The verdict is in. Two of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s appointees, former Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Kelly and former Christie-appointed Port Authority Deputy Executive Director Bill Baroni, have been convicted of all counts for their involvement in the illegal lane closures on the George Washington Bridge, popularly known as Bridgegate.
A third Christie appointee, David Wildstein, already plead guilty and was the government’s star witness in the case.
Kelly, Baroni, and Wildstein testified in court that Governor Christie was aware of the scheme despite his claims. Even more members of Christie’s staff testified Christie lied to the press in a December 2013 press conference, when he claimed he learned about the scandal from news reports. They testified he was made aware by staff beforehand.
Given those convictions and admissions, the question now becomes what to do about Governor Christie, who still has more than two years left in his term.
An answer came earlier this month when New Jersey State Senator Loretta Weinberg, who served as co-chair of the New Jersey Legislative Select Committee on Investigation, called for Governor Christie to be impeached.
That call was echoed today when Blue Jersey Editor Rosi Efthim and yours truly made the case for impeachment, citing the rules of the New Jersey Constitution and the public record of testimony and evidence gathered regarding the Bridgegate scandal.
Meanwhile, New Jersey Republican State Senator Jennifer Beck signed on to a bill that would lead to the appointment of a special prosecutor to further investigate Governor Christie’s involvement in Bridgegate.
The process in New Jersey for impeachment mirrors the one under the US Constitution, where the lower chamber votes for impeachment and the Senate conducts a trial. A two-thirds vote is needed for impeachment to pass. Former President Bill Clinton famously was impeached by the House but survived the trial in the Senate.
Both chambers in New Jersey are controlled by Democrats but there are not enough Democratic Senators in the state senate to pass impeachment on a party line vote. Three Republican Senators would have to cross the aisle. If Senator Beck’s positioning is an indication, impeachment might have a real chance.