After Friday afternoon’s bombshell and then walkback from the New York Times and the attorney for former aide David Wildstein, Chris Christie went back on offense on “Bridgegate.” This weekend, Christie sent an e-mail blasting both Wildstein and the Times to political allies, a communication which Politico received, telling his friends and supporters that “David Wildstein will do and say anything to save David Wildstein”:
The subject line of the 700-word email from the governor’s office is: “5 Things You Should Know About The Bombshell That’s Not A Bombshell.” It offers a harshly negative portrayal of Wildstein’s character and judgment.
The Christie camp begins by criticizing The Times for its initial characterization of the Wildstein letter: “A media firestorm was set off by sloppy reporting from the New York Times and their suggestion that there was actually ‘evidence’ when it was a letter alleging that ‘evidence exists.’”
The Times’ original story said that Wildstein claimed “he had the evidence to prove it,” while later versions stuck to his lawyer’s vaguer “evidence exists” formulation.
If you think Christie was just correcting the record on Bridgegate, thing again. The e-mail took aim not just at his former aide’s activities in the scandal, but attacks Wildstein’s record going all the way back to high school:
Then, it gets personal. “In David Wildstein’s past, people and newspaper accounts have described him as ‘tumultuous’ and someone who ‘made moves that were not productive,’” the email continues. “David Wildstein has been publicly asking for immunity since the beginning, been held in contempt by the New Jersey legislature for refusing to testify, failed to provide this so-called ‘evidence’ when he was first subpoenaed by the NJ Legislature and is looking for the Port Authority to pay his legal bills.”
The email dips far back into Wildstein’s past to buttress its portrayal of him, even alleging that “He was publicly accused by his high school social studies teacher of deceptive behavior.”
The e-mail also calls into question Wildstein’s motives for changing his story now, while under criminal investigation. Christie notes that Wildstein never mentioned this evidence when subpoenaed by the New Jersey legislature, and even a few Democrats in the legislature are questioning Wildstein’s motives:
A key New Jersey Democrat said Sunday that a new accusation about Gov. Chris Christie’s knowledge of the bridge closing scandal enveloping his administration is unproven and raises credibility questions about the accuser.
New Jersey Assemblyman John Wisniewski said on NBC’s Meet the Press that the allegation from former Christie ally David Wildstein that there is evidence Christie knew of the George Washington Bridge lane closings last September as they were occurring doesn’t match the documents Wildstein has given the investigating committee.
Wildstein, a former Port Authority executive, “submitted over 900 pages of documents in response to the committee’s subpoena. Apparently what’s he talking about must be something other” than what he has already given the committee, Wisniewski said.
The New Jersey politician leading the investigation into the Chris Christie bridge scandal discusses the latest information in the case.
He added that it was “a great question” why Wildstein did not turn over to the legislative panel evidence of Christie’s knowledge of or involvement in the bridge closing scheme if he in fact had any such evidence.
“It really raises questions,” Wisniewski said when asked about Wildstein’s credibility.
Indeed it does, and that’s what Christie wants — to raise questions about these late disclosures. Taking it back to high school is over the top, but Christie apparently wanted to send a clear message that the gloves were off. If Wildstein really does have something significant on Christie, would the governor get this pugilistic with him? I’d tend to doubt it, but we’ll see.