Federal prosecutors began the first “Bridgegate” criminal trial by leveling their biggest accusations at New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, even though his two main deputies are the ones on trial this week. At least one known death was attributed to Bridgegate by the news media.
Even though Christie isn’t a defendant in today’s court action, the stunning revelation from prosecutors means they may still see him as the ultimate target of their three year criminal investigation, as NJ.com reported:
U.S. Attorney Vikas Khanna, describing the chaos of the traffic jams that paralyzed Fort Lee beginning on Sept. 9, 2013, said David Wildstein, a former Port Authority employee who plead guilty to federal charges last year, will admit he was the one who came up with that idea. The prosecutor added that Wildstein will testify he and Baroni told Christie about the scheme at the very moment traffic was at a standstill in Fort Lee during a Sept. 11 commemoration Manhattan.
“The evidence will show that Baroni and Wildstein were so committed to their plan to punish Mayor Sokolich that during those precious few minutes that they had alone with the governor, they bragged about the fact that there were traffic problems in Fort Lee and that Mayor Sokolich was not getting his calls returned. This case is about the defendants abuse of power and their callous disregard for the people of Fort Lee,” said Khanna.
Last year, Trump publicly accused Christie of knowing about Bridgegate, but after the former federal prosecutor knocked out Marco Rubio in a primary debate and pledged blind fealty to the orange-faced one, the two Republicans have become nearly inseparable, no doubt brought together over a mutual love of McDonald’s.
Federal prosecutors are seeking to convict Bill Baroni, the former deputy executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and Bridget Anne Kelly, who was Governor Christie’s deputy chief of staff. The only thing that the defense, prosecutors and all of the accused actually agree upon, is that the New Jersey Republican knew about his subordinates’ political retribution against a local mayor.
In fact, defense lawyers claim that the disruptive shutdown of the George Washington Bridge connecting Fort Lee to New York City now known as BridgeGate had to be covered up to protect Christie’s now tarnished political career, because even back in 2013 he was plotting a Presidential campaign:
Defense lawyers have long argued that Mr. Christie, a Republican, and his top advisers were well aware of the lane closings and that they directed the cover-up as they tried to protect the governor’s political aspirations — saying their clients were “thrown under the presidential bus,” as one lawyer argued on Monday. But this was the first time a prosecutor had pointed a finger at Mr. Christie. And it directly contradicts the governor’s statements in the three years since the lanes were mysteriously closed, paralyzing the borough of Fort Lee, N.J.
As usual, the New York Times understates the forcefulness of Chris Christie’s prior defense of his blatant lies in BridgeGate. We uncovered this extraordinary video where the New Jersey Republican spent an astonishing two hours lying to the media in a televised press conference where he plainly claimed not to know anything.
For years, Christie has claimed that he got away with the crime of using his public office for political purposes to harm hundreds of thousands of New York and New Jersey residents stuck in massive traffic jams caused by his irresponsible Republican administration. From the sound of federal prosecutors, it appears that they simply waited until they had every other co-conspirator so firmly within their grasp to serve Christie notice, and he’s the most likely final target of this prosecution.
Watch his shame:
Grant Stern is an Editor-At-Large for OccupyDemocrats and published author. His new Meet the Candidates 2020 book series is distributed by Simon and Schuster. He's also mortgage broker, community activist and radio personality in Miami, Florida., as well as the producer of the Dworkin Report podcast. Grant is also an occasional contributor to Raw Story, Alternet, and the DC Report, and a senior advisor to the Democratic Coalition