Bridgegate Edges Closer and Closer to Chris Christie Himself

 

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie still says that he had nothing to do with closing traffic lanes on the George Washington bridge in order to punish the mayor of Fort Lee, who had declined to endorse him for reelection. Maybe so. But newly released emails show pretty clearly that the lane closures were indeed designed as political punishment and that senior Christie staffers were in on it:

“Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” Bridget Anne Kelly, one of three deputies on Christie’s senior staff, wrote to David Wildstein, a top Christie executive at the Port Authority, on Aug. 13, about three weeks before the closures. Wildstein, the official who ordered the closures and who resigned last month amid the escalating scandal, wrote back: “Got it.”

Other top Christie associates mentioned in or copied on the email chain, all after the top New York appointee at the authority ordered the lanes reopened, include David Samson, the chairman of the agency; Bill Stepien, Christie’s re-election campaign manager and the newly appointed state GOP chairman; and Michael Drewniak, Christie’s spokesman.

….The private messages, mostly sent through personal e-mails accounts, indicate that Kelly, a senior staff member in the governor’s office, was involved in the planning and received updates during the week of the traffic jams.

….In one exchange of text messages on the second day of the lane closures, Wildstein alludes to messages the Fort Lee mayor had left complaining that school buses were having trouble getting through the traffic.

“Is it wrong that I’m smiling,” the recipient of the text message responded to Wildstein. The person’s identity is not clear because the documents are partially redacted for unknown reasons.

“No,” Wildstein wrote in response.

“I feel badly about the kids,” the person replied to Wildstein. “I guess.”

“They are the children of Buono voters,” Wildstein wrote, making a reference to Barbara Buono, the Democratic candidate for governor, who lost to Christie in a landslide in November.

Maybe it’s still plausible that Christie had no idea this was happening. But it’s looking less plausible with every day. I sure figured Christie was smarter than this, but I guess maybe not.

A complete Bridgegate explainer, along with all the emails, is here.

 

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THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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