The New Jersey Assembly released thousands of pages of documents today obtained in relation to the George Washington Bridge scandal. They confirm a couple of suspicions.
First and foremost, Governor Chris Christie's fingerprints will never, ever be found on this act of petty political retribution. Susie's absolutely right: Christie didn't speak to his fired aides because they were carrying out his wishes, but to maintain plausible deniability, they were fired without any kind of debriefing or face-to-face meeting with him.
Second, Michael Wildstein was Christie's main thug-man. In tone and in deed, he was the mouthpiece for New Jersey's bully governor, and the man he really despised was Port Authority Executive Director Patrick Foye.
One thug moment comes after Foye ordered the lanes to be reopened in a furious email where he used the phrase "hasty and ill-advised decision" at least four or five times. A flurry of email ensued, especially when the press started sniffing around for public comment. Another Christie appointee, Bill Baroni, made sure those comments were not made. From the email strand:
Robert Durando responds to Foye's email on September 13 with a terse response, writing "We have restored the 3 toll lanes to Ft. Lee."
Patrick Foye answers that with a tone of relief, telling Durando he'll set up a meeting and asking communications director Lisa MacSpadden how best to get the word out. That question elicits a private email from Bill Baroni to Patrick Foye only looping MacSpadden:
There's Christie pal Baroni quashing all public comment on what is just a traffic study, right?
Predictably, Foye's angry email is leaked to the press, which just makes Wildstein furious:
That's more or less the Culture of Christie in a nutshell. Make no mistake, Wildstein was absolutely furious with Foye, and for very political reasons. This exchange with Bill Stepien is just one example:
There is also this gem between Wildstein and Baroni regarding a press request:
That's just a sample. There are more.
What we know from these documents is that the ball was put in motion by Christie's Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Anne Kelly. We know Wildstein was on hand on Monday, September 9th to observe the mess he made. We know the press was stonewalled throughout the following months, especially as local newspapers and Wall Street Journal reporter Michael Mann were digging to find out what happened.
We know the so-called traffic study was bogus.
We know Christie's cronies were thugs just like their boss.
But we don't have anything linking this directly to Christie, nor are we likely to get anything.