover-ups & retaliation staffed with a bunch of clowns, cowards, liars & thieves.

Jan. 22 2014 12:49 AM
Edge from Hackensack

My only regret is that this scandal didn't fully come to light during the gubernatorial campaign. This incident was actually tantamount to an act of domestic terrorism, so for a National Security hawk like Giuliani to be so dismissive, indicates complete hypocrisy and double standards on his part.

Jan. 15 2014 12:13 AM
Richard Feinman from Brooklyn, NY

Is it wrong that I am smiling?

Jan. 14 2014 06:44 PM
Whitney from Tenafly

Christie has more than achieved his level of incompetence. He is a small time hood and not really capable of managing a state the size of NJ. The entire country? You must be joking. His best efforts are on the level of a medium-successful governor. Most of the rest is wildly incompetent at best. This is most noticeable if you live in the northern third of the state in shich he has NO interest at all.

Jan. 14 2014 11:31 AM
hifein from brooklyn, ny

i listened to most of Christie's mea culpa. i found it so interesting that he asked forgiveness for the mistakes that members of his inner circle made. he never considered the willful and calculated acts that were committed. to christie, 'mistakes' were made. this planned breakdown on the bridge was no mistake, it was a fait accomplis carefully planned carried out by his staff. without his knowledge? i do doubt it. and where was he if he didn't know or question what was occurring and breaking down the lives of thousands of commuters for four days.

Jan. 13 2014 03:55 PM
Maryann from NY

What is amazing to me is not all the political fallout - but those people at the Port of Authority who obviously do not have any work to do - that they have so much time on their hands to plan elaborate pranks on the poor commuters who have to get to work to support their families. If Christie wants some credibility, he should stop apologizing and get to work reforming his dysfunctional office staff and the horrible mess at the Port of Authority. (Beavis and Butthead might have been funny in the comic strip, but did you really have to hire them?)

Jan. 13 2014 12:30 PM
Pat from NJ

From "A Bridge to Scandal: Behind the Fort Lee Ruse" in today's New York Times:

"A text message from Mr. Sokolich to Mr. Baroni pleading for help found its way to Mr. Wildstein, who forwarded it on to someone whose name was redacted in the released messages. That person replied, “Is it wrong that I’m smiling?”

Mr. Wildstein wrote back, “No.”"

Whose name was redacted? Can this information be subpoened?

Jan. 13 2014 10:15 AM
Shawn from Manhattan

I think it's more likely that Christie was seeking retribution against the NJ state senator whose district is Fort Lee, he called her an 'Animal' the day before the bridge closures. I dont know why everyone is so focused on the Mayor.

Jan. 13 2014 09:35 AM
downhillracer from NYC

One thing is for sure
It did not happen in a vacuum.
There is no direct connection to Bridgegate and Christie. But he is the
one who sets the tone and the culture of the organization. This caper
is HUGE and his administrators were lead down the path in knowing how to
react to un cooperative politicians. Movers and shakers are experts at
covering their tracks and that is why they have a loyal staff. Handling
it well does not mean he is not guilty of setting a scene where this
type of stuff is tolerated.Even if there is no direct connection it is not a
indication of his innocence.

Jan. 13 2014 09:20 AM
Robert in A GOP town

Christie may not have known the details, but he knew something was up. Messing with traffic in NJ is a capital offense! I wonder what Christie as a prosecutor would - life sentence? Death sentence? I heard that Christie was going to use Liberty State Park for his swearing in (not sure if this is true), and maybe the mayor of Jersey City needs a traffic study there!

Jan. 13 2014 09:16 AM
Isis from New York

So Giuliani - a former U.S. Attorney - finds Christie's explanation of his lack of knowledge about the bridge closing "pretty darn credible". I don't know what world Giuliani lives in, but in my world his statement is pretty darn INCREDIBLE. If Christie is telling the truth and couldn't get to the bottom of his supposed 'deception' by his staff it would mean he's an inept attorney and an ineffective manager and in light of comments that no-one on his staff would dare sneeze with first asking his permission, we know that's not the case. When one listens closely and carefully to the many rude and dismissive comments, including the "cone" comment, made by Christie right after the issue came to light, and to many of his responses at last week's press conference, it becomes pretty darn clear he's trying very hard to convince us his hands are clean. we know better.

Jan. 13 2014 08:40 AM
Linda from Maplewood, nj

If Christie lied about bridge gate, he should be fired. We have a word for that. It,s called impeachment. Get out Christie.the citizens of New Jersey deserve better. The idea that he uses his office as a fiefdom from which he can dispense favors and punishment, based on loyalty is totally unacceptable.

Jan. 13 2014 08:35 AM
Casey from NYC

If this brings Christie down as a viable presidential candidate, it was worth the inconvenience to thousands.

Christie as president? Shudder.

Jan. 13 2014 07:18 AM

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