Chris Christie’s George Washington bridge scandal got worse for the New Jersey governor Saturday, as hundreds of emails emerged showing a vast cover up among officials in his administration of the traffic shutdown that paralyzed Fort Lee, NJ.
Now, the question isn’t whether the outcome will be good or bad for Christie, but how bad the outcome will be. History shows that there are three strategies that the embattled governor could employ. But none guarantee that he’ll be able to survive to contend in the 2016 GOP presidential race.
Related: The One Question Chris Christie Couldn’t Answer
The three strategies are:
The Clinton Strategy - Christie insists he had no idea that people within his administration shut down traffic as an act of political retaliation. And he’s refused to talk to Bridget Anne Kelly, the woman who ordered the shutdown.
If Christie did know about the lane shutdown he could take the Bill Clinton route and continue to lie. Clinton was able to deny his affair with Monica Lewinsky until the bitter end, when he admitted under oath that he did have sex with Monica Lewinsky.
If Christie knew, he could hope to get away with it unless he was forced to testify under oath.
Related: Christie Scandal Opens the Door to Far Right GOP Hopefuls
The Nixon Cover Up - Christie could also take the same route as President Richard Nixon. When the Watergate scandal broke, Nixon circled the wagons and covered up his role in it until the media and Congress were able to prove he was involved.
Christie could do the same, attempting to rally loyalists within his administration to stop additional information from getting out. If Christie did know about the bridge closings in advance, a formal investigation into the scandal could undermine him just as it did Nixon; people implicated in the scandal could make a deal by ratting on the governor.
The Obama Tactic – Just as President Obama was able to say he didn’t know that officials at the IRS were targeting tea party organizations, Christie appears to be employing this strategy, blaming those within his administration. But unlike Obama, Christie has fired people close to him.
“How did this happen?” the governor asked in his Thursday press conference. “It’s incredibly disappointing to have people let you down this way.”
Obama used this strategy to deal with the backlash from the disastrous rollout of the federal health exchanges, even though there was direct evidence that his administration knew there were serious problems with the HealthCare.gov website last spring. Obama hasn’t fired anyone within his administration, but he has fired the contractor that built the exchange, CGI. Whether the heads keep rolling in the Christie administration remains to be seen.
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