March 27 - The law firm hired by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to conduct an internal investigation of the George Washington Bridge lane closing scandal clears him of wrongdoing. Mana Rabiee reports.
Governor Chris Christie is cleared of wrongdoing in the so-called "Bridgegate" scandal. So says the law firm he hired to investigate that massive traffic nightmare at the George Washington bridge in September. The tie-up was allegedly orchestrated by his top aides, as political payback to a local mayor who wouldn't endorse Christie's re-election. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ATTORNEY RANDY MASTRO SAYING: "We found that Governor Christie had no knowledge beforehand of this George Washington bridge realignment idea and he had no role whatsoever in that decision or the implementation of it." Thursday's report puts the blame chiefly instead on Bridget Anne Kelly, the governor's former deputy chief of staff, and David Wildstein, a Christie appointee who helped oversee the bridge. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ATTORNEY RANDY MASTRO SAYING: "We further found, based on our investigation, that David Wildstein is the person who originated this idea and orchestrated it. That David Wildstein went to Bridget Kelly for approval in the Governor's office and that they had an ulterior motive for implementing that decision to in some way target Mayor Sokolich in Fort Lee." "Bridgegate" became one of several controversies that plagued the normally popular Republican presidential contender. In January, Christie fired the staffers and denied any involvement. SOUNDBITE: NEW JERSEY GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE SAYING: "Ultimately, I am responsible for what happens under my watch, the good and the bad. And when mistake are made then I have to own up to them." Thursday's report has no legal weight and critics eye it with suspicion because it was ordered by Christie himself. The Democratic National Committee called it an "expensive sham." New Jersey lawmakers and the U.S. attorney's office in New Jersey are conducting their own parallel investigation.