Things are starting to look bad for New Jersey Governor and Trump surrogate Chris Christie.
Today, two former aids to the pugnacious Republican were convicted of complicity in the politically-motivated closing of vital access lanes from Fort Lee, New Jersey to the George Washington Bridge.
Bill Baroni and Bridget Anne Kelly have been found guilty on all counts, including charges of conspiracy and fraud, and could serve up to 20 years in prison.
In 2013, the Christie Administration oversaw the now infamous lane closures, which some analysts say created the worse traffic jam in the greater NYC area since September 11, 2001. For a metropolitan area known for absolutely insane traffic, this is no small feat.
Following the lane closures and the three days of traffic mayhem that ensued, Christie went on to win his reelection fight. But shortly thereafter, New Jersey Democrats initiated an investigation into the lane closures, for which officials could proffer no reasonable explanation, other than citing a “traffic study.”
Eventually, staffer emails turned over to investigators showed that Christie officials deliberately planned the closures to negatively impact Fort Lee. While there is no “smoking gun” to substantiate this one particular motive, the prevailing consensus is that Christie officials did this to punish the town’s Democrat Mayor Mark Sokolich, who crossed aisles to endorse Christie in his initial election but chose to endorse his opponent during the 2013 election.
Christie has publicly claimed zero knowledge of the closures. But such an elaborate plan concocted and carried out by some of his highest level appointees doesn’t do the lame-duck Governor any favors supporting his narrative. In fact, lawyers for both the prosecution and the defense in Baroni and Kelly’s trial have concluded that, at the very least, Christie knew more than he’s let on. Perhaps as heads begin to roll, more damning evidence will emerge.
His future political career, in all likelihood, is ruined. Christie has taken a step back from his role as a leading Trump surrogate, likely due to the growing storm revolving around Bridgegate. He took a chance supporting Trump – thereby alienating himself from the “moderate” Republican establishment with which he was previously associated – all with the goal of receiving a position in a potential Trump Administration. Now, even in the scenario that Trump wins, the chances of that happening are somewhere south of nonexistent.
Seems like a series of poor moves has done the one-time Republican super star in.