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Bridgegate
April 24, 2019

Bridget Anne Kelly was sentenced to 13 months in federal prison on Wednesday for her role in the New Jersey Bridgegate scandal, and while standing outside the courthouse, she asked why her onetime boss, former Gov. Chris Christie (R), got off scot-free.

Prosecutors accused Kelly, Christie's former deputy chief of staff, and Bill Baroni, the former deputy executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, of purposely closing lanes near the George Washington Bridge in 2013 in order to cause a traffic nightmare and get back at the town's Democratic mayor for not endorsing Christie's re-election. They were found guilty in November 2016, but after a federal appeals court tossed out part of the corruption case against her, Kelly had to be re-sentenced, NJ.com reports.

Kelly has long said Christie, who was never charged in the scandal, and others knew about the plan and did not attempt to intervene. "How did all these men all escape justice?" she asked. "Chris Christie was allowed, without rebuttal from anyone, to say out of one side of his mouth that I was a low-level staffer. A woman only good enough to plan menus and invite people to events. And then say out of the other side that I was somehow powerful enough to shut down the George Washington Bridge."

Christie, she continued, is "a bully, and the days of you calling me a liar and destroying my life are over." A spokesman for the former governor told NJ.com he "had no knowledge of this scheme prior to or during these lane realignments, and had no role in authorizing them." Catherine Garcia

September 28, 2016

Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.) was told about the punitive lane closings up to the George Washington Bridge at a 2013 memorial service for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, two days before the lanes were unblocked, David Wildstein, a confessed architect of the scheme, testified in federal court on Tuesday. When the governor was told of the closures — and that they were in retaliation for the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee declining to endorse Christie's re-election bid — "he laughed," Wildstein said.

Wildstein, a former Christie loyalist at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey — which oversees the George Washington Bridge, the nation's busiest — is testifying against Bill Baroni, Christie's top appointee at the Port Authority, and former Christie aide Bridget Anne Kelly; Christie himself is not charged in this "Bridgegate" case, and on Tuesday, he again insisted that he "had no knowledge prior to or during these lane realignments." New York magazine recounts Wildstein's testimony, accompanying photographs of Christie, himself, and Baroni in a "relaxed" huddle at Ground Zero:

"Mr. Baroni said, 'Governor I have to tell you about something,'" Wildstein testified, saying that Baroni and Christie often adopted a "very sarcastic tone" when they were talking politics. "Mr. Baroni said to Governor Christie, 'Governor, I can tell you there's a tremendous amount of traffic in Fort Lee this morning, major traffic jams, and Mayor [Mark] Sokolich is very frustrated." He alleged that Baroni then added, "You'll be pleased to know that Mayor Sokolich is having trouble getting his telephone calls returned."

According to Wildstein, Christie replied with similar sarcasm, "I imagine he wouldn't be getting his phone calls returned." ... The governor still called Wildstein by the pseudonym he used on the [influential political blog] website, "Wally Edge." So Christie surely understood the import of what Baroni allegedly told him next: "Mr. Baroni said to Governor Christie that I was monitoring the traffic, I was watching over everything," Wildstein testified. "Governor Christie said in the sarcastic tone of the conversation, 'Well. I'm sure Mr. Edge would not be involved in anything political." Then, Wildstein said, "he laughed."

"This was our one constituent. I was pleasing my one constituent," Wildstein said. "I was proud of it. I was happy that he's happy." [New York]

You can read more about the dramatic day of "Bridgegate" testimony at The New York Times or New York. Peter Weber

August 10, 2016

On Wednesday, New Jersey Chris Christie (R) publicly denied a former aide's claim that he "flat out lied" in court when he said his staff had no involvement in the 2013 Bridgegate scandal. While leaving a radio interview, Christie told reporters there is no truth in the recently uncovered text exchange between a senior staffer and his campaign manager suggesting Christie's staff actually did know about the plan to close George Washington Bridge access lanes. "I absolutely dispute it. It's ridiculous," Christie said. "It's nothing new. There's nothing new to talk about."

The lane closures, which created massive traffic jams in Fort Lee, are believed to have been revenge for the city's Democratic mayor's refusal to endorse Christie in his re-election bid. Christie has maintained he didn't have any knowledge of the lane closure plot. Becca Stanek

May 4, 2015

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has strenuously denied that he was aware of the events surrounding the Bridgegate scandal until after the fact, but a new poll from Monmouth University shows that a majority of New Jersey adults don't believe him.

The poll, which surveyed 500 people across the state, found that 56 percent of New Jersey adults believe Christie knew about the politically motivated lane closures on the George Washington Bridge as they happened in 2013. Only 33 percent agreed that Christie learned about the lane closures after the event. In addition to believing Christie knew about the lane closures, 50 percent of respondents believed Christie was "personally involved" in the decision, while just 34 percent said Christie was not involved.

Unsurprisingly, the poll was sharply divided by political affiliation. Seventy-one percent of Democrats believed Christie knew about the lane closures as they occurred, versus just 35 percent of Republicans. The poll's release comes as two former Christie aides, Bridget Kelly and Bill Baroni, pleaded not guilty on Monday to charges connected to the lane closures.

No matter their views on Bridgegate, members of both parties agreed on one thing, though: 54 percent of respondents believed Christie is not doing a good job. Meghan DeMaria

May 1, 2015

U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced the Bridgegate-related indictments of Bill Baroni, the former deputy executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and Bridget Anne Kelly, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's former deputy chief of staff, on Friday on multiple counts of conspiracy for their involvement in the politically motivated closure of three lanes onto the George Washington Bridge and subsequent coverup in 2013.

The indictments come after David Wildstein, Christie's childhood friend and a former top official at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, pled guilty Friday morning to two counts of conspiracy for his role in the scandal. At the press conference, Fishman said that Baroni, Kelly, and Wildstein "callously victimized" Fort Lee residents, who were caught in severe traffic thanks to the lane closures and were just trying to get to work. Samantha Rollins

January 23, 2015

Bridgegate went down way back in 2013, but its aftermath is still playing out.

Although there's no evidence New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was involved in the George Washington Bridge closure, he was left with a hefty legal price tag. His 2013 gubernatorial re-election campaign, which is legally allowed to keep raising money, is more than $800,000 in debt from legal fees associated with the scandal. The debt is split between two law firms, The Washington Post reports.

A traffic jam has probably never been so costly. Julie Kliegman

December 5, 2014

A draft report by a New Jersey legislative committee said there was "no conclusive evidence" that Gov. Chris Christie (R) knew in advance about allegedly politically motivated 2013 lane closings on the George Washington Bridge. Still, Christie "knew more than he was publicly saying" after the scandal erupted last year, said Assemblyman John Wisniewski, a Democrat and co-chairman of committee. Several Christie aides and appointees declined to speak with investigators. Harold Maass

September 19, 2014

A nine-month federal investigation into Bridgegate — the traffic-snarling closure of lanes on the New Jersey side of the George Washington Bridge, as apparent political retribution toward the mayor of Fort Lee — hasn't found any evidence that Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.) ordered the lane closures himself or knew about them beforehand, NBC 4 reports, citing unidentified federal officials.

The Justice Department investigation is ongoing, but if the final report exculpates Christie, "that's good news for him," Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist polling organization, tells NBC. "The bad news remains that politically as chief executive it looks like he was not in control of his administration at the time when this occurred. So that remains the downside for him. That doesn't go away but this panel provides greater credibility barring any further revelations coming out."

Christie, his former aides, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey are subjects of at least one ongoing New Jersey state investigation, too. Peter Weber

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