The US Attorney’s federal investigation into Bridgegate has turned into a criminal probe as the feds begin to close in on Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
The U.S. Attorney in New Jersey has convened a grand jury to investigate the involvement of Governor Chris Christie’s office in the George Washington Bridge scandal, ABC News has learned.
Twenty-three jurors convened in a federal courthouse in Newark today to hear testimony from a key staff member, Christie press secretary Mike Drewniak, whose lawyer, Anthony Iacullo, said Drewniak was not a target of the investigation.
The convening of the grand jury is evidence that the U.S. Attorney’s investigation has progressed beyond an inquiry and moved to the criminal phase.
This marks for the first time confirmation that what started out as a preliminary inquiry into the governor’s office has now become a criminal investigation into the activities that led to gridlock traffic across the bridge from Manhattan in Fort Lee.
Gov. Christie might want to put those 2016 presidential campaign plans on hold. While Bridgegate gets all the headlines, this may not be the only federal investigation that Christie will have to deal with. The feds are also looking into the New Jersey governor’s handling of Hurricane Sandy relief funds.
The investigation has morphed from an inquiry into possible wrongdoing to a grand jury investigating potential criminal activity surrounding Bridgegate. No wonder, Christie, was in such a hurry to release his own report where his lawyers declared him innocent.
Bridgegate is not going anywhere. Christie can hold all of the press conferences that he wants. The governor can spend millions more in taxpayer dollars on sham investigations, but this scandal is not going to go away in time for him to run for president in 2016.
Christie is beyond politically damaged. Even if he did by some miracle win the 2016 Republican nomination, there is no way that he could win a general election contest against Hillary Clinton. Even the Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson don’t have enough money to solve Christie’s image problems.
Forget the Republican nomination, Chris Christie will be lucky to avoid federal prison.