As long as Christie was telling the truth at a marathon press conference he held on Thursday, he should be able to step out of the caldron, analysts who spoke with CNN say.
For nearly two hours the high-profile governor, who gained national recognition for his response to superstorm Sandy, answered questions from journalists, divulging many details.
“He was pretty specific about what he knew and when he knew it,” said CNN analyst Gloria Borger on The Lead with Jake Tapper.
But if any of it doesn’t jibe with other peoples’ stories, information provided in documents or clues that pop up, experts say Christie could get dragged into civil and criminal lawsuits.
One thing is certain. The legislative inquiry into the alleged misdeeds that led to the traffic jam on the George Washington Bridge is just getting into gear.
It was September and Christie was full steam into his re-election bid — which he won two months later. Wildstein, who Christie appointed to a high position at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, ordered the closing of two of the three lanes of traffic leading to the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee. It held up motorists trying to make it into Manhattan and caused days of massive traffic jams in Fort Lee, where the Democratic mayor Mark Sokolich had declined to endorse Christie for re-election.
Democrats speculated that the mayhem was political retaliation against Sokolich. Hearings ensued, and Wildstein resigned under pressure. Then came Wednesday’s revelation that a top Christie aide, Bridget Anne Kelly had e-mailed Wildstein before the closures, telling him, “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.” “Got it,” Wildstein replied back. He e-mailed a comment that the parents of children stuck in school buses in the traffic jams were Democratic voters. Christie fired Kelly after the scandal broke.
Possible prank, sure, but something to sue over?
This was no fun and games for people who sat tormented for hours in traffic and missed important appointments, legal analyst Alan Dershowitz told CNN’s Brooke Baldwin. It did real damage.
It was utter chaos those days. People were pouring into the store, complaining,” Debbie Minuto recalled Thursday in her shop, Binghamton Bagel Cafe, in the town of Fort Lee. “The bridge is a lifeline here. You take away the bridge, you take away our livelihood.”
That makes it a legal matter, Dershowitz said. “The law looks backwards and says: What causes these harms?” he said. One group of residents from Bergen County, where Fort Lee is located, has already filed a class-action civil lawsuit against Christie. They want to be compensated for alleged wages lost, when they arrived late at work.