New documents released in Chris Christie ‘Bridgegate’ scandal

New Jersey legislators released on Friday more than 1,000 pages of documents that may shed light on a bridge traffic jam apparently orchestrated by Republican Governor Chris Christie’s top aides to settle a political score.

The documents were made public just days after New Jersey officials released emails that appeared to show the Republican governor’s staff plotting a massive traffic jam in September, seemingly to retaliate against the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee because he had not endorsed Christie’s re-election campaign.

On Thursday, Christie, a star of his party seen as a likely contender for the White House in 2016, fired the staffer who had sent emails calling for trouble at the commuter choke point and repeatedly apologized in a two-hour news conference.

Christie said on Thursday that he had been “blindsided” by the emails and had no previous knowledge that his staff was involved in the September 9 through 13 blockage of the George Washington Bridge, the busiest in the United States.

Christie supporters and political foes expressed doubt and anger on Friday over the governor’s claims of ignorance of the intentional traffic jam that paralyzed Fort Lee, New Jersey, site of entry points to the bridge.

“I think he’s lying,” said Tatjana Schimke, 36, a housewife from Montclair, New Jersey. “He seems to have a very tight knit team. He doesn’t strike me as a guy who doesn’t know what his team is doing.”

One of Christie’s major political opponents, state Senator Loretta Weinberg, a Democrat who represents Fort Lee, said she had serious doubts that the governor learned of the bridge plot only two days ago.

“That is so beyond belief for Mr. Hands-on-I’m-responsible-for-everything-in-New-Jersey-the-buck-s tops-with-me Gov. Christie,” Weinberg told MSNBC on Friday.

The scandal, which had been brewing for weeks, became national news on Wednesday when New Jersey officials released emails that appeared to show Christie’s staff plotting the lane closures in September to retaliate against the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee for not endorsing Christie’s re-election campaign.

Christie had counted on his victory in November to show bipartisan appeal to increase his chances of winning his party’s nomination for president, political experts have said.

During Thursday’s news conference, Christie repeatedly apologized for his staff’s actions, denied any knowledge of them, and said he was not yet thinking about possibly running for president in 2016.

Christie has no public appearances scheduled for Friday.

Any implication in the documents released on Friday that Christie or his staff knew more about the plot than they have acknowledged could cause the scandal to dog Christie.

“He’s not fully in control of this story anymore,” said Julian Zelizer, a professor of history at Princeton University. “Because he took such a firm stand yesterday and was emphatic that this was it, any information that shows otherwise will continue the story and force him to put more time on it.”

Christie has long cultivated an image as a brash, tough-talking leader willing to buck his party for the good of his constituents. On Thursday, however, he struck a more humble tone, and said, “I am not a bully.”

U.S. attorney for New Jersey Paul Fishman, whose job Christie held before being elected governor, has opened an investigation into the decision to close the bridge lanes.

The governor also faces a class-action lawsuit filed in federal court on Thursday by Rosemarie Arnold, a lawyer charging that area residents suffered financially from being trapped in traffic.

Vilma Oleri, whose 91-year-old mother died after her ambulance got caught in the first day of the traffic jam, told CNN she did not believe the traffic delays were the cause.

“I really believe in my heart that she was already gone when the ambulance go there,” Oleri said.

EMAIL FORETOLD JAMS

At the heart of Wednesday’s revelations was an email from Christie’s now-dismissed deputy chief of staff, Bridget Anne Kelly, who wrote to a Port Authority executive in August, “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.”

The executive, David Wildstein, replied, “Got it.”

Wildstein later admitted to ordering the lane closures and resigned his post. He supplied the emails to the media in response to a subpoena issued by a panel of state lawmakers.

Appearing before the panel on Thursday, Wildstein declined to answer questions, repeatedly invoking the constitutional protection not to say anything that might incriminate him.

Representative Bill Pascrell of New Jersey, a Democrat, offered no sympathy for Christie’s repeated assertions on Thursday that he had been stunned and “heartbroken” by the news of his aides’ involvement in the scheme.

“The victims are the folks in Fort Lee, New Jersey,” Pascrell told MSNBC. “These are the real victims. So don’t try to victimize yourself when you’re being questioned.”



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Mutant worms stay sober, even on alcohol

U.S. researchers have developed "mutant worms" that do not get drunk by alcohol, a breakthrough that could lead to new treatment for people trying to quit drinking

Local

K-9 nose helps capture $150K in cocaine at…

A furry, four-legged security agent helped authorities stop an illegal cocaine shipment from sneaking past JFK customs.

National

Minnesota man asked to leave Southwest flight after…

A man and his two sons were asked to leave a Southwest Airlines flight after the man sent a tweet complaining about being treated rudely by a gate agent.

National

Man sues hospital after surprise penis amputation

An Alabama man who went in to a hospital last month for a circumcision awoke after surgery to find his penis had been amputated, his lawyer said on Thursday.

Movies

Review: Brett Ratner's big 'Hercules' movie is small…

The latest "Hercules," starring Dwayne Johnson as the half-god beefcake of Greek myth, strips its hero and tale of most of its fantastical elements.

Arts

Scientists recreate world's smallest Monet copy

Scientists have reproduced a famous Impressionist painting using nano-printing, to create what has been described as the world's smallest work of art. Reworked at the…

Television

Jerry Seinfeld is ambidextrous, and other Reddit AMA…

See some of the weirder highlights of Jerry Seinfeld's recent Reddit AMA.

Going Out

Grab a pedestrian and start dancing at What…

As a New Yorker, I’ve mastered the art of focusing my gaze straight ahead. Though it occasionally piques my interest, the absurdities that play out…

NFL

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player…

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player rankings

U.S. Soccer

NYCFC announce signing of Frank Lampard

The tease of a big signing Thursday by new MLS side NYCFC ended up being one rumored for weeks. England midfielder Frank Lampard agreed to…

NBA

NBA great LeBron James sends 800 cupcake apologies…

By Kim PalmerCLEVELAND (Reuters) - NBA star LeBron James, whose recent return to the Cleveland Cavaliers in his home state of Ohio sparked a frenzy…

NFL

Jerry Reese confident with Giants, skipping countdown clocks…

Last year, Giants GM Jerry Reese installed a countdown clock in the locker room to inspire Big Blue to play in their own stadium for Super Bowl XLVIII.

Tech

Forget Wi-Fi: Li-Fi could be the future

Li-Fi technology – developed by Mexican company Sisoft – is wireless internet connectivity using specialized LED light.

Tech

Weather app Climendo might be the most accurate…

The wait for a truly accurate weather forecast could finally be over thanks to a nifty new app called Climendo.

Tech

Napkin Table puts focus off the phone and…

Michael Jan, a design student at Tunghai University in Taiwan, has invented a serviette-picnic blanket hybrid called the Napkin Table.

Style

Essie's new Color Boutique

Essie launches high-tech kiosks at major airports and malls across the country.

Comments

1

  1. Mark Sokolich: How can you close me up? On what grounds?
    Captain Christiet: I’m shocked, shocked to find that traffic is going on here!
    [a PA official hands Christie a pile of money]
    PA official: Your payback, sir.
    Captain Christie: [sotto voce] Oh, thank you very much.
    [aloud]
    Captain Christie: Everybody stop at once!