The first I heard of the tie-up at the George Washington Bridge – after thinking, ‘Well, what else is new?’ – and heard that it was due to a traffic study, I thought, “Are they out of their minds, conducting a traffic study on the anniversary 9/11? Why don’t they just include Al-Qaeda in their official e-mails while they’re at it?”
After four days of news coverage about it, the terrorists could have read about it for themselves. The subsequent investigation revealed that a) no one was notified of the closure of two of three access lanes from Fort Lee, particularly the police or any national officials and b) the ill-advised timing of the closures was deliberate and allegedly a foolish attempt at political payback to Fort Lee’s mayor.
In his state of the state address, Christie apologized and any conspirators who hadn’t already resigned were summarily fired. That Christie would be involved in a scheme so transparently stupid was beyond belief; he couldn’t have known back in August, though most people think he certainly knew by the time the story hit the headlines in September. The honking from Fort Lee should have been audible all the way down in Trenton, unless Christie stuffed cotton in his ears.
New Jerseyans just kind of shrugged it off. A scandal over a traffic jam? You’ve got to be kidding us. The Democrat legislature is going to spend millions of our dollars investigating a traffic jam? With that kind of money, they could start building a PATH station and line to Mid-Town Manhattan.
But a contrived traffic jam on the anniversary of 9/11. That’s a matter of a little more concern. Had the PA authorities been a little more forthcoming in just what a target the GW has been since the first World Trade Center bombings and why (Muslims consider bridges a religious symbol; the pathway to paradise – or hell – when it was considered as one of the Blind Sheikh’s targets, citizens would have been a little more alarmed about the lane closures and the resulting traffic jam.
Seriously, doesn’t anyone think down there in Trenton? Or at the Port Authority? The news of Bridge-Gate has not only crossed the river but the Atlantic all the way to the United Kingdom where the UK Daily Mail has published an exclusive interview with former Hunterdon County Prosecutor Bennett Barlyn who claims he was fired because he was prosecuting Christie’s political cronies for corruption and frog-marched out of his office.
His case had no bearing on the GW traffic jam but he claims that Christie’s treatment of him bears similarities to the new case.
“I was given no due process, I was fired without explanation and other people were intimidated in the office to remain silent….it was the same modus operandi. Barlyn, now a teacher on half his former $100,000 salary, is suing to uncover the files on the case, which have been locked away in Trenton.
Bennett Barlyn, a prosecutor for 18 years in New Jersey’s Hunterdon County, has spoken out following the revelations over the Bridgegate scandal to reveal his firsthand account of being fired and shamed at the hands of Christie and his political henchmen.
“It’s the same modus operandi,” he said Tuesday in an exclusive interview with MailOnline. “It’s the governor’s office again using a state agency in an improper way for political purposes.”
“Barlyn is suing the state of New Jersey for records that he says will prove the case’s dismissal was the product of political corruption. He secured indictments against Deborah Trout, a county sheriff loyal to Republicans. She was accused of gross violations that included hiring staff without vetting them, supplying a Christie donor with a false law enforcement ID and forcing underlings to sign loyalty oaths.
“According to Barlyn, the criminal case against Trout was moving along smoothly until the grand jury voted to indict her in March 2010. When the charges became public, an indicted undersheriff, Michael Russo, allegedly told an aide that Christie will ‘have this whole thing thrown out’, according to The Hunterdon County Democrat. Another Sheriff’s Officer Joseph Falat Jr, was also accused.
The day a judge unsealed the indictments, Dermot O’Grady, Christie’s deputy attorney general, arrived suddenly to take over the prosecutor’s office personally. Barlyn was shown the door. He was stripped of his job and ushered out of the courthouse by armed guards.”
“It was surprise to all involved. A woman on the jury told The New York Times in October that ‘we had no real disagreements. It was cut and dried.’
“Barlyn is in no doubt Christie was pulling the puppet strings. According to Barlyn, he governed like a gangster.
“’It was mafia-esque,’ Barlyn told MailOnline. ‘I was given no due process, I was fired without explanation and other people were intimidated in the office to remain silent. I was called into the office and told to surrender my credentials, my phone and my badge to get into the building. I asked what was happening and they said I wasn’t entitled to an explanation.’
“He watched helplessly as the criminal case his office worked so hard lock down was tossed out just days after Christie’s appointee got his hands on the reins. Charges were dropped against all three accused.”
