Obviously, yesterday’s Sgt. Schultz-like apology of “I knew nothing” didn’t tamp down the outrage over internal communications from Governor Chris Christie’s administration that strongly suggest that a bridge closure was political retribution. Now Christie will get plenty of opportunity to expand on what he, er, didn’t know, and when he didn’t know it:
The governor will answer questions at the Statehouse in Trenton at 11 a.m. Thursday.
Emails and text messages released Wednesday suggest Christie’s deputy chief of staff and a top Christie appointee on the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey engineered traffic jams in Fort Lee last September to punish the town’s mayor.
Two of three lanes connecting Fort Lee to the heavily traveled GWB were closed, causing crippling traffic jams in the town.
Last month, Christie stated unequivocally that his office had nothing to do with the closure, and that it wasn’t punitive. The communications exposed over the last 24 hours makes it plain that his administration did initiate the closures, and then celebrated them, for political purposes. Yesterday’s apology (of sorts) didn’t include a list of people Christie had fired, even though his only two explanations for the December statement are either (a) he lied, or (b) his staff lied to him. If he wants to sell (b), then he’d better be prepared to announce a rolling head or two in today’s presser.
The local media aren’t likely to let this go, either. NJ.com has timelines, scorecards, and a separate section set up already for breathless updates on “Bridge-gate.” It may end up derailing Christie’s most important appointment, too:
Kevin O’Dowd, who served as Gov. Chris Christie’s chief of staff as so called ‘bridgegate’ unfolded last fall was nominated last month as the state’s new attorney general. He is due to go before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.
The problem for O’Dowd is that Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Kelly, who was implicated today as part of the investigation into the flap, worked for him. To date none of the emails that have surfaced implicate O’Dowd, even as several other administration members have found themselves caught up in the controversy.
But Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Nicholas Scutari said late last night he doesn’t know what effect Kelly’s role in the growing scandal will have on O’Dowd, adding that he’ll wait to see what comes out of today’s Assembly Transportation Committee hearing before deciding what’s next.
“(O’Dowd’s hearing) is still scheduled but we need to see what if anything more comes out (today) because all nominees have to swear in and testify,” he said. “If it goes forward it certainly will be a lot longer and different than originally anticipated.”
No doubt. If Christie really did get blindsided by this, then the best option for him would be to clean house from top to bottom. Anything less, and people will start to wonder what his staff knows that’s keeping their jobs safe. We’ll see what happens at the presser. John Dickerson predicts heads will roll:
CBS News political director John Dickerson told the co-hosts of “CBS This Morning,” to expect some heads to roll within Christie’s administration. “I think you are likely to see probably firings. I think you’re likely going to see a buck stops here moment from him (Christie) — taking responsibility for this.”
A “buck stops here” moment? That should have come yesterday, really, but better late than never.
Update: I’m pretty sure this would be the wrong strategy to take, but it would be legendary:
“Governor, did you order the code red on Fort Lee?” “You’re goddamn right I did!” #christiepresser
— Allahpundit (@allahpundit) January 9, 2014