It's official: Chris Christie lawyers exonerate Chris Christie re Bridgegate


Sure, it's true that this was a report conducted by a firm hired by Christie. And sure, it's true that they didn't talk to any of the individuals it said were involved in ordering the lane closures. And it's also true that the firm had no legal authority for its investigation, and therefore was unable to place anybody under oath. But they didn't find any evidence that Christie was behind the lane closures, so therefore he must surely be innocent, right?

The report said that Mr. Christie did not recall any such conversation and finds no evidence that he was involved in the scheme, which snarled traffic for thousands of commuters in Fort Lee, N.J., from Sept. 9 through the morning of Sept. 12.

But they did find that he was an emotional basket case...
It suggests that Mr. Christie became highly emotional at a meeting in the State House in January when he learned that Ms. Kelly and Mr. Stepien were involved in the scheme, even “welling up with tears.”
...because as every good Christie fan knows, he's the real victim here. Not the people who were enforced to endure days of gridlock thanks to the actions of his administration.

The results are now in from the internal investigation conducted by the law firm hired by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie into the George Washington Bridge lane closure scandal and in a shocking entirely predictable turn of events.

There's zero chance this review was ever going to put Christie in hot water. Sure, taxpayers paid for it, but even though Christie wasn't footing the $650 hourly bill:

It will be viewed with intense skepticism, not only because it was commissioned by the governor but also because the firm conducting it, Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, has close ties to the Christie administration and the firm’s lawyers were unable to interview three principal players in the shutdowns, including Bridget Anne Kelly, the governor’s former deputy chief of staff.

This report carries all the credibility of a Kremlin report ............... (external - login to view)

Christie Blew $300k on Food and Booze

The vast majority of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s expense account budget went to food and alcohol, according to an analysis of his ledger records by monitoring group New Jersey Watchdog. Records show shopping sprees averaging nearly $1,500 at Wegmans supermarkets, and $82,594 paid to the operator of a concession stand at MetLife Stadium. Christie gets $95,000 annually for expenses, on top of a $175,000 salary. He’s spent roughly $360,000 from that expense budget, with $300,000 going to food, drinks, and desserts.

Christie has a 35 percent approval rating (external - login to view) among registered voters in New Jersey. Earlier this month, Port Authority executive David Wildstein, a Christie confidant and apointee, pled guilty to his role in Bridgegate (external - login to view), where local access lanes were closed in Fort Lee, N.J. as a means of political retribution. Christie still denies his role in closing off parts of the George Washington Bridge.

In February, a state judge ruled that Christie broke the law by cutting pension payments (external - login to view) previously promised to public employees.
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funny guy
Just days after referring to New Jersey's newspapers as "rags," Gov. Chris Christie (external - login to view) said Sunday people should "just stop reading newspapers" when it comes to any investigations stemming from the George Washington Bridge lanes closure controversy.

The governor and Republican presidential canddiate, speaking on NBC's "Meet the Press," lashed out at host Chuck Todd when the newsman questioned Christie's judgment on picking senior officials in his administration. Todd referenced three people facing federal charges for their alleged roles in the bridge scandal, as well as the pending federal investigation into a top ally and friend, David Samson.

"First of all, you have absolutely no idea, you have no idea as you sit here today that he did anything wrong — nor does anybody else," said Christie, in defense of Samson.

"And so, let's stop just reading the newspapers," he said. "Let's just stop reading the newspapers and just blathering back what that is. OK?"

Last week, United Airlines officials stepped down (external - login to view) following an internal investigation at the company into the airline's dealings with the Port Authority. Jeff Smisek, 61, resigned as chairman, president and CEO of Untied Airlines. The company said its executive vice president of communications and government affairs and its senior vice president of corporate and government affairs were leaving as well.

Company officials would not disclose what specifically sparked the ouster, other than to say "the departures announced today are in connection with the company's previously disclosed internal investigation related to the federal investigation associated with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey."


