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Chris Christie bridge scandal: More documents released as class-action suit is filed

January 10, 2014 12:00:00 AM PST
A New Jersey committee investigating the traffic-jam scandal that has rocked Gov. Chris Christie's administration released hundreds of new documents Friday, shedding light on the lane closings.

Christie is hoping to recover from the controversy after top aides allegedly staged a massive four-day traffic jam as political payback.

Emails revealed the September closures during the first week of school were ordered by Christie's closest aides as political vendetta against the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee, N.J., Mark Sokolich.

The mayor of the town of fewer than 40,000 people reportedly declined to endorse Christie's re-election.

The closing of two lanes on the bridge connecting New Jersey and New York snarled traffic for four days in September. Aides rejoiced as drivers suffered.

"Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee," Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Anne Kelly wrote in an Aug. 13 email that set this political drama into motion. David Wildstein, a Christie appointee to the Port Authority, replied," Got it."

On Thursday, Christie apologized to his constituents, saying he was "embarrassed and humiliated" by his staff.

He said he awoke Wednesday morning, went to the gym and then got a call from an aide about a report in a New Jersey newspaper with the bombshell allegations about his aides.

"I had no knowledge or involvement in this issue, in its planning or execution, and I am stunned by the abject stupidity that was shown here, regardless of what the facts ultimately uncover" said Christie during a two-hour news conference Thursday.

The governor shed little light on how the lanes came to be closed.

"I don't know whether this was a traffic student that then morphed into a political vendetta or a political vendetta that morphed into a traffic study."

Christie moved quickly to contain the scandal and said he fired Kelly, "because she lied to me" when he demanded weeks ago that anyone who knew anything about the episode come forward.

"She was not given the opportunity to explain to me why she lied because it was so obvious that she had," Christie said of Kelly. "And I'm, quite frankly, not interested in the explanation at the moment."

In addition to firing one of his top aides, Christie cut ties to former campaign manager Bill Stepien. He asked him to withdraw a bid to become the next state GOP chairman.

Christie is widely seen as the frontrunner for the Republican Presidential nomination in 2016, but how he handles this scandal could have a profound impact on his political future.

Supporters say the worst is behind him, but critics promise to get to the bottom of the scandal. Christie's role in the apparent political revenge plot remains under heavy scrutiny.

The governor has denied any involvement and said he was "blind-sighted" by the scandal. He, however, said he takes full responsibility for the actions of his staff.

"I am responsible for what happened. I am sad to report to the people of New Jersey that we fell short," he said.

ABC News has obtained a letter from the director of Fort Lee's emergency services. It cites four medical situations where the unnecessary lane closures delayed first responders.

At least one civil lawsuit over the bridge closure has been filed. Six New Jersey residents have filed a federal lawsuit against Christie. They say they were "damaged" by what they call his "political agenda."

It's the first civil claim over the lane-closure scandal, but attorney Rosemarie Arnold told ABC News she has been inundated with other phone calls from people in New Jersey. She said she believes the number of people will grow, possibly to the "tens of thousands."

ABC News and The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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