Two former aides of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie were found guilty of closing down Fort Lee, NJ, lanes to the George Washington Bridge to punish that borough’s mayor for not endorsing the governor’s re-election.
A jury of seven women and five men returned the guilty verdict after five days and 20 hours of deliberations in the Newark federal court trial of Bridget Anne Kelly, Christie’s former deputy chief of staff, and Bill Baroni, Christie’s appointee at the Port Authority.
The guilty verdict is more bad news for Christie, who saw his approval rating plummet to its lowest levels yet during the trial, where former staffers described him as a foul-mouthed bully who ordered subordinates to curse out his critics — and who once got angry over a playful box of donuts.
The government presented a mountain of evidence over the six-week trial, including testimony from Baroni’s former chief of staff, David Wildstein, who said he carried out the scheme at the behest of Kelly and Baroni.
The jury was also shown emails and text messages, including Kelly’s infamous email saying it was “time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.”
Christie has repeatedly denied knowing his staff was involved in the lane closures, which snarled traffic in Fort Lee for days in 2013, until the following year.
Wildstein, however, testified that he and Baroni spoke with the governor about the lane closures while they were happening– and that Christie laughed about it. Several other witnesses say they warned Christie in 2013 that his staff might have been involved.Christie has repeatedly denied knowing his staff was involved in the lane closures, which snarled traffic in Fort Lee for days in 2013, until the following year.