Christie: 'Just stop reading newspapers' on Samson investigation (VIDEO) | (external - login to view)

United CEO resigns over corruption, but walks away with $21 million and free flights for life

The resignation of United Airlines CEO Jeff Smisek is all kinds of juicy. There's corruption—United established a money-losing route to curry favor with the then-chair of the Port Authority by getting him more conveniently to his vacation home. There's political intrigue—said then-chair of the Port Authority was Gov. Chris Christie's appointee, and one of the few people Christie refused to throw under the bus during Bridgegate. And there's plain old bloated CEO pay and raging economic inequality, because check out Smisek's severance package:

He will receive at least $21 million in cash and stock, fly free for the rest of his life and keep his company car.

Then there is the parking.

He can park free in downtown Chicago and at airports in Houston and Chicago — for the rest of his life.

Resigning because of a federal investigation into what sure looks like blatant corruption, and he's getting $21 million, free flights for life, and more. Somehow I don't think a rank and file United employee would get that kind of consideration for far smaller offenses. It's not unusual, though. CEO severance is a great example of the accountability gap—gulf, really—between those at the top and the rest of us. As in, we're held accountable and they're not.

“The way that CEO employment agreements are written, you really have to commit a felony before they can fire you and not pay you anything,” said Paul Hodgson, a partner at BHJ Partners, a compensation research firm. “Just being bad at your job or immoral or unethical or whatever is not enough usually.”

Let's just repeat that. "Just being bad at your job or immoral or unethical or whatever is not enough usually" to have your tens of millions of dollars in severance (and possibly your free flights and company car and free parking) taken away from you. If you're a CEO.

Christie picks the wrong day to complain about 'lawlessness' | MSNBC (external - login to view)
Christie finally gets a break. That poor mans been through hell. Hardly had time to eat, he's fading away to nothing, I understand he's had to be fed with a drip bag on numerous occasions, he just can't drag himself away from working for his people. Dear god when will we stop
attacking this servant of wholesomness?
This Fox guy looks like such a nebbish - it's not hard to picture him rolling on Christie..........

And then there was one.

Four years ago, seven people sat down to dinner at Novita Italian restaurant. A federal probe is now examining whether that meal was the start of a bribery plot by United Airlines.

The dinner included seven allies of Gov. Chris Christie including former CEO of United Airlines, Jeff Smisek, and the former Chairman of the Port Authority, David Samson. Also there: Jamie Fox, then United's lobbyist.

At 5:03 p.m. on Friday, barely a year after he had been appointed by Christie as New Jersey Transportation Commissioner, Fox abruptly resigned. The stated reason was a "planned transition to the private sector." When Samson and former PAD Executive Director Bill Baroni resigned from the Port Authority in the wake of the Bridgegate scandal, Christie also said those resignations had been planned.

The resignation came just hours after Christie had assured reporters Fox was fully involved in preparations for Hurricane Joaquin.

And it came at the end of a week of news reports buffeting Fox, including reports on WNYC that he tried to halt (external - login to view)the Bridgegate investigation and that records of meetings with him were hidden from documents (external - login to view)released by the Port Authority. The AP had also reported that Fox didn't properly recuse himself from United Airlines business while transportation commissioner.

Fox said in a statement Friday that he plans to return to the private sector. His departure, a little more than a year after his appointment, also comes as New Jersey lawmakers struggle to find a clear path forward on funding road work next fiscal year.

"I returned to government understanding it would entail a personal sacrifice and that it would not be a lengthy stay," Fox said in a statement. "I had hoped that we could secure a credible long-term solution for the Transportation Trust Fund within a year. I deeply regret we were unable to do so, and with a year behind me, it is time for me to return to the private sector and pursue new opportunities."

A message left with Fox's spokesman was not immediately returned.

Federal prosecutors are looking at whether Samson, the former Port Authority chair, pressed United Airlines to set up a special flight route for him, known as "the chairman's flight," to Columbia, S.C., near his weekend home. Around this time, United was lobbying for improvements to its facilities at Newark Airport, and over the next three years would enter a complex series of negotiations involving other benefits to the airline, including massive reductions in flight fees and a PATH train direct to Newark Airport.

