Christie Sacks Aide as Traffic Fallout Continues
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie fired one of his aides Thursday amid accusations his administration used a mammoth traffic jam as a weapon against a Democratic mayor.
Christie, who said he had no knowledge of the plan, apologized for members of his staff who engaged the game of political payback.
"I am embarrassed and humiliated by the conduct of the some of the people on my team," Christie told reporters at a press conference Thursday.
After Democratic Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich declined to support Christie for reelection, a member of his staff sent this email: "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee."
The response: "Got it."
The emails indicated top Christie aides intentionally caused a four-day gridlock last September by closing two of the three lanes on the George Washington Bridge, the busiest bridge in America.
It happened on the first day of school. Cars were bumper to bumper and emergency vehicles were delayed -- all in an apparent act of political retribution.
"I apparently got somebody mad at me. Those emails are pretty damming," Sokolich said. "Who in their right mind would close down access to the busiest bridge in the world to send ME a message?"
On Thursday, Christie announced that Bridget Kelly, the staffer who sent that email, has been fired.
"She lied to me," Christie said.
The incident has ignited a media feeding frenzy against the popular governor. The controversy comes at a critical moment for Christie, who is seen as a likely GOP front-runner for president in 2016.
The governor will soon celebrate his second inauguration and travel the country as leader of the Republican Governors Association. But the bridge fallout could tarnish Christie's tough-talking, no nonsense style that critics say goes too far.
The brash governor admitted Thursday that the scandal had blindsided him.
"I had no knowledge or involvement in this issue, in its planning or its execution, and I am stunned by the abject stupidity that was shown here," Christie told reporters.
A U.S attorney is reviewing the matter, and the New Jersey State Legislature has launched an investigation.