New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie may not have been the unhappiest Republican in America this weekend — that title would have to go to Peyton Manning — but he was close. Not only did Christie have to contend with a bombshell report from the New York Times, but his response was widely mocked, he was publicly booed, and yet another aide resigned in the face of a subpoena. The score might not be quite as bad as 43-8, but make no mistake: Christie’s losing.
Here’s what you should know:
- On Friday, the New York Times published a report that sent shockwaves throughout New Jersey and American politics in general. The Times got its hands on a letter from the lawyer of David Wildstein, the childhood acquaintance Christie installed at the Port Authority who later engineered the lane closures on the George Washington Bridge. The initial report had Wildstein’s counsel saying that the ex-appointee of Christie had proof that the governor was lying about his prior knowledge of Bridgegate, but the Times subsequently revised the story to say that Wildstein says proof exists, but not that he necessarily is in possession of it.
- Responding to the Times report, the Star-Ledger called for Christie to resign or be impeached if Wildstein’s allegations prove true.
- At first, Christie’s office released a rather perfunctory response to the Wildstein letter. Later in the weekend, however, a message from Christie to a select group of donors, political allies, and media members “leaked” (as it was almost certainly intended to). The letter was strange, bordering on ridiculous; it featured a thorough assault on Wildstein’s character — tracing the former Christie ally’s supposed mendacity all the way back to his years in high school — as well as a ham-handed attack on the Times for its “sloppy” reporting. While attacking Wildstein was the obvious move on the part of Team Christie, it didn’t come without inherent risk. Mainly, if Wildstein is and always was such a bad guy, why did Christie keep him so close?
- Speaking of shady Christie associates, yet another subpoenaed Christie aide resigned this weekend. However, the aide in question, Christine Renna, insisted her decision had nothing to do with her being subpoenaed or Bridgegate, and that it was a decision she made “shortly after” Christie was elected to a second term.
- Meanwhile, Christie appeared on Saturday at a Super Bowl event in New York City intended to symbolize the passing of hosting duties from this year’s host-city to next year’s. Christie was there to represent New Jersey (the Super Bowl was played in East Rutherford) and was enthusiastically booed by the Times Square crowd.
- Ron Fournier, the influential centrist pundit and one-time Christie fan, penned a column renouncing Christie and recanting his previous kind words. “[H]ow stupid do you think we are, governor?” Fournier wrote. “Christie either knew or should have known that his administration was snarling Fort Lee in traffic and endangering lives.”
- And Fournier’s colleague, Joshua Kraushaar, who is usually quite sympathetic to Republicans and the conservative point-of-view more broadly, also wrote a piece throwing dirt on Christie. The title said it all: “Stick a fork in Christie.”
- There’s really no good news for Christie lately, but there were three events from which the governor can take some solace. For one, a New Jersey Democrat in the state Legislature said that, so far, no subpoenaed documents have revealed that Christie knew of the Fort Lee traffic snarl. For another, Christie got to attend Howard Stern’s birthday party, which was probably fun. Lastly, Christie was invited to speak at the yearly gathering of conservative activists known as CPAC. He was snubbed last year, which would indicate the best way to get on conservatives’ good side is to embroil yourself in a possibly career-ending scandal.
- P.S. — One thing to keep an eye on this Monday is the 20 groups and individuals whose subpoenas are due.