Chris Christie, getting no love at a Super Bowl party, is shooting back at his critics after they claimed he knew the truth about the now infamous George Washington Bridge lane closures as they were happening. Banging the table in a news conference, Christie slammed the credibility of a former Port Authority official who made the claims. In an email that the New Jersey Governor’s office released to supporters Saturday, Christie said he felt that the claims being made by David Wildstein are just a move to help gain immunity from any possible prosecution.
Resorting to the sophmoric tactic of name calling, the email described Wildstein as a political animal who frightens people. Wildstein, who was a high school friend of Christie’s, was fired by Christie when allegations of political retribution surfaced. The email from Christie’s office shows an apparent rising sense of desperation in Trenton. In the email, accusations from many years ago are surfaced. Colin Reed, Christie’s spokesman, made a point of letting the media know that Wildstein “…was publicly accused by his high school social studies teacher of deceptive behavior.”
Wildstein’s attorney, Alan Zegas, sent a letter to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey requesting the proper authorities cover Wildstein’s legal fees. In the letter, Zegas wrote about existing evidence which connects Christie to the lane closures even as the streets were shut down. The letter was first reported by The New York Times. Christie accused the Times of “sloppy reporting.”
On January 9, Christie held a two-hour press conference. During the meeting with the media, he claimed ignorance about the situation behind the lane closings. He told reporters that he only learned of the closures through local media. The closure initially was reported as being part of a traffic study. It was subsequently learned that it actually was a scheme to jam traffic at the foot of the bridge, tying up commuters in revenge for a New Jersey Mayor who did not support Christie in his November reelection bid.
For Chris Christie, getting no love at a Super Bowl party might just be the beginning of the end of his political ambitions. Larry Sabato, a political scientist at UVA, said he didn’t think the headlines were justified by a letter which was released. However, while the claims contained in the letter won’t kill Christie’s complete chances at a White House run, if proof appears that he lied about what he knew with regard to the bridge closing, then “…it’s clear…”, Sabato said, “…that you don’t want him in the Oval Office.”
With New Jersey hosting the Super Bowl, the letter, and resulting emails, have turned into a national embarrassment for Christie. One source said that the public’s perception is vitally important, almost more important than whatever the reality is. This is more than a local incident.
Having won reelection in a landslide, Christie has often been viewed as a potential contender for the Republican Presidential nomination in 2016. Christie has just won reelection in a landslide. Since Bridgegate has come to light, Christie’s approval ratings have dropped sharply. New Jersey legislators have issued twenty subpoenas related to the bridge closing. While Christie has not yet been served, members of his inner sanctum have. Christie’s reelection campaign has been issued subpoenas as well.
Prosecutors are also looking into claims that Christie withheld Federal relief money following Hurricane Sandy. There have been accusations that Christie threatened to keep federal relief dollars unless Hoboken’s mayor approved a major redevelopment in the city. Christie denies any connection between the proposed project by The Rockefeller Group and the relief monies.
What about Chris Christie getting no love at a Super Bowl party? Well, Christie got a small taste of what may be in his future Saturday. Appearing at a Super Bowl ceremony, Christie was greeted with wisecracks and boos from the crowd along Super Bowl Boulevard. One man yelled to Christie that if he (Christie) would stop closing bridges, then the heckling would stop as well.
By Jerry Nelson