The DN editorial board is brutal on him this morning:
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men will never put Chris Christie together again if New Jersey’s governor fails to refute the accusation that he knew of the George Washington Bridge lane closures as they were taking place.
In that event, Christie’s governorship is over and he should prepare to face a federal criminal probe as a private citizen. Resignation would be a must. Otherwise, impeachment would be a snap.
Christie stands on the brink of ruin thanks to David Wildstein, the high school pal who, as his Port Authority enforcer, ordered the closures that plunged Fort Lee into four days of gridlock.
Wildstein’s lawyer on Friday released a letter that paints Christie as one of the most bold-faced liars in modern political history. And Christie’s response, amounting to one great big dodge, did nothing to dispel the notion.
Attorney Alan Zegas stated that “evidence exists . . . tying Mr. Christie to having knowledge of the lane closures, during the period when the lanes were closed, contrary to what the governor stated publicly in a two-hour press conference.”
Here are just some of Christie’s declarations at that marathon grilling:
“I had no knowledge of this — of the planning, the execution or anything about it — and that I first found out about it after it was over.”
“I would never have come out here four or five weeks ago and made a joke about these lane closures if I had ever had an inkling that anyone on my staff would have been so stupid but to be involved and then so deceitful as to just — just to not disclose the information of their involvement to me when directly asked by their superior.”
“I knew nothing about this. And until it started to be reported in the papers about the closure, but even then I was told this was a traffic study.”
Coupling unequivocal denials of that kind with sanctimonious claims of true-blue, on-the-merits governing, Christie has tried to ride out mounting evidence of thuggishness and cronyism at the heart of his administration.
Emerging facts suggest that Christie forces applied Port cash on projects that helped connected pals, while Hoboken’s mayor accused Christie’s Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno of threatening to withhold Hurricane Sandy funds unless the mayor acted on a politically connected development.
Arising out of complex transactions, the charges and denials swirl indefinitely. What Wildstein’s lawyer has said is different. He released his letter as part of an effort to have the Port Authority pay Wildstein’s legal bills, apparently on the ground that he was acting in his official capacity, on orders from above, when he closed the lanes.
Wildstein either has the evidence that Christie knew of the closures or he doesn’t. He can either “prove the inaccuracy of some” of Christie’s statements about Wildstein or he can’t. Wildstein must release the full file.
Meanwhile, it was laughable of the Christie administration to claim that the “lawyer confirms what the governor has said all along — he had absolutely no prior knowledge of the lane closures before they happened.”
Wildstein never alleged “prior knowledge.” He claims Christie was aware of the closures while they were in place. Resolution of that huge conflict will determine whether Christie forfeited his governorship as man whose ego, ambition and tough-guy image threw honesty off the bridge.
It really does come down to this - if Wildstein has documented proof to back up the claim that Christie made false statements about Wildstein at his press conference in January, that Christie knew about the lane closures as they were taking place, then he's finished.
It's hard to fathom how Christie could come out for a two hour press conference and lie about something like that while throwing Wildstein under a bus, full well knowing that Wildstein would now have the impetus to fight back against Christie.
But desperate people do desperate things, and if Christie felt desperate enough in early January, he just might have done that.
In any case, we'll know soon enough if Wildstein has the goods on Christie and, as Wildstein looks to make a deal for immunity, other actors in this melodrama make look to do the same - Baroni, Stephien, and/or Kelly may decide it is no longer in their interest to hold back some information they have if Wildstein is dumping his info on prosecutors.
Christie seems to be in tough straits here, but I'm not quite ready to put a fork in him and declare him done.
Still, as the GWB mess gets worse for him, he also has the Hoboken/Rockefeller Group scandal and the Sandy slush fund scandal growing as well.
Three full scandals dogging Chris Christie less than three months after he was re-elected by 22.5%, made head of the Republican Governor's Association and declared the early frontrunner for the 2016 GOP presidential race.
Now it's starting to look like he'll be lucky if he avoids prison.
How quickly things change.