Should Christie be Impeached Over Bridgegate? New Push After Guilty Verdicts
TRENTON — A Democratic state senator on Thursday called on the Assembly to consider impeachment proceedings against Gov. Chris Christie in the wake of the Bridgegate trial.
Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, D-Bergen, who served as co-chairwoman of the legislative committee that investigated the politically motivated closings of the George Washington Bridge lanes in Fort Lee in 2013, requested Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto to consider impeaching the Republican governor.
The state Constitution allows the legislature to impeach a governor either while he is in office or within two years after he leaves.
Christie, who has denied knowledge of his underlings' scheme, is in charge of President-elect Donald Trump's transition team.
“During the now completed Bridgegate trial there was considerable testimony under oath that Gov. Chris Christie had knowledge of a conspiracy to misuse government resources to close lanes on the George Washington Bridge," Weinberg said in a statement.
"The allegations of federal prosecutors and statements of witnesses who testified under oath cannot go unanswered and impeaching Chris Christie would bar him from further public service in this state.”
A spokesman for Christie called Weinberg's statement "ridiculous."
"It is shocking that someone who sat in the front row of the courtroom every day could get it so wrong," Brian Murray said.
Former Christie aide Bridget Ann Kelly and Bill Baroni, a Christie appointee to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, were convicted by a federal jury last week for their role in the plot. The two defendants and David Wildstein, another Christie appointee to the Port Authority who pleaded guilty as the mastermind of the scheme, said Christie knew about the lane closures before and while they were happening.
Prieto, also a Democrat, responded to Weinberg's statement by saying that "it’s disappointing that Sen. Weinberg made her request through a press release."
He added that the Assembly is "weighing all potential legislative activity" and that impeachment also would involve the state Senate convicting the governor.
Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick called into WPG's sister station, New Jersey 101.5, Thursday afternoon and dismissed the idea that Christie could be charged, let alone prosecuted or impeached, based on testimony heard at the trial.
He called Weinberg's statement a "political stunt" and suggested that it may have been designed just to generate more embarrassing headlines for Christie and Trump.