Welcome news for Chris Christie, but … a little unusual in its delivery. NBC New York’s exclusive report relies on unnamed sources within the federal investigation, which has gone on for nine months now, and which is decidedly not closed yet. Still, multiple sources seem willing to let NBC report that no one’s found any connection to the closure of the George Washington Bridge a year ago and the New Jersey governor:
The U.S. Justice Department investigation into New Jersey Gov.Chris Christie’s role in “Bridgegate” has thus far uncovered no information he either knew in advance or directed the closure of traffic lanes on the George Washington Bridge, federal officials tell NBC 4 New York.
The September 2013 closures — where several entrance lanes to the George Washington Bridge in Ft. Lee were shut down causing a traffic nightmare for commuters — has been the subject of several federal and state investigations.
Federal officials caution that the investigation begun nine months ago is ongoing and that no final determination has been made, but say that after nine months authorities have uncovered no information Christie either knew in advance or ordered the closure of traffic lanes.
Why go public now while the investigation continues? NBC quotes former federal prosecutor Robert Ray as saying that any smoking gun would have surely turned up by now. “If you don’t have it within nine months or so,” Ray told NBC New York, “you’re not likely to ever get it.” The independent investigation ordered by Christie could have told them the same thing six months ago, although to be fair the independence of that probe was not exactly highly regarded.
If feds have given up on finding any connection between Christie and the bridge closing, why keep the investigation open? That would seem to suggest that the feds are looking at potential charges for lower-ranking officials involved in the scandal. It would be amusing, at least, if some of that attention went to those who claimed to have the goods on Christie but came up empty-handed and looking ridiculous at best. That would include David Wildstein, whose claims collapsed along with the New York Times’ credibility in covering the case, and Hoboken mayor Dawn Zimmer, who claimed that Christie targeted her city’s funding and that her diary would prove it, only to have both claims debunked. Alas, it’s not likely that either one of them were dumb enough to lie to investigators, so presumably the continuing investigation will focus on Christie’s underlings.
Does this make Christie a winner in Bridgegate? Well, that might be a stretch, but he’s not going to be the big loser in it. Had his critics just stuck to focusing on his executive skills and lack of control in his office this scandal might have hurt, but the hysteria of blowing up Bridgegate into a Watergate-scale scandal created a bubble that popped in their faces. Hardly anyone has remained interested in this story at all over the last several months except MSNBC … which makes the leak to NBC New York a little ironic.
To sum up, Bridgegate turns out to be this:
— Jeryl Bier (@JerylBier) September 18, 2014
Fizzlemas all over again.