Did Christie succeed in tamping down Bridgegate?

posted at 3:21 pm on January 9, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

What exactly did Governor Chris Christie need to do to put the erupting scandal in New Jersey in his rear-view mirror, so to speak? The common consensus before his epic press conference this morning was that Christie (a) had to apologize, (b) fire somebody, and (c) hope that it doesn’t go any farther than that. With Christie announcing the termination of key aide Bridget Kelly and the withdrawal of former campaign manager Bill Stepien from his bid to lead the state GOP, Christie has at least covered (a) and (b). Is that enough? The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza thinks so — at least for the moment:

1. He was remorseful and apologetic. There was no hedged apology, no attempt to foist all of the blame on his staff. (He foisted blame on his staff a-plenty but also took plenty on himself.)  His tone, which represented a major shift from the brashness and bluster on which Christie has built his national reputation, seemed real and heartfelt. He came across as genuinely surprised to learn about the actions of Bridget Anne Kelly. He used words like “heart-broken”, “humiliated” and “sad” over and over again. For someone like Christie — for whom that tone doesn’t come naturally — he came across as sincere.

2. He fired people.  Say what you will about sacrificial lambs but they work.  There’s no way that Bridget Kelly was going to keep her job after the emails she sent were revealed. But getting rid of Bill Stepien, a very close political ally of Christie, cuts deep in the Christie organization.  Jettisoning both Kelly and Stepien and the rhetoric he used to describe them — he called Kelly’s actions “stupid” and “deceitful” — effectively channeled the anger that people feel about these folks who quite clearly repaid a political vendetta at the expense of the people of Fort Lee.

3. He took questions. Then took some more questions. Then even more. It became clear as the press conference wore on (and on) that Christie and his team had decided beforehand that he was going to stay at the podium until no reporter (or anyone else) in the room could think of any more questions. That seems like the right approach — get out everything you can in a single day and make clear that you are open and ready to answer whatever is asked of you. As the presser wore on, some of the more “traditional” Christie began to peek out — he could have done without his answer on knowing David Wildstein in high school — but we still think politicians are better off going long rather than short when it comes to press conferences called to address controversies.

In fact, he took so many questions that some reporters began complaining on Twitter about the length of the press conference — even though that was dictated by the continuing questions from the press. But even though Cillizza thinks Christie did as well as he could with what he has at the moment, the real danger now is either (a) getting blindsided by more unknown revelations about staff involvement in “Bridgegate,” or (b) anything that ties him to either the retribution or prior knowledge of it.

One has to presume that Christie would have inoculated himself against what is analogous to a perjury trap, something with which a former prosecutor would be very familiar. And in part, that’s why the length of the press conference matters — to show that he has nothing to hide, and nothing to fear from questions. If that’s the case — still a big if — then he’s probably defused the worst part of this scandal, and the focus will shift to his underlings. If not, then nothing said in this press conference will help him anyway.

Nevertheless, it doesn’t exactly help Christie to have his former aide David Wildstein repeatedly take the Fifth Amendment in a legislative hearing, to which a court forced him to appear earlier in the day:

Ex-Port Authority official David Wildstein told a state assembly panel on Thursday that he was asserting his right not to testify on the George Washington Bridge scandal engulfing New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s administration.

Messages from Wildstein were among those released in documents Wednesday as part of state lawmakers’ investigation into the closure of lanes onto the bridge in Fort Lee, N.J., in September. Democrats allege the closures, which cause dangerous traffic jams for days, were retaliation by Christie allies after the Democratic mayor of the town declined to endorse the Republican governor for reelection. …

“On the advice of counsel, I assert my right to remain silent,” Wildstein said in response to several questions from Chairman John Wisniewski at the beginning of the hearing on Thursday, shortly after Christie ended his press conference on the controversy.

Normally, once a witness takes the Fifth, a legislative panel will dismiss him, but the panel instead forced Wildstein and his attorney Alan Zegas to remain and repeatedly invoke the Fifth. One panel member urged Wildstein not to “be the fall guy,” which gives a sense of where this effort is headed. The panel then decided to hold Wildstein in criminal contempt, which is a ridiculous overreach fueled by their assertion that a state transparency law overrides the Fifth Amendment. Good luck making that argument in court, folks. Now this panel looks like a kangaroo court intent on getting a pound of flesh from Christie rather than doing actual legislative oversight.

