The Port Authority of New Jersey and New York closed two lanes from Fort Lee to the George Washington Bridge, the most heavily trafficked bridge in the world, in 2013. For four days, the bridge was congested with traffic until Patrick Foye, the executive director of the Port Authority and an appointee of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, ordered that the lanes be reopened.
When the authorities and the media questioned why the lanes were closed, the Port Authority claimed that it was conducting a traffic study. At the time, New Jersey democratic leaders claimed that the situation, termed “Bridgegate,” was designed by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s administration as a method to punish Fort Lee’s Mayor Mark Sokolich. Sokolich was a Democrat who failed to endorse Christie in the 2013 re-election.
Christie has claimed multiple times that he and his administration knew nothing about the lane closures. However, a thorough investigation has revealed that the closures were actually carried out by Christie’s administration. Federal prosecutors now claim that Christie knew about Bridgegate, which will be supported in court by the testimony of David Wildstein, a former Port Authority official.
Wildstein, along with Bill Baroni and Bridget Kelly, all former officials of Christie’s administration, were largely involved in initiating Bridgegate. Kelly had sent an email to Baroni in August 2013 declaring: "time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee."
Christie has taken serious and highly extensive measures in an attempt to prove his innocence. In 2014, when the New Jersey State Assembly authorized a special committee to investigate Bridgegate, Christie hired an outside legal team to help his administration conduct an internal review, which found him innocent. New Jersey Democrats, however, said that because the lead attorney of the team was politically tied to Christie and the firm did not interview any of the key people involved in the scandal, the internal review was appropriately deemed a “sham.”
Given the fact that the people closest to Christie were intimately involved in the scandal, it can be reasonably assumed that he knew what was going on. However, merely knowing is not a federal crime. A prosecutor would have to prove that the order to close the lanes came from Christie himself in order to be convicted.
Guilty or not, Christie has already paid the price for this scandal, as it has been cited as a primary factor in the fall of Christie’s 2016 presidential bid. It may also explain why he did not succeed and why he was passed up as the nominee for vice president for Donald Trump’s campaign.