The Trump campaign reportedly has hired former Christie state aide, Bill Stepien, to handle voter turnout. This is a strong “tell” that Trump is not serious, not when he hires a possible criminal co-conspirator whose entire department, the Department of Intergovernmental Affairs, in the Office of the Governor of the State of New Jersey was disbanded in the wake of the George Washington Bridge lane closures, and ensuing Bridgegate investigations which have produced two guilty pleas and two other indictments (then again, with Trump’s sordid personal history, he might think someone who ran “intergovernmental affairs” might, ahem, be perfect for the job).
This is the latest sign that Trump is writing off New Jersey, at least politically. It is the proverbial one finger salute to commuters. Never mind the rest of the unserious insults to the intelligence of Americans which come from the mouths and fingers of Trump himself and his cast of supporting character actors.
Bridgegate is one of the most staggering tales of government arrogance and abuse of power to be revealed in a long time. Stepien’s deputy, the since-indicted Bridget Kelly, teased in an email that she was not concerned about hours-long traffic jams in which schoolchildren were stuck because they were from Fort Lee, the town on the New Jersey side of the George Washington Bridge with a Democratic mayor. Her curt text: “They are the children of (Christie 2013 reelection opponent Barbara) Buono voters.”
Folks, your elected officials at work. And here, officials hired by a former United States Attorney and now chair of Trump’s transition team.
Chris Christie has become the poster child for government abuse and lack of personal self-control. He is a perfect fit for a presidential candidate who plays a character showing no personal self-control, because I don’t for one minute think Trump is really that undisciplined. He is too smart to be that dumb.
The disgraced Stepien hire is the latest sign that Trump is not running a serious campaign at all. Instead, he appears to be laying the groundwork for a new media enterprise to cater to — and exploit — the permanent political outcast class that will be left in the wake of this year’s destruction of the Republican Party. And which can charge high ad rates for what seems to be an indefinite future of shaking its collective fist at the permanent one party in power.
Stepien’s deputy, Bridget Kelly, was indicted last year for her role in planning the lane closures. She goes on trial in Newark, NJ federal court next month. Christie fired Stepien in December 2013 when Bridgegate broke, but now Christie is heading Trump’s transition team. It seems ethical problems and even criminal investigations don’t bother the one-time U.S. Attorney who used to investigate and indict elected officials and candidates for infractions as tiny (and admittedly, absolutely stupid) as accepting little dogs and bottles of Grand Marnier as gifts.
While the criminal trial of Stepien’s deputy starts soon, it doesn’t mean Stepien — or Christie, for that matter — is in the clear. A federal appeals court in Philadelphia is still considering whether to allow release of prosecutors’ list of unindicted co-conspirators in Bridgegate. The appeal was brought by the lawyer for one John Doe.
Is Bill Stepien John Doe? Is Christie? Is the Trump campaign gig hush money? (That would be so Jersey.)
Time will tell, but our answers — and your outrage — shouldn’t go away anytime soon.