Christie Fires Aide in Bridge Scandal as U.S. Opens Probe

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from The Wall Street Journal,

Bridget Anne Kelly Sent Email Saying It Was ‘Time for Some Traffic Problems’ in Fort Lee, N.J.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Bridget Anne Kelly, his deputy chief of staff, walk at the scene of a boardwalk fire Sept. 12, 2013. Getty Images

Gov. Chris Christie on Thursday fired his deputy chief of staff at the center of the politically charged George Washington Bridge lane closures and distanced himself from a top political adviser, as federal prosecutors opened an investigation into the matter.

The U.S. Justice Department said Thursday they will scrutinize whether the lane closures, which caused crippling traffic in Fort Lee, N.J., violated federal law.

At a news conference Thursday in Trenton, Mr. Christie apologized to the citizens of New Jersey and Fort Lee. “I am embarrassed and humiliated by the conduct of some of the people on my team,” he said.

Hours earlier Mr. Christie said he fired Bridget Anne Kelly, the deputy chief of staff for legislative and intergovernmental affairs.

“I am heartbroken that someone who I permitted to be in that circle of trust for the last five years betrayed my trust,” Mr. Christie said, adding later, “I’m a sad guy standing here today.”

In August 2013, Ms. Kelly sent an email to a longtime Christie associate who worked for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, David Wildstein, saying that it was “time for some traffic problems” in Fort Lee, a borough that sits at western end of the bridge. Mr. Wildstein, who at the time was the Port Authority’s director of interstate capital projects, responded, “got it” and implemented the lane closures in September.

Another former aide to Mr. Christie, Bill Stepien, also received a reprimand from the governor.

Mr. Christie said he was “disturbed by the tone and behavior and attitude” and the “callous indifference” displayed by Mr. Stepien, a former campaign manager and deputy chief of staff for legislative and intergovernmental affairs for the governor.

“As a result I’ve instructed Bill Stepien to not place his name for nomination for state party chairman,” Mr. Christie said.

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