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

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from The New York Times,

Gov. Chris Christie repeatedly apologized to the people of New Jersey on Thursday, saying he was “embarrassed and humiliated” by revelations that a top aide and appointees ordered lane closings on the George Washington Bridge to deliberately snarl traffic as an act of political vengeance.

In a somber and humbling news conference in Trenton, Mr. Christie said he was “blindsided” when he learned of a series of emails that showed intimate involvement by close associates to punish a Democratic mayor who had declined to endorse the governor for his re-election.

Mr. Christie’s comments came after weeks of steadfast denials by the governor that his administration was involved.

“I am a very sad person today,” he said.

Just as the news conference began, the United States attorney’s office confirmed that it would open a preliminary inquiry into the matter.

The governor said he fired his aide, Bridget Anne Kelly, a deputy chief of staff, whom he called “stupid” and “deceitful.” Her deception led him to mislead the public, he said, but he did so unwittingly.

New Jersey residents have witnessed a fair share of political theater emanating from the State House in recent years, including sex scandals and financial misdeeds, but Mr. Christie’s news conference and later apology tour offered the opportunity to watch one of nation’s brashest and most outspoken political figures laid low by something as mundane as a traffic jam.

For Mr. Christie, one of the leading figures in the Republican Party and a likely candidate for the party’s presidential nomination in 2016, the scandal represents the gravest challenge to his political career.

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