It's November 11, 2013. Chris Christie had just been re-elected Governor. Two men meet at "Rockin' Joes" coffee shop in Westfield, NJ, near the offices of Michael DuHaime. Both had worked together on Republican campaigns since the late Bob Franks' unsuccessful run for Senate against Jon Corzine in 2000. Duhaime was a close associate of Christie's -- his chief strategist in his 2009 campaign and a member of his transition team. According to Memoranda prepared for the Mastro Report, "DuHaime and the Governor are friends, and DuHaime gives the Governor informal advice when he asks for it."
The other man at Rockin' Joes was David Wildstein.
The subject of the November 11 Meeting was the September 2013 "Traffic Study" that backed up the George Washington Bridge for a week. What happened? Again according to the Mastro Report:
During the course of the meeting, DuHaime and Wildstein discussed the lane realignment. DuHaime recalled Wildstein said that it was his idea to conduct a traffic study, and regardless of whether or not people thought that the traffic study was poorly executed, Wildstein thought it was an important policy issue worth exploring and he was prepared to take responsibility for his idea. Wildstein also expressed frustration about the way the issue had been handled from a communications perspective, by allowing the narrative that the traffic study was politically motivated to take hold without pushback or refutation that it was nothing more than a traffic study. Wildstein said that he would not have done the traffic study without Trenton knowing about it beforehand, and was upset that other people were not acknowledging that they knew about the traffic study beforehand.OK -- let's review some chronology. Wildstein met with Christie's close confidant Duhaime on November 11, 2013:
At some point, Wildstein told DuHaime specifically that Kelly and Stepien knew about the traffic study beforehand. DuHaime does not recall when, but it was sometime between the coffee shop conversation and early December Wildstein reiterated that he would take responsibility for what happened but remained frustrated that other people were not taking responsibility.
Two weeks prior to Bill Baroni's (false) testimony on November 25, 2014.So we know what DuHaime knew, and when he knew it. But we don't know when or whether he communicated this information to Christie or anyone else. (For some crazy reason, the ace litigators at Gibson, including Mastro himself, apparently didn't ask him. Otherwise, they surely would have included it in the report, right?)
Three weeks prior to Christie's "working the cones" press conference on December 2, 2014.
Four weeks prior to Wildstein's resignation on December 6, 2013 and Baroni's a week later.
Five weeks prior to Christie's "It's not that big a deal" press conference on December 19, 2013.
Almost two months before release of the Jan. 8, 2014 "Time for some traffic problems in Ft. Lee" email.
A smoking gun? Not quite. But probably enough for the Legislative Committee to include DuHaime in one of the four subpoenas they will issue this week. Also enough to once again be astounded by how much inculpatory material there is in the Mastro Report and its memos.
Steve Kornacki once again is all over this story. Watch his report this morning.
Stay tuned. After Passover I will be getting more popcorn.