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Bridget Anne Kelly's email to David Wildstein ordering the lane closures
The lawyer representing Bridget Anne Kelly, the former deputy chief of staff for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie who appears to have ordered the Fort Lee lane closures, explains why she believes her Fifth Amendment right to not testify gives her a legal basis to ignore subpoenas from the New Jersey legislature on the scandal:
Ms. Kelly’s concern over incriminating herself by producing the documents at issue is not ‘trifling or imaginary,’ but ‘substantial and real.'
Honestly, I can't blame her for taking that position, particularly in light of the fact that she is the person who authored the "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee" email. Neither can I blame Christie's former top political aide Bill Stepien for saying basically the same thing. If you were in their position, wouldn't you want immunity, too?

Of course, you wouldn't ever put yourself in their position, and I'm not saying they deserve immunity, but while it's possible that invoking the Fifth is a smart legal move on their part, I doubt that it will do Christie any good on the political front. For Christie, the biggest impact of this scandal has already been felt: He no longer boasts the post-Sandy crossover appeal that got national Republicans so excited for his candidacy, yet he has failed to capture the enthusiasm of the Republican base.

If nothing else changes, that's where Christie is: A 2016 hopeful who has lost his rationale for running and has yet to invent a new one. And if something does change, odds are it won't be good news for Christie, because unless it turns out that the traffic jam was a plot by Bruce Springsteen to bring down his (self-described) biggest political fan, the only real question at this point is whether Christie was willfully clueless about his organization's political tactics—or if he knew what was going on all along.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Yes, and Steve Cornaki on Rachel made it clear (12+ / 0-)

    tonight that Christie got no love at CPAC. Good bye 2016 and hopefully New Jersey will be able to say good bye to him as governor.

    You don't get to keep democracy unless you fight for it.

    by artebella on Fri Mar 07, 2014 at 07:34:43 PM PST

    •  Of course (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NancyWH, artebella

      Christi gave the orders to all of the with help from Sampson.. the general. These are serious crimes if the FEDS don't put him away, it will be a travesty of justice. You shouldn't need a smoking gun . I've seen many people put away for a long time with less evidence. Then Obama protected the bankers who caused the financial crisis, so I wont be surprised if he does nothing. Its not just Bridgegate,it stealing money from Hurricane Sandy money, and trying to redevelop Fort Lee with muscle.. etc..

      "America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between" Oscar Wilde

      by angry hopeful liberal on Fri Mar 07, 2014 at 11:41:20 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Can she do that? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wintergreen8694, avahome, NancyWH

    Commit a crime on public time and systems, then refuse to turn that over?

    Shall we go? Yes, let's go.

    by whenwego on Fri Mar 07, 2014 at 07:35:00 PM PST

    •  Ask Lois Lerner (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Arfeeto

      Clearly it is in a person's best interest, legally, to not speak to a  legislative body about their possible wrongdoings.

      If there is evidence of criminal behavior, a court of law is the proper place for that - with all the protections that provides.

      IMHO - basically I would think you'd have to be an idiot to testify before any legislative body, or answer any questions to a federal law enforcement unit if you are being accused of doing anything wrong.

      As far as not refusing to turn over documents, I think these are private documents they are requesting.

    •  I have been wondering the same thing. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NancyWH

      I am not sure if any oath had to be taken for Bridgett's position but unless she spent her own money on personal emails, paper, equipment, etc. she is accountable to the public.  Her paycheck, sick days, vacation, benefits, etc. fell on the public dime.

      I hope she rolls over and I am sure will be put in witness protection system....after all, it is New Jersey.  

      Money follows power, and I am sure that has already
      shifted in New Jersey.

  •  I think (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NancyWH

    he resigns, the only real question at this point is will justice be served and will he do hard time? The harder they come, the harder they fall, one and all...

  •  Court hearing for Kelly and Stepian... (4+ / 0-)

    is on March 11th, hopefully they will be compelled to hand over documents.

