Sunday, September 18, 2016

Editor pens Christie's political obituary on eve of GWB trial

There's never been any love lost between New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Tom Moran, the political columnist and chief editorial writer at the state's largest, daily newspaper, The (Newark) Star-Ledger.

Tom Moran, Star-Ledger editorial writer and columnist
Christie went out of his way to embarrass Moran at a news conference shortly after his first election. Moran, in turn, found an endless list of Christie policies and personality traits to attack over the governor's subsequent seven years in office. 

True, he wrote the editorial in which the Ledger endorsed Christie for a second term but, within four months, Moran recanted, declaring: "we blew it."

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie

Today, on the eve of the first day of the highly anticipated Bridgegate trial, Moran could barely contain his pleasure, in writing:

If you suspect, as I do, that a notorious control freak like Gov. Chris Christie must have known about the Bridgegate caper, and is lying like a snake when he denies it, then your moment has finally arrived. 
Three years after the scandal broke, we are about to hear a ton of evidence for the first time as the criminal trial gets underway, starting Monday. 
We will hear fresh testimony under oath from key players who have been silent until now. We will hear about grand jury testimony that has been locked in a vault. 
We'll hear from Christina Renna, a Christie aide who texted that the governor "flat-out lied" when he claimed that senior staff didn't know about the lane closures. And we'll finally hear from David Wildstein, who has pleaded guilty in the conspiracy and says that "evidence exists" showing the governor knew all about it. 
This is a new ballgame. In the political sphere, where this scandal has lived for three years, there is no punishment for hiding information or lying about it. 
But this is a criminal trial in federal court. Play those games, and you could land in jail.    

Later in the piece, Moran writes:

Once this trial is over, Democrats in the Legislature are likely to reopen their investigation and take direct aim at the governor. They called off that hunt only to avoid interfering with this trial. 

The barely repressed glee that bubbles to the surface in this column is not just one man's opinion and, maybe, revenge. Most Democratic lawmakers share it. So do a surprising number of Republicans (who won't admit it publicly). The governor's dismal approval rating in the polls tell us that an overwhelming number of New Jersey voters agree.

Although Bridget Anne Kelly and Bill Baroni are the only two people on trial, they are almost second bananas in what has become a political morality play.

If Tom Moran is right, the Bridgegate trail won't be judging them alone. It also could issue a verdict that ends Chris Christie's life-long political ambitions.

Read Moran's full column here      

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