Rachel Maddow speculated on Thursday that the traffic closures that nearly shut down Fort Lee, New Jersey for four days at the behest of Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) ex-deputy chief of staff weren’t an act of revenge against the town’s mayor, but against Democratic state Sen. Loretta Weinberg.
“The leader of the Senate Democrats represents Fort Lee,” Maddow explained. “Roughly 12 hours after Governor Christie blows up at the Senate Democrats and torpedoes the career of a [state] Supreme Court justice who he likes because he says the Senate Democrats are ‘animals,’ and he is not going to let that justice lose to those animals, the leader of those ‘animals’ sees her district get the order of destruction from Governor Christie’s deputy chief of staff.
Christie said on Thursday he fired the staffer who gave the order, Bridget Anne Kelly. But Maddow pointed out that Kelly’s e-mail directive to a Christie appointee, David Wildstein, calling for “traffic problems in Fort Lee” was sent the morning of Aug. 13, 2013, leading to traffic on the George Washington Bridge nearly grinding to a halt for a four-day period the following month.
Kelly’s email was sent less than 24 hours after the governor complained about Democratic Senate “animals” forcing him to withdraw his re-election nomination for state Justice Helen Hoens in response to their stonewalling of high court nominees.
Senate Democrats were already blocking Christie’s nominees to the court after he refused to nominate a Democratic Justice, John Wallace, for re-election, a decision which, while not illegal under state law, was still unprecedented.
Maddow also noted that both Christie and Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich (D) had refuted the prevailing theory behind the lane closures — that they were a shot at Sokolich for refusing to endorse Christie — when they said in separate interviews that Christie never even pursued his endorsement during his successful re-election campaign.
“Or maybe it was about that endorsement,” Maddow said. “Until someone who knows the actual truth about this speaks it remains a wide-open question, and maybe the key to this whole story.”
Watch Maddow’s analysis, as aired on Thursday, below.