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New Jersey Governor Chris Christie speaks during a news conference in Trenton, New Jersey March 28, 2014. On Thursday a law firm hired by Christie, a potential Republican 2016 contender for the White House, released a report clearing him of wrongdoing in
Michael Drewniak, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's chief spokesman, testified Tuesday that he told Christie's chief counsel in early November of reports that administration staffers were involved in the George Washington Bridge lane closure scandal, but that neither he nor the administration took the reports seriously because they blamed partisan Democrats for fueling the controversy. Moreover:
Drewniak later testified that Wildstein said on Dec. 4 that he told Christie about the traffic issue during a Sept. 11 anniversary event. The press secretary said he informed the governor of the statement on Dec. 5, more than a week before the Dec. 13 press conference where the governor said he had questioned his senior staff about any involvement and was assured none of his circle had any part in the traffic debacle.

Christie has said he doesn’t recall the Sept. 11 conversation with Wildstein.

So, according to Drewniak's testimony, the governor's office had been told about the involvement of of administration staffers but didn't think anything improper had happened because they assumed Democrats were simply being partisan. Not only that, but Drewniak acknowledges that Wildstein said he was involved—and that he claimed to have told Christie of his involvement, a conversation that Christie says he doesn't remember.

According to Drewniak, none of that really matters, because even if the Christie administration did know more about what was happening than they originally acknowledged, they thought they were victims of partisan Democrats trying to exploit a traffic study. But if it was just a little traffic study, why would Wildstein have bothered to mention it to Christie while it was happening? Oh, right: Christie can't remember if Wildstein ever talked to him about it, so he doesn't need to answer that question. How convenient.

Drewniak's bottom line is that while it's true that there may have been more awareness inside the governor's office of what was going on than previously acknowledged, the important thing is that they failed to understand recognize that anything improper was taking place, so therefore they did nothing wrong. If you find it implausible that the governor's office could have been aware that administration staffers were involved in the lane closures without also recognizing that their staffers were up to no good, the only evidence Drewniak offers to convince you is this:

“Nobody would mock something as egregious as we now know transpired,” he said. “This governor — and none of the people around him — would never make a mockery of something so abusive on its face.”
But that's a circular defense—Drewniak is saying that if they had known what was actually going on, they would have handled things differently. But they did know the facts of what was going on. At best, they failed to grasp the significance of those facts. At worst, they are a bunch of cowards trying to blame the entire episode on three rogue staffers. Neither scenario looks good for them.

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Comment Preferences

  •  These Christie staffers make Baghdad Bob (14+ / 0-)

    sound honest and trustworthy!

    To be great is to be misunderstood

    by LordFairfax on Tue May 13, 2014 at 02:03:52 PM PDT

    •  Some Repubs are still pushing The Bully (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      hbk, ksuwildkat

      for 2016 presidential run.  But from what I read, the establishment GOP has already jettisoned him as tainted, and will put their money behind Jeb or another moderate repub with less baggage.  

      According to conservative financial pundit Larry Kudlow, they are looking for a Republican governor to run.  But I don't think it will be The Bully.

      •  Drewniak's Freudian slip... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mostserene1
        “Nobody would mock something as egregious as we now know transpired,” he said. “This governor — and none of the people around him — would never make a mockery of something so abusive on its face.”
        Interesting double negative in that quote.  If none of the people around Christie never made a mockery of something, it means somebody did make a mockery.  Two negatives make a positive.

        “When it comes to this, I shall prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty—to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure and without the base alloy of hypocrisy.” —Abraham Lincoln

        by Pragmatus on Tue May 13, 2014 at 02:45:25 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  this will sound horrible (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mostserene1

        but as long as Christie is massively obese he is dead in the water on a national level.  Its one thing to be known as a bully.  its another to look like the stereotype of a bully.  Like it or not, agree with it or not but looks matter and what he looks like is not what Americans want in a leader.  

        On a more practical level, I don't know if his body could stand a national campaign.  He isn't healthy and presidential campaigns  take a toll on healthy people.  I can't imagine what it would do to someone like him.

