First, Chris Christie crashed out of the presidential race without even a top-three finish to show for it. Then he alienated many of his most loyal supporters with his stunning decision to endorse Donald Trump and play second fiddle to the Donald on the campaign trail. And now, this headline from the New York Times: "Chris Christie Knew About Bridge Lane Closings as They Happened, Prosecutors Say."
Writes Kate Zernike:
Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey knew that his close associates were involved in a plan to shut down lanes leading to the George Washington Bridge as it was happening and that the closings were intended to punish a local mayor for declining to support him, prosecutors said on Monday.
It was the first time Mr. Christie, a Republican, has been accused of knowing about the scheme as it unfolded.
Ruh roh. Christie insisted when the Bridgegate scandal broke that his aides were acting on their own and that he learned about it only from the news media. If prosecutors have evidence that contradicts Christie's long-held position, it could be curtains for his political future.
For Christie, the Bridgegate allegations are only the latest body blow in a year that has been absolutely disastrous for him politically. And things just seem to be getting progressively worse.
Christie might have been able to weather his disappointing run for president. He had his moments and even surged — albeit too early — in New Hampshire. When he left the race in early February, you could imagine a path for him in 2020 — presumably unencumbered by the Fort Lee lane closures because state investigations had turned up very little to dispute Christie's recounting of events.
But then, weeks later, he endorsed Trump — a move opposed by a number of his closest advisers. In the weeks and months that followed, Christie seemed to wholly subsume his personality and views within those of Trump. He was the perfect No. 2 guy — laughing at Trump's jokes, defending Trump's contradictory opinions and the like. He became an Internet sensation. And not in a good way.
When it came time to pick a vice president, Christie was regarded as a favorite but was ultimately passed over by Trump in favor of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, who had endorsed Sen. Ted Cruz ahead of the Hoosier State primary on May 3. Christie was none too happy about being overlooked.
And now, this. Now, what prosecutors allege in the opening phase of a trial doesn't make it fact. But it's somewhat hard to imagine prosecutors making such an allegation against a sitting governor unless they believed strongly that they could make that case.
The saddest reality for Christie is that news like today's regarding Bridgegate is less of a big deal than it would have been a year ago because the New Jersey governor just doesn't have that far left to fall anymore. His political career is already in tatters thanks to the Trump endorsement and all that followed. He doesn't have much left to lose. (One thing this case could cost Christie — assuming a) prosecutors can make good on their allegations and b) Trump gets elected president — is a chance at a role in the presidential cabinet, perhaps as attorney general.)
In other words, if this isn't rock bottom for Christie, it's pretty damn close.