As Rachel reported on the show last night, there were quite a few developments late yesterday in New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) bridge scandal, including the governor himself answering questions on the controversy for the first time in weeks.
Indeed, one of the more striking moments last night came when Christie, appearing on a local radio show, stuck to a position that’s literally hard to believe.
CHRISTIE: [A]s I said at the time of January 9th when I did my press conference, I still don’t know whether there was a traffic study that morphed into –
HOST: You still don’t know at this point whether there was a traffic study?
CHRISTIE: Well, what I’m saying, Eric, did this start as a traffic study that morphed into some political shenanigans, or did it start as political shenanigans that became a traffic study?
The host’s incredulity was understandable, since the notion that there was some kind of legitimate traffic study was discredited quite a while ago. Christie hopes to maintain his credibility as multiple scandals surrounding his administration continue to unfold, but the more he suggests the traffic-study fig leaf was real, the more suspect his defense appears.
It’s worth emphasizing that in the same interview the governor “unequivocally” denied having anything to do with the Fort Lee scheme before it was executed by his team last September.
It was, of course, Christie’s former deputy chief of staff, Bridget Ann Kelly, who said it was “time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” and it was Kelly who also raised some eyebrows late yesterday afternoon.
Kelly, whom Christie fired last month, has refused to comply with the subpoena issued by the state legislature’s investigatory committee.
In a letter issued [Monday] by the lawyer for Kelly, who last month was fired as Gov. Chris Christie’s deputy chief of staff after emails emerged showing she had apparently orchestrated the lane closures, Kelly cited both her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and Fourth Amendment privacy rights.
Michael Critchley, Kelly’s lawyer – widely known as an aggressive and highly skilled trial lawyer – wrote in the letter that, “Here, the information demanded from Ms. Kelly … directly overlaps with a parallel federal grand jury investigation being conducted by the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey.
Kelly is not the only former member of Team Christie to take the Fifth in response to investigators’ request for information – Bill Stepien, Christie’s former campaign manager, and David Wildstein, Christie’s former aide at the Port Authority, both did the same thing in January.
And speaking of subpoenas, Christie also acknowledged last night that his office has received a federal subpoena from the U.S. Attorney’s office as part of its investigation into the bridge scandal. This is separate from the subpoenas issued by the state legislature’s investigatory committee. The governor said his office will comply with the federal subpoena.
Finally, Christie said during the radio interview last night that he’s “curious” about “what happened here” and remains “really anxious to find out.” It’s unclear, however, why he didn’t ask Bridget Ann Kelly why the scheme was hatched before her dismissal.