Christie Didn't Know About Weird Email Attack After Bridge Scandal, Sources Say

Last week, Chris Christie’s office waged an amateurish attack on David Wildstein, the Port Authority official who executed the lane closures near the George Washington bridge last year. The attempt at character assassination was roundly criticized, even by Christie’s allies, as a desperate, petty and ineffective attempt at damage control (The email criticized Wildstein for things he allegedly did as a high school student). Now, sources are saying that Christie had no knowledge of this attack before his office sent it out. Which, umm, isn't good.

Wildstein alleged last week that “evidence exists” that Christie knew about the lane closures while they were going on; this, if true, would make the governor a liar, as he insisted after the scandal broke that he knew nothing about the closures until media reports in early 2014. Christie’s office responded to this allegation by sending out a strange email blasting Wildstein’s integrity — an odd move, considering it was Christie who appointed Wildstein to the Port Authority in the first place. Weirder yet were the charges levied against Wildstein:

  • As a 16-year-old kid, he sued over a local school board election
  • He was publicly accused by his high school social studies teacher of deceptive behavior
  • He had a controversial tenure as Mayor of Livingston
  • He was an anonymous blogger known as Wally Edge
  • He had a strange habit of registering web addresses for other people's names without telling them

But now, Politico is reporting that Christie himself didn’t actually know about the email before it was sent out. Apparently, an aid included the attacks in a daily briefing to the governor’s supporters without asking Christie, and then it leaked. If true, that absolves Christie of direct ownership over the charges in that email — but that doesn’t mean he emerges from this episode in a positive light.

Ever since news broke that the governor’s office ordered the closure of three lanes in Fort Lee as a means of political payback last December, there have been two explanations for what happened: Either Christie knew about it, in which case he’s malicious and temperamentally unfit to serve in public office; or he didn’t know about it, in which case he’s nevertheless encouraged a vindictive culture in his office and, equally importantly, doesn’t have control over his staff.

To emerge intact as a viable 2016 presidential candidate — or even as an effective governor — Christie will have to convince voters that neither of these perceptions are the case. But this most recent episode reinforces the second theory: That Christie doesn’t have a handle on what goes on in his office. And that’s not good for the man who was once frontrunner for the GOP presidential nomination.

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