Rachel Maddow and her crack staff have discovered the real reason for the retaliation that Chris Christie exacted on the city of Fort Lee, but the target wasn’t the mayor of Fort Lee, it was the leader of the New Jersey Senate Democrats. Watch her report from last nights show below, it takes her a little while to get to the meat of the piece, but once you see it, I’m sure you will nod in agreement.
In New Jersey, state Supreme Court justices serve an initial term of seven years, at which point the sitting governor decides whether or not to reappoint them. Since the New Jersey constitution was revised and adopted in 1947, every governor has reappointed every state Supreme Court justice without exception.
That is, until Christie took office. In 2010, soon after Christie’s inauguration, he did something unprecedented: he declined to reappoint one of the justices: New Jersey Supreme Court Justice John Wallace, the court’s only African-American member. Wallace was not burdened by scandal or allegations of wrongdoing; Christie simply didn’t want him on the high court anymore.
Democrats in the state Senate were livid. Rachel described the political firestorm that soon erupted in Trenton:
Senate Democrats made Chris Christie’s first nominee to replace Justice Wallace, they made her wait until somebody else’s seat came up on the court then they would consider her for that one, but not Justice Wallace’s.
Then, Chris Christie nominated a man named Phil Quan for the state Supreme Court, Senate Democrats said no. Then, Chris Christie nominated a man named Bruce Harris for the court, Senate Democrats said no.
Senate Democrats were so mad about what Christie did to take John Harris off the Supreme Court when he was up for re-nomination that they would not let anyone through. It’s been a big political crisis in New Jersey. Senate Democrats rejected every one of those Christie nominees, one after the other.
And then when another of the justices on the Supreme Court, a Republican, came up for re-nomination just like John Harris had, and the Senate Democrats signaled that they were going to give her a whale of a time at her re-nomination hearing, Chris Christie just flipped out. He had enough. He pulled that justice off the Supreme Court rather than submit her to re-nomination before the Senate Democrats.
No governor had ever failed to reappoint a sitting state Supreme Court justice, but Christie had suddenly done it twice – once for the court’s only African-American jurist, infuriating Democrats, and then again for a justice he actually liked. The governor, enraged, held a press conference to tell reporters, “I was not going to let her loose to the animals.”
The “animals,” in this case, were the Democrats in the state Senate.
Christie said that on the afternoon of Aug. 12, 2013.
On the morning of Aug. 13, 2013, Christie’s deputy chief of staff told the governor’s guy at the Port Authority, “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.”
The leader of the Senate Democrats at the time was a senator from … Fort Lee.
Coincidence, I think not. It also explains why Governor Christie said that he didn’t even want to hear Bridget Kelly’s explanation, because he already knew the answer and didn’t want you or I to know. To me, that is one of the most glaring things he said in his press conference. His explanation for why he didn’t talk to her was completely unbelievable, but of course, the fawning media who were enthralled with his contrition just slobbered all over themselves at that point.
Governor Christie stood there for 2 hours yesterday and weaved an elaborate lie that is definitely going to come back to kick him in the ass. He would have been wise to give a short, contrite apology and drop the mic. But no, he chose to give the most elaborate, over-the-top apology, complete with sadness, embarrassment, humiliation, ignorance, naiveté, stupidity and poor management skills. He apparently thinks he can get over being incompetent easier than the reality, that he is a vindictive bully with a bad temper and not afraid to use his power to punish people who cross him.
I’m filling up the back of my pickup truck with popcorn, this is going to get really good. And you media apologists, we’re watching you too!
Here is Rachel’s piece, it’s clearly her scoop, bravo Rachel and staff.