NEWARK Jan 10 New Jersey legislators on Friday
planned to release nearly 1,000 pages of documents that may shed
new light on a probe of four days of traffic jams at the George
Washington Bridge apparently orchestrated by Republican Governor
Chris Christie's top aides to settle a political score.
The release would come the day after Christie, a star of his
party seen as a likely 2016 White House contender, fired the
staffer who had sent e-mails calling for trouble at the key
commuter choke point and repeatedly apologized in a two-hour
The scandal, which had been brewing for weeks, burst onto
the national stage on Wednesday when New Jersey officials
released e-mails that appeared to show Christie's staff plotting
the lane closures in September to retaliate against the
Democratic mayor of Fort Lee, New Jersey, because he had not
endorsed the governor's re-election campaign.
Christie had counted on the decisive victory he won in
November to show a degree of bipartisan appeal and boost his
chances of winning his party's nomination for president,
political experts say.
During Thursday's press conference, where Christie
repeatedly apologized for his staff's actions but also denied
knowing of their move, he said he was not yet thinking about a
possible 2016 bid.
Observers said that if the scandal turns out to be an
isolated incident, voters are likely to look past it. But if it
becomes one of a series of disclosures, it could hurt Christie's
chances at the presidency.
Christie has long cultivated an image as a brash,
tough-talking leader willing to buck his party for the good of
his constituents. But on Thursday he struck a more humble tone,
saying: "I am not a bully."
The U.S. attorney for New Jersey, Paul Fishman, whose job
Christie held before being elected governor, has opened a probe
into the decision to close the bridge lanes. The governor also
faces a class-action lawsuit filed in federal court on Thursday
by Rosemarie Arnold, a lawyer charging that area residents
suffered financially from being trapped in traffic because of
Vilma Oleri, whose 91-year-old mother died after her
ambulance got caught in the first day of the traffic jam, told
CNN she did not believe the traffic delays were the cause.
"I really believe in my heart that she was already gone when
the ambulance go there," Oleri said.