By Francis Wilkinson | Bloomberg View | MAR 28, 2014
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie should ask for his money back. Or, rather, the taxpayers' money.
The report commissioned by the governor on the George Washington Bridge scandal was released yesterday. Spearheaded by former Rudolph Giuliani aide Randy Mastro and his law firm colleagues, the report reaches the exact conclusion that Christie had previously reached himself: The wackadoo lane closures on the bridge were exclusively the work of two rotten apples who were attempting to achieve, well, something about an unspecified “ulterior motive.”
Christie “had no prior knowledge of this lane-closure idea,” Mastro told reporters. How does Mastro know this? The rotten apples theory explains all.
It goes like this: Christie deputy chief of staff Bridget Kelly and David Wildstein, whom Christie had appointed to a $150,000 a year patronage job at the Port Authority, decided, for reasons no one else in Christie world apparently understands, to punish the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee, New Jersey, for, ostensibly, his failure to endorse Christie's re-election. And the method of punishment chosen was jamming traffic at the west entry to the George Washington Bridge.
It was Kelly who sent the Aug. 13 e-mail to Wildstein stating: “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.” Wildstein, who subsequently ordered the lanes closed, replied: “Got it.”
Just two crazy kids bringing traffic to a halt on the nation's busiest bridge. Was it love? Perhaps. Although that only explains the girl's actions, according to Mastro. (Wildstein, remember, is the high school loser now shunned by the cool Christie. Loser boys never get the girl.) Mastro speculated that Kelly was feeling blue over being dumped by Christie campaign manager Bill Stepien, who isn't mentioned much in the report. And because Stepien, who was Kelly's superior, and Kelly might not have been communicating well due to their relationship difficulties, Stepien is obviously above suspicion.
Our investigation also found that Bill Stepien (then the Governor’s campaign manager) and Bill Baroni (then the Deputy Executive Director of the Port Authority) knew of this idea in advance, but we found no evidence that they knew of the ulterior motive here, besides the claimed purpose of conducting a traffic study.
Yes, because statewide campaign managers are always informed of obscure traffic studies, but political operatives never share juicy details of political actions with their politician bosses or their political colleagues.
Baroni isn't mentioned much, either. The day the traffic came to a halt, Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich "phoned Wildstein’s Port Authority boss, Bill Baroni about an 'urgent matter of public safety in Fort Lee,'" the Mastro report stated. "Instead of returning the call, Baroni forwarded the message to Wildstein’s personal email account."
So one of Christie's top appointees at an institution he stocked with political hires gets a public official's phone call about an "urgent matter of public safety." And he forwards that message to the personal e-mail account of one of the two rotten apples.
It's almost -- almost -- as if Baroni might possibly have known something fishy was going on.
At Christie's landmark Jan. 9 news conference, the governor carefully presented the two rotten apples case. He singled out Kelly, calling her a liar a dozen different ways. His portrayal of Wildstein laid the basis for a future attack on Wildstein as resentful loser. Christie denigrated him at enormous, unseemly length. I suppose it's possible that the governor of a large state, at his moment of maximum peril, with his reputation, career and perhaps more on the line, deeply cares about who was cool in his high school. But I doubt it.
The report presents all aspects of the bridge story from Christie's point of view, as a busy man with no time for high school losers and their tales of traffic.
Wildstein even suggested he mentioned the traffic issue in Fort Lee to the Governor at a public event during the lane realignment -- a reference that the Governor does not recall and, even if actually made, would not have registered with the Governor in any event because he knew nothing about this decision in advance and would not have considered another traffic issue at one of the bridges or tunnels to be memorable.
You would expect lawyers from Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP to be better than that. If you're going to be paid $650 an hour to whitewash some implausible story, shouldn't you do a more sophisticated job? At times, the narrative is simply embarrassing:
The Governor became concerned about what he was hearing and demanded straight answers from his senior staff. On December 12, 2013, he had further inquiries made of Kelly and Stepien. Both denied any involvement in the decision to close these lanes.
Kelly and Stepien were part of Christie's inner circle. He "had further inquiries made" of them? What does that even mean? What kind of action -- and by whom? -- makes such tortured language necessary? And the flourish of the straight-talking gov demanding "straight answers" is too hackneyed to pass freshman comp.
And by December 2013, as hearsay and rumors filtered back to some in the Governor’s Office about Kelly’s possible involvement, there was follow-up and questioning of Kelly, who denied it.
Who would be the source of such rumors, months after the fact, about Kelly's involvement? Kelly had no legitimate role at the Port Authority. To blow Kelly's cover, someone had to have an inkling of what she was up to. But everyone in Christie world is so busy talking straight and doing public good, who had time to suspect her and her unfathomable ulterior motives?
We have not found any evidence of any other member of the Governor’s staff, besides Bridget Kelly, being involved in the decision to realign these George Washington Bridge toll lanes at Fort Lee. And we have not found any evidence of any other member of the Governor’s staff, besides Bridget Kelly, doing anything to cover up what happened here after the fact. There were members of the Governor’s staff who became aware of the lane realignment during or after the fact, but they understood from Wildstein or Baroni, apparently relying on information provided him by Wildstein, that this was a legitimate traffic study, no matter how misguided the Port Authority’s execution of it, and therefore an operational issue for the Port Authority to deal with, not the Governor’s Office.
Here's the best line of the whole report: "Governor Christie’s account of these events rings true."
Sentiment: Strong Buy
Beach maybe you don't get it-public officials are supposed to help things not make them worse on purpose. Christie hired a real POS-she was/is incompetent-4 hours in traffic-makes her a monster!!!
LEAPS OF FAITH, UNANSWERED QUESTIONS
American Bridge | Mar 27, 2014
The press conference today and accompanying report supposedly exonerating Chris Christie of any wrongdoing in the Bridgegate scandal make quite a few leaps of faith when it comes to accepting Christie’s self defense at face value, and leaves even more questions unanswered. Given that no original documents were released along with the report, and despite the $1 million price tag for New Jersey taxpayers of this investigation, we’re left with few answers and only more questions about Chris Christie’s involvement in this scandal. Here are our top five:
1) Attorney Randy Mastro asserted that Christie had no reason to remember discussions of bridge lane closings and resulting traffic with David Wildstein on September 11, 2013, but he also started that “people lie, documents don’t.” Why is Chris Christie any less likely to lie than David Wildstein?
2) Port Authority Chairman David Samson did not cooperate with this internal Bridgegate investigation. Will Chris Christie hold him accountable for refusing to follow Christie’s own directive that members of his administration would cooperate?
3) Why were questions about the Christie/Samson meeting in August 2013 ignored by Attorney Randy Mastro? When asked, Mastro responded, “If you give me your name and number, I’ll get back to you.”
4) Christie attorney Randy Mastro claimed he examined Christie’s phone logs and text messages, but he never discussed whether any messages from August and September 2013 were recovered. Does this mean there is evidence that Christie selectively deleted portions of his text message history?
5) When will the Christie administration publicly release all of the documentation they handed over to their attorneys for this sham investigation? Will the evidence provided for this investigation be turned over to the legislative committee investigating Bridegate?
Sentiment: Strong Buy
Re: "One of the biggest embarrassments I see right now is you elk, because you choose to stand and support politics instead of your country.(which is crying for help) Such a sad example you set."
Right dickw, you mean like the way at a time of crisis you stand up and support our President with extremist ideological rigidity beyond belief and total March hare madness to the point of being willing to seriously indulge bizarre and paranoid Manchurian Candidate idiocy such as:
"Is it possible Putin and his revamped KGB pulled off the ultimate ploy in espionage history. (Farfetched? I don't know, maybe, I fully expect the lefties to jump all over this, but what do those useful idiots know?) Sounds like the makings of a book or movie, huh? Has the nation's defense and security been breeched at the highest level? Just throwing out a supposition for others to chew on."
Sentiment: Strong Buy
FOX NEWS'S MEGYN KELLY IGNORES SEXISM IN INTERNAL BRIDGEGATE REPORT
The report faces heavy criticism for the "unusually personal" treatment of Bridget Anne Kelly, Christie's former deputy chief of staff.
Media Matters for America | March 31, 2014
UPDATE: The March 28 edition of The Kelly File featured a prerecorded interview with Christie. Although Kelly questioned Christie about the report, she made no mention of its sexist attacks on Bridget Anne Kelly. The program will air the final segment of the interview Monday. That segment seems unlikely to revisit the report, as Kelly said, "We'll discuss the challenges of a possible presidential run" for Christie.
MEGYN KELLY'S STAUNCH REJECTION OF SEXIST RHETORIC ON FOX RAISES THE QUESTION OF WHETHER SHE WILL PRESS GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-NJ) ON THE SEXIST TREATMENT OF HIS FORMER AIDE, BRIDGET ANNE KELLY, IN A NEW REPORT ON THE GEORGE WASHINGTON BRIDGE SCANDAL HE COMMISSIONED.
In the wake of the George Washington Bridge scandal, Christie commissioned the law firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher to investigate and find out who was responsible for the unnecessary lane closures that gnarled traffic for days on the busy bridge. The resulting report largely absolved Christie of responsibility for the lane closings, but has come under fire for the investigator's ties to the Christie administration and their failure to interview key witnesses.
The report also faced heavy criticism for the sexist, "unusually personal" treatment of Bridget Anne Kelly, Christie's former deputy chief of staff. Bridget Anne Kelly was not interviewed by the investigators, however the report nonetheless concluded that she was the only person in the governor's office involved in the lane closings and lobbed a number of personal, sexist attacks against her. From The New York Times (emphasis added):
Gov. Chris Christie, seeking to stanch the damage the scandal had caused to his political fortunes, fired her [Kelly] as his deputy chief of staff after that, calling her "stupid." But the report commissioned by Mr. Christie and released Thursday doubles down on a strategy of portraying Ms. Kelly as duplicitous, weeping frequently and dependent on men for approval and stability.
Though the lawyers who wrote the report did not interview her, they explain her conduct in unusually personal terms -- she is out of the office attending to a family member who had been hospitalized; a brief relationship "had cooled" at the "behest" of the man, Mr. Christie's campaign manager, Bill Stepien.
The report raises these details but does not explain how or why they would have prompted her to send the damning email. It simply concludes that "events in her personal life may have had some bearing on her subjective motivations and state of mind."
Ms. Kelly's friends also said that they were struck by what they felt was a gender bias in the report, noting that the personal language describing Ms. Kelly is not used to describe David Wildstein, even though he is pegged as her co-conspirator.
On the March 28 edition of Happening Now, two of Kelly's Fox News colleagues, contributors Judith Miller and Kristen Powers, denounced the report, saying it #$%$-shames" Bridget Anne Kelly with "extremely sexist references."
According to a March 28 Fox Nation post, Christie will go "one-on-one" with host Megyn Kelly on the March 28 edition of The Kelly File. Megyn Kelly has a history of denouncing sexism on her program, most notably tearing into Fox colleagues Erick Erickson and Lou Dobbs over sexist comments they made about a study on the rise of female breadwinners in the U.S.
In light of Kelly's willingness to stand up to sexism on her show, it will be interesting to see whether she uses her Fox News platform to take Christie to task for the report's reliance on sexist smears to place the blame for the bridge scandal squarely on the shoulders of Bridget Anne Kelly.
Sentiment: Strong Buy
Re: "elk do you live in NJ or are you just ripping him because you dont like Republicans."
In fact, acehole, I used to like Christie. As you recall, he was one of the few Repubs who was willing to sometimes stand up to the extreme RWNJs.
Sentiment: Strong Buy
Rob/Flop - If this is such a slam dunk - that Christie was aware of or involved in what happened - where's the proof? I'm not a Christie fan at all but ya gotta have something if you're gonna castrate the guy.
BRIDGET KELLY STRIKES BACK!
By karoli | Crooks and Liars | March 29, 2014
Bridget Anne Kelly issued a statement through her lawyer on Friday RESPONDING TO CHRIS CHRISTIE'S OWN REPORT SCAPEGOATING AND #$%$-SHAMING HER.
Bridget Anne Kelly has been completely silent since the Bridgegate cracked open, but SHE IS SILENT NO MORE. SPEAKING THROUGH HER ATTORNEY, SHE LASHED OUT AT CHRISTIE FOR HIS NASTY, BACKHANDED REPORT INSINUATING THAT SHE WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE ENTIRE SCANDAL BECAUSE SHE WAS A WOMAN SCORNED OR SOMETHING.
Calling the report “a preemptive strike” meant to “isolate Ms. Kelly and impugn her credibility,” Critchley said, “Ms. Kelly is not a liar. She is a single mother of four children who was deeply devoted and committed to her job at the Office of the Governor. She worked tirelessly to pursue the goals of the Office during her tenure.”
