TRENTON – “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.”
It’s just one sentence, but it’s viewed now as the tip of an iceberg that rocked Steamship Christie and will continue to do so for some time to come.
Emails obtained by subpoena were released this week that painted a picture of Christie confidants and trusted staff engineering a mind-boggling traffic jam in Fort Lee for four mornings last September, possibly as political payback because the Fort Lee mayor, a Democrat, would not back Christie’s re-election.
This week in the Statehouse will be remembered for one thing only. An administration whose motto for four years was the best defense is a good offense found itself completely on defense.
After somewhat sarcastically dismissing in December any talk of political shenanigans at the George Washington Bridge, Christie this week found himself firing a deputy chief, Bridget Anne Kelly, pulling back the state GOP nomination of his campaign manager Bill Stepien, trudging up to Fort Lee to apologize personally to Mayor Mark Sokolich, and issuing promises to meet with other inner-sanctum staff to find out who knew what when.
Meanwhile, the ousted Port Authority appointee at the center of this web, David Wildstein, took the Fifth and answered no questions put to him by the Assembly Transportation Committee after he could not get a judge to quash a subpoena on Thursday.
That left Chair John Wisniewski afterward talking about how the documents they did receive only raised more questions about what documents have been held back. He talked of probably issuing more subpoenas at some point: Kelly may be the next person summoned.
The committee found Wildstein, a former Politicker NJ editor, in contempt, and Wisniewski said that his silence over even the simplest of questions was perplexing.
Meanwhile, Christie, whose national ambitions suffered a gaping wound this week, continued to deny that he had any involvement in the lane closures at Fort Lee.