        It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee

        by ksuwildkat on Tue May 13, 2014 at 06:36:17 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  what did he "no" and when did he "no" it (12+ / 0-)

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "If we appear to seek the unattainable, then let it be known that we do so to avoid the unimaginable." (@eState4Column5)

    by annieli on Tue May 13, 2014 at 02:04:06 PM PDT

  •  Is Jake Blues on their crisis management team? (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW, howabout, Dirtandiron, hbk

  •  I'm not a doctor, but... (11+ / 0-)

    Christie has said he doesn't recall the Sept. 11 conversation with Wildstein.

    It sounds like he might have brain damage.

  •  If Christie thinks we'll believe that... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    howabout, Dirtandiron, a2nite, The Termite

    ...he's dim, Jed!

    Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

    by JeffW on Tue May 13, 2014 at 02:13:15 PM PDT

  •  I can actually believe (0+ / 0-)

    That Republicans may have dismissed criticism as a partisan attack, because that's pretty much how Republicans roll these days.  If they had understood and believed what was going on, maybe they would have done a better job of covering things up or finding a willing fall guy to pin all of the blame on.

    It's the same sort of willful ignorance that you might think you see if you are the sort of person who views some defenders of certain Democrats as Koolaid-drinkers who seem unable to recognize what you see as the truth.

  •  that's one yes, one no, a yes and a no, (0+ / 0-)

    one no, a yes, a no and a yes, and a no ?
    that about right ?
    or, i mean, "That IS not right."

    TRAILHEAD of accountability for Bush-2 Crimes? -- Addington's Perpwalk.

    by greenbird on Tue May 13, 2014 at 02:23:51 PM PDT

  •  The Fat Guy and The Bridge (0+ / 0-)

    the ever present counterweight to Benghazi.

    I kid, I kid...

  •  OK, can't keep my mouth shut any longer. (7+ / 0-)

    Before I retired I was licensed as a Traffic Engineer in California, #554. Anyone who postulates lane closure as a study device is a certifiable moron. There is nothing to be learned by limiting traffic.
    End of story; no proposal, no study, no traffic pattern or aspect to test.
    Lane closure=reduced traffic, duh...  

    "the northern lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see. Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge, I cremated Sam McGee". - Robert Service, Bard of the Yukon

    by Joe Jackson on Tue May 13, 2014 at 02:29:57 PM PDT

    •  I think it has been pretty well established that (4+ / 0-)

      the traffic study was no legitimate traffic study, so I would postulate that many of those involved in furthering the "traffic study" defense are involved , knowingly or not,  in the cover-up portion of the festivities.

      I've said before that one of the most critical questions the Bridgegate panel can ask future witnesses is:

      Did you watch or discuss Baroni's testimony about the traffic study to the Bridgegate panel?

      When, with whom and why?

      There is simply no legitimate reason IMO that normal people would watch or discuss testimony about traffic studies if they were really about traffic studies. I DO think people might discuss and watch testimony about traffic studies if they also knew (or suspected) them to be a cover-up of more nefarious events.

      “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.” FDR

      by Phoebe Loosinhouse on Tue May 13, 2014 at 02:52:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yep Phoebe, (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Phoebe Loosinhouse, singe

        I was pushed over the edge while watching TV "news". I knew most folks here "got it".

        "the northern lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see. Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge, I cremated Sam McGee". - Robert Service, Bard of the Yukon

        by Joe Jackson on Tue May 13, 2014 at 03:05:34 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I was supporting your point and it can't be made (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Joe Jackson, singe

          too many times.

          When Drewniak says that Wildstein took complete ownership of the fake study and that he "thought it up", the next logical question would be

          He thought it up in response to what?

          To whose need and to what purpose?

          If Wildstein thought up the fake study, why were so many people, like Baroni and others, so invested in maintaining that story, instead of saying, hey, we have a loose cannon here at the PA that we have to get rid of, we don't know what he is doing or why he is doing it and so we are canning him?

          It would seem that lots of people other than Wildstein were in on maintaining the cover story.

          “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.” FDR

          by Phoebe Loosinhouse on Tue May 13, 2014 at 03:35:37 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  thanks for the clarity joe. n/t (0+ / 0-)
  •  dumber than dirt (0+ / 0-)

    would be anyone who believes this garbage.
    nut then we are talking the repub base.

    if a dem tried this i would be disgusted.

  •  i can only assume (0+ / 0-)

    that gov bully was told about the lane closures during one of his exercise times and he forgot about it while trying to remain smaller than a bread truck.

