Friday was a bad day for Chris Christie.
But it could have been a whole lot worse.
The indictments of two former Christie allies in connection to their involvement in the Bridgegate scandal, and a guilty plea from a third, cast a harsh, unflattering light on the New Jersey governor. They rose troubling questions about his administration, and about whether Christie had propagated an environment in which political retaliation wasn’t just tolerated, but was standard operating procedure.
But, as a series of charges were unsealed at a federal court in Newark, there was nothing to suggest that Christie himself was in legal jeopardy. At a press conference on Friday, law enforcement officials overseeing the case repeatedly pushed back on questions about Christie’s involvement in the 2013 plan to shut down two lanes of traffic on the George Washington Bridge as political payback to a local mayor who’d refused to endorse the governor’s reelection campaign.
Those close to the governor believe the airing of the charges gives Christie, who saw his meteoric political rise halted by the scandal, the chance to get his derailed presidential campaign back on track.
“Everyone I know that’s supporting Chris believes it will all be cleaned up and that he’ll be moving on,” said Tom Foley, a former U.S. Ambassador to Ireland and a Christie ally.
One top Christie aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to candidly describe internal conversations, said there was the hope that voters had absorbed the story and were ready to move on. “I think he feels good about where things are at,” the aide said of Christie.