Well. This is awkward.
Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie loves to pontificate from on high about Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton using a private email server during her time as Secretary of State. Christie has accused Clinton of not wanting the public to know what she’s doing, saying “She believes we don’t have a right to know. When I’m president of the United States, you have a right to know what your president is doing.”
So it’s kind of bad that hours after Chris Christie puffed that he was uniquely qualified to “prosecute the case against Hillary Clinton” in the Fox Business GOP debate, papers were filed in federal court accusing him of hiding thousands of documents.
… Including emails. A lot of them. 9,428 to be exact.
Andrea Bernstein and Matt Katz laid out the case in WNYC:
Christie’s legal team is inappropriately hiding thousands of documents related to the Bridgegate scandal, the two defense lawyers argued in briefs filed late Tuesday. Among the hidden documents, the lawyers say, are emails to and from the governor’s personal and work email accounts and a calendar entry from the week when an order was delivered to close lanes at the George Washington Bridge in 2013.
The reporters note, “At least 16 of those emails were sent from top Christie aides to former Port Authority appointee David Wildstein, who pleaded guilty in May to felony corruption charges for the politically-motivated lane closures, and Bill Baroni, the former top Port official who has pleaded not guilty in the case.”
So that’s troubling. But bear in mind these are filings being made in federal court by the attorneys for the two Bridgegate defendants.
All told, Christie’s taxpayer-funded attorneys at the Gibson Dunn law firm have withheld or redacted 9,428 emails and other documents. The reasons given include “campaign strategy” and “press strategy.”
There are also allegations of at least one email between Wildstein and Christie. Wildstein is an old classmate of Christie’s. There are allegations of meetings that took place and emails sent that suggest Christie knew more about Bridgegate than he admitted. There’s even a hard drive that was deliberately removed from the office.
But this right here is what could do Christie in, given that his strategy to success – and it worked – during the last debate was to pivot to attacking Hillary Clinton as often and as hard as he could. He positioned himself as the best Clinton attack dog. “Christie’s legal team, noted Michael Baldassare, the lawyer for Bill Baroni, ‘did not produce a single email on behalf of the Governor from a government email address.'”
The reporters note that unlike most governors, Christie keeps his calendar secret, which is also not so transparent. Worse, a redacted copy showed a meeting with a lobbyist related to the police lieutenant at the Port Authority who is said to have helped close the bridge. Christie also had phone calls with Neil Bush, yes, one of those Bushes – brother of the other guy running for president and brother to George W. Bush.
And the most damaging of all, “The court papers also reveal for the first time that Christie testified before a federal grand jury about the Bridgegate matter. A Christie spokesman could not immediately confirm that such testimony took place, or when.”
Chris Christie is going to have a very hard time “Prosecuting the case” against Hillary Clinton for using a private email server when he did the same thing. And if these allegations are true, if he refused to turn over documents, covered them up, had anything to do with the hard drive Wildstein took home after he was fired, he could be in some serious hot water.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.