Was Bridgegate Really About the Mayor of Fort Lee?

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

Why did Chris Christie’s staff shut down several lanes of the George Washington Bridge in August? The working theory is that it was retaliation against the mayor of Fort Lee, who had declined to endorse Christie for reelection. This has never really made sense, though. The guy was a Democrat and Christie was cruising to victory. As both the mayor and Christie himself have pointed out, no one would care if he decided not to endorse Christie.

So Rachel Maddow and Steve Benen offer up another theory today. Last year Christie was in a long-running battle with Democrats over his appointees to the state Supreme Court, and in August Christie decided to remove a justice from the court rather than submit her to renomination to Senate Democrats:

The governor, enraged, held a press conference to tell reporters, “I was not going to let her loose to the animals.”

The “animals,” in this case, were the Democrats in the state Senate.

Christie said that on the afternoon of Aug. 12, 2013.

On the morning of Aug. 13, 2013, Christie’s deputy chief of staff told the governor’s guy at the Port Authority, “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.”

The leader of the Senate Democrats at the time was a senator from … Fort Lee.

This is just speculation, of course, so take it for what it’s worth. Dave Weigel, for example, points out that the Democratic leader of the state Senate was “utterly safe at re-election,” so retaliating against her seems kind of pointless too. Maybe so. But for now, speculation is all we have. The whole story about retaliation against the mayor of Fort Lee has always been pretty wacky, so now that we know for sure that retaliation of some sort really did take place, it’s only natural to scratch our heads and start trying to figure out if maybe something else was going on. This is as good a guess as any.

Here’s the video:

FOLLOW THE MONEY

Corporations and billionaires don’t fund journalism like ours that exists to shake things up. Instead, support from readers allows Mother Jones to call it like it is without fear, favor, or false equivalence.

And right now, a longtime friend of Mother Jones has pledged an incredibly generous gift to inspire—and double—giving from online readers. That's huge! Because you can see that our fall fundraising drive is well behind the $325,000 we need to raise. So if you agree that in-depth, fiercely independent journalism matters right now, please support our work and help us raise the money it takes to keep Mother Jones charging hard. Your gift, and all online donations up to $94,000 total, will be matched and go twice as far—but only until the November 9 deadline.

$400,000 to go: Please help us pick up the pace!

payment methods

FOLLOW THE MONEY

Corporations and billionaires don’t fund journalism like ours that exists to shake things up. Instead, support from readers allows Mother Jones to call it like it is without fear, favor, or false equivalence.

And right now, a longtime friend of Mother Jones has pledged an incredibly generous gift to inspire—and double—giving from online readers. That's huge! Because you can see that our fall fundraising drive is well behind the $325,000 we need to raise. So if you agree that in-depth, fiercely independent journalism matters right now, please support our work and help us raise the money it takes to keep Mother Jones charging hard. Your gift, and all online donations up $94,000 total, will be matched and go twice as far—but only until the November 9 deadline.

$400,000 to go: Please help us pick up the pace!

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate