Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Monday, February 3, 2014

And In Christie Scandal News...

...some stories that made headlines today.

First, this one:

An attorney with close ties to Gov. Chris Christie's administration helped prepare an official who gave now-discredited testimony that lane closures at the George Washington Bridge were part of a traffic study, officials said.

Philip Kwon, a top attorney at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, spent parts of four to five days helping to prepare Bill Baroni, then the authority's deputy executive director and its top executive appointment by Mr. Christie, before he spoke to a New Jersey legislative committee on Nov. 25, a person familiar with the matter said.

An authority spokesman disputed that the preparations took five days and defended Mr. Kwon's work. 

"Meeting with a witness prior to testimony is a routine function of any lawyer and any attempt to assign ulterior motives to this general practice is unwarranted," the spokesman said.


 New Jersey Democrats have questioned why Mr. Baroni needed so much preparation before his committee testimony.


Sen. Loretta Weinberg, the co-chairwoman of the special committee investigating the scandal, said she would seek an explanation of Mr. Baroni's preparations. "What concerns me is why the Port Authority or any member of the Port Authority staff, if the allegation is true, would have to spend four or five days preparing somebody who told this story that is obviously incorrect," Ms. Weinberg said Sunday.
Mr. Kwon didn't respond to a request for comment. Mr. Baroni's attorney declined to comment.

And this one:

A member of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's administration who has been subpoenaed in an alleged political payback investigation has resigned.

Christina Genovese Renna left the governor's office Friday, the same day former Christie loyalist David Wildstein claimed to have evidence contradicting the governor's account of a lane closing operation, apparently to create traffic chaos as a political vendetta.

Renna reported to Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Kelly, who apparently set the lane closings in motion with an email to Wildstein.

Renna confirmed her resignation to The Associated Press through a statement Sunday from her lawyer, Henry Klingeman.

In it, Renna says she has been considering leaving since after the November election, which Christie won decisively.

Renna is among 17 people close to Christie subpoenaed by a legislative panel.

And this:

On Monday, the first of what are most likely thousands of pages of documents subpoenaed by the State Legislature from prominent members of the Christie administration were to be turned over to investigators.

But lawyers for many of those subpoenaed have been granted extensions. Even after all the documents are compiled, investigators will have to analyze them, which could take weeks.

“This will not happen as quickly as people anticipate,” said State Senator Loretta Weinberg, a Democrat and a chairwoman of the joint legislative committee leading the investigation.

 It is the third legislative committee that has been formed to look into the political machinations behind the closing of several lanes at the George Washington Bridge in September. The resulting traffic jam has become the gravest challenge of Mr. Christie’s political career.

First Read puts it in perspective:

Forget 2016, Christie’s top goal now is saving his governorship:  After the last 72 hours of new developments in the scandals hitting New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s administration, the political story here is no longer about whether Christie can survive to be a top presidential contender in 2016. Rather, it’s about whether he’ll be able to hold on to his governorship. For starters, former Christie Port Authority aide David Wildstein is now saying -- through his lawyer -- that “evidence exists” that Christie had knowledge of the lane closings in Fort Lee, NJ. Given that Wildstein appears eager to cooperate with investigators and tell his own story, who else follows suit? Former Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Kelly? Anyone else? It’s looking like it will be every man and woman for him/herself. (Wildstein didn’t produce any evidence, but he’s clearly in survival mode for himself. And that has to have the Christie folks in a mini panic, because who else could break?)

The Boston Herald also says Christie is finished as a presidential candidate:

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie can kiss his White House hopes goodbye as questions mount about what he knew about the Bridgegate scandal — a development that has pushed the one-time Republican frontrunner aside while opening doors for other candidates in 2016, political experts said.

“His chances are gone in a New Jersey minute,” said Boston University Professor Thomas Whalen. “I just don’t see him recovering. … This is a huge challenger who is out of the way.”

Stephen Farnsworth, a political science professor at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Va., said Christie has gone from the frontrunner who was out-polling Hillary Clinton, to just another “Republican want to be.”

“This situation, so far, has been nothing short of devastating to Christie’s presidential ambitions,” Farnsworth said.

I'm thinking given the trajectory of this story and the Hoboken story over the last few days, Christie is worried more about impeachment and/or jail than 2016.

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