Several weeks ago, I wrote that I believed that the “Bridgegate” outrage would lead to whole host of other scandals both related to and separate from the closing of the Fort Lee traffic lanes. I am a bit surprised that it has blown up so quickly, but not that it has happened. It was clear from the outset that this was driven by the people closest to Governor Christie (if not himself). The motive is still not quite clear, though the message clearly was to intimidate – probably Mayor Mark Sokolich – for some reason. The initial theory was because the Mayor wasn’t endorsing the Governor’s reelection. A new theory is that it has to do with a billion dollar Fort Lee development, which I think is more likely. The famous line from the Watergate scandal was “Follow the money”, and I think same is true here.
It is clear virtually everyone close to Christie was somehow involved in Bridgegate, either as planners or part of the cover-up, or both. This will lead to a number of people cutting deals with prosecutors. David Wildstein’s attorney has already indicated his desire to do just that. And that’s where it gets interesting. And that’s where the comparison to Watergate becomes most apt. In Watergate, the break-in at the Democratic Headquarters led to a massive investigation and subsequent prosecutions in a wide range of illegal activity that had nothing to do with the break-in. 43 participants went to jail. There were million of dollars of illegal campaign contributions, dirty tricks, illegal spying, and covering up crimes, in large part caused by the vindictive, paranoid mentality of the Nixon campaign. Christie shares that mentality in spades.
Cutting to the chase, here are some predictions:
1. Virtually all of Christie’s closest aides will have to resign, and several will be indicted.
2. Several aides will cut deals and turn on Christie, and also reveal other crimes that are completely unrelated, just as happened in Watergate.
3. The current investigation in the use of Hurricane Sandy funds will expand beyond the investigation into the television advertisements. The administration of the funds will be shown to be mishandled and misused, and that graft will have taken place. Numerous people will go to jail.
4. Other scandals will come to the fore and people will go to jail.
5. I think there is a 50-50 chance of Christie also being indicted, but even if he isn’t, the scandal will get so bad that he will forced to resign. I think he lasts about 18 months.
The fact that the New Jersey Assembly and Senate will renew and expand its subpoena powers to investigate these crimes shows that Christie’s alliance with certain Democrats is kaput. They were willing to work with him when he served their (mostly economic) interests, but they know a sinking ship when they see one. And, Christie is disliked by many Republicans, who support him more out of fear than love. They won’t be unhappy to see the bully go.