Bridgegate testimony could hurt Christie, political experts say
The attorney for Gov. Chris Christie's former deputy chief of staff Bridget Kelly says he'll subpoena anyone necessary to prove his client's innocence.
Christie said he had "no misgivings" about being called to testify, but political experts said it is not good for the governor's presidential hopes if there is a long, drawn out legal fight with a lot of testimony from members of Christie's inner circle and his top advisers.
"It's important to note that the U.S. Attorney (Paul Fishman) did absolute back flips to make it very clear that he had nothing on Gov. Christie," said Matt Hall, professor of political science at Seton Hall University. "There will be a court fight. If that fight leads directly to him and there's evidence that they may have sat on before that he was more actively involved, I think that's really a death knell to him."
On May 1 former Port Authority official and Christie ally David Wildstein pleaded guilty for his role in the unannounced access lane closures at the George Washington Bridge in September of 2013. The closures led to massive traffic jams during the first week of school and the anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks.
Wildstein said he plotted with Kelly and former Port Authority deputy executive director Bill Baroni to close the lanes and cause maximum traffic problems as political retribution to Fort Lee's democratic mayor for refusing to endorse Christie's reelection campaign. Kelly and Baroni have been indicted on nine counts including conspiracy and fraud. Both have pleaded not guilty.
"For the governor it's not what he knew. It's what everyone around him knew," said Rider University political science professor Ben Dworkin. "I don't think anybody expects a quick trial if these things indeed actually go to trial. These kinds of things are going to just drag this Bridgegate story further and further into the next year."
The thought of being called to the stand did not seem to bother Christie while on a political trip to Mississippi. He said, "If they want to subpoena me that's fine….I'm happy to tell anyone everything I knew."