Scandal Probes Claim Another Christie Appointee - WNYC (external - login to view)

Fox was part of a tangled web surrounding an aborted United Airlines effort to fly to Atlantic City's airport. The public agency headed by Fox, a former United lobbyist, did not require the airline to repay $104,000 despite a contract calling for it. (external - login to view)
After Bridgegate threatened to harm New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's ambitions of getting into the White House, he took the initiative of hiring, at taxpayer expense, a top-notch law firm to look into all these charges against Chris Christie and whether they had merit. After billing the taxpayers over ten million dollars, Christie's appointed lawyer declared that Chris Christie was innocent of the accusations that he knew what his own staff was doing as they rejiggered traffic on the George Washington Bridge in order to create massive, and potentially dangerous, traffic jams in the town of Fort Lee as retribution against the town's Democratic mayor for, apparently, not liking Chris Christie more. And that was supposed to be the end of it, according to Chris Christie.

As it turns out, however, you can't "exonerate" yourself by hiring ten million dollars worth of non-government lawyer on the taxpayer dime without people suspecting that you're not telling them the whole story, and various groups—most notably, Christie's own accused staffers—have been asking for the notes and other papers compiled by Christie's law firm while they were conducting that taxpayer-funded "investigation." Tough luck, says the law firm, we didn't take any notes. We were winging it! That's how ten million dollar investigations roll, baby!

Got all that? Great, you're back up to speed. And all of that's just preamble to the law firm's new explanation of why it is that a ten million dollar, taxpayer-funded "investigation" compiled absolutely no intermediate information before writing their final ten million dollar report saying golly, it doesn't seem like Chris Christie did anything wrong. According to them, it's because they knew Christie's enemies might come looking for them and so they deliberately didn't write things down (external - login to view).

Nothing like explaining that your taxpayer-funded investigation into your dealings as governor didn't take any notes because you were worried the taxpayers might ask to see them. Don't you feel better about Christie's crack legal team now?
In other lead-related news;

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie pocket-vetoed a bill to send $10 million to the state’s Lead Hazard Control Assistance Fund, a fund designed to pursue lead abatement in homes painted with lead and also to assist in relocation and other services for people affected by lead. The bill sailed through both houses of the New Jersey State Legislature but was defeated by Christie’s decision to “pocket” the bill, or offer no signature for veto or approval.

The $10 million requested by the bill comes from a lead paint tax instituted specifically to be allocated to the fund. However, yearly tax revenues have been diverted to the general state budget every year since 2004, and Christie’s administration has never allocated the funds to the lead abatement program. New Brunswick Today reports (external - login to view):
Curious Cdn
Just I time for his smashing string of victories in the GOP primaries!

I think I'll make popcorn!
Fresh off Chris Christie's debate claim (external - login to view) that Bridgegate is squarely behind him comes news from the AP (external - login to view) that “thousands” more pages of communications in his office are potentially in the offing.

Not so privileged after all. Baroni and Kelly, Christie's former colleagues, have been indicted and you can be assured their lawyers will go after those documents in advance of their trial, which is currently set for May.

U.S. District Judge Susan Wigenton on Friday said attorneys for Bill Baroni and Bridget Kelly can subpoena the Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher law firm for what they contend are thousands of pages of relevant documents, particularly communications between people in Christie's office and the bridge's operator during the September 2013 closures.
In its response to a grand jury subpoena by the U.S. attorney's office when it was assembling the indictment, the firm provided a list of documents — some thousands of pages long, defense lawyers say — it said were privileged communications by Christie staffers that couldn't be released.

During last Thursday's GOP debate, Christie effectively claimed (external - login to view) he had been cleared of all wrongdoing.
"There's been three different investigations that have proven that I knew nothing."
Wishful thinking. There have been three investigations, but the only one that has cleared him is the one he launched using his own law firm. If the defense’s subpoena is successful, the current investigation by the U.S. attorney’s office could get a lot more interesting.

(external - login to view)
Curious Cdn
Good. He's just in time to retire from the race, after he gets pummeled in New Hampshire.
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