Looks as if we are going to need more popcorn, because this story is not going away:
Another one of Chris Christie’s explanations for the growing scandal over lane closures on the George Washington Bridge that led to days of gridlock in Fort Lee, N.J., in September is being questioned by other local officials.
In a press conference last Thursday, Christie claimed Fort Lee officials gave “no notification” about the traffic jams to Pat Foye, the executive director of Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which oversees the bridge. Assemblyman John Wisnieswki (D), who is chairman of New Jersey Assembly Transportation Committee, which is investigating the incident, told TPM Monday that Christie’s claim was “false.”
“The governor’s claim that Fort Lee did not try to contact them is false and the records reflect that,” said Wisnieswki, who has been examining correspondence subpoenaed from multiple Port Authority officials.
Some Democrats have alleged the lanes were closed because Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich declined to endorse Christie’s re-election bid.
Josh Marshall takes a look at the way in which Christie is handling this mess:
I don’t know whether Chris Christie was personally involved in the boffo Bridge Closure payback earlier this year. And I find it very hard to believe he got his fingerprints on it. But he’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.
First, there’s dismissing the story as no big deal. Whether that’s true or not is a subjective judgment. But if your cronies really did massively inconvenience a whole city as part of a political payback that actually is a pretty big deal – and one that raises specific vulnerabilities for Christie and he tries to move on to the national stage.
Second, don’t make false statements that are actually secondary to the story itself. If he ordered his friends to do this (something for which there’s no direct evidence and I can’t imagine it went down that way) then, okay, maybe he just has to deny that. But saying that Fort Lee officials didn’t say anything about the traffic jams at the time seems easily refutable. Why burn through credibility on something like that, especially since it’s not clear that complaints like this would make their way up to the governor’s office.
I suspect the answer is that Christie is just Christie. He’s aggressive, doesn’t like being questioned and doesn’t self-censor. That’s mainly why he’s popular after all. But in this case, it doesn’t serve him well at all.
Add to that Christie’s penchant for personal pettiness when it comes to politics and it’s easy to conclude that this is not over by a long shot.
Dave "Doctor" Gonzo is a renegade record producer, writer, reformed corporate shill, and still-registered lobbyist for non-one-percenter performing artists and musicians. He lives in a heavily fortified compound in one of Manhattan's less trendy neighborhoods.