Chris Christie's Week-in-Review

By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone )


  • THURSDAY - A NEW CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION. Federal authorities have launched a criminal investigation into New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, as well as members of his administration, a man at the center of the investigation told ABC News. The U.S. attorney's office in New Jersey has interviewed former Hunterdon County Assistant Prosecutor Bennett Barlyn, who claims he was fired because he objected to Christie officials dismissing indictments against political allies of the governor. Barlyn confirmed the investigation to ABC News. It was first reported by the International Business Times. Barlyn was dismissed from the Hunterdon County Prosecutor's Office in September 2010 and later brought a whistleblower case against the Christie administration that currently is in the discovery phase, ABC's JOSH MARGOLIN and SHUSHANNAH WALSHE report. He has consistently said he was fired for objecting to the quashing of indictments against the county's sheriff and two subordinates - all political supporters of Christie's. The governor's office previously has dismissed the accusations as being "conspiratorial nonsense."
  • TUESDAY - THE FINER THINGS IN LIFE. During his visit to the United Kingdom, The New York Times published an article describing the governor's taste for luxury, raising a variety of questions that the governor apparently was not in the mood to answer. Christie declined to take press questions before he winged his way back to New Jersey.
  • MONDAY - VACCINATIONS. While overseas, Christie became embroiled in a debate back at home, telling reporters that parents should have "a measure of choice" on whether to vaccinate their children. "All I can say is that we vaccinated ours. That's the best expression I can give you of my opinion. It's much more important, I think, what you think as a parent than what you think as a public official," Christie said. "But I also understand that parents need to have some measure of choice in things as well so that's the balance that the government has to decide." Christie's office later clarified in an official statement: "The Governor believes vaccines are an important public health protection and with a disease like measles there is no question kids should be vaccinated."
  • ON THE TRAIL: Rand Paul is in Iowa attending an "Audit the Fed" rally this evening in Des Moines. Mike Huckabee continues his book tour making stops in Texas. Bernie Sanders is in Philadelphia today where he'll give the keynote address at the Progressive Congress Strategy Summit. -Shushannah Walshe

THIS WEEK ON 'THIS WEEK': Sunday on "This Week," the powerhouse roundtable debates all the week's politics, with Echelon Insights co-founder and Daily Beast contributor Kristen Soltis Anderson, CNN political commentator Van Jones, and Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, managing editors of Bloomberg Politics and hosts of "With All Due Respect." Check the "This Week" page for full guest listings. Be sure to use #ThisWeek when you tweet about the program. TUNE IN SUNDAY:


WHY SOME HOPE BOURBON BARREL WILL BRING COMPROMISE TO WASHINGTON. Can bourbon bring compromise to Washington? It was an effective diplomatic tool for southern statesman Henry Clay in the early 19th century, and now a group of concerned Kentuckians are hoping to revive Clay's "spirit of compromise" by bringing a 42-gallon barrel of bourbon to the nation's capital. The so-called "Bourbon Barrel of Compromise" arrived Tuesday at Washington's historic Willard Hotel, where Clay himself was once known for keeping his own barrel of bourbon on hand. This year's barrel was sent by the Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship in partnership with a group of Kentucky's premier distillers. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., was there to receive the ceremonial barrel, according to ABC's JORDYN PHELPS, RICHARD COOLIDGE and ERIN DOOLEY.



SENIOR AIDE TO REP. AARON SCHOCK RESIGNS AFTER OFFENSIVE FACEBOOK POSTS COME TO LIGHT. A senior advisor to Illinois Republican Rep. Aaron Schock has resigned in disgrace hours after racially insensitive posts he wrote on Facebook came to light Thursday, according to ABC's JEFF ZELENY and JOHN PARKINSON. Benjamin Cole, who joined Schock's office as senior advisor for policy and communications in March 2014, confirmed in a text message to ABC News that he resigned. "I am extremely disappointed by the inexcusable and offensive online comments made by a member of my staff," Schock wrote in a statement released by his office. "I would expect better from any member of my team. Upon learning about them I met with Mr. Cole and he offered his resignation which I have accepted." Cole's posts were first reported by ThinkProgress and Buzzfeed. One such post was from August 16, 2010 where Cole suggested that a mosque be built on the White House grounds to give President Obama a 'house of worship.' The posts have since been deleted.

