UNION CITY, New Jersey — The scandal that swept the nation this winter may be all but dead to the mainstream media, but new reports are surfacing that the George Washington Bridge scandal that threatened Gov. Chris Christie’s career may result in his indictment.
The new report arrives via two sources speaking to Esquire who almost guarantee that a number of Port Authority officials involved in “BridgeGate” will be indicted, and if one of them cuts a deal with the prosecution, Christie’s career could be over. The sources say that the U.S. Attorney for New Jersey, Paul Fishman, is currently wading through evidence potentially implicating Christie in the bridge lane closings, as well as corrupt land deals with former Port Authority head David Samson. Samson’s firm was implicated in the other Christie scandal: allegedly browbeating Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer into fast-tracking construction projects.
Esquire reports that Fishman has empaneled a grand jury to investigate three major areas of potential corruption: the George Washington Bridge scandal, the deals Samson’s corporation made while he was head of the Port Authority, and use of Port Authority funds for projects exclusively in New Jersey and thus outside the scope of the Port Authority’s powers.
All the once-household names involved in BridgeGate are mentioned by the sources as “near-certain indictments”: alleged mastermind David Wildstein, who claims to have dark secrets on Christie; Bridget Kelly, author of the famous “time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee” email; Bill Stepien, Christie’s former campaign manager fired for lying about the bridge closings; and David Samson, who resigned from the top post at the Port Authority after the publication of an in-house report on BridgeGate cleared Christie of all wrongdoing. The sources tell the magazine that indictments may come as early as next month.
Both sources also tell Esquire that Samson is the most important piece of the puzzle, as he has the most information on Christie and the most reason to give up the information. At 74, any extended stay in prison for wrongdoing could threaten his life, and giving up Christie could be his ticket to avoiding such a fate. “He got sloppy, arrogant, and greedy. Samson will want a deal. This way, he’d get one or two years. He’d have a future on the other side. He won’t want to die in jail,” says one source.
The Esquire piece follows a victory lap of sorts for Christie in California. At a donors’ summit following his stint on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, where he was praised for “staying in the ring,” Christie declared the saga over. “It’s over, it’s done with and I’m moving on,” Christie told potential donors, brought together by Mitt Romney. That narrative is once again in a precarious position, as any indictments handed down by the U.S. Attorney could scare away donors already wary of Christie’s tarnished reputation.