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Chris Christie's Defenders Are Ridiculously Lame

Randy Mastro's investigation relied heavily on Belmar, NJ mayor Matt Doherty contradicting Hoboken mayor Dawn Zimmer's allegations. But if this is the best Christie and Mastro can do, why should anything they say be believed?

My husband, the litigation attorney, started yelling at poor Steve Kornacki as he watched this segment this morning.

"You're asking the questions wrong!"
"So sum up, damnit, and say, 'So you admit you didn't hear everything, don't you?'"
"Don't let him get away with that mealy-mouthed answer!"
"Hold on, hold on, he's not answering the question, follow up!"

Hell hath no fury worse than a litigation attorney watching a bad interrogation. The gears in his brain were furiously grinding as he mentally started planning how he would have deposed Belmar, NJ mayor Matt Doherty. Doherty was a co-panelist with Hoboken major Dawn Zimmer and NJ Community Affairs Commissioner Richard Constable on Hurricane Sandy rebuilding efforts. It was the event in which Zimmer alleged Constable told her that the percentage of recovery funds she would receive was contingent on her endorsement of Christie's re-election campaign.

Doherty insisted that no such conversation took place. But listen to how carefully he parses his words. He can't say he heard everything that took place between Zimmer and Constable, and Kornacki knows it. Kornacki should also know that Doherty's memory of the event is somewhat questionable.

Christie’s office disseminated a piece from the Asbury Park Press, quoting Belmar Mayor Matt Doherty (D), who was part of the same panel.

Belmar Mayor Matt Doherty, who also was a panelist, said he didn’t hear a conversation between Zimmer and Constable. “I sat next to Mayor Zimmer and, if I recall correctly, (Constable) was on my other side,” Doherty said.

If true, that would be a pretty important detail – Zimmer’s version of events makes clear that she was sitting next to the Christie administration official. But is Doherty’s memory accurate?

It is not. As is clear in the above photo, Doherty’s mistaken. Seated in the front row, from right to left, is Doherty, then Zimmer, then Constable. Patrick Murray, the director of Monmouth University’s polling institute, is on the far-left side of that front row.

It’s not surprising that the governor’s office hopes to undermine the accuracy of the mayor’s claims, but in this case, her version is at least plausible – she was seated next to Constable, just as she claimed. Doherty’s account, which Team Christie is circulating, is simply mistaken.

That does not mean, of course, that we can say with certainty what, if anything, Zimmer and Constable discussed. What’s more, the public television station that aired the special has no recording of the pre-show conversations.

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