Politico Commentator: 'Chris Christie Is Toast'

Tuesday, 08 Apr 2014 10:42 AM

By Courtney Coren

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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie faces an uphill legal battle with federal investigators concerning the Bridge-gate scandal, a Politico commentator says.

"Christie is actually in worse shape than he was in when the scandal first broke," wrote former Missouri state Sen. Jeff Smith in an article with the headline, "Chris Christie Is Toast."

Smith, who spent a year in prison in 2010 due to a campaign finance violation, wrote that federal investigators take their time and the New Jersey Republican may be brought down by an investigation that focuses on issues that have nothing to do with closing lanes to the George Washington Bridge.

"Years can elapse between the time federal agencies first begin probing a target and the time they actually bring charges, and the deliberate, exhaustive nature of federal investigations is legend," Smith wrote.

"When you're a hammer, everything looks like a nail; and for federal prosecutors focused on public corruption, the bigger the public figure, the larger the scalp," Smith wrote.
 
The Missouri Democrat contends the fact that Christie is holding press conferences and fundraisers doesn't necessarily mean the New Jersey governor isn't guilty of anything.

Urgent: Do You Like Chris Christie? Vote Now

On the contrary, "given the length, breadth and opacity of federal investigations, this is like the surfer in the eye of the hurricane."

The other reason the now-assistant professor of politics at the New School claims that Christie isn't in the clear yet, is due to the "the accumulation of troubling information about David Samson."

Samson was appointed by Christie to chair the Port Authority Commission. The concerning factor, Smith wrote, is Samson's "continued silence in the face of emails suggesting that he wanted to 'retaliate' against Port Authority staff who reopened the lanes."

The former Port Authority chairman went after Patrick Foye, the authority's executive director, who was appointed by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in another email for "'stirring up trouble' by talking about the lane closures."

"Both of these contemporaneous emails strongly indicate that if — as Christie maintained — Samson denied knowing the reason for the lane closures, he was lying," Smith alleges. "If Samson per the emails, knew the truth then and told Christie, the governor has been lying."

"Neither option suits Christie, which may explain why the internal investigatory report essentially ignored the emails," he added, referring to an investigation performed by lawyers hired by the Christie administration. 

Smith also contends there is a conflict of interest between Christie allies and Samson's law firm, Wolff & Samson.

Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer has accused New Jersey Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno of threatening "to withhold hurricane recovery aid to Hoboken — one of the state's hardest hit cities — unless Zimmer agreed to support a billion-dollar development project spearheaded by a Wolff & Samson client."

Guadagno has called Zimmer's charges "patently false and absurd."

Christie announced Samson's resignation in late March, following the release of the internal Bridge-gate report that found Christie had no involvement in the lane closures.

Smith contends that Samson's resignation shows that "Christie must be concerned about Samson's exposure — and potentially his own."

But Samson could avoid charges "by revealing knowledge of wrongdoing by Christie."

Smith also says that David Wildstein and Bridget Anne Kelly, who were found to have prompted the lane closures, have great "incentive to talk" since Christie has done more than just thrown them "under the bus," but has also attempted "to destroy their reputations."

The fourth reason Smith offers as to why Christie is in worse shape is because due to the scrutiny he is under, "he can no longer employ his usual tools to modify others' behavior."

Lastly, there is a chance that fellow Gov. Cuomo could reveal the contents of a phone call Christie made to Cuomo in December, in which he allegedly asked the New York governor "to put the kibosh on an inquiry into the lane closing," the former state senator wrote.

Cuomo has downplayed the significance of the conversation.

"Taken together, these five issues are significant enough to end Christie's White House dreams," Smith wrote.

Urgent: Do You Like Chris Christie? Vote Now

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