“Then the Christie machine flexed its muscles, he claims.
“‘The day the indictments were unsealed the Attorney General’s office kicked out a prosecutor and took over our office,’ Barlyn said, claiming all the evidence in the case was removed from his county and locked up in Trenton, the capital city of New Jersey.
“Barlyn claims Attorney General Paula Dow, who served with the governor when he was the state’s top federal prosecutor, acted on Christie’s orders to install O’Grady in his place.
“’The Attorney General works directly for the governor,’ he explained. ‘It’s not an elected position. The governor is the Attorney General’s boss. What this reflects is [Christie’s] complete disregard to the law.”
According to Reuters, Christie “has hired a high-powered legal firm to help his office as federal prosecutors investigate whether any laws were broken when a top aide ordered seemingly politically motivated traffic jams.
“Christie, a likely 2016 Republican White House contender, turned to a former deputy of ex New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, another Republican with presidential aspirations, after revelations that a former aide called for ‘traffic problems’ at the George Washington Bridge in apparent retribution against a local Democratic mayor.
“About 20 subpoenas were issued in the case on Thursday, according to Democratic state Assembly member John Wisniewski. They included some 17 people and three organizations, he said, but no names would be disclosed until subpoenas are served.
“He said Christie was not among those subpoenaed.
“The governor’s office said it retained the law firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP to help with an internal review and to cooperate with an investigation announced last week by U.S. Attorney for New Jersey Paul Fishman.
“Randy Mastro, who in the 1990s served as chief of staff and deputy mayor for operations to Giuliani, will lead the team.”
Lay down with Democrats and you’ll wake up with subpoenas. This is what’s wrong with doing business the Democrat-party way. New Jersey is rife with corruption, particularly on their side of the aisle. Our last governor – a Democrat – is doing serious prison time. The guy before him – also a Democrat – wound up with a scandal of his own, of a homosexual nature, also involving the Port Authority. We were fairly warned about Corzine’s pre-gubernatorial scandals, but no one would listen.
If Christie is found to have threatened national security over a petty political squabble, then he will get what he deserves. We only caution that he’s innocent until proven guilty. Christie is a fun guy to observe at Town Hall meetings. But we Conservatives still have a lot of issues with some of his policies and his tendency to embrace Liberal Democrats while giving us Conservatives the cold shoulder.
We find it hard to believe that he would do anything so completely idiotic and at that particular time (9/11) to a Democrat, a party he’s always so eager to embrace. No Conservative would do something so criminally stupid. A Democrat would, and would furthermore, receive huzzahs from the Media cheerleaders. A moderate in a Blue state might just use Democrat retaliatory tactics since he’s essentially a Democrat in disguise.
We Conservatives can take solace in the fact that we didn’t vote for Christie in the New Jersey primaries; we gave our votes to Steve Lonegan. Christie won the primary anyway and in the general election, we held our noses, put on our rose-colored glasses to block out the obvious purple sheen emanating from Christie’s section of the ballot, and pressed the button for him.
We know he has a temper. We know he can be a bully when he doesn’t get his way, which he does anyway. We witnessed it at the Morristown Tea Party back in 2009. The Media hasn’t told the whole truth about the veteran of the Afghan/Iraqi conflict. Christie has rules about his town hall meetings. If you want him to answer your question, you have to raise your hand. He prefers local questions, though he will answer other questions. What he won’t do is answer questions shouted out to him. If you do, he will shout back at you, and call you names in the bargain. He warns audiences about these rules in advance of the Q&A as anyone (other than the Media) who’s attended one of his Town Halls will tell you.
I was at the same meeting as the soldier. He shouted out his question without raising his hand. My friends and I think the soldier did so deliberately in order to bait Christie and Christie took the bait. The Media then had the evidence they needed to brand the governor a bully. Normally, he’s pretty well-mannered at Town Hall meetings, regardless of how he treats his staff behind closed doors (which sounds pretty much like every other boss, public sector or private, on the planet).
My Conservative friends will worry that I’m trying to defend him. But I only caution others not to get carried away with their dislike of the man. That’s the Democrat way. We are Conservatives. We believe the investigation is valid, given the date on which it happened. Wait for the investigation to be completed.
Meanwhile, let this scandal be a lesson to Moderate Republicans. Next time you decide, in your magnanimity to cross the bridge, make sure there isn’t a cesspool of fire floating 300 feet below you; it’s a long way down.