After about a month of relief, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's Bridgegate problem is back in the news. Even more troubling for the likely 2016 presidential candidate, however, is the string of bad reports — most of which have flown under the radar — detailing N.J.'s finances to be in a far more a precarious state than was previously understood. Yet despite these mounting troubles, Christie is beginning to speak more openly and candidly about his plans for 2016, as if his problems in the here-and-now don't require his full attention.
Here's an update on the latest Christie news:
- Former Christie campaign manager Bill Stepien is now claiming, through his lawyer, that Christie's self-exonerating "investigation" into Bridgegate is dishonest and portrays Stepien as more culpable — and Christie as less knowledgeable — than was really the case. While Christie has repeatedly insisted that nobody on his staff told him about the lane closures on the George Washington Bridge until the story went national, Stepien says that that's not true and that he told Christie about the traffic snarl a day before Christie went before the press and said his staff was unaware of the incident.
- The Star-Ledger has a new editorial blasting Christie for "well-timed ... amnesia" on the Bridgegate issue and notes that Christie has often "forgotten" conversations that contradict his narrative.
- Nevertheless, Christie seems unfazed by Bridgegate and said on Wednesday that he expects it to have no impact whatsoever on his 2016 chances. Asked whether he thinks Bridgegate will have an impact on his presidential hopes, Christie said, "I think it will have none, because I didn't do anything." He downplayed the importance of the incident and mocked the media for giving it so much attention.
- Asked whether he'd be unhappy about running against former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in 2016, Christie said that he would, because he considers Bush a friend. "It would be stressful because I consider Jeb a friend. And he’s been a wonderful friend to me," Christie said. "You like to run against people that you don’t like.”
- In more policy-oriented news, Moody's has downgraded New Jersey's debt and announced concerns over the state's lackluster economic growth. It's the sixth downgrade since Christie became governor and the third just this year. Christie is to some degree blaming unspecified economic advisers, who, he says, gave him bad projections about the state's fiscal future.