MON JAN 20, 2014 AT 10:18 PM PST Byzantium on the Hudson
The word "byzantine" means, roughly, "surreptitiously convoluted and labyrinthine." It's derived from the ancient name of the city we now call Istanbul, a capital of both Greek and Roman Empires. The workings of that city were incomprehensible to all but the denizens thereof - and intentionally so; thus is an adjective born.
So what has me musing on this little bit of etymological trivia is that David Samson, Chris Christie's handpicked Chairman of the NY/NJ Port Authority - as well as founding partner of the law firm that represents the Rockefeller Group which is at the center of the Christie Hoboken scandal, has hired Michael Chertoff to represent him in the Christ Christie Bridgegate affair:
Port Authority chairman David Samson, a Christie ally now embroiled in two controversies, has hired former Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff to represent him in a widening investigation into lane closures at the George Washington Bridge.
Samson and Chertoff go back a ways and if you want a well connected "mouthpiece" to deal with what increasingly is looking like a major federal corruption scandal on (at least) two fronts, Chertoff is certainly a logical choice, especially if you want to keep things insidery, if I may coin a phrase.
See, Chertoff isn't only a former DHS head, he's also a former US Attorney for New Jersey and when in that post, his First Assistant US Attorney was none other than Paul Fishman, the current USA for NJ, the guy whose office took Hoboken Mayor Zimmer's testimony against the Christie Mob just yesterday.
But that's just the first layer: Fishman's First Assistant US Atty up until a year ago was a guy named Gil Childers. He also worked with Samson's lawyer, Chertoff. No, I'm not making that up. But Chertoff wasn't his boss, he was Childers' office mate when they both worked as Assistant US Attys in New York under Rudi Guiliani back in the Reagan/Bush I era. Before he came to work for Fishman, Childers was on the Goldman Sachs legal team. After he left Fishman's crew last year he went back to Goldman, now as their legal section's Managing Director.
Oh, and Samson's firm, Wolff & Samson, has been Goldman Sachs' go-to outside law firm. Among many other GS cases, they recently defended GS against the RICO case for mortgage securities fraud that Prudential brought against them.
Oh, and David Samson was NJ Attorney General 12 years ago.
I don't know about you all but I'm getting a very queasy feeling. So take some dramamine and follow me over the Orange Convolution for some brief thoughts about it all.
Now I'm not going to suggest that there's anything illegal or even unethical about Samson hiring Chertoff. In fact, it's a no brainer, as far as I can tell, to have your legal team headed by a guy who used to be the boss of the guy you may be facing in federal court.
No, what occurs to me is that we have a former NJ US Atty who's representing a major figure in the gubernatorial administration of another former NJ US Atty, in what amounts to a proxy legal battle in which one of his main opponents will be the current NJ US Atty who used to work for him and whose right hand man, up until a year ago, was a former office mate of the first former NJ US Atty when they both worked under the command of the former NY US Attywho is now the second former NJ US Atty's loudest apologist, who most recently complained that the accusers of the second former NJ US Atty have a conflict of interest!
You know, somehow, after mapping that all out I don't think "byzantine" is the exact word I'm looking for to describe this incestuous legal clusterfuck, after all. How about something simpler, like "rigged?"