Editor's note: NBC says a report on Thursday ruling out federal charges against New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in the George Washington Bridge scandal was incorrect. The investigation is continuing. - Jimmy
Editor's note: NBC 4 New York is reporting that a U.S. Justice Department investigation found no link between New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and the 2013 George Washington Bridge lane closures, according to federal officials. Spokesmen for the Justice Department, FBI and state officials all declined to comment on this report. We're waiting for additional confirmation. - Stephanie
Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie aide Christina Renna says Bridget Anne Kelly asked her to delete email about lane closures because Kelly said she 'really couldn't take getting questions about this' - @MichaelLinhorst
Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie aide Christina Renna now being questioned by the New Jersey Legislative Select Committee on Investigation in Trenton, NJ, regarding the George Washington Bridge scandal - @AlexNBCNews
The Fort Lee lane closure scandal, also known as the George Washington Bridge lane closure scandal or Bridgegate, is a U.S. political scandal in which a staff member and political appointees of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie collaborated to create traffic jams in Fort Lee, New Jersey, by closing lanes at the toll plaza to the George Washington Bridge hindering traffic to New York City.
The problems began on Monday, September 9, 2013, when two of three eastbound toll lanes were closed to morning rush hour traffic for no reason. Traffic from Fort Lee was forced to state and interstate expressways. Local officials, emergency services, and the public were not notified of the lane closures, which Fort Lee declared a threat to public safety. The resulting back-ups and gridlock on local streets only ended when the two lanes were reopened on Friday, September 13, 2013 by an order from Port Authority Executive Director Patrick Foye (D). He said that the "hasty and ill-informed decision" could have endangered lives and violated federal and state laws.
The motives for the traffic disruptions are unclear. One theory is that they were retribution against Fort Lee's Mayor Mark Sokolich (D) for not endorsing Christie in the 2013 gubernatorial election. Investigators are also examining other possible motives, such as whether the closures were intended to affect Sokolich's promotion of The Modern, a major skyscraper under construction at the Fort Lee bridge access point.
Christie said in a February 2014 radio interview that he "unequivocally" did not know about the lane closures, did not approve or authorize them and only became aware of them from a Wall Street Journal story after the lanes reopened. Christie was cleared by a report prepared by a law firm he had hired. Critics and a majority of New Jerseyans, believed this report was a "whitewash". The report was criticized for not being able to interview key participants and for reading like a legal brief for Christie's defense.
Investigations soon centered on several of Christie's appointees and staff. David Wildstein, who ordered the traffic lanes closed, and Bill Baroni, who had told the New Jersey Assembly Transportation Committee that the closures were for a traffic study, resigned following sworn testimony that the two had violated protocols and then had sought to hide their involvement. Bridget Anne Kelly, Christie's deputy chief of staff, who had emailed Wildstein advising him that it was "time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee", was fired by Christie for not being forthcoming with him about her involvement. Christie's close political adviser and election campaign manager, Bill Stepien, resigned after Christie said that he was disturbed by the tone of Stepiens's emails related to the lane closures. David Samson (R), chairman of the Port Authority, resigned on March 28, 2014.
Christie's political standing and 2016 presidential campaign prospects were harmed by the scandal.As of May 2014, investigations were underway by the United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey, the New Jersey Legislature, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The New Jersey Attorney General has refused to say if it has launched a probe.