  •  I listened to live to some of the testimony. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sea note, JohnB47, bobatkinson

    The single biggest bombshell IMO was that Drewniak told Christie that Wildstein said the governor had knowlege of the closure while it was going on because Wildstein said something to him about it on Sept 11.

    So Christie knew in December that he himself HAD been implicated by Wildstein openly (to Drewniak) along with Stepian and Kelley when he gave the  December news conference.

    Now here is the $64,000 question that as far as I can see was missed by everyone on the panel and wasn't asked.

    If Wildstein was correct about Kelley and Stepian, as he proved to be, why would he be incorrect regarding Christie? Not that it's impossible, but right now he is batting 2 out of 3.

    Doesn't it also gives a little insight as to why Christie was so invested in protecting his staff in December and why he was sick when concrete proof of the idiocy (in the form of emails) was revealed in January?

    “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.” FDR

    by Phoebe Loosinhouse on Tue May 13, 2014 at 02:41:32 PM PDT

    •  so did Drewniak tell Christie about traffic study? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bobatkinson

      doesn't that mean they were both in on the manufactured alibi? When did Drewniak first hear about the 'study'? Did Drewniak talk about a study the night he dined with Wildstein? How did Christie know about study when he supposedly said he couldn't remember every 'traffic study'? Sounds like they're building a case of deniability rather than coming clean.

  •  NYT interpretation seems to be different from your (0+ / 0-)

    different from yours.  Or at least it gives his testimony a more positive spin (in terms of his testimony backing up Gov Christie):

    NY Times front page:

    "Christie Spokesman Testifies He Was Misled on Bridge:

    Michael Drewniak told New Jersey legislators that neither Gov Chris Christie nor his closest advisers were involved in closing lanes to the George Washington Bridge."

  •  LIAR - (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bobatkinson
    “Nobody would mock something as egregious as we now know transpired,” he said. “This governor — and none of the people around him — would never make a mockery of something so abusive on its face.”
    Except for the FACT that there are a bunch of emails floating around that say a very different thing . . . "Is it wrong that I am smiling?"
  •  I thought that this was the route Crispy (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bobatkinson

    and his henchmen would take....the circular logic route, that is. It all comes back to they either knew and are lying or they didn't know and they are incompetent. Lose-Lose.

  •  The special committee investigating bridgegate (4+ / 0-)

    was due to expire in early January. Christie and his staff were hoping to run out the clock and see that it was not re-appointed during this year's session. If they kept there heads down then they were going to escape further scrutiny. Someone should ask Michael duhaime when he hits the stand if there was any discussion with the "guv" about the possibility of that special committee not being re-appointed.

  •  Christie is such a Saint (0+ / 0-)

    How horrible,the poor man duped by a staff of turncoats,many who he knew for years as friends.  The pity wagon should stop and look at the real Christie.  A bombastic bully. Hope this is the end of his political career.  How come he's still a corpulent porpoise after weight loss surgery?  Works for everyone but him. Maybe he'll sue the Dr. Because an unknown staffer arranged for the surgery and he knows nothing about it.

  •  Primaries are a bitch (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bobatkinson

    and if Christie thinks for a minute his primary opponents are not going to HAMMER him over Bridgegate I have a bridge to sell him.

    Christie - Bridge over troubled health

    Santorum - Right of Attila the Hun

    Cruz - too brown, too Canadian

    Rubio - even browner, doesnt want to shoot immigrants

    Perry - Oops

    Bush - Been there, don't that

    Not a bad candidate in the group as far as we are concerned!

    It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee

    by ksuwildkat on Tue May 13, 2014 at 06:41:56 PM PDT

  •  Excellent point. Excellent diary. (0+ / 0-)
    But that's a circular defense—Drewniak is saying that if they had known what was actually going on, they would have handled things differently.

    But they did know the facts of what was going on.

    (emphasis mine)

    They knew the facts, and they ignored them because: Democrats.  Imagine the precedent that would be set if they get away with this?

    It's okay to completely ignore the feedback and concerns of a Democrat simply on the basis of them being a Democrat?

    “Now folks, by going on that web show, Barack Obama undermined the authority of the presidency. And that is Fox News' job.” - Stephen Colbert

    by Older and Wiser Now on Wed May 14, 2014 at 03:24:53 PM PDT

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