    "Really nice, but also very serious about his job." Jackie Evancho on President Obama 6/7/12

    by BarackStarObama on Fri Mar 07, 2014 at 07:43:11 PM PST

  •  There is now NO QUESTION that Christie knew (0+ / 0-)

    So fix your typo, please.

    "I feel a lot safer already."--Emil Sitka

    by DaddyO on Fri Mar 07, 2014 at 07:55:30 PM PST

  •  5th amendment and documents may not be protected (0+ / 0-)

    According to California lawyer--There is no Fifth Amendment privilege to refuse to produce subpoenaed documents on the ground their contents are self-incriminating; courts hold that such information is not "compelled testimony." However, as explained below, there is a crucial corollary: In certain circumstances the act of producing such documents may indeed be entitled to protection under the Fifth Amendment.  

  •  eventually someone will (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TRPChicago, NancyWH

    get immunity and the first one that agrees will get the one and only get out of jail card, the others will just be out in the cold, first one in isn't it so let your conscience and your evidence be your guide.

  •  So how about a criminal search warrant (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NancyWH

    Can they get the docs that way?

    "And the President of the United States - would be seated right here. I would be here. And he would be here. I would turn - and there he’d be. I could pet ‘im." - Lewis Black

    by libdevil on Fri Mar 07, 2014 at 08:07:24 PM PST

  •  I wonder who's paying her legal bills. It will be (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NancyWH

    costly to fight the subpoena for the documents, and her chances of winning are so small against the legislature.  

    INAL but I'm pretty sure there's no gray areas on search warrants, which is what a state or federal prosecutor will use.  So if you're going to give the documents up eventually, what does delaying a few weeks accomplish?

    IMO she'd be better served saving her money for trying to stay out of prison or at least reducing the sentence.

    •  Just a stalling technique, based on (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      a2nite

      what I've seen so far from analysts on MSNBC and other sources.

      Apparently, legal and/or political experts believe exactly what you stated: eventually, the key documents will be turned over to one or more of the investigations.  Regardless of the substance or validity of refusing by invoking the 5th, delaying every step at this stage (before any indictments have been issued) is in each defendant's best interest.

      It seems consistent with the way Allen Zegas has been handling things, in his usual m.o. of 'playing chess.'  The substance and the timing of what Zegas has done so far sure do appear to have been at least somewhat calculated to produce the best bang for the buck, sucking so many of the players into the growing list of investigation 'interests' with just a few choice pieces of evidence in the hundreds of pages of documentation.  And though orders-of-magnitude shorter than those, Zegas's own letter to the Port Authority on Jan. 31 was a powerhouse of implications.

      So maybe this is how Kelly's and Stepien's attorneys are playing whatever chess game they see themselves in.

      One of the questions I've been wondering about:
      Are those two attorneys -- Kelly's and Stepien's -- in cahoots with each other, maybe even with one or more of the other members of Christiegate (including, actually, both Republicans and Democrats)?  Is it presumed that Kelly and Stepien are distancing themselves from Wildstein or is it possible that somewhere in the background they're still somehow collaborating their way out of this mess?

  •  "The biggest impact ... has already been felt." (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PeteZerria, surfermom, a2nite, NancyWH

    With respect ... not by a very long shot!

    Politicians of the Christie calibre bounce back from all this smoke. Voters forget or discount why they heard. Good deeds intervene to reconstruct the image. Time passes. This guy is by no means ruined in politics. Yet.

    I'm not sure Christie ever had the enthusiasm of the Republican base, meaning the rock solid Right. A tepid reaction at CPAC means very little except this week to commentators. Christie is not in play now, true, but he needn't be.

    What must come of this Federal investigation is one or more indictments of someone in authority, probably based on giving immunity to one of the principals. Someone has to have a strong motive to disclose meetings and/or phone conferences at which the Governor was present and/or listening in. He needn't have directed the closures. Just timely knowledge of them and based on his own lies, then he'd be a goner. THAT people won't forgive or forget.

    And if anything links him to a bigger issue than petty political vindictiveness of his staff to a mayor - say, pressure for development deals - he's a real goner.

