The long-gestating Bridgegate scandal appears to finally be headed into new territory, with the New York Times reporting on Wednesday that indictments could finally be coming in the case as early as next week.
The Times reports that people close to case will likely bring charges arguing that associates of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie committed fraud by using the George Washington Bridge for an inappropriate purpose as political retribution against the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee, New Jersey who declined to support Christie’s re-election bid in 2013.
That September, several lanes on the bridge were mysteriously closed for a few days during rush hour causing serious traffic delays. After Port Authority officials initially claimed the closures were part of a “traffic study,” it later was alleged that top level Christie staffers may have played a role in deliberately causing the problem, with one infamous email exchange explicitly stating: “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.”
The controversy over the lane closures has hung like a shadow over Christie’s nascent 2016 aspirations and significantly damaged his reputation in his home state, where his once sky-high approval ratings have never fully recovered in the aftermath of the story going public. An independent investigation, authorized by the governor’s office, cleared Christie of any wrongdoing when it came to the lane closures last year.
“I wouldn’t have been as trusting of some people, I would have asked more questions on certain things in general, and I wish I would have that do over again,” Christie said regarding the scandal on a recent episode of NJTV’s new show “Pasta & Politics.”
“Maybe I could have been more aggressive, I don’t know. It’s one of those things that is still kind surreal to me, and I don’t really understand it, still. But it’s certainly has been a really bad period for me, you know, both personally and professionally,” he added.
Meanwhile, prosecutors are seeking to determine whether Christie engaged in unethical behavior in other ways. According to the Times, Christie has used Port Authority money to shore up his state budget and gave out gifts to mayors whose endorsements he coveted. Christie also reportedly maintained an office of “intergovernmental affairs” which allegedly was used to court potential political backers.
As new allegations come to the forefront it’s unclear whether Christie can still mount a serious challenge for the White House.