Tags: Trump Administration | Christie Bridge Controversy | Keystone XL Pipeline | bridge-gate | George Washington Bridge | christie

Chris Christie Cleared of Any Wrongdoing in Bridgegate Scandal

Chris Christie Cleared of Any Wrongdoing in Bridgegate Scandal
(Jessica Kourkounis/ Getty Images)

Friday, 05 December 2014 08:16 AM

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was handed a major boost in his probable White House bid on Thursday when it was revealed that he's been cleared of any wrongdoing in last year's Bridge-gate scandal.

After flying to Canada in a show of support for the Keystone XL pipeline, calculated to increase his potential presidential standing, Christie learned that he's officially off the hook following an investigation into the traffic chaos created by lane closures onto the George Washington Bridge.

A joint New Jersey legislative committee found no conclusive evidence to show the Republican governor was aware of the shutdown last year when the scheme was hatched by his leading aides as petty political payback.

The panel's 136-page interim report corroborates a previous inquiry commissioned by Christie that absolved the governor of having any prior knowledge of the plan to block traffic onto the bridge, according to Christie's attorney, Randy Mastro.

"The committee has finally acknowledged what we reported nine months ago — namely, that there is not a shred of evidence Governor Christie knew anything about the GWB lane realignment beforehand or that any current member of his staff was involved in that decision," Mastro said.

The report, however, did appear to criticize Christie in one respect: that his former aides Bridget Anne Kelly and David Wildstein acted with "perceived impunity" when they staged the traffic nightmare.

Documents have shown that Wildstein, then a leading official at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and Kelly, then a senior aide to Christie, arranged the lane closures as revenge for the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee, New Jersey, for not backing the governor's re-election campaign.

In one now infamous email, Kelly wrote to Wildstein, saying, "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee."

Wildstein later alleged that Christie, chairman of the Republican Governors Association, knew about the three days of lane closures while they were still going on.

The legislative panel will formally release its findings on Monday, while the U.S. Attorney's Office in New Jersey is still in the midst of conducting another inquiry into the traffic mess. No one has ever been charged in the case.

Until the Bridge-gate scandal erupted, Christie had been the clear front-runner in the polls for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016.

But his popularity plunged and he fell down in the pecking order, behind such Republican luminaries as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.

Reports surfaced at the same time that he was a bully who used his political clout to keep enemies in check. Christie has since been attempting to rebuild his image while mulling over whether to join the presidential race.

In what was seen as Christie laying the groundwork for a White House run in 2016, the governor visited Calgary, Canada, on Thursday to tout the benefits of the $8 billion Keystone XL pipeline, arguing that delaying the project is bad politics and economics.

According to The New York Times, his trip was meant to appeal to the elite corporate donors who are furious over President Barack Obama's inaction on the pipeline, and the grass-roots Republican activists who believe XL will fuel America's economy and energy independence.

"This is not about sending your oil across our land," Christie said. "It's about maximizing the benefits of North America's natural resources for everybody, about allowing markets to function, and about contributing to the prosperity of citizens both in the United States and in Canada."

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was handed a major boost in his probable White House run on Thursday when it was revealed that he's been cleared of any wrongdoing in last year's Bridge-gate scandal. -
bridge-gate, George Washington Bridge, christie, 2016 elections
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2014-16-05
Friday, 05 December 2014 08:16 AM
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