After one week of testimony at the Bridgegate trial, Donald Trump poodle Chris Christie’s standing as a corrupt thug who would sacrifice anything, including public safety, for political convenience and good old venality has reached stratospherically new heights. Which begs a question: Why are there not calls for the New Jersey governor’s impeachment since he did not merely violate his oath of office, he crushed it?
Christie always was going to be . . . uh, the figurative elephant in the courtroom at the trial of two former ranking aides who executed a plan to deliberately create a traffic jam at the George Washington Bridge, the world’s busiest, as a political payback for their boss not being endorsed for re-election by the mayor of the borough of Fort Lee, which is on the New Jersey bridge approach.
The four-day closure of two of the three access lanes from Fort Lee in September 2013 was timed to achieve maximum impact — a week in which public schools opened, Yom Kippur was observed and there were 9/11 anniversary events. It succeeded spectacularly, causing massive traffic jams and a public-safety crisis as ambulances and other emergency vehicles were gridlocked for hours.
Defense lawyers will get around to asserting that the lane closings were “normal politics,” which is a howler, but true insofar as the meaning of the phrase applies to the unrepentant Christie, but the big takeaway from the opening week of testimony in Newark federal court is how easily the governor’s serial lies that he knew nothing about Bridgegate have been decimated.
The prosecution not only stated in its opening arguments that Christie well knew of the plan, which long has been an open secret, but he might be called as a witness. This will create an interesting legal situation since the governor arguably is as of as much use to the defense as the prosecution because the defense can now use the tried-and-true Eichmann Defense and declare that the defendants — gubernatorial aides Bill Baroni and Bridget Anne Kelly — were merely following orders.
And for good measure, among the first prosecution witnesses was Patrick J. Foye, executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, who completed the task of demolishing Christie’s lies in testifying that there was an elaborate cover-up of the true cause of the tie-up, at the top of which was the governor himself, who was hell-bent to protect David Wildstein, a top Port Authority official who was a close political ally and later was thrown to the sharks by the governor when the full extent of the scandal was revealed. Paybacks can be a bitch, and Wildstein is now the prosecution’s star witness.
It is easy to forget that in the wake of Christie’s November 2013 re-election victory, he was the leading candidate for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination and Trump was a celebrity jerk with a big ego.
That began unraveling early in 2014 when Bridgegate first hit the news. Christie’s slow but steady descent to the bottom of the presidential pack and into the gutter commenced as his deep involvement became apparent, his denials notwithstanding, and GOP bigs and voters began taking a closer look at Chistie’s stewardship of the Garden State, which revealed that he was not merely corrupt, but inept, as well, having almost single-handedly driven the state into bankruptcy.
The drumbeat for impeachment should be growing louder because Christie was a key player in the closure conspiracy, has repeatedly denied that he knew of the conspiracy and has continued to do so since his presidential bid crashed and burned and he eagerly signed on to be the Cheeto Jesus’s poodle.
But guess what? There is no drumbeat at all, merely vaguely worded news stories that impeachment may be an option. The reasons are varied, and no one is offering them publicly, but they fall under the heading of We Can’t Be Bothered.
They can’t be bothered because:
* It would distract from getting Hillary Clinton elected, and that is Job One.
* The guy who runs the Legislature wants to succeed Christie.
* There may be the votes to impeach, but there isn’t the energy.
* Besides which, Chistie’s term ends in 16 months, so just let the jerk serve it out.
The prosecution’s witness list reads like a Who’s Who of the Trump and failed Christie campaigns.
In addition to Christie himself, who is leading Trump’s transition team, there is Jared Kushner, a real-estate developer who is married to Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, and functions as campaign manager. Kushner owned a website where Wildstein, writing under a pseudonym, bragged about Bridgegate.
Then there is Bill Stepien, who was in on the conspiracy, was Christie’s presidential campaign manager and is now Trump’s national field director; Richard Bagger, Christie’s onetime chief of staff and now co-chair of Trump’s transition team; and Matt Mowers, who left the governor’s office to work for the Christie campaign and now works for Trump.
Although Hillary Clinton will beat Donald Trump, and I continue to maintain that she will win in a landslide, the post-mortems on why the race has been so excruciatingly close to this point already have begun.
Credit Ruby Cramer of BuzzFeed for noting that Clinton erred bigtime when she suddenly and inexplicably stopped linking Trump to the larger ills of the Republican Party at the end of the primary season. Cramer writes that the campaign then set out to portray him “as even more extreme than the rank-and-file Republican member of Congress. . . . [and] the campaign does not want to connect Trump and the Republican Party,” according to an internal campaign email she cites.
“The result, with less than 50 days until Election Day, is a Democratic nominee who praises establishment Republicans, makes forceful appeals for bipartisan support, and only rarely addresses Trump as President Obama might have John McCain or Mitt Romney in 2008 or 2012, strictly avoiding attacks on Republicans writ large.”
Clinton needs a Democratic Senate if she has any chance to fashion a mandate, let alone fill the present and future Supreme Court vacancies, and kissing Republican ass would not seem to be the best way to go about helping down-ticket Democrats.
© 2015-2016 SHAUN D. MULLEN
IMAGE FROM DONKEYHOTEY/FLICKR. USED WITH PERMISSION.