Chris Christie’s poll numbers appear to have stabilized in New Jersey, and his standing in a hypothetical 2016 match-up with Hillary Clinton is inching back up. An exhaustive internal review — commissioned by the governor’s office and conducted by a team of six former federal prosecutors — exonerated Christie in the “Bridgegate” scandal, determining that the available evidence backs up Christie’s consistent timeline. With two concurrent independent investigations underway, the governor said he’s confident that the findings of the so-called ‘Mastro report’ will be affirmed in due time. At last word, the Democrat-led legislative inquiry hadn’t turned up anything that implicates Christie, despite a humiliating false start from the New York Times. If anyone had unearthed such proof in recent months, we’d have heard about it. Immediately. On MSNBC. When this whole kerfuffle first burst into the headlines, the Mayor of Hoboken fanned the flames with salacious allegations that the Christie administration had threatened to withhold Sandy relief aid from her hard-hit city unless she agreed to approve a construction project supported by the governor. If true, Dawn Zimmer’s claims of quid pro quo corruption would have spelled the end of Christie’s career. But they’re not.
Virtually every element of Zimmer’s tale has been discredited or called into question by empirical evidence, witnesses, and her own contradictions. I wrote a lengthy post for Townhall in late January, spelling out the myriad reasons why her accusations were not credible, not the least of which was the fact that the only corroborating proof she’s produced was an unverifiable, bizarre-looking entry in what she claimed to be a personal journal. If that wasn’t dodgy enough, it turned out that Zimmer had testified under oath in a contemporaneous and unrelated legal dispute that she didn’t keep a journal. (These diary discrepancies only scratch the surface of her credibility problems. Click through for a much more complete picture). One of the questions that’s dogged Zimmer since she came forward with her blockbuster charges is why she didn’t do anything at the time, when Christie was up for re-election. Indeed, she lavishly praised Christie in public — this, the man who was supposedly shaking her down in a truly vile act of political bullying. Zimmer has finally settled on an answer, which she says is backed up by — ta da! — another heretofore unreported, undated entry in the diary she doesn’t keep:
This week, Zimmer attempted to explain her reasoning in a letter to the Democratic leaders of the legislature. In what she says are previously unreported entries to her personal journal, Zimmer says she discussed coming forward with the city’s redevelopment attorney, but ultimately decided it was pointless … “Yes – this is illegal,” [she purports to have written at the time]. “I debated with Joe Marzati whether or not to go to US Attorney – we decided that Christie has friends throughout US Attorney’s office … [therefore] not much chance in getting help from them & it could create a nightmare for us. A little scary to realize that there’s nowhere to turn for help against this threat from Gov. Christie. My best defense is to stand up to the bully – my beloved Gov who wants to run for president.” The letter was addressed to Senate President Steve Sweeney and Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg in the upper chamber and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto and Assemblyman John Wisniewski in the lower house and contained photos of the handwritten journal entries. There is no date on the entries.
So Zimmer didn’t act sooner because she was terrified of the “nightmare” Christie’s US Attorney buddies might have unleashed. But she finally found her nerve…at the precise moment that other accusations began flying — and a week after she’d tried to sell a completely different version of events to a New Jersey reporter, who didn’t bite? Sounds legit. For what it’s worth, the Mastro report found zero merit in Zimmer’s story:
Our investigation found that Mayor Zimmer’s allegations are, in material respects, demonstrably false. They are contradicted by contemporaneous documents, other witnesses’ accounts, and her own prior statements. In sum, the subjective perceptions she may have do not match objective reality, as reflected in the hard evidence uncovered during our investigation.
Many New Jerseyans are understandably skeptical of a review that was ordered by its powerful potential target. Of course Christie’s investigation exonerated him, right? The attorney who spearheaded the probe has confronted those concerns by passionately defending its integrity:
“We’ve had no incentive, at our law firm, to do anything other than get to the truth. We will be judged, at the end of the day, by whether we got it right.”
More telling than Mastro’s word, in my view, is the reaction from the Democratic partisan leading his own inquiry into the scandal:
Also appearing on “This Week,” Democratic New Jersey state Assemblyman John Wisniewski, co-chair of the state investigation of the lane closures, said it is too early to draw conclusions about any possible involvement by Christie in the lane closings. “It’s far too early to start concluding that the governor knew nothing, had nothing to do with this,” the lawmaker said, after conceding that no evidence has been found thus far implicating the governor.
They’ve got nothing so far, and they’ve been at it for months. As I mentioned above, if New Jersey Democrats had found anything that could simultaneously ensnare Christie, and instantly discredit the Mastro team’s results, it would be front page news. And Christie would be finished.