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Court Moves 'Bridgegate' Case Forward, Setting A Date For Christie

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and his wife, Mary Pat Christie, visited the White House this week, ahead of a court date related to lane closures on the George Washington Bridge.
Evan Vucci
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and his wife, Mary Pat Christie, visited the White House this week, ahead of a court date related to lane closures on the George Washington Bridge.

Nearly four months after a former aide testified that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie knew about a looming traffic nightmare that sparked a political scandal, a municipal judge says a criminal complaint against Christie can move forward.

In finding there is probable cause for a complaint of official misconduct to proceed against Christie, Bergen County Municipal Court Judge Roy McGeady is extending a probe into the governor's involvement in a case that has generated federal charges against several former aides to Christie.

Christie is scheduled to appear in court over the case on March 10.

The case stems from lane closures on the George Washington Bridge that were made in September of 2013 — closures that were seen as targeting the mayor of Fort Lee, N.J., for not supporting Christie's re-election campaign.

"The criminal complaint was brought against Christie by William Brennan, a Bergen County activist who is now running for governor," WNYC reports. The member station adds, "The complaint accuses the governor of failing to stop subordinates from purposely creating traffic jams to punish a Democratic mayor who didn't endorse him."

In November, Christie's deputy chief of staff and the former Port Authority deputy executive director became the latest former Christie allies to either plead guilty or be found guilty of federal charges that include conspiracy and fraud.

Responding to today's ruling, Christie's press secretary, Brian Murray, said McGready "is violating the law, pure and simple" in furthering a "concocted" claim.

Here's the full statement from the governor's office:

"This judge has once again violated the Governor's constitutional rights and intentionally ignored the earlier ruling by Assignment Judge Mizdol. The judge is violating the law, pure and simple. This concocted claim was investigated for three months by the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office, which summarily dismissed it, after concluding that the very same evidence relied upon again by this judge was utter nonsense."

That statement was passed along by WNYC reporter Andrea Bernstein, who has been following the case.

Back in October, Bernstein relayed details from the courtroom as Bridget Kelly, who was Christie's deputy chief of staff, testified under questioning by her defense attorney.

Here's a summary of what Kelly said:

  • That she told Christie about the closings one month before they occurred, and that they were expected to cause "tremendous" problems;
  • That Christie's main response was to ask "What's our relationship with Mayor Sokolich?" — referring to Mayor Mark Sokolich of Fort Lee;
  • That Kelly also talked with Christie about Mayor Sokolich's public safety complaints over the closures while traffic was still snarled;
  • That during a meeting in Seaside Heights, Christie flew into a rage over being asked by Kelly to introduce people, and asked her, "What do you think I am, a ****ing game show host?" Kelly was in tears as she said Christie then threw a water bottle at her that struck her on the arm.
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    Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.