| NEW YORK
NEW YORK Jan 9 New Jersey Governor Chris
Christie, a possible Republican White House contender enmeshed
in a scandal over his staff's role in shutting down lanes onto
the busy George Washington Bridge, will meet with reporters
Thursday, his office said.
Christie's office said he would hold a news conference at
his office in the state capital of Trenton at 11:00 a.m. EST
The controversy erupted with the public release of
incriminating emails showing a top Christie aide played a key
role in closing some lanes leading to the bridge in a ploy to
punish the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee, New Jersey, who didn't
endorse Christie for re-election. The George Washington Bridge
connects Manhattan in New York City to Fort Lee.
The incident now threatens to tarnish Christie's image and
national standing as he weighs a bid for the White House in
The blunt, tough-talking governor has enjoyed immense
popularity at home, particularly after his handling of recovery
and rebuilding efforts following Superstorm Sandy, and he was
re-elected in a landslide in November.
Local tabloid newspapers jumped on the latest developments,
with the New York Post running the headline "Chris in a jam" on
its front page. New York's Daily News, taking a poke at
Christie's heft as well as his political aspirations, wrote "Fat
chance now, Chris."
After the emails were released to the media, Christie said
in a written statement that he had been misled by his staff and
knew nothing of the lane closings before they occurred.
He said he was "outraged" by the "completely inappropriate
and unsanctioned conduct."
The abrupt lane closures, which lasted four days in
September, caused hours-long traffic jams in the borough of Fort
Lee, at the New Jersey end of the bridge that carries some
300,000 vehicles on a typical day. It is one of the world's
A local New Jersey paper reported that, as a result of the
lane closures, emergency responders were delayed in attending to
four medical situations. One involved an unconscious 91-year-old
woman who later died of cardiac arrest and another, a car
accident, in which four people were injured.
Christie has touted his ability to work with political
opponents - most notably President Barack Obama after the
devastating 2012 storm - as a mark of his skill at overcoming
partisan divisions and forging alliances to get things done.
But he is known for engaging in shouting matches, hurling
insults and belittling challengers, and news that his staff
exacted retribution from a small-town mayor by causing
headline-making traffic jams undermine his efforts to present
himself as tough, but not a bully, experts said.
"These emails destroy all of that effort in a single day,"
Matthew Hale, an associate professor of political science at
Seton Hall University in South Orange, New Jersey, said on
In the most damning email, Christie aide Bridget Anne Kelly,
wrote to a Port Authority executive in August, saying: "Time for
some traffic problems in Fort Lee."
The executive, David Wildstein, replied: "Got it."
In another message sent amid the gridlock, an unidentified
author wrote: "Is it wrong that I'm smiling," and Wildstein
The emails do not give a specific reason for the closings,
which kicked off on the first day of school in Fort Lee. Among
those trapped for hours in traffic were children on school
The emails were supplied to the media by Wildstein, the Port
Authority executive, in response to a subpoena issued by a panel
of state lawmakers.
A long-time Christie ally, Wildstein admitted ordering the
lane closures and resigned in December. He was due to testify
before the panel on Thursday.
(Editing by Paul Thomasch; Editing by Bernadette Baum)