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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

When John McCain picked Sarah Palin to run with him, we quickly learned that her teenage daughter was pregnant — and then more stories started piling up. What will America learn the day after Mitt Romney selects his vice-presidential nominee? What are the skeletons his vetting team is uncovering as they seek the best debate opponent for Joe Biden? To address those vital questions, we bring you The Day After Tomorrow, a series previewing the veep scandals everyone may soon be talking about.

While New Jersey Governor Chris Christie may not  top the list of potential Romney running mates, he remains a potential candidate. Blunt and unpredictable, he could compensate for the uncongenial, aloof Romney. In that sense, Romney-Christie might seem like a balanced ticket. Back in April, a PPP poll even showed that Christie would actually help Romney the most in closing the gap with Obama-Biden. Like all the other speculative Republican ticket mates, he doesn’t come without baggage.

Earlier this month, the New York Times published a series of articles on Community Education Centers, a company that, in 2011, received $71 million of the $105 million New Jersey had allocated for halfway houses despite only running six of the two dozen halfway houses in state’s privatized system. New Jersey was seen as a pioneer of the private halfway house system, which served as a solution for overcrowding prisons straining state budgets. Halfway houses are designed to help transition jailed inmates back into the community, but as the NY Times found: “Yet with little oversight, the state’s halfway houses have mutated into a shadow corrections network, where drugs, gang activity and violence, including sexual assaults, often go unchecked.”

Probably what’s most discomforting is the number of inmates who have escaped since 2005: 5,200, including at least 1,300 since Christie took office in January 2010.

“They have been arrested on charges of assaulting police officers, holding up a gas station and shooting strangers. They have been found selling drugs outside Newark schools and wielding a knife inside a Cape May bus station. Some have been caught as far away as Miami.”

Christie goes around proclaiming that he is proud of the halfway house system; in a 2010 speech given at one of the facilities, for instance, he called it a place that should be “celebrated.”

The Governor has several ties to Community Education Centers: his close friend, political adviser, and former law partner, William J. Palatucci, is the senior vice president who had major financial stakes in the company; in 2000 and 2001, Christie was a registered lobbyist for Community Education Centers; in 2010, he hired the son-in-law of Community Education’s CEO as an assistant.

Following the recent publicity surrounding horrific flaws in the halfway system, Christie finally ordered new state inspections to ensure the system was effective and safe.

Eventually Christie admitted that the system needed to be re-examined and repaired. But what about inventing your own facts about a vital project — and hoping nobody notices that it’s all completely wrong?

That’s evidently what happened when Christie cancelled plans for the  Trans-Hudson Passenger Rail Tunnel (ARC). As reported by the NY Times, “The ambitious $8.7 billion plan was hailed as a potential savior for the region’s overcrowded mass transit system, reducing traffic congestion and pollution, shortening commuting times, increasing suburban property values and creating 6,000 construction jobs.”

Begun in 2009, the project was to be finished by 2018 — until Christie decided to call the whole thing off. In October 2010, he announced that he was cancelling the project due to an increase in the its estimated costs. According to the Governor, ARC would cost more than $11 billion, even as much as $14 billion, and that the state would have to pay 70 percent of the cost. But those numbers were false.

The NY Times found a Government Accountability Office report that disputes Christie’s claims. In reality, “the range of estimates…remained unchanged in the two years before he announced in 2010 that he was shutting down the project. And state transportation officials had said the cost would be no more than $10 billion.” The same report said that New Jersey would only be paying 14.4 percent of the costs–not the 70 percent Christie had claimed.

So what happened to the money reserved for the tunnel? Well, the governor took four billion dollars for the state’s nearly bankrupt, gasoline tax-funded infrastructure fund. Without that influx of money, Christie would have had to raise the gasoline tax. To keep the second lowest gasoline tax in the nation from being raised and and aggravating voters, it’s apparently fine in Trenton to grossly exaggerate a few statistics.

But these stories — and others from Christie’s past — suggest that Romney is unlikely to choose the loud governor of New Jersey as his running mate.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany was forced to defend President Donald Trump's recent attacks on MSNBC host Joe Scarborough on Tuesday, an unenviable task she nevertheless intentionally signed up for. She desperately tried to divert the attention back to Scarborough — without engaging in the president's conspiracy theorizing — but offered no credible defense of the president's conduct.

Trump has been spreading the debunked theory that Scarborough killed a staffer in 2001 while he was in Congress, even though it was determined she died of natural causes. The staffer's widower wrote a released a letter on Tuesday pleading with Twitter to take down the president's offensive tweets promoting the thoery. He said he was "angry," "frustrated," and "grieved" by the president's promotion of the harmful allegations. Trump is perverting his late wife's memory, he said, and he fears her niece and nephews will encounter these attacks.When asked about the letter, McEnany said she wasn't sure if the president had seen it. But she said their "hearts" are with the woman's family "at this time." It was a deeply ironic comment because the only particularly traumatizing thing about "this time" for the family is the president's attacks, which come nearly two decades after the woman's death.

McEnany refused to offer any explanation of Trump's comments and instead redirected reporters to a clip of Scarborough on Don Imus's radio show in 2003. In that show, Imus made a tasteless joke obliquely referring to the death, and Scarborough laughed at it briefly.

"Why is the president making these unfounded allegations?" asked ABC News' Jonathan Karl. "I mean, this is pretty nuts, isn't it? The president is accusing someone of possible murder. The family is pleading with the president to please stop unfounded conspiracy theories. Why is he doing it?""The president said this morning, this is not an original Trump thought. And it is not," she said, bringing up the Imus clip. But she made no mention of why the president is bringing up the issue 17 years later and with a much larger platform.

When pressed further on the president's conduct, she again diverted blame to Scarborough, saying his morning show unfairly criticizes the president. But again, she offered no substantive defense of Trump.

After McEnany had moved on, PBS reporter Yamiche Alcindor brought it up again: "Why won't the president give this widower peace and stop tweeting about the conspiracy theory involving his wife?"

McEnany said she had already answered the question, which she hadn't, and said the onus is on Scarborough to explain the Imus clip."The widower is talking specifically about the president!" Alcindor shot back. But McEnany called on Chanel Rion, with the aggressively pro-Trump outlet OAN, who changed the subject to conspiracy theories about the origins of the Russia investigation.

"Are you not going to answer that?" Alcindor called out, still trying to get a substantive response to her question, but Rion spoke over her.

At the end of the briefing, another reporter asked whether Trump was looking for any actual law enforcement steps be taken in response to his conspiracy theory. But McEnany had nothing to add, and simply told people to listen to the Imus clip again. As she hurried out of the briefing room, a reporter asked if Trump would stop promoting the theory — but she left without answering.

Watch the exchange about Klausutis, which begins at 48:45.