|Ex-Christie deputy chief/bus victim Bridget Anne Kelly|
Aside from the embattled NJ governor's carefully scripted apology, I'm just not buying his repeated assertions that his staff somehow "went rogue" on him and decided to tell their boss's Port Authority appointee to order access lanes to the GW Bridge to be closed without his knowledge.
Based on reactions to the press conference, from a cross section of average citizens across to the main stream media, to scores of Twitter followers as well as some of the comments from listeners of the Brian Lehrer Show earlier today, I'm not alone.
The New York Times reports that newly released documents show top members of Christie's staff not only knew all about the lane closures, they went through extensive efforts to keep knowledge about them covered up. And Christie didn't know? Come on.
Anyone who watches that guy for ten seconds in a press conference can tell no one on his staff sharpens a pencil without him knowing about it - let alone makes an ethically and legally questionable request of the Port Authority.
By now I'm sure Bridget Anne Kelly is wishing she'd bought a house somewhere in outer Mongolia, but it is what it is. No doubt that right now she's the target of every Tom, Dick and Harry wanna-be journalist with a digital camera or cell phone with video capacity trying to capture her image to satisfy the angry villagers wielding pitchforks and outrage.
Hey, I'm guilty of the same thing too. Look at that picture above.
Does that look like someone with the power and influence to call up someone at the Port Authority and ask them to close three major access lanes to intentionally cause traffic because of some petty political vendetta?
No one's buying that malarkey, despite Christie serving it up like some kind of deflection device intended to keep his pristine image as a straight-talkin' bipartisan politician looking to stake his claim to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Like many others, I gave Bridget some grief based on transcripts of her now famous e-mail portraying her as some kind of rogue element within the tightly controlled Christie administration intent on serving up retribution for disloyalty to Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich.
But the evidence emerging suggests she's been cast into the role of a Jersey Patsy to protect a vindictive control-freak governor caught bullying a Democratic mayor who posed absolutely no threat to him.
As facts clearly demonstrate, this is a governor with an extensive history of using the powers of his office to exact harsh punishment against those he sees as opposing him.
Earlier today on the Brian Lehrer Show, the managing editor of NJ Public Radio Nancy Solomon said she'd spoken with a journalist (who's covered NJ politics for years) who'd met Bridget Anne Kelly long before she was Christie's deputy chief of staff; and said it was completely outside her character to do something like initiate a lane closure on the GW Bridge as a form of political retribution.
Listen to the segment and decided for yourself.
Christie's problem (or one of them) is that no one is buying the idea that Kelly, along with other Christie staffers, somehow made the decision to independently contact Christie appointees to the Port Authority and tell them to close the lanes without the governor knowing about it - or ordering it.
Former Port Authority official David Wildstein is pleading the 5th, but give it time. The truth of this sad affair is still unfolding.