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Emails emerged Wednesday tying New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s staff to the closing of lanes on a key bridge in September — shutdowns that caused massive traffic problems and sparked allegations that they were the result of political retribution. The likely 2016 Republican presidential candidate had denied his staff played any role in the lane closures and even mocked reporters for asking about the issue when it first emerged months ago. The emails tell a different story, potentially undercutting Christie’s reputation as a truth-teller who doesn’t play political games. “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” Christie senior staffer Bridget Kelly wrote in an email to Port Authority official David Wildstein, a Christie ally, on Aug. 13, 2013, according to “Got it,” Wildstein replied. The following month, two of the town’s lanes to the George Washington Bridge were closed, causing backups for a week that one local columnist described as a “disaster” that “quadruple[d] commuting time for some of the people who live closest to one of the nation’s busiest bridges.” The closures came ahead of the gubernatorial election at a time when Christie, who boasted he’d received endorsements from more than 60 elected Democrats in New Jersey, was looking to maximize his support from the rival part Read more: www.politico.com... Read more: www.politico.com...
“Got it,” Wildstein replied. The following month, two of the town’s lanes to the George Washington Bridge were closed, causing backups for a week that one local columnist described as a “disaster” that “quadruple[d] commuting time for some of the people who live closest to one of the nation’s busiest bridges.” The closures came ahead of the gubernatorial election at a time when Christie, who boasted he’d received endorsements from more than 60 elected Democrats in New Jersey, was looking to maximize his support from the rival part
Emails released today revealed two political bombshells: Gov. Chris Christie's office had advance knowledge of the traffic nightmare at the George Washington Bridge that crippled Fort Lee in September. And his top officials at the Port Authority did indeed close the lanes as a form of retribution against the town's mayor. "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee," Christie's deputy chief of staff wrote to David Wildstein, a top Christie appointee at the Port Authority. Wildstein answered, "Got it." Which confirms what critics have suspected all along: This was an outrageous misuse of public resources, a reckless endangerment of the public, and apparently a massive lie. But by whom?
The official line from Christie's lieutenants at the Port Authority has been that this was all part of a secret "traffic study"; that they were simply curious to see what sort of mayhem would ensue if two of Fort Lee's three access lanes to the bridge were cut off, suddenly and unannounced. That's clearly a bogus story. But was the governor lying, too? Christie has said that after checking with his staff, he determined that no one from his office was involved in these lane closings. He scoffed at the very idea that it was political retribution against the Fort Lee mayor for refusing to endorse his re-election, and joked that he had moved the traffic cones himself. His attempts to laugh this off now appear to be dishonest, though we can't yet be sure that he personally knew about the correspondence of one of his top aides. Still, Christie bears responsibility either way. If it turns out he did know, he is obviously lying and unfit for office -- let alone a 2016 presidential run. And even if he did not, his officials are liars. If Christie can't control them, how can we trust him as a potential future leader of our country?
These emails show beyond a doubt that Christie's deputy chief of staff, Bridget Anne Kelly, was directly involved in the planning of this massive gridlock and got periodic updates. And she knew his executives at the Port Authority were ignoring the mayor's frantic efforts to get a reason behind the lane closures, as emergency responders and school buses full of children got ensnared in the mess. Wildstein has been called to testify about these emails, supplied in response to a subpoena, before a panel of state lawmakers tomorrow. And given their explosive content, we'll need subpoenas to hear Kelly's testimony, as well as that of Christie's chief of staff at the time, Kevin O'Dowd. The most damning evidence against Christie's officials is their utter indifference to the consequences of this prank. "Is it wrong that I'm smiling?" an unidentified text message to Wildstein reads, in response to news that buses of children are trapped in traffic on the first day of the school year. "No," Wildstein wrote back.