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June 27, 2017

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Top aides for Christie involved in revenge plot

NEW YORK -- Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's high hopes for a 2016 presidential bid took a jolt Wednesday as top aides were accused of blocking a bridge as political payback.

The incident was apparently sparked when Mark Sokolich, the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee, New Jersey, refused to endorse Christie in his re-election bid last year.

Several lanes of the busy George Washington bridge, linking the state and New York City, were closed for days during the campaign in September, triggering massive traffic jams into Sokolich's city.

Christie, known for a down-to-earth and at times in-your-face frankness, is widely seen as one of his party's likely presidential frontrunners to try to succeed U.S. President Barack Obama. That means he is already under national scrutiny.

Yet stunning emails published by NBC in New York and The New York Times showed that three weeks before the lane closures, an aide to Christie had suggested it.

"Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee," Christie Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Anne Kelly wrote to Christie Port Authority aide David Wildstein on Aug. 13

Wildstein is a school friend of the governor, who had named him to the job at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs the bridges in the New York City metro area.

Wildstein replied: "Got it."

The Fort Lee mayor was not advised the lanes would be closed for what at the time was described as part of a traffic study.

Then on Sept. 10, Wildstein texted Kelly: "Is it wrong that I am smiling?"

"No," she answered.

"I feel badly about the kids" he replied by text, referring to children stuck for hours on buses in the snarled traffic.

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