Chris Christie Caught in Bridge Scandal

On Wednesday January 8th, new documents surfaced suggesting that members of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s staff were behind the closure of a major bridge last year in a calculated attempt to exact political revenge.

Emails and text messages were published by a New Jersey newspaper revealing Christie’s top aides discussing how to clog traffic in Fort Lee, NJ after the town’s Democratic mayor refused to endorse Christie for re-election. Weeks after these secret discussions, lane closures jammed traffic on the New Jersey side of George Washington Bridge, causing gridlock that overlapped with the first day of school.

“Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” Bridget Anne Kelly, a senior aid to Christie wrote in an Aug. 13 email to David Wildstein, a Port Authority official and friend of Christie’s.

“Got it,” replied Wildstein, who resigned last month as questions about the lane closures heightened.

In a text message exchange with Wildstein after the snarled traffic, a different staff member asks, “Is it wrong that I’m smiling?”

Wildstein’s response? “No.”

On January 9th, one day after the documents surfaced, Christie conducted a press conference in Trenton, offering a broad apology and announcing the dismissal of two senior members on his staff.

“I am embarrassed and humiliated by the conduct of some of the people on my team,” Christie said. “The conduct that they exhibited is completely unacceptable.” Christie fired Bridget Anne Kelly and his former campaign manager Bill Stepien who was also linked to the documents that appeared Wednesday.

In a press conference just last month, Christie laughed off allegations that he or his staff was involved in the bridge’s closure. Christie explained that just before the conference he had told his staff he would denounce the reports and urged them to speak up if they had any reason for him not to, but no one came forward.

Christie reasserted that he had no prior knowledge of the bridge incident until he was “blindsided” by the revelation. “I also have to apologize for my failure as the governor of this state for failing to understand the true nature of this problem,” he added somberly. He said he will conduct an internal investigation and will publicly disclose any new information that he uncovers.

“I am heartbroken,” Christie said.

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