N.J. Lawmakers To Subpoena Christie Aides In Bridge Scandal

The New Jersey state legislature on Monday is expected to issue subpoenas to former aides of Governor Chris Christie in the case surrounding the George Washington bridge road closures last fall. Will "Bridgegate" play a role in whether Christie runs for the Republican presidential nomination?

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And I'm David Greene.

In New Jersey, state lawmakers are expected to issue subpoenas today to former top aides of Governor Chris Christie. This is over their role in a massive traffic jam in Fort Lee, New Jersey last fall. The traffic was apparently political payback against the city's mayor for not endorsing Christie's reelection bid. In one long press conference, the governor distanced himself from the staff members responsible for shutting down lanes to the George Washington Bridge. This story was all over the weekend political talk shows.

The question raised by Democrats and some Republicans was whether Bridgegate, as it is of course come to be known, will derail Christie's campaign to win the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.

And for more, joining us as she does most Mondays, is Cokie Roberts. Good morning, Cokie.

COKIE ROBERTS, BYLINE: Hi, David.

GREENE: So I think one thing we should note from yesterday is there are a lot of Republicans who are coming to Christie's defense. Did this surprise you?

ROBERTS: Well, clearly the talking points had gone out.

GREENE: On message.

ROBERTS: When you hear everybody saying exactly the same thing, you know, that they are - that they have been instructed. And what one Republican after another said was: Well, look, you know, President Obama says that he didn't know what was going with the IRS scandal when the IRS was investigating various political groups, and Benghazi and all of that. And the liberal media is emphasizing this much too much. And it didn't cover - the liberal media didn't cover Benghazi and the IRS, which I think you can make a case that just the opposite was true.

But so that was what one person after another said. But there was also a caveat, as Rudy Giuliani - who was one of the defenders - yesterday said, if something comes out that shows that Christ Christie actually was involved with this closing of the George Washington Bridge - or the lanes to it - that his political career is over. So that caveat was out there.

GREENE: An important caveat - a big if but an important if. I mean it sounds like part of it, it wasn't just talking points. The message was, you know, try to distract from this actual topic and talk about other things that the Republicans would rather talk about.

ROBERTS: Well, sure. But this is going to go on because there are these state legislative subpoenas. There could be a Justice Department investigation. So more shoes could drop and that's a big problem for Christie - investigations tend to take on lives of their on.

GREENE: Sure.

ROBERTS: And you never know what will turn up, just ask Bill Clinton.

And the can drag on forever with little tidbits constantly in the press. And here, David, we are dealing with the New York press corps and this is a breed onto its own. They are very, very tough and will really, you know, hold onto to something and not let go - particularly the tabloid newspapers.

A while back, quite a while back, I remember when the ABSCAM scandal happened, which is now back in the news with the movie "American Hustle." But the - one of the people involved was a New Jersey senator and the entire New York press corps showed up and thought that we in Washington were a bunch of wusses because we were polite.

(LAUGHTER)

GREENE: This is our scandal, it's a New Jersey political scandal, we'll cover it - you don't know what you're doing. You have to be aggressive.

ROBERTS: Right, exactly. The other problem here is that this is so understandable to everybody. Everybody knows what a traffic jam is...

GREENE: And we can relate to being in a traffic jam.

ROBERTS: ...what emergency vehicles are - exactly. And so I think that, you know, that this is something that doesn't go away because people get it. But, you know, frankly, I think Christ Christie has a huge problem being nominated the Republican presidential candidate anyway.

GREENE: Mm-hmm.

ROBERTS: I think he's the darling of the moment, the darling of the Republican establishment to the degree that it exists, the darling of the press corps to some degree. But winning that nomination as a perceived moderate from New Jersey is a very tough lift.

GREENE: A tough lift but one that Republicans are at least trying at this point to give him the chance to do.

Cokie, always good to talk to you.

ROBERTS: You too, David.

GREENE: Cokie Roberts joins us most Mondays.

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