Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Chris Christie Bridge-Gate Report Leaves a Gaping Hole: Motive

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Chris Christie Bridge-Gate Report Leaves a Gaping Hole: Motive

Article excerpt

For New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and his team of lawyers, the motives behind the Bridge-gate lane closures are somewhat baffling.

They have placed the blame of the "traffic study" scheme squarely on two people: Bridget Kelly, the governor's former right-hand aide, and David Wildstein, the governor's high school classmate and feared ally at the Port Authority. These two apparently acted together, keeping everyone else in the governor's office out of the loop.

But that raises a key question: Why did they do it?

"Sometimes people do inexplicably stupid things," Governor Christie said Thursday to Diane Sawyer, reiterating that he didn't have anything to do with the closure of two access lanes to the George Washington Bridge, which engulfed Fort Lee in a tsunami of traffic for four days afterwards.

An internal investigation commissioned by the governor tried to explain the inexplicable, suggesting, in effect, that both Ms. Kelly and Mr. Wildstein were both a bit emotionally unstable and obsessed with a crazy idea.

But the investigation's report - released Thursday by a team of lawyers at the Manhattan law firm Gibson Dunn, which has also been retained by the Christie administration to represent its interests in ongoing probes by the US Attorney and New Jersey state lawmakers - raises as many questions as it answers, many observers say.

The report concludes that evidence does point to the widely assumed motive of a political dirty trick against Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich. The Democrat would not endorse the Republican governor, as many others had, while Christie was attempting to win reelection with a nation-impressing landslide.

But the precise reason they targeted Mayor Sokolich "is yet to be determined," Christie's lawyers said.

In fact, the report tries to undercut the dirty-trick theory, pointing out that Sokolich always had a "good relationship" with the Christie administration, and was even being considered for an honorary appointment. It also quoted the Fort Lee mayor saying that he found it "incomprehensible that there's any truth whatsoever to these rumors" about a political dirty trick.

So as Christie's lawyers purportedly scratched their heads as to why Kelly and Wildstein would have some undetermined "ulterior motive" to attack Sokolich, they suggested the two must have had some kind of personal problems that in effect left them a bit unhinged.

The report excoriates the governor's former deputy chief-of- staff, saying "events in Kelly's personal life may have had some bearing on her subjective motivations and state of mind." She had to take care of a hospitalized family member during the scandal, for example.

But it also said Kelly was engaged in a romantic affair with Christie's long-time political architect, Bill Stepien, who ran the governor's two successful campaigns and was set to organize his expected national run for the White House. …

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