It's not looking too good for him today:
A former ally of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie on Friday pleaded guilty to criminal charges related to the George Washington Bridge closure scandal, delivering another blow to Christie's image at a time when he is trying to get his presidential campaign off the ground.
David Wildstein, who had been a senior Christie appointee to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy at a U.S. district court in Newark. He was released on his own recognizance on a $100,000 bond. The judge in the case cited his cooperation with prosecutors for the release term. Sentencing is set for August.
The judge was also expected to unseal indictments against Bill Baroni, former deputy executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and Bridget Anne Kelly, a former deputy chief of staff to Christie, according to the New York Times.
They were the first charges stemming from the September 2013 incident, which created four days of traffic snarls on the Hudson River crossing into New York City.Christie himself may not be off the hook, either:
His decision to plead guilty has been closely watched to see if he indicates what role – if any — Mr. Christie had in the lane closings, which gridlocked the town of Fort Lee, N.J., over several days, stranding emergency vehicles, commuters and school buses on the bridge to Manhattan.
Mr. Wildstein told several people in the Christie administration that he had discussed the lane closings with the governor as they were happening, an assertion the governor denies. And through his lawyer, Alan Zegas, he reiterated the claim that “evidence exists” that Mr. Christie knew about the closings as they occurred.
TPM has more details about this nasty conspiracy that stretched directly into Christie's own office:
1. Wildstein, Bridget Kelly and Bill Baroni were in on the plan to shut down the lanes from the very beginning. This is what Wildstein is claiming in his plea.
2. The decision to shut down the lanes to the bridge was done to punish Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich for his failure to endorse Gov. Christie's reelection campaign.
3. The first day of school was chosen as the day to begin the lane closures specifically to maximize the pain on city residents and thus on Sokolich as part of a scheme of political payback.It's really hard to believe that Christie knew absolutely nothing about this plan as it was happening. Hopefully we will find out for sure soon, and if so, his resignation as governor would likely follow. But even if he somehow didn't know, his future in national politics is still over.
And all because one Democratic mayor didn't want to endorse a Republican governor who went on to win reelection in a huge landslide anyway.