New Jersey governor Chris Christie fires top aide in 'bridge-gate' scandal

 

Embattled New Jersey governor Chris Christie has fired one of his top aides, who allegedly engineered traffic jams on a New York bridge to punish a political opponent.

Mr Christie is a rising star in the Republican Party and was tipped to run for President in 2016, but has struggled to distance himself from the scandal.

“I am who I am but I am not a bully,” he said in a news conference on Thursday.

Despite initially denying anyone in his office was involved, he has dismissed his deputy chief of staff, Bridget Anne Kelly, “ because she lied”, he said.

Emails leaked earlier this week implicated her in the closure of lanes on the George Washington Bridge between Fort Lee and New York, which caused havoc over four days in September.

One of the busiest bridges in the world was gridlocked, stopping paramedics getting to emergencies, including a call about an unconscious 91-year-old woman who later died in hospital.

Officials claimed the Port Authority was “reviewing traffic safety patterns” but the messages appear to show the closures were to punish Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich for not endorsing Mr Christie for re-election.

“Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” Ms Kelly wrote in August in to David Wildstein, a top official on the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

“Got it,” he replied.

Two days before the closure, he wrote: “I will call you Monday AM to let you know how Fort Lee goes.”

Mr Christie called the emails “unacceptable” in a statement after they were made public.

He told a press conference: “I am embarrassed and humiliated by the conduct of some of the people on my team.”

Two more of his staff, including Mr Wildstein, have already resigned.

Mr Wildstein was found in contempt by a legislative committee on Thursday for invoking his right against self-incrimination and refused to answer questions.

The scandal has already been dubbed “bridge-gate” and sparked comparisons to Nixon.

Mr Christie has travelled to Fort Lee to personally apologise to Mr Sokolich, the alleged target of the scheme who was called a “ little Serbian” in the emails.

The Fort Lee mayor had called the revelations “appalling” and demanded for anyone responsible to resign.

”When it's man-made and when it was done with venom and when it was done intentionally, it is, in my mind, the prime example of political pettiness," he said.

The chief federal prosecutor in New Jersey, attorney Paul Fishman, said he is ”reviewing the matter to determine whether a federal law was implicated".

Using public resources for political ends can be a crime.

Additional reporting by Associated Press

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Ashdown Group: Part-time Payroll Officer - Yorkshire - Professional Services

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful professional services firm is lo...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before