Robert Costa live-blogged the hearing, and made this observation:

Wildstein’s decision is a breaking point in the state legislature’s investigation. With Wildstein — per the e-mails an alleged direct participant in the Fort Lee closure — refusing to talk, Christie’s promise to have full disclosure of his administration’s involvement has been challenged.

Well, not really, although people will make that argument. Christie has no more power to force people to testify against themselves as the legislative panel does. Christie pledged transparency, and he has to meet that standard, but the invocation of the Fifth is out of his control. Since Wildstein is no longer in the Christie administration, there is no sanction within his power to apply, either, unlike Lois Lerner at the IRS at the time she took the Fifth.

What do readers think? Did Christie succeed in answering for Bridgegate? Take the poll:


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

If everyone involved stays bought, he should survive it.

portlandon on January 9, 2014 at 3:24 PM

Who cares?

myiq2xu on January 9, 2014 at 3:24 PM

Fast and Furious = Not Scandal
IRS Targeting = Not Scandal
Benghazi = Not Scandal
.
Traffic Cones on a Bridge = National Scandal of epic proportions.

jaydee_007 on January 9, 2014 at 3:24 PM

My opinion of Christie is not much different than my opinion of Hillary, Boehner, Obama, Pelosi, McConnell, or any other corrupt crony politician.

FloatingRock on January 9, 2014 at 3:26 PM

Did Christie succeed in tamping down Bridgegate?

He’s sitting on it now, so no problem!

Marcola on January 9, 2014 at 3:26 PM

In fact, he took so many questions that some reporters began complaining on Twitter about the length of the press conference — even though that was dictated by the continuing questions from the press.

They don’t deserve to be called the press any more. Just a bunch of whiny little progs.

Flange on January 9, 2014 at 3:27 PM

Fast and Furious = Not Scandal
IRS Targeting = Not Scandal
Benghazi = Not Scandal
.
Traffic Cones on a Bridge = National Scandal of epic proportions.

Ain’t that the truth!

sandee on January 9, 2014 at 3:27 PM

Wow, check out the guy on the right.

ToddPA on January 9, 2014 at 3:29 PM

Why does every new scandal have to end with gate?

Mike Morrissey on January 9, 2014 at 3:30 PM

Just play this for the media governor…

It wasn’t YOU, right?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1i32RiGgwY

ToddPA on January 9, 2014 at 3:31 PM

Why does every new scandal have to end with gate?

Mike Morrissey on January 9, 2014 at 3:30 PM

That’s the MSM’s tribute for it’s Holy Grail moment: Watergate.

Bitter Clinger on January 9, 2014 at 3:35 PM

Wrong question Ed.

Did he tamp down the Bob Gates book and Benghazi Gate.

katy on January 9, 2014 at 3:36 PM

Fast and Furious = Not Scandal
IRS Targeting = Not Scandal
Benghazi = Not Scandal
.
Traffic Cones on a Bridge = National Scandal of epic proportions.

jaydee_007 on January 9, 2014 at 3:24 PM

Once you check the letters after the names it all begins to make perfect sense.

Kafir on January 9, 2014 at 3:36 PM

That’s the MSM’s tribute for it’s Holy Grail moment: Watergate.

Bitter Clinger on January 9, 2014 at 3:35 PM

I’m actually hoping we’ll have a scandal that somehow involves a gate so we can then have Gategate.

Bitter Clinger on January 9, 2014 at 3:37 PM

No matter if you like him or don’t he faced the press.

CWchangedhisNicagain on January 9, 2014 at 3:37 PM

Obama inflicts pain with the whole shutdown, YAWN from the msm.

rob verdi on January 9, 2014 at 3:38 PM

I’m actually hoping we’ll have a scandal that somehow involves a gate so we can then have Gategate.

Bitter Clinger on January 9, 2014 at 3:37 PM

How about a scandal over celestial bodies: HeavensGate.

