January 10th, 2014
09:08 AM ET

Traffic Scandal May Become Legal Nightmare for Christie

This may turn into much more than just a political scandal.

It may have seemed like a teenage prank at the time, but the blockage of bridge traffic as a possible act of partisan political revenge has put New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in the middle of a serious legal stew, CNN's Pamela Brown reports.

And the fire underneath it is just beginning to heat up for the Republican presidential hopeful, as the state assembly plans to post online 907 pages of documents related to the case Friday.

State lawmakers questioned one of Christie's allies on Thursday, a former state official implicated in the scandal. So far, David Wildstein has repeatedly refused to answer, invoking his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

The legislators charged him with contempt for his lack of cooperation. But the dam could eventually break as lawmakers dig in their heels, analysts say.

As long as Christie was telling the truth at a marathon press conference he held on Thursday, he should be able to step out of the caldron, analysts who spoke with CNN say.

For nearly two hours the high-profile governor, who gained national recognition for his response to superstorm Sandy, answered questions from journalists, divulging many details.

"He was pretty specific about what he knew and when he knew it," said CNN analyst Gloria Borger on The Lead with Jake Tapper.

But if any of it doesn't jibe with other peoples' stories, information provided in documents or clues that pop up, experts say Christie could get dragged into civil and criminal lawsuits.

One thing is certain. The legislative inquiry into the alleged misdeeds that led to the traffic jam on the George Washington Bridge is just getting into gear.

Christie says he didn't know anything about this. How could this get him?

If Christie's close associates are prosecuted or convicted, it could lead them to turn on Christie, Dershowitz said.

Thursday's press conference was the longest and most candid in Christie's career, New Jersey public radio reporter told Jake Tapper.

"This is absolutely extraordinary," he said. Christie offered a lot of information to back up his claim that he knew nothing.

At the same time, he may have given investigators fodder to work with, but also a lot for Wildstein and Kelly to contradict, should they open up to lawmakers who questioning them.

"They may very well want to save themselves and say, 'Wait a minute; don't believe what the governor said,'" Dershowitz told Baldwin.

Wildstein may have pleaded the Fifth initially, but that's normal in the beginning, Jeffrey Toobin told CNN's Wolf Blitzer.

"You don't want your client testifying until he has seen all the documents available."

But things could change. If lawmakers decide to go after Christie, they could offer Wildstein - or Kelly, if they question her - immunity.

They could decide to save themselves at his expense, Toobin said.

Anyone Christie fired may also try to get revenge.

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soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. James Bradbury

    IRS, Benghazi & Fast and furious, All that mental illness has been debunked, Repeating mental illness is a form of
    mental illness, I think you need to seek some help but I wouldn't look to Chris Christie to get it, Your request for help
    may get stuck in traffic, Good luck in the future, Jimmy B

    January 10, 2014 at 7:46 pm | Reply
  2. Eric Enstrom

    Toobin, you sir are a fraud! IRS, Benghazi, etc ok nothing to see here but this is some huge, career ending scandal?!?!? Zero credibility!

    January 10, 2014 at 12:58 pm | Reply

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