For two hours on Halloween, Michael Critchley, the relentless criminal defense lawyer, said about Chris Christie what should have been said long ago. What should have been said about the US Attorney’s office while Christie ran it. What should have been said about the conduct of state government under Christie.
Are Bill Baroni and Bridget Anne Kelly–the codefendants in the Bridgegate trial–guilty? You bet they are.
A simmering, closed-door legal argument over the judge’s charge in the Bridgegate trial this morning led to an abrupt and mysterious cancellation of the session that was supposed to see defense attorneys present their closing arguments. After federal Judge Susan D. Wigenton sent the jurors home–with no explanation beyond that a “legal issue” had come up–lawyers for both sides were uncharacteristically closed-lipped about the reason.
The prosecution’s case in the Bridgegate trial has been living with a possibly fatal flaw for weeks–and, on Friday, that flaw threatened both the chances for convicting at least one defendant and also the credibility of the two-year federal investigation into the closing of entrance lanes at the George Washington Bridge in September, 2013. It has to do with an oddly worded email:
Attorneys for Bridgegate defendant Bill Baroni rested Wednesday–and the case for the defense seemed to fall with a crash at the feet of the jury. Instead of the defense ending on a high note of chipper character witnesses or rebutting damaging cross examination, Baroni wandered into a testimonial trap about a non-existent school in Jersey City.
Bridgegate trial defendant Bill Baroni’s efforts to portray himself as an honest, compassionate and politically independent–if, at times, conflicted– public servant vanished in a mist of embarrassment Tuesday as a federal prosecutor shredded Baroni’s self-serving version of the decision to create massive traffic jams at the George Washington Bridge in September, 2013. And gone, too, is any doubt over whether Gov. Chris Christie was involved in whatever his lemmings were doing at the bistate agency.
Bill Baroni, literally fighting for his freedom and trying to save his future, set himself an all but impossible task in federal court: Trying to portray himself as just an honest bureaucrat innocently working in an atmosphere of corruption and cronyism and deception that, under Gov. Chris Christie, had turned the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey into a political brothel. The words he repeated again and again to assert his innocence–“David Wildstein said it and I believed him”–simply won’t provide him with the cover, or redemption, he seeks.
Bill Baroni, a defendant in the Bridgegate trial, will testify Monday and, boy, he’d better be good because, so far, his case is depending on people like Marilyn Graber who wanted the jury to know she has three “fabulous” grandchildren and lost 135 pounds at a weight loss clinic at Duke University where she met the nicest man 21 years ago. And his name was Bill Baroni.
New Jersey, despite the sentiments of many residents and the producers of television shows and authors of books with catchy titles, is no more politically corrupt than any other big urban state. It has, however, in the last few decades become the center of a new political phenomenon: Political pornography. And, in this less graphic version of “Boogie Nights,” the Jack Horner character, the producer—Burt Reynolds—is, of course, Chris Christie, the punk who became governor.
Bridget Anne Kelly, the former aide to Gov. Chris Christie on trial in federal court in Newark, had a good day Tuesday (10/4/16) thanks to the cross-examination work of her lawyer, Michael Critchley.