Kafir on January 9, 2014 at 3:38 PM

Fast and Furious = Not Scandal
IRS Targeting = Not Scandal
Benghazi = Not Scandal
.
Traffic Cones on a Bridge = National Scandal of epic proportions.

jaydee_007 on January 9, 2014 at 3:24 PM

This is the second day and they put the S-word on it. The press hemmed and hawed whether or not each of those deserved the big, weight, cruel, S-word.

It was a nasty and gratuitous thing to do. But I gave my wife last night a prediction that I’ve already seen fulfilled: the implication that you’re gullible or dishonest if you don’t think this goes all the way up to Christie (heck, it might).

And yet again the old Dem double standard, if you cannot make a direct connection between Obama and the IRS, then you’re a foul liar for trying to connect them. And if you cannot make the leap between Christie and his staff, you’re gullible or worse.

I hate this, because the American public can’t see through this cloud of crap anymore. I probably would have voted for anybody but Christie in the primaries. So I don’t really care what happens to this guy, I just hate seeing this cycle over and over again.

Axeman on January 9, 2014 at 3:38 PM

Having an Aide take the Fifth (looking at you Lois Lerner) is never a good sign. Sort of the gift that can keep on giving well into the future.

Johnnyreb on January 9, 2014 at 3:40 PM

How about a scandal over celestial bodies: HeavensGate.

Kafir on January 9, 2014 at 3:38 PM

Or one concerning the building of a border fence (I can dream, can’t I?) called FenceGate.

Bitter Clinger on January 9, 2014 at 3:40 PM

Why does every new scandal have to end with gate?

Mike Morrissey on January 9, 2014 at 3:30 PM

Because that way they can always remind you of 1) Watergate and 2) the party of Watergate : the Republicans.

Also, in a way, it expresses a faint wish for journalists that this would blow up like Watergate and they could be the new Woodward and Bernstein.

Axeman on January 9, 2014 at 3:40 PM

i think he did exactly what he needed to do. i really don’t see this situation hurting him unless there is actual proof that he did anything.

Why does every new scandal have to end with gate?

Mike Morrissey on January 9, 2014 at 3:30 PM

i’m so used to every scandal being called “-gate” that it doesn’t bother me, lol.

Sachiko on January 9, 2014 at 3:41 PM

If everyone involved stays bought, he should survive it.

portlandon on January 9, 2014 at 3:24 PM

If everyone’s story stays the same he will survive. But if the heat gets too hot and someone cuts a deal, and proves he lied, it’s over.

Tasha on January 9, 2014 at 3:41 PM

I’m actually hoping we’ll have a scandal that somehow involves a gate so we can then have Gategate.

Bitter Clinger on January 9, 2014 at 3:37 PM

i was going to say the same thing haha

Sachiko on January 9, 2014 at 3:42 PM

Short answer Ed is that Christie…correctly…shown that any problem in an executive office should be adressed and heads should roll.

They did and thats part of it.

His problem…for the next news cycle at least…is that as long as he claims to be a Republican (squish or not) the NE media Axis will hound him to do…something.

SO far no credible proof that Christie had prior knowledge of this half-assed “revenge political porn”…sure e-mails, testimony, etc COULD surface that show otherwise, but as of today, he’s shown that he IS willing to lop off heads when needed.

Like him or not, he’s shown Leadership when needed, for that I give him kudos…I would also give kudos (in a backhanded way) to the press for doing a half assed job in “investigating” this…but where were all the sleuths when Benghazi, F&F, …hell the IRS/Tea Party meme is being recycled?

Yeah…:crickets:

BlaxPac on January 9, 2014 at 3:42 PM

I expected the media to eventually turn on Governor Soprano and tear him to pieces, but not until he won the GOP nomination.

myiq2xu on January 9, 2014 at 3:42 PM

SQUIRREL!

22044 on January 9, 2014 at 3:43 PM

How about a scandal involving trading partners like Reggie for Michelle? call it SwingingGate

DanMan on January 9, 2014 at 3:43 PM

Did Christie succeed in tamping down Bridgegate?

Doubtful.

The left now has one ‘gate finger to point at the right which will distract the public from noticing the three ‘gate fingers pointing back.