WHY THE DHS FUNDING BILL IS GOING NOWHERE (FOR NOW). There are only three weeks left before funding for the Department of Homeland Security expires, but the measure is at a standstill in the Senate as Democrats and Republicans are at odds over immigration provisions included in the bill. For the third time this week, Senate Democrats blocked Republican efforts to move forward with a House-approved bill which would provide $40 billion in funding for DHS through September while simultaneously undoing President Obama's recent immigration executive actions, ABC's JOHN PARKINSON and ARLETTE SAENZ report. All eyes are now on whether Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will bring up the vote for Round 4 or come up with an alternative to the current measure.

SENATOR SAYS GITMO DETAINEES 'CAN ROT IN HELL.' In the latest tense exchange over the fate of the detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Sen. Tom Cotton took a hard line Thursday against the Obama administration's push to shut the prison down. "In my opinion, the only problem of Guantanamo Bay is there are too many empty beds and cells there right now," said Cotton, R-Arkansas. "We should be sending more terrorists there for further interrogation to keep this country safe." The freshman senator dismissed the widespread criticisms of the detention center in a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, including the argument that the detention center helps fuel propaganda for terrorists, ABC's ALEXANDER MALLIN notes. "Islamic terrorists don't need an excuse to attack the United States. They don't attack us for what we do, they attack us for who we are," Cotton said. "As far as I'm concerned, every last one of them can rot in hell, but as long as they don't do that, then they can rot in Guantanamo Bay!" Cotton said, shutting off his mic. WATCH:

OBAMA CONDEMNS ISIS, PRAISES DALAI LAMA. President Obama Thursday morning condemned those who "highjack religion for their own murderous ends," as he spoke of faith being "twisted and misused in the name of evil," according to ABC's MARY BRUCE. "As people of faith, we are summoned to push back against those who've tried to distort our religion. Any religion for their own nihilistic ends," the president said at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington. Calling ISIS a "brutal, vicious death cult," Obama said the group is carrying out unspeakable acts of barbarism and "claiming a mantle of religious authority for such actions." The president also cautioned that the tendency to twist religion is "not unique to one group or one religion." "There is a tendency in us, a sinful tendency that can pervert and distort our faith," he said.

A HOLY VISIT TO THE CAPITOL. Speaker John Boehner announced Thursday that Pope Francis accepted an invitation to visit the Capitol and address a joint session of Congress on September 24, making His Holiness the first pope to do, ABC's JEFF ZELENY reports. "It will be a historic visit, and we are truly grateful that Pope Francis has accepted our invitation," Boehner, who's Catholic, said in statement. "In a time of global upheaval, the Holy Father's message of compassion and human dignity has moved people of all faiths and backgrounds. We look forward to warmly welcoming Pope Francis to our Capitol and hearing his address on behalf of the American people."

OREGON GOVERNOR UNDER PRESSURE TO RESIGN. Oregon's paper of record, the Oregonian, called for the resignation of Gov. John Kitzhaber yesterday in light of a conflict-of-interest controversy involving himself, his fiancée, and two of his past campaign staffers who allegedly arranged plum jobs for Kitzhaber's fiancée with groups who had business before the state. Cylvia Hayes, his fiancée, was also acting as an unpaid energy adviser to Kitzhaber while she held jobs with two nonprofits that focused on energy and jobs, one which paid her $5,000 a month for five months and another that paid her $118,000 over two years. The scathing editorial also criticized Kitzhaber's inability, during a press conference last week, to say whether he considered Hayes a member of his household, ABC's ALI WEINBERG notes. "I have no idea whether she is 'legally' a member of my household," Kitzhaber responded. WHO'S TWEETING?

@jpaceDC: WASHINGTON (AP) - US employers added 257K jobs, wages rose and more Americans sought work in January.

@jmartNYT: State of the Dem primary: Hillary up 58-14 in WMUR New Hampshire poll over somebody not running (Warren)

@AliABCNews: Yes, Alcee Hastings dissed TX, but listen to the end of this interview - he also rags on his home state of Florida! …

@mikiebarb: Dear everyone: please post MORE images of the temperature from your iPhone.

@markknoller: In talks today with EU leaders in Brussels, @VP says Ukraine "fighting for its very survival" as Russia ""continues to escalate" conflict.