Christie Allies Lawyer Up as Bridge Questions Mount

Two of Governor Chris Christie’s political appointees have hired lawyers amid mounting questions over whether they abused their positions to inflict political retribution on a mayor who refused to endorse their boss.

The Wall Street Journal reported that appointees Bill Baroni and David Wildstein hired outside counsel after resigning their posts at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey following congressional intervention into an ongoing inquiry.

That inquiry is asking why two of the entry lanes to the George Washington Bridge were shut down in September after the mayor of Fort Lee, New Jersey, refused to endorse Christie for reelection. Christie and his allies insist the lane closures were due to a traffic study, but they’ve so far been unable to produce this study.

A collection of documents detailing correspondence between Christie’s office and the port authority are due to be delivered to New Jersey Democrats by Thursday, which may or may not be an influencing factor in the appointees’ decision to hire attorneys. Members of Congress have also asked the federal Department of Transportation to investigate the lane closures, which led to hours-long delays.

“Whatever did happen still has not been explained,” MSNBC host Rachel Maddow said Tuesday night. “Governor Christie has gone so far as to say mistakes were made, he’s gone so far as to accept the resignations of his top two appointees at the agency -- his longtime political allies of his -- but so far he’s still trying to stick to the line that it was a traffic study.”

“That has never seemed credible, and the executive director of the agency says it is not true,” she added. “With a federal inquiry now, and a new round of subpoenas on the issue, it seems like we are going to learn definitively whether or not this traffic study line is true. And if the traffic study line is proven to not be true, what happens to Chris Christie then?”

This video is from “The Rachel Maddow Show,” aired Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013.

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Photo: Flickr user Bob Jagendorf, creative commons licensed.