Being stuck in traffic seems to be more important to the left than running guns to Mexico, the IRS targeting conservatives, or four dead Americans in Benghazi.

rukiddingme on January 9, 2014 at 3:46 PM

How about a scandal involving trading partners like Reggie for Michelle? call it SwingingGate

DanMan on January 9, 2014 at 3:43 PM

I don’t think it was Michelle who got the Birthday present.

MontanaMmmm on January 9, 2014 at 3:47 PM

Or one concerning the building of a border fence (I can dream, can’t I?) called FenceGate.

Bitter Clinger on January 9, 2014 at 3:40 PM

You could lump all of obozo’s scandals together and just call it FloodGate.

Flange on January 9, 2014 at 3:48 PM

Hmmmm….
Bridgegate vs. people dying in Benghazi
Hmmmm….
Bridgegate vs. the Benghazi coverup and lying about it.
Hmmmm….
Bridgegate vs. people dying on the Mexican border due to Fast and Furious
Hmmmm….
Bridgegate vs. millions of people losing their (promised) health insurance
Hmmmm….
Bridgegate vs. IRS targeting the President’s “enemies”
Hmmmm….
Bridgegate vs. Billions lost on “renewable energy” fiascos.
Hmmmm….
Bridgegate vs. Billions lost on bailouts for GM and others.
Hmmmm….

Christian Conservative on January 9, 2014 at 3:49 PM

It will be fun to watch as this “me-too” RINO is flayed alive by the media and the Dem kleptocracy in NJ. RINOs will never learn that it’s a one way street and they are playthings and targets of convenience for the Left.

wraithby on January 9, 2014 at 3:49 PM

Wrong question Ed.

Did he tamp down the Bob Gates book and Benghazi Gate.

katy on January 9, 2014 at 3:36 PM

Bingo!

wyntre9 on January 9, 2014 at 3:51 PM

Sure, he dodged this bullet.

He should keep his current job. For a long time. At least three more consecutive terms.

ElectricPhase on January 9, 2014 at 3:51 PM

Oops! Didn’t know Jersey was term limited, sorry. Maybe after his second term, he could take over for Jared Fogle.

ElectricPhase on January 9, 2014 at 3:56 PM

He’s going down…

OmahaConservative on January 9, 2014 at 3:57 PM

Christie should come out and say it was done to fix inequality. The left would be over it in a nanosecond.

nobar on January 9, 2014 at 3:59 PM

I don’t think it was Michelle who got the Birthday present.

yep. My hunch is Reggie came to town. Not that there’s anything wrong with that…

DanMan on January 9, 2014 at 3:59 PM

He’s going down…

OmahaConservative on January 9, 2014 at 3:57 PM

Well I sure as heck don’t see him going up.

upinak on January 9, 2014 at 3:59 PM

upinak on January 9, 2014 at 3:59 PM

Hey! Good to see ya’ darlin’

OmahaConservative on January 9, 2014 at 4:02 PM

Bridgegate? Really? Does every dumb scandal have to be a ‘gate’?

Could somebody have a scandal about gates so we could have ‘Gategate’ and just get it all over with?

trigon on January 9, 2014 at 4:05 PM

Dang. Bitter beat me to that and I didn’t see it.

trigon on January 9, 2014 at 4:06 PM

He’s going down…

OmahaConservative on January 9, 2014 at 3:57 PM

I don’t like or trust him but this kind of stuff is infuriating!

David Gregory ✔ @davidgregory
Follow

.@peterbakernyt isn’t the burden for him to prove he didn’t create an atmosphere where underlings thought this was okay? #TweetThePress
12:06 PM – 9 Jan 2014

MontanaMmmm on January 9, 2014 at 4:07 PM

I’m actually hoping we’ll have a scandal that somehow involves a gate so we can then have Gategate.

Bitter Clinger on January 9, 2014 at 3:37 PM

How about Tollgate?

forest on January 9, 2014 at 4:09 PM

MontanaMmmm on January 9, 2014 at 4:07 PM

Agreed…

OmahaConservative on January 9, 2014 at 4:09 PM

So Christie had no idea why his high-school friend, and Baroni, his appointment at PA resigned? He never thought to ask them until when, yesterday?

