Newly released emails and text messages show that Gov. Chris Christie's office was closely involved with lane closings on the New Jersey side of the George Washington Bridge in September, and that officials closed the lanes as retribution against the Democratic mayor whose town was gridlocked as a result.
The growing scandal around the bridge threatens Mr. Christie at the moment he assumes an even larger position on the national stage, as chairman of the Republican Governors Association and a leading candidate for his party's presidential nomination in 2016.
In the documents, obtained by The New York Times and other news outlets on Wednesday morning, Bridget Anne Kelly, a deputy chief of staff in Mr. Christie's office, gave a signal to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to close the lanes about two weeks before the closings occurred.
New Jersey Governor Chris ChristieGetty Images
"Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee," she emailed David Wildstein, Mr. Christie's close friend from high school, and one of his appointees at the Port Authority, which controls the bridge. Mr. Christie and some officials at Port Authority have said the closings were done as part of a traffic study, but they caused havoc for days, backing up traffic for hours.
Mr. Christie's handpicked chairman of the Port Authority, David Samson, was also involved in the closings, according to the emails, which describe his efforts to "retaliate" against New York officials who had not been told of the changes and sought to ease the gridlock.
While the emails do not establish that the governor himself called for the lane closings, they do show his staff was intimately involved, contradicting Mr. Christie's repeated avowals that no one in his office or campaign knew.
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