It seems only fitting that the trial to settle the Bridgegate scandal would face some delays.
A judge postponed closing arguments Thursday in the Bridgegate trial due to a legal dispute between the government and defense attorneys. Port Authority executive Bill Baroni and Gov. Chris Christie's former deputy chief of staff, Bridget Kelly, face nine counts of criminal charges related to the intentional lane closures from Fort Lee, New Jersey, to the George Washington Bridge in September 2013 that caused extreme traffic jams for commuters into New York City. Closing arguments will resume Friday.
The Bridgegate scandal dates back to September 2013 when the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey closed two of the three access lanes for cars from Fort Lee to access the George Washington Bridge, which connects the New Jersey town to New York City. The closures lasted four days creating a massive traffic bottleneck on a bridge that already boasts the highest volume traffic of any bridge in the U.S.
Media questions in the wake of the lane closures revealed that the Port Authority did not have any good answers as to why those closures were necessary, writing the move off as a "traffic study." Suspecting something fishy, New Jersey Democrats launched an investigation, leading to the publication of emails and texts between members of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's staff that revealed that the "traffic study" was only a study in political retribution.
The correspondences showed that Christie's administration organized the lane closures purposefully and maliciously. Although a definitive motive for the scheme has not been pinned down, most suspect the closures were organized as revenge against Fort Lee's Democratic mayor Mark Sokolich for not endorsing Christie during his 2012 reelection campaign.
Multiple members of Christie's staff, including Baroni and Kelly, have been implicated, but there has not yet been hard evidence showing Christie had a hand in the scheme. While some of the testimony from Baroni and Kelly's trials has suggested Christie knew about the lane closures, nothing so far has pointed to Christie having knowledge that the supposed "traffic study" was not above board. Christie has denied all knowledge of the plan.
"I had no knowledge or involvement in this issue, in its planning or its execution, and I am stunned by the abject stupidity that was shown here," Christie said in January 2014.
The scandal is attributed to Christie's failed presidential bid in 2016 — he was previously considered an early favorite — and has harmed his political standing in New Jersey.
Kelly and Baroni face up to 20 years behind bars if found guilty in orchestrating the lane closures. Christie did not testify in the proceedings.