Earlier this morning Bergen County municipal judge Roy F. McGeady ruled that there is probable cause to believe that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was aware that the so-called Bridgegate scandal from 2013, resulting from unnecessary lane closures on the George Washington Bridge, was "purposely created, it was contrived, it was orchestrated for political retribution."
As such, Governor Christie has been ordered to appear before the court on March 10th at 1:30 p.m. to face prosecutors, who, according to local press, could still bring charges, but are not expected to. Per NJ.com:
"The court is satisfied that [Christie] had knowledge of the traffic problems in Fort Lee," said municipal Judge Roy F. McGeady, referring to in the now-infamous politically motivated lane closures at the George Washington Bridge that resulted in the federal convictions of two of the governor's top aides last fall.
"The court is satisfied that he had reason to believe that this traffic was purposely created, it was contrived, it was orchestrated" for political retribution, the judge added.
"It was the governor who tied this to some type of political event when he twice referred to Mr. Wildstein, by a pseudonym, as not being involved in 'political' actions." said McGeady. "The court found that very persuasive."
Judge McGeady initially issued a criminal summons to Christie back in October 2016 to face a charge of official misconduct but it was appealed on the grounds that Christie was denied adequate participation from his defense counsel. After the Bergen County prosecutor's office announced it would decline to pursue any misconduct charges, citizen activist, and Democratic candidate for New Jersey Governor, Bill Brennan alleged a conflict of interest and presented his own evidence that judge McGeady apparently found compelling.
Shortly after the ruling by McGeady, Brennan stood outside the courthouse to accuse the Bergen County prosecutors of the very same official misconduct charges he'd lobbed at the governor.
"It's not that they don't understand it, it's that they are beholden to the governor," said Brennan. "It is likely that the Bergen prosecutor is going to engage in an act of political corruption and dismiss this case with no basis whatsoever."
Earlier this month, Brennan filed a motion seeking the appointment of a special prosecutor to handle the case with Bergen assignment judge Bonnie Mizdol, but on Thursday morning, he expressed doubt Mizdol would agree to one.
"I'm going to use this moment in time to call upon the other candidates for governor to get involved in this," said Brennan, who is also a running as a Democrat to replace Christie. He urged them "to call for an independent and special prosecutor" to take over.
Then, in a dramatic twist, Brennan called for any New Jersey citizen currently serving on a grand jury to exercise their legal right to summon him to testify before them and indict the governor.
"If anybody in the state of New Jersey is currently sitting on a grand jury, I implore you: Summon me before you," urged Brennan. "I will come before you with the transcripts and the evidence and you can get an indictment. Any grand jury, without prodding from the prosecutor, can call witnesses and demand evidence and demand this case be prosecuted...without the prosecutor's help."
Meanwhile, Christie's representatives blasted the new summons as "illegal" and "concocted" while saying that evidence relied upon by judge McGeady was utter nonsense.
Brian Murray, a spokesman for the governor, released a statement on Thursday morning blasting the judge's decision as "illegal" and Brennan's claim as "concocted."
"The judge is violating the law, pure and simple," wrote Murray. "This concocted claim was investigated for three months by the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office, which summarily dismissed it, after concluding that the very same evidence relied upon again by this judge was utter nonsense. That is exactly what it is. The law requires this judge to have done the same. This is a complete non-event."
And, of course, Christie himself has repeatedly denied any advance knowledge of the scandal.
- Bergen County prosecutor's office
- Chris Christie
- Fort Lee lane closure scandal
- Fort Lee, New Jersey
- George Washington Bridge
- Interstate 95
- New Jersey
- Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
- UN Court
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