Star-Ledger Columnist: Christie Could Be Impeached Over Bridgegate
Wednesday, January 8, 2014 06:13 PM
By: Todd Beamon
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie could face impeachment over the spiraling Bridgegate scandal, Star-Ledger columnist Paul Mulshine said on Wednesday.
"If U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman decided to be as creative as Christie used to be back when Christie was U.S. attorney, he could go after some of these people," Mulshine told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV. "Now, I don't think normal political retribution is a crime, because half of the politicians in the country would be in jail.
"But if you think of putting the public at risk, people do that all of the time with stupid regulations and so forth, and there's all sorts of things you could argue."
The Republican governor, considered a likely 2016 presidential candidate, is under fire after the Newark-based Star-Ledger published emails and text messages showing that Christie's staff was involved in closing lanes at the George Washington Bridge in September.
The closures caused nasty hours-long traffic jams for thousands of commuters in the Borough of Fort Lee, and have been attacked as retribution for the Democratic mayor of the city, Mark Sokolich, not supporting Christie's re-election bid last year.
Though Christie has denied that either he or his staff were involved in the lane closures, he said in a statement on Wednesday that he was outraged and that "people will be held responsible" for the incident.
The George Washington Bridge, which connects North Jersey to New York City, is among the world's busiest, carrying some 300,000 vehicles on a typical day.
The Democratic-controlled New Jersey Assembly will hold hearings on the closures on Thursday. Some state Democrats have called for a federal investigation.
"It's just so embarrassing, and they might even call for impeachment," Mulshine told Malzberg. "I don't think they'd get it, but they do have the votes to get it if they wanted it. I don't think they'd go that far."
The columnist noted how a Christie opponent in the 2009 gubernatorial primary race likened the scandal to Watergate, which brought down Republican President Richard Nixon in 1974.
"The margin of victory is almost exactly the same, 22 points," Mulshine said. "[Nixon] was way ahead in the polls. He did something that there was no political advantage in doing — and he got caught.
"The funny thing now is, back then it was the tapes. Now we've got these knuckleheads putting this on email. Don't they have cellphones? They put this stuff all down in email and now the Democrats are saying, 'What else did Christie do, in terms of persecuting critics and so forth?'"
He noted how Christie, when he was a U.S. attorney, used broad interpretation of federal statues to bring charges against politicians, and this could be used against him in this case.
"Federal crimes are actually fairly constricted. They're like wire fraud, mail fraud. You need to show political retribution by itself.
"When Christie was U.S. attorney going after politicians, there was what was called 'honest services,' and politicians were getting indicted just for simply the crime of depriving people of their honest services.
"But the Supreme Court, in 2009, when Christie got a lot of convictions under that broad statute of people who really hadn't done much wrong, threw it out."