I'm not ready to nominate her for sainthood, but CHRISTIE'S DECISION TO SHOVEL ALL OF THIS ON HER IS ABSURD, UNBELIEVABLE, AND MONUMENTALLY STUPID. IT IS ALL OF THAT, AND ALSO A STRATEGIC DECISION INTENDED TO DISCREDIT HER BEFORE SHE OFFERS HER TESTIMONY IN THE CASE, WHICH COULD POSSIBLY BE DEVASTATING TO CHRIS CHRISTIE.
“Ms. Kelly's evidence could be critical to verifying either of the two competing versions of events,” he said, adding, “A PREEMPTIVE STRIKE TO ISOLATE MS. KELLY AND IMPUGN HER CREDIBILITY IS NOT SURPRISING,”
Even after all of this, Beltway pundits like Mark Halperin (cough!) predict that Chris Christie is still Republicans' best and greatest hope to win the GOP nomination and White House in 2016. How pathetic is that?
I hope Ms. Kelly unloads her side of the story and has backup to prove it. There's only one reason Chris Christie didn't talk to her personally before firing her: He didn't want to have any contact that he would have to testify to under oath later.
Sentiment: Strong Buy
Re: "Rob/Flop - If this is such a slam dunk - that Christie was aware of or involved in what happened - where's the proof? I'm not a Christie fan at all but ya gotta have something if you're gonna castrate the guy."
Here's one place the proof is, nobeach, and it will probably come out since one or more of three who know (Kelly, Wildstein, Stepien) will get immunity to tell the truth to the US Attorney General in NJ who is conducting the investigation that has real teeth.
BRIDGET ANNE KELLY'S LAWYER RESPONDS TO 'VENOMOUS' CHRISTIE REPORT
The Huffington Post | by Andrew Hart | 03/28/2014
The lawyer for Bridget Anne Kelly, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's former deputy chief of staff, issued a fierce defense of Kelly in a report on the George Washington Bridge lane closure scandal.
In a statement obtained by the Newark-based Star-Ledger newspaper, KELLY'S ATTORNEY MICHAEL CRITCHLEY CONDEMNED THE CHRISTIE-COMMISSIONED REPORT RELEASED ON THURSDAY, SAYING "THE REPORT'S VENOMOUS, GRATUITOUS, AND INAPPROPRIATE SEXIST REMARKS CONCERNING MS. KELLY HAVE NO PLACE IN WHAT IS ALLEGED TO BE A PROFESSIONAL AND INDEPENDENT REPORT."
He also hinted that, given the right circumstances, Kelly would cooperate with the investigation. "Ms. Kelly is not a liar," he said in the statement. "IF MS. KELLY WERE PROVIDED WITH THE APPROPRIATE PROCEDURAL SAFEGUARDS," HE WENT ON, SHE WOULD BE "FULLY COOPERATIVE" WITH THE PROBE.
The report cleared the Republican governor of wrongdoing in the Bridgegate scandal that closed Fort Lee, N.J.'s, access roads to the George Washington Bridge from Sept. 9 to Sept. 12. The report blamed the closure on Kelly and former Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Official David Wildstein. The report also mentioned that Kelly was involved in a relationship with former Christie campaign manager Bill Stepien.
Christie fired Kelly from her job in January after emails came to light connecting her to the closures.
Sentiment: Strong Buy
Christie, likes to call people stupid. Well, at this point in time, listening and watching him make his denials, throwing his staff under the bus, hiring his own lawyers with taxpayer money, all, I, can say is; stupid...stupid...stupid
Rob. I can't believe I'm doing this but it only proves I am more open minded than you so................. with my eyes shut tight and my teeth clenched..............
"bump for rob"
Whew, I just don't like Christie.
OR watching a brilliant person in full survival mode show his true colors. No ownership or responsibility of the mess he created. Don't the RWNJs want and demand ownership of everything that happened under Obama....yet here, they give Donut boy a full pass.
DAMNING DETAIL IN BRIDGE SCANDAL MAY BE HARD TO CONFIRM
By WILLIAM K. RASHBAUM | NY Times | MARCH 28, 2014
There were two white tents not far from ground zero on that day, standing apart in silent testament to the dysfunction of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which had erected them. Some of the leaders of the bistate agency gathered — in separate tents — before the ceremony to mark the 12th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack and honor those who died.
Coffee and breakfast pastries were served in what amounted to spacious V.I.P. areas, accommodating guests of the authority’s bifurcated leadership, high-ranking elected and appointed officials and others from their respective sides of the Hudson River.
