Read all about the Kwik Konviktion on All Kounts of KrispyKrony Konspirators Bridget Anne Kelly and Bill Baroni on WNYC's website.
Though the Big Rat Bastard Gummer of NJ has done his best to treat the Bridgegate scandal as an unwelcome inconvenience — a made-up conspiracy of which he is the principal victim — I think we can take it as demonstrated that it cost him his shot at the 2016 GOP presidential nomination.
Of course We the People have notoriously short memories, and the BRBGNJ was so forceful and shameless in his thumping leap onto the Billion-Dollar Loser's presidential bandwagon that it seems he may actually have been the BDL's first choice for running mate, and speculation persists as to what his potential reward in the Trump administration might be, like maybe U.S. attorney general? So the BRBGNJ's political future is one obvious question raised by today's developments, as reported early this afternoon by Nancy Solomon, managing editor of New Jersey Public Radio and director of NYC public-radio station WNYC's 2016 election coverage, part of the public-radio team that has been keeping watch on Bridgegate developments.
A jury has found two former top employees of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie guilty on all counts for shutting down access lanes to the George Washington Bridge to punish a Christie foe.
Former Port Authority deputy executive director Bill Baroni and former Christie deputy chief of staff Bridget Anne Kelly were found guilty of conspiracy, misapplication of public resources, and fraud.
The two face sentences of up to 86 years in prison. The sentencing has been scheduled for Feb. 21, 2017.
In effect they were found guilty of trying too hard to boost Christie’s political fortunes in preparation for his presidential campaign. Christie allies sought endorsements from Democratic mayors in his 2013 re-election. When Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich balked on that request, his town was gridlocked with four mornings in a row of traffic that delayed ambulances, stranded kids on school buses and left untold numbers late for work and medical appointments.
The damning testimony of the scheme’s architect, David Wildstein and reams of documentary evidence, particularly the incriminating, infamous email from Kelly — “time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee” — were too great for the defense to surmount.
“The evidence in this case has shown that you when the spotlight wasn't burning on them, when they weren't under investigation, when they thought no one else was watching, the defendants engaged in a scheme to punish Mayor Sokolich,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Vikas Khanna said in his summations. “The evidence has shown that not only did they execute this scheme, but delighted in it.”
The jury of seven women and five men agreed. Their verdict comes at a time when Christie’s popularity among New Jersey residents is at 21 percent, a historic low. He is planning to campaign for Donald Trump this weekend in New Hampshire and Pennsylvania.
Though Christie himself was not on trial, the convictions tarnish the reputation of a man who was once the U.S. Attorney for New Jersey, before becoming Governor and a GOP candidate for President, At the Republican National Convention in July, Christie, who is the Transition Chairman for Trump, thundered — “Guilty or not guilty?” — in reference to Hillary Clinton.
But now the verdict “guilty” has been rendered four times for aides Christie once named to some of the most sensitive positions in his administration: Kelly, Baroni, and Wildstein, for their role in the Bridgegate scandal, and David Samson, the former chairman of the Port Authority and one of Christie’s closest friends, for demanding a special flight route from United Airline in exchange for special treatment from the Port Authority.
A fifth Christie aide, former transportation commissioner Jamie Fox, still faces charges in the bribery scandal. . . .
THERE ARE TWO WAYS WE COULD LOOK AT THE
FALLOUT FOR THE KRISPYKRONIES' EX-MASTER
Of course the KrispyKronies will appeal, and I suspect I'm not the only one who thinks that, if nothing else, there will be enough to overturn the verdict(s) in the trial judge's advice to the jury that they didn't have to be persuaded of the defendants' knowing participation in a political retribution scheme. So we've merely completed Phase 1 of their legal ordeal. Meanwhile the higher-ups, the chain gang of political thugs leading all the way up to the Big Rat Bastard Gummer himself, are all sitting pretty.
So there are two possible answers to the obvious question, how today's development affects the BRBGNJ himself, just as we knew there would be going into the KrispyKronies' trial:
(1) Whether they were convicted or not, the BRBGNJ couldn't lose, because despite his former stooges' testimony that, contrary to his public insistences, they kept him apprised of all developments in the Bridgegate traffic disaster, there is still no provable link to his involvement in the scheme, and so once again the stooges are trapped in the punishment system while the big boys stand above it all.
(2) Whether they were convicted or not, the BRBGNJ couldn't win, because the KrispyKronies' trial had — notably via the testimony of the defendants themselves, left dangling by their onetime protector — exposed so much about the punitive, power-mongering, personally driven modus operandi of Gummer Krispy's reign of terror in NJ that he's permanently damaged goods, as reflected in his already-plummeted poll-approval numbers.
As developments were developing earlier today, WNYC's Matt Katz, who was inside the courthouse where the surprisingly quick and decisive verdicts were announced, inclined to (2). But I wonder whether Matt is perhaps too close to the story. After all, is there anything in that story that's unfamiliar to America's Biggest Loser? Not the insatiable self-aggrandizement, surely? Or the casual corruption at every level? Or, the personal animosities that animate all-consuming, insatiable vendettas? And certainly not the thirst for unchecked authoritarian power?
Aren't these, in fact, the very tools the Billion-Dollar Loser brings to his heroic quest to Make America Great Again? (In which connection, I heartily recommend John Cassidy's terrific newyorker.com post “Two Americas: Why Donald Trump Still Has a Lot of Support,” which Howie reported on earlier today. And, while we're at it, Paul Waldman's WaPo “Plum Line” post yesterday, “Republicans are now vowing Total War. And the consequences could be immense,” and for that matter Paul's post today, taking off from the latest jobs report, “The economy is better under Democratic presidents,” about which he tweeted, “Maybe it's time for Republicans to admit that Obama is an economic genius.”)
“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.” — Sinclair Lewis