    2014 is HERE. Build up the Senate. Win back the House : 17 seats. Plus!

    by TRPChicago on Fri Mar 07, 2014 at 08:09:06 PM PST

  •  Only Already Incriminating If Known Guilty (0+ / 0-)

    Refusing to turn over documents essentially amounts to a guilty plea, because the documents could only be considered incriminating if the refusee acknowledges the criminality of the documents.  Thank her for her plea and arrest her.  Let her fight the appeals from a jail cell.  Sometimes one can try to be too clever by half.

    "Love the Truth, defend the Truth, speak the Truth, and hear the Truth" - Jan Hus, d.1415 CE

    by PrahaPartizan on Fri Mar 07, 2014 at 08:39:18 PM PST

    •  Actually it amounts to contempt (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      flycaster, NancyWH, PrahaPartizan
      •  Give Them Some "Incentive" (0+ / 0-)

        I know, but if one follows the chain of logic - potential defendant refuses to surrender documents claiming they're incriminating - then defendant already knows that the information containing therein will convict - therefore the defendant is confessing by pleading the fifth amendment about surrendering the documents - therefore, "Thank you very much for confessing.  Here, let's make sure the handcuffs don't pinch before you go on your perp walk,"  At least give them some incentive.  Also, let them know just how most average citizens get treated when they pull crap like this.  Book'em and release.

        "Love the Truth, defend the Truth, speak the Truth, and hear the Truth" - Jan Hus, d.1415 CE

        by PrahaPartizan on Sat Mar 08, 2014 at 07:21:54 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Document Production is not Testimony (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite, flycaster, NancyWH, Cardinal Fang

    5th Amendment doesn't apply.  

  •  Her ass goes to jail for contempt. Then you (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NancyWH, a2nite, surfermom, HCKAD

    get a search warrant and get what you need. Simple. Leave her in jail until the documents are produced and add the charge of obstruction of justice. One count for every document or e-mail found. You hit her with perjury charges. One for every lie told. You do not play nice. You put her in a position where she does real prison time in a real prison. You ruin her financially with the fines. In short you wreck her life. I'm talking sowing the fields with salt and leaving no brick stacked on another wrecked. The same for Stepien, Samson, and Christie, and Samson's law firm is now a target too. All of them in for the same treatment. No pardons. No time off for good behavior. Can't do the time, don't do the crime.

    Give blood. Play hockey.

    by flycaster on Sat Mar 08, 2014 at 05:49:16 AM PST

    •  I like this approach. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      flycaster

      Time-wise, how soon is something like this likely to happen?

      "For we, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it." - President Barack Obama, Second Inaugural Address, January 21, 2013.

      by surfermom on Sat Mar 08, 2014 at 06:53:44 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  What The Other Emails Say (0+ / 0-)

    The names of the Christie donors who benefited from the lane closure.  Who'll implicate other NJ pols.  The corruption goes way beyond Christie.

  •  Jed subscribes to the mainstream-media (0+ / 0-)

    view that, before Bridgegate, the GOP was sanguine about Christie's chances as a 2016 presidential contender.  I disagree.  I don't understand how Christie, viewed as a moderate by the right wing of his party (though he's anything but) could survive the primaries.  Perhaps I missing some critical bit of knowledge.  Could anyone enlighten me?

  •  Two ways to see it. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite

    First, they're falling on their swords to protect Christie by their refusal and delay judgement by anyone until....

    Second, they're protecting Christie (and themselves) by refusing to comply with a legislative subpoena by a legislature that has little or no enforcement authority, and no arrest powers that I know of (that's usually reserved for the Executive, in this case Christie).

    Apparently, at this point, the illusion  rumor that Christie Knew is the better of two evils despite the knife it holds to the throat of Christie's ambition.

    Good time to fling more dung and see if it sticks.

    ... the watchword of true patriotism: "Our country - when right to be kept right; when wrong to be put right." - Carl Schurz; Oct. 17, 1899

    by NevDem on Sat Mar 08, 2014 at 09:38:50 AM PST

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