In the New Jersey tent, Gov. Chris Christie stood with his wife, Mary Pat, and several of his closest aides, according to people who were there. His day had begun, by his own account, with what has become a somber ritual for the families of New Jersey’s Sept. 11 victims: They gathered in Liberty State Park about 6:30 a.m. and he accompanied them on a ferry across the Hudson to attend the memorial service in Lower Manhattan.
At some point, maybe for a few seconds, maybe for longer, Mr. Christie encountered and exchanged words with David Wildstein, one of his top lieutenants at the authority. Mr. Christie has told investigators that he recalled a conversation, but not what was said. A photograph shows them together, apparently after they had left the tent: Mr. Christie is looking away from Mr. Wildstein, and into the camera, and appears to be talking; Mr. Wildstein’s mouth is agape. He looks amused.
David Samson, the Port Authority’s chairman, appointed by Mr. Christie, is in shirt sleeves and seems to be smiling. One woman’s head is thrown back, perhaps in laughter. People around them are smiling, a jovial moment on such a dark day.
The exchange that day between the governor and Mr. Wildstein could yield the single most explosive detail in the continuing scandal that has mushroomed from the closing of two of three George Washington Bridge access lanes in Fort Lee, N.J., into several investigations focused on who was responsible. Mr. Wildstein has told people on several occasions that he informed Mr. Christie at the memorial that the lanes had been closed, something Mr. Christie has repeatedly said he did not know.
The lanes were first closed on Sept. 9, creating enormous commuter traffic backups, and were still closed on Sept. 11. They were not reopened until two days later. If any evidence comes to light that Mr. Christie had indeed been told about the shutdown on Sept. 11, it would raise questions as to why he failed to order the lanes reopened — and why he was discussing such things at the memorial service.
Mr. Wildstein’s description of the Sept. 11 encounter with Mr. Christie, which he provided to the governor’s press secretary, Michael Drewniak, in December, is cited in the report of an investigation, commissioned by Governor Christie and financed by taxpayers, into the lane closings. The investigation, the results of which were announced on Thursday and detailed in a 360-page report, exonerated Mr. Christie, but critics were quick to point out that it was conducted by friendly lawyers and that it left many questions unanswered.
Interviews with Port Authority officials and others who were at the memorial that day confirmed that the encounter took place. But so far, no one beyond Mr. Wildstein has confirmed his recollection. And if no one else was involved in the conversation, or happened to overhear it, it seems almost impossible to know what was said.
The report of the investigation, which was conducted by the law firm of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher and led by Randy M. Mastro, who was a deputy mayor in the administration of Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and a prosecutor under Mr. Giuliani when he was United States attorney in Manhattan, includes several pages focused on the Sept. 11 encounter.
The report describes a conversation in December in which Mr. Drewniak told Mr. Christie and Mr. Christie’s chief of staff at the time, Kevin O’Dowd, about Mr. Wildstein’s account of the conversation with Mr. Christie in the tent. The governor, according to the report, acknowledged that he had briefly spoken with Mr. Wildstein at the Sept. 11 event but did not recall any reference to lane closings, a traffic study or traffic problems.
The report said there was “no evidence we have seen that the governor and Wildstein actually had any substantive discussion of the Fort Lee lane realignment at that public event.” Moreover, the report seeks to dismiss the possibility that Mr. Wildstein would have approached the governor in a public setting before the memorial service when, it said, Mr. Christie was with other officials and constituents who were “seeking photographs and handshakes.” The report said it “seems incredible” that “anything substantive or inculpatory would have been discussed.”
“In any event, even if credited, any passing reference by Wildstein — made in a social, public setting at the time of a public 9/11 Memorial event — to a traffic issue in Fort Lee would not have been meaningful or memorable to the governor,” the report said. “Indeed, it seems highly unlikely such a brief mention, even if made by Wildstein to the governor, would have registered with the governor at all.”
But several people who were with the governor that day or observed him said he and the people accompanying him — Mr. Wildstein, Mr. Samson, Bill Baroni, all three of whom have now resigned from the Port Authority, and at one point, the agency’s police superintendent, Michael A. Fedorko — had ample opportunity to speak privately.
Apparently because of the sweltering temperatures of the late-summer day, Mr. Christie and his aides took refuge in an air-conditioned headquarters vehicle — essentially a large camper, provided by the Office of Emergency Management, where they spent much of the morning before the ceremony.
In keeping with Port Authority’s bifurcated practice, a similar amenity was provided for New York officials.
Sentiment: Strong Buy