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Chris Christie's "Bridgegate" Accuser Not Giving Up

William Brennan has embraced the quest with a zealousness that would make Captain Ahab blush.

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    Chris Christie's "Bridgegate" Accuser Not Giving Up
    WNBC
    New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

    Like the two-term Republican governor he has set his sights on, William Brennan exhibits a penchant for the type of bluntness that often seems a birthright for anyone born in this state but that still has the capacity to startle.

    It has catapulted the former-firefighter-turned-gubernatorial-candidate into the spotlight as he pursues a criminal complaint against Gov. Chris Christie in the George Washington Bridge lane-closing scandal.

    Brennan has embraced the quest with a zealousness that would make Captain Ahab blush. It isn't an exaggeration to say his campaign platform seemingly has one plank: bringing Christie to justice for the alleged political retaliation plot against the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee who didn't endorse him.

    Brennan, who has called himself a lifelong Democrat, said in December he would run for governor this year but hadn't officially registered for the 2017 race as of Friday. Christie's term ends in January 2018.

    In his most recent display of bombast Thursday after the latest in a series of court hearings, Brennan referred to state and county prosecutors as "low-life," "slop," "garbage" and "derelict in their duty," and called again for the appointment of a special prosecutor to take over the case.

    As steadfast as Brennan has been that Christie is guilty of something, Christie has been adamant he did nothing wrong and discovered details of the plot only weeks or months later.

    Two of Christie's former aides were convicted in federal court in November and are scheduled to be sentenced March 13.

    Christie wasn't charged in the federal case and didn't testify. His attorney, Craig Carpenito, has dismissed Brennan as a publicity hound "seeking to prolong his 15 minutes in the public eye'' and gain Twitter followers. Others have pooh-poohed Brennan's gubernatorial bid as a stunt as well.

    Yet Brennan, who has a law degree and has been representing himself, has refused to go away quietly, or at all.

    The case has pingponged between municipal court and state Superior Court, most recently on Thursday, when a municipal judge said he would rule next week on whether Brennan's evidence - testimony from the federal trial - amounted to probable cause to move the case forward.

    The entire case could hinge on whether Brennan can get the state Supreme Court to intervene and order the appointment of a special prosecutor. Brennan has argued state and county prosecutors and their subordinates owe their jobs to Christie and can't be impartial.

    The argument could have merit, according to Fordham University School of Law professor James Cohen, who has followed the so-called "Bridgegate" case.

    "If it's the case that county prosecutors are appointed by the governor's office, then there's clearly a conflict," he said. "It does extend to all the subordinates because all the subordinates have been appointed by the person who was appointed by the person who wants this to go a certain way, which is the governor. If one fact is true then the other fact is true."

    Brennan cited as proof the fact that the Bergen prosecutor's office wrote to the judge at the end of January and said it wouldn't pursue the case because it didn't feel it could prove misconduct beyond a reasonable doubt.

    Brennan said he has additional trial testimony that proves Christie knew about the lane closures and did nothing to stop them.

    "To sit here and say, "We're not going to prosecute the governor of New Jersey no matter what evidence is presented,' is dereliction of duty and they should be fired for that immediately,'' Brennan said, referring to the prosecutors.

    Whatever the legal outcomes, Brennan sounded like someone who is ready for a protracted battle. "If I exhaust every legitimate means and every legal remedy, I can still become governor of New Jersey and fire the county prosecutors and fire the attorney general," he said. "I'm not going to give this up."