Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Federal Corruption Investigation Into Chris Christie Widens

Back in September, WNBC reporter Jonathan Dienst filed a story that said federal prosecutors had not found any link between NJ Governor Chris Christie and the closure of traffic lanes on the George Washington Bridge in the Bridgegate scandal.

Brian Williams, NBC Nightly News anchor, went so far as declare Christie free and clear in the Bridgegate scandal after that Dienst report, although Williams eventually had to walk that exoneration of Christie back when federal prosecutors balked at that characterization:

NBC says a report by Brian Williams on the network's Nightly News that federal charges have been ruled out for Gov. Chris Christie in the George Washington Bridge scandal was incorrect.

 Federal prosecutors say the investigation is ongoing and haven't made any announcement on Christie's status.

"The investigation is continuing,'' said Rebekah Carmichael, a spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney for New Jersey Paul Fishman.

Chrisite jumped all over the NBCreport to declare his innocence:

On New Jersey 101.5 FM Thursday night, Christie -- who was referring to the News 4 New York report, his spokesman, Kevin Roberts, said Friday -- said the report that there's no connection to him so far "comes as no shock to me" and that it affirmed what he has said since January. He also noted it was aligned with the conclusions of an outside review his office commissioned by the Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher law firm that has cost around $7.3 million.

But a report from the Wall Street Journal this morning shows why the Dienst report is misleading at best:

Federal prosecutors in New Jersey have subpoenaed Gov. Chris Christie’s re-election campaign for documents relating to government meetings that were allegedly canceled with Jersey City’s mayor after he declined to endorse the governor, according to people familiar with the matter.
The subpoenas, sent by U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman, are another sign that the yearlong probe into former allies of Mr. Christie has broadened beyond matters directly related to the George Washington Bridge lane closures.
A spokesman for Mr. Christie declined to comment. A lawyer representing the re-election campaign didn’t respond to requests for comment. 

The investigation into Chris Christie has widened far beyond the original bridge lane closures that brought federal prosecutors in - that much is clear.

They're not only looking at the Bridgegate scandal - who ordered the closures at the GWB, why, and how far up the chain did knowledge of the closures either before or after the fact go - but also the Hoboken shakedown by Christie's lieutenant governor, the conflict of interests involving Christie's pals at the Port Authority and now apparently Christie's alleged retaliation against Jersy City Mayor Steven Fulop for not endorsing Christie for re-election.

The Dienst report - seemingly leaked from the Christie administration itself or somebody from Christie's side - framed the case as just about the bridge lane closures.

But it's about so much more than that now - including this:

Prosecutors have focused their investigation, in part, on the operations of the Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs, a state department that acted as a liaison with lawmakers but has been accused of seeking political support for Mr. Christie’s re-election in 2013.

Investigators were probing the office’s operations and how staffers separated official business from campaign work, according to a person familiar with the probe. 

If you're looking for Chris Christie to go from orange sweater to orange jumpsuit, this news leaked today to the Wall Street Journal (perhaps by someone from Fulop's side in retaliation for the threatened PATH service cuts) should make you smile.

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