As if Gov. Chris Christie's week couldn't get any worse after a former top Port Authority official claimed that "evidence exists" proving Christie knew about the lane closings on the George Washington Bridge, he was booed while appearing in Times Square for the Super Bowl Hand Off Saturday afternoon.
A single photographed moment can be misleading but, damn, here's Christie at Super Bowl event where he got booed. pic.twitter.com/rqVbo2cZnO
— Jody Avirgan (@jodyavirgan) February 2, 2014
Also on Saturday, Christie sent out a 700-word email to allies titled, “5 Things You Should Know About The Bombshell That’s Not A Bombshell,” in which he attacks accuser David Wildstein's character as well as the NY Times' "bombshell" report: "Bottom line—David Wildstein will do and say anything to save David Wildstein," the email concludes. You can read it in full below.
An attorney for Wildstein, who is a high school friend of Christie's who resigned from the Port Authority in December as the scandal heated up, sent a letter to the Port Authority on Friday stating that “evidence exists … tying Mr. Christie to having knowledge of the lane closures, during the period when the lanes were closed. contrary to what the Governor stated publicly in a two-hour press conference.” Christie responded by citing "sloppy reporting" by the Times, then reverted to personal attacks on Wildstein: "In David Wildstein’s past, people and newspaper accounts have described him as ‘tumultuous’ and someone who ‘made moves that were not productive.'" He then went on to dredge up allegations from high school hoping to discredit him: "He was publicly accused by his high school social studies teacher of deceptive behavior."
Christie has been desperately trying to distance himself from Wildstein in recent weeks, despite previously praising him and reportedly using him as his "eyes and ears" in the Port Authority. Wildstein, who reportedly got his position at the Port Authority because of his friendship with the governor, has been downgraded from an old friend to someone Christie is barely acquainted with and has only met a few times in his life. Political reporters aren't buying it:
Shorter Christie: the guy we appointed to the Port Authority to be our eyes & ears is an untrustworthy sociopath: http://t.co/l62BOsjAVE
— Christopher Hayes (@chrislhayes) February 2, 2014
Two months ago, Christie praised his public service, and now says he can't be trusted. The gov turns on Wildstein. http://t.co/r3XzrudJuq
— Ted Mann (@TMannWSJ) February 2, 2014
For the record, Christie himself was a reader of "Wally Edge's" anonymous blog. He would email me about it when I wrote for it.
— Steve Kornacki (@SteveKornacki) February 1, 2014
From @GovChristie spox on Dec. 6: "Mr. Wildstein has been a tireless advocate for New Jersey’s interests at the Port Authority."
— Ted Mann (@TMannWSJ) February 1, 2014
— Ted Mann (@TMannWSJ) February 1, 2014
Brian Adams, a former political reporter in New Jersey and now an assistant professor of history at Baruch College, nailed the pettiness of Christie's strategy with this long piece for Talking Points Memo:
It is hard for me to believe that the governor of an American state could author such a piece of risible juvenilia, except it is even harder for me to believe a paid communications professional could have been behind this. The “argument” Christie (or possibly one very very close longtime advisor) is making here is that David Wildstein is a bad guy.
Because as a “a 16-year-old kid” he filed a lawsuit over a school board election and was “publicly accused by his high school social studies teacher of deceptive behavior.” Because he was, according to Christie, a “tumultuous” person (not the correct usage of that word, Governor, but whatever). Because he was “a political animal” who had “a controversial tenure” as the mayor of Livingston. Because he “made moves that were not productive.”
He adds that Christie is a hypocrite about payback politics:
And here we get to the heart of the matter. David Wildstein was put in the Port Authority by Chris Christie, in a job Christie invented, to be the governor’s eyes and ears - his enforcer. Wildstein was put at the Port so Christie could more effectively use the Port as an extension of his political operation (as Steve and I are documenting, more and more, with each passing week).
So spare us the shock that Wildstein is “a political animal.” Christie knew who Wildstein was before he appointed him to this job. There is no sense in distancing yourself from one of your own appointees who was given a job specifically because his skills matched what you were looking to accomplish with that appointment.