A New Jersey state court issued a criminal summons against governor Chris Christie on Thursday (Oct. 13) regarding his alleged involvement in the politically motivated closure of the George Washington Bridge, connecting Manhattan to New Jersey, in 2013.
The summons arises from a citizen complaint filed by New Jersey political activist Bill Brennan, in which the governor and top surrogate for the Trump presidential campaign is accused of official misconduct—“knowingly [refraining] from ordering that his subordinates take all necessary action to re-open local access lanes to the George Washington Bridge from Fort Lee, New Jersey, that had been closed with purpose to injure Fort Lee mayor Mark Sokolich,” according to a court spokesperson.
When Christie, a Republican, ran for reelection that year, Sokolich, a Democrat, withheld his endorsement. Evidence indicates that Christie’s deputy chief of staff at the time, Bridget Anne Kelly, directed one of Christie’s appointees to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to close two of the three toll lanes feeding the bridge from the Fort Lee side, causing a massive traffic jam, as retaliation. The chaos that ensued would be dubbed “Bridgegate” in the media. One woman, requiring medical attention but trapped in gridlock, died in her vehicle when paramedics were unable to reach her.
Christie is appealing the summons, the spokesperson says.
“This is a dishonorable complaint filed by a known serial complainant and political activist with a history of abusing the judicial system,” press secretary for the governor’s office said in a statement. “The simple fact is the governor had no knowledge of the lane realignments either before they happened or while they were happening. This matter has already been thoroughly investigated by three separate independent investigations. The ruling is being appealed immediately.”
Nevertheless, this makes Christie the second major Trump surrogate in a week to become entangled in legal fracas. Earlier this week, the US Justice Department announced it would pursue criminal contempt charges against “Arizona’s toughest sheriff,” Joe Arpaio, who has been a key figure of support for Trump’s proposed anti-immigration policies.
These developments come shortly after the candidate confronted opponent Hillary Clinton on the debate stage in St. Louis regarding her email usage. “And I’ll tell you what. I didn’t think I’d say this, but I’m going to say it, and I hate to say it. But if I win, I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation, because there has never been so many lies, so much deception,” he said. “There has never been anything like it, and we’re going to have a special prosecutor.”
When Clinton replied that it was “awfully good that someone with the temperament of Donald Trump is not in charge of the law in our country,” Trump snapped back, “Because you’d be in jail.”
But while the FBI has recommended no charges to Justice Department prosecutors in the case of Clinton’s emails, the future for some of Donald Trump’s most vocal allies remains bleak.