It is more likely that N.J. Gov. Chris Christie will be impeached and removed from office in 2014 than he ever runs for the GOP nomination for president.
Why? Because Democrats, unlike our current House Republicans, know how to run a gut-cutting, down-and-dirty-if-necessary investigation against a political opponent. They know how to take aim — and then keep their eye on the target — no matter what.
They know they have most of the media with them — and they thus are not afraid of over-reach. And they have the killer instinct that almost all Republicans lack.
The bridge-gate scandal is the latest perfect example: The emails ordering up the traffic jam first made it into the public domain on Wednesday, Jan. 8. By the following Monday, Jan. 13, a mere five days later, the Assembly and Senate Democrats had already named not one but two special investigative committees armed with special counsels and widespread subpoena power.
The Assembly speaker said, “The investigation will go where it goes.” In other words, they are free to go down any tributary as long as it helps them sink Gov. Christie.
Their enmity toward the governor is two-tracked: First, they despise Chris Christie and harbor grudges over the condescending, demeaning way he has treated them over the past four years. He has called Senate Democrats “animals” and even suggested people should “take a bat” to Sen. Loretta Weinberg, the Senate Democratic leader, who is an elderly widow.
Second, the national Democrats see Christie as the only current threat to Hillary’s presidential ambitions in 2016. Now that he might be in trouble, the party, from the top down and including the Democratic donor class, is encouraging the Trenton Democrats to “finish off” Christie right now.
So these two committees in Trenton now have free rein to do whatever it takes to ruin Chris Christie. They have motivation, memory (of how he has treated them), money, and momentum as more and more tales of political retaliation, payback, and vendettas comes into these two committee.
His circle of aides is at the moment in a state of total panic. They read and saw the chairman of the Assembly special committee, John Wisniewski, openly talking on Sunday’s "Face the Nation" that “impeachment is a possibility here.”
Wisniewski believes that using governmental resources to exact political revenge is a crime — and thus could lead to impeachment.
Christie’s aides are all worrying about themselves right now, and asking these questions: Do I need to hire a lawyer? Should I be the first to offer to talk in return for immunity? If I wait too long, will someone else I am working with make that deal first leaving me unable to get immunity? Can I even talk to the people I work with? Can I ever get another job? Is Chris Christie worth sacrificing my career for?”
As for friends he can rely on, Christie has fewer inside the New Jersey GOP than he should have. He has systematically bulldozed so many fellow Republicans that they are tentative and tepid in their support.
For four years it has been known inside Jersey politics that if you made even the mildest criticism of the governor, he would come after you with a vengeance. Payback and punishment have become the rule over the past four years.
Right after the election this past November, Christie tried to dislodge Senate GOP leader Tom Kean Jr., the son of Christie’s political mentor, former Gov. Tom Kean. The elder Kean sees this as an act of betrayal.
Oh, and Christie failed to dislodge Kean Jr. from his leadership post. If impeachment comes and makes it to the New Jersey Senate, does the governor believe Sen. Kean will go out of his way to save him from a conviction?
What we are witnessing is an aggressive Republican governor who has gone out of his way to offend people who dare to disagree with him, coupled with a hungry Democratic Party armed with indignation, money, and subpoena power.
This all adds up to one thing: he does not survive 2014.
John LeBoutillier is a former U.S. congressman (representing N.Y., 1981-1983) and is the co-host of Fox News Channel’s political Insiders, 7:30 p.m. Sunday nights.
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