He’s also the only person on the planet right now that thinks there may have been a “traffic study”.

inklake on January 9, 2014 at 4:11 PM

Curious………….
He didn’t sleep for 2 nights
and found out about the
scandal yesterday morning ?
Humm……

Lucano on January 9, 2014 at 4:12 PM

It’s hard for me to believe he knew nothing about it and that his underlings would do something so foolishly dangerous to him without his OK.

But besides this, remember that he unapologetically dismissed closing lanes on a very busy bridge for four days (for vindictiveness!) as no big deal! Just a “couple of cones”. How stupid. This is a politician to trust as far as you can throw him.

Chessplayer on January 9, 2014 at 4:16 PM

Glad to see you’re okay, inklake. We’ve missed you on all the NSA threads, btw.

rogerb on January 9, 2014 at 4:18 PM

So the left/media is going to pummel Christie for creating an atmosphere that gives implicit permission to underlings to go after the opposition, when that argument about Obama and the IRS witch hunt was so roundly dismissed?

Of course they are.

Meredith on January 9, 2014 at 4:24 PM

Christie knows the lesson well. It’s not the crime; it’s the cover up. He’s not covering up. He takes the inevitable pain now to prevent the festering wound later. It’s called Leadership, something that’s lacking in Washington.

Certainly this is a stain on his record, but it can be washed off.

hadsil on January 9, 2014 at 4:24 PM

I wonder if Governor Traffic Jam got this idea when he “slow jammed” with Jimmy Fallon this summer?

The best thing about this is that its the first time ever the media decided to say something negative about him. It should tone down the bogus polling we have seen lately on him at least.

The man is a Frankenstein monster originally created by some phony videos of him bullying some low level union member. Careful what bullies you create is the lesson I think.

Unfortunately, as with all mass with huge momentum, its going to take more then this to keep this monster from the nomination. I recommend we pick up our torches and head to the castle STILL.

KMav on January 9, 2014 at 4:26 PM

How Christie responds to the scandal is more significant to his presidential timber than the original stupid, counter-productive and immature actions of underlings.

So far, he looks very presidential.

matthew8787 on January 9, 2014 at 4:32 PM

If I lived there I would want to know why no one on the crew who was actually blocking the lanes or their supervisors knowing no work was scheduled didn’t question it. Then didn’t call the news media when they got no answer and saw what was happening. I understand this is the busiest bridge in the US.

CW20 on January 9, 2014 at 4:37 PM

How Christie responds to the scandal is more significant to his presidential timber than the original stupid, counter-productive and immature actions of underlings – WHICH CHRISTIE EXPLICTLY ORDERED, BUT THERE ARE NO RECORDS OF…….YET…

So far, he looks very presidential like a pompous ass.

matthew8787 on January 9, 2014 at 4:32 PM

FIFY…….

williamg on January 9, 2014 at 4:37 PM

Why does every new scandal have to end with gate?

Mike Morrissey on January 9, 2014 at 3:30 PM

…I’d prefer ‘fence’ myself!

KOOLAID2 on January 9, 2014 at 4:38 PM

I wonder if Governor Traffic Jam got this idea when he “slow jammed” with Jimmy Fallon this summer?

BWAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!

williamg on January 9, 2014 at 4:38 PM

The best thing about this is that its the first time ever the media decided to say something negative about him.

KMav on January 9, 2014 at 4:26 PM

Nah. I’m pretty sure they tried early on. I think one or two stories even tried to make him look like a bully (he has an R, after all). But when his “no-nonsense” (back then) attitude appealed to people, they kinda knocked it off.

It’s definitely the first time since hugging their idol.

Axeman on January 9, 2014 at 4:43 PM

So the left/media is going to pummel Christie for creating an atmosphere that gives implicit permission to underlings to go after the opposition, when that argument about Obama and the IRS witch hunt was so roundly dismissed?

Of course they are.

Meredith on January 9, 2014 at 4:24 PM

If he’d just go ahead and stick a D after his name, that problem would be solved.

Bitter Clinger on January 9, 2014 at 4:44 PM

Good good riddance to Christie. He is one of the biggest RINO in the GOP. A major threat to freedom IMO. The liberals are doing us a big favor.

jdun on January 9, 2014 at 4:51 PM

Nah. I’m pretty sure they tried early on.

Axeman on January 9, 2014 at 4:43 PM

If you can’t remember the story then they didn’t really try.

KMav on January 9, 2014 at 4:52 PM

Fast and Furious = Not Scandal
IRS Targeting = Not Scandal
Benghazi = Not Scandal
.
Traffic Cones on a Bridge = National Scandal of epic proportions.

jaydee_007 on January 9, 2014 at 3:24 PM

this right here….

lsm brings on dem after dem criticizing his presser, natch

cmsinaz on January 9, 2014 at 4:53 PM

ED:

Now this panel looks like a kangaroo court intent on getting a pound of flesh from Christie rather than doing actual legislative oversight.

Comparatively speaking… A pound flesh from Christie is … Oh never mind.

Amadeus on January 9, 2014 at 4:59 PM

How about a scandal where the government was improperly billing private citizens – BillGate

asc85 on January 9, 2014 at 5:00 PM

Could somebody have a scandal about gates so we could have ‘Gategate’ and just get it all over with?

trigon on January 9, 2014 at 4:05 PM

How about Gatesgate? Didn’t he write a book this week?

monalisa on January 9, 2014 at 5:16 PM

I am getting so sick and tired of the antics of these dumb-ass politicians that I now couldn’t care less about any of them.

rplat on January 9, 2014 at 5:21 PM

fyi, because it’s better, – by the power of Three Sources (http://www.threesources.com/archives/012596.html) this is to be known as Bridgeghazi.

Terri G on January 9, 2014 at 5:28 PM

The plan to block traffic as punishment for the democratic mayor for not endorsing the Republican Governor, has to be on the list of dumbest way to carry out a vendetta in human history. That is why Christie had nothing to do with it. It us just too stupid. It is something a union does when they are having a work action. Dump trash in the street or have an Occupy protest on a bridge not a park.

tjexcite on January 9, 2014 at 5:30 PM

Good good riddance to Christie. He is one of the biggest RINO in the GOP. A major threat to freedom IMO. The liberals are doing us a big favor.

jdun on January 9, 2014 at 4:51 PM

Big favor.

And…I hope they succeed.

Christie will be so so so wrong for the GOP in 2016.

He seriously needs to approach the Clintons to be Hillary’s Veep.

Dynamite ticket.

Two statists.

KirknBurker on January 9, 2014 at 5:37 PM

Amazing that this is a ‘national story’ with the amount of fervor being shown.

Fast and Furious. *yawn*
Benghazi. *yawn*
IRS targeting conservatives. *yawn*
Five years of bald-faced lying about Obamacare. *yawn*
Great swathes of unconstitutional power grabbing and EO issuance. *yawn*
Obama willfully using US troops and deaths as political pawns. *yawn*

‘Bridgegate’. OMGSTOPTHEPRESSESTHISISHUGE

People were fired immediately, and it doesn’t seem to actually have anything to do with Christie himself.

You know, as opposed to no one being fired for any Obama scandals, and him being literally the mouthpiece and having a personal involvement with many of his own scandals.

Good grief.

Midas on January 9, 2014 at 6:35 PM

rogerb
Thanks.. between working and spending time freezing in the dog park (the only job that counts as far as dog is concerned), it’s hard. But thanks and I do tweet with the same screen-name.

happy new year,

inklake on January 9, 2014 at 6:45 PM

>That is why Christie had nothing to do with it. It us just too stupid.

And Nixon was going to win in a landslide too – so why the need for Watergate.. it’s called hubris.

inklake on January 9, 2014 at 6:47 PM

There are reasons to withhold support from Christie, but this has all the earmarks of a ginned up “scandal” and Conservatives shouldn’t get involved. Why help Hillary Clinton? If it came down to Christie v. Hillary, I’d certainly pick Christie. I don’t think we should help the Democrats by sniping at fellow Republicans.

flataffect on January 9, 2014 at 7:46 PM

Eli Wallach , as Tuco, in the film The Good the Bad and the Ugly…summed up Christie perfectly:

Tuco: I like big fat men like you. When they fall they make more noise. And sometimes they don’t get up.

wraithby on January 9, 2014 at 9:42 PM

If nothing else comes out, he will be OK.

Something else? It is over.

/not a fan

Irritable Pundit on January 9, 2014 at 10:17 PM