- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 19, 2014

Former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani accused Democrats Sunday of conducting a “partisan witch hunt” against New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Mr. Giuliani, one of the New Jersey governor’s biggest defenders in the wake of the “Bridgegate” scandal, said New Jersey state Assemblyman John Wisniewski, the Democrat looking into allegations that Christie staffers used lane closures to punish a political enemy, should step down.

“The person conducting the investigation has now announced the conclusion of the investigation, that he believes the governor is not telling the truth,” said Mr. Giuliani on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “He should not be handling this investigation. It gives it no sense of credibility and it clearly was a partisan witch hunt.”


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Mr. Wisniewski denied during an interview on “Meet the Press” that the Democratic state Legislature has targeted the Republican governor: “This is not preordained.”

At the same time, Mr. Wisniewski said it was “hard to believe” that Mr. Christie was unaware of his staff’s decision to close the bridge lanes.

“We know that senior people in his staff were involved in trying to do damage control and come up with the cover story for it. And, so, we have lots of questions,” said Mr. Wisniewski. “And I have said that with all of his senior people in the midst of a re-election year, it’s hard to believe that he knew nothing until January 8.”

The exchange came a day after Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer leveled new charges against the governor’s office, saying that two officials threatened in May to withhold Hurricane Sandy relief funds unless she endorsed a Rockefeller Group development project.

Ms. Zimmer said in an interview Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union” that she waited until Saturday to broach the matter because she feared nobody would believe her.

“Back in May, when the lieutenant governor came and very directly said to me these things are connected, I didn’t think anyone would believe me. I really didn’t,” said Ms. Zimmer. “Looking back, I probably should have come forward.”

Christie spokesman Colin Reed said in a statement late Saturday that Ms. Zimmer’s allegation, which came in an interview on MSNBC, was part of an effort to discredit Mr. Christie, a front-runner for the Republican Party’s 2016 presidential nomination.

“MSNBC is a partisan network that has been openly hostile to Gov. Christie and almost gleeful in their efforts attacking him,” said Mr. Reed. “Gov. Christie and his entire administration have been helping Hoboken get the help they need after Sandy, with the city already having been approved for nearly $70 million dollars in federal aid and is targeted to get even more when the Obama administration approves the next rounds of funding.”

Mr. Wisniewski said Sunday the accusation would be considered as part of the state Legislature’s investigation.
Mr. Giuliani called the Hoboken mayor’s allegations part of an “orchestrated pile-on” by national Democrats in an effort to weaken Mr. Christie.

He also said Mr. Christie’s handling of the bridge episode — he held a 108-minute news conference at which he answered numerous questions from the media — came as a striking contrast to Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton’s reaction to the terrorist attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012.

Mrs. Clinton, the former secretary of State, is considered the front-runner for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.

“I can see this working out to Chris’ favor. I don’t mean the underlying facts. They were wrong,” said Mr. Giuliani. “But the fact is, things go wrong. Things will go wrong if he or Hillary Clinton become president. The question is how are they going to handle it? He’s given a textbook case in how to handle it.”