According to a New York Times report published on Wednesday, federal prosecutors might announce indictments related to the so-called “Bridgegate” scandal “as early as next week.”
The scandal has plagued the administration of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) and caused problems for his rumoured 2016 presidential ambitions.
It erupted in September 2013 after lanes leading from the town of Fort Lee, New Jersey onto the George Washington Bridge were closed. These closures led to days of gridlock in Fort Lee and substantially delayed emergency response times.
Some Democrats have alleged the closures were ordered to retaliate against Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, who declined to endorse Christie’s re-election bid that year. Subpoenas issued by a special committee established by the New Jersey Legislature subsequently revealed staffers in Christie’s office were involved in discussions about the lane closures before they were ordered. Christie dismissed staffers involved in the discussions and has steadfastly maintained he was unaware of their actions.
An internal investigation conducted by lawyers hired by Christie’s office also concluded two officials “knowingly participated” in a scheme to “target” Sokolich by ordering the lane closures. The governor cut ties with these staffers and denounced them.
The internal probe also concluded “Christie did not know of the lane realignment beforehand and had no involvement in the decision to realign the lanes.” Randy Mastro, the attorney who headed the governor’s investigation, told Business Insider there was “not a shred” of written evidence Christie was involved in orchestrating or ordering the lane closures. This internal report was dismissed by several of the governor’s critics as a biased waste of taxpayer funds.
Though there have long been rumours and reports federal “Bridgegate” indictments could be imminent, the Times report contained a claim that could be particularly troubling for Christie and his supporters. The report, which was written by Kate Zernike, said the federal investigation “has gone beyond the lane closings to include possible conflicts of interest and bribery.”
Since the initial revelations about the lane closures, critics have leveled many accusations of political retaliation and inappropriate behaviour against Christie’s office and the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, the agency that oversees the George Washington Bridge. The Times report raised the possibility some of these other allegations may have led to federal charges.
“Even if the investigation produces no legal problems for Mr. Christie, any indictments will almost certainly add to his political challenges,” Zernike wrote.
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