Emails, texts suggest top aide to Christie engineered NJ traffic jam as political payback

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Democrats are seizing upon a political dirty-tricks scandal involving New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's office to blast the potential Republican presidential candidate.

Emails and text messages released Wednesday suggest Christie's deputy chief of staff and a top Christie appointee on the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey engineered traffic jams in Fort Lee last September to punish the town's mayor. Two of three lanes connecting Fort Lee to the heavily traveled George Washington Bridge were closed, causing crippling traffic jams in the town.

Mayor Mark Sokolich (SAHK'-oh-lich) says the tie-ups put people in danger and calls it "appalling" that they appear to have been deliberately created.

Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz says the incident shows Christie bullies people who oppose him.

But Christie says he too is "outraged" by the revelations and denies knowing anything about it. He promises: "People will be held responsible for their actions."

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237-w-35-(Julie Walker, AP correspondent, with Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich (SAHK'-oh-lich))--Email messages link New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's top aides to a seemingly deliberate effort to create traffic gridlock in the town that feeds the George Washington Bridge, after its mayor refused to endorse Christie for re-election. AP correspondent Julie Walker reports. (8 Jan 2014)

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238-a-17-(John Wisniewski, D-District 19, deputy speaker, New Jersey State Assembly, at news conference)-"carry it out"-New Jersey Assembly Deputy Speaker Wisniewski, who chairs the Transportation, Public Works and Independent Authorities Committee, says he was not surprised by the emails and texts. ((note length of cut)) (8 Jan 2014)

<<CUT *238 (01/08/14)££ 00:17 "carry it out"

239-a-07-(John Wisniewski, D-District 19, deputy speaker, New Jersey State Assembly, at news conference)-"of Buono voters"-New Jersey Assembly Deputy Speaker Wisniewski, who chairs the Transportation, Public Works and Independent Authorities Committee, says one of the exchanges had to do with Republican Governor Chris Christie's former opponent, Democrat Barbara Buono. (8 Jan 2014)

<<CUT *239 (01/08/14)££ 00:07 "of Buono voters"

240-a-06-(Mayor Mark Sokolich (SAHK'-oh-lich), D-Fort Lee, in interview with WABC)-"to be accountable"-Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich says he wants those responsible to face consequences for their actions. COURTESY: WABC TV ((mandatory on-air credit)) (8 Jan 2014)

<<CUT *240 (01/08/14)££ 00:06 "to be accountable"

241-a-15-(Mayor Mark Sokolich (SAHK'-oh-lich), D-Fort Lee, in interview with WABC)-"still has doubt"-Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich says he does not want to believe that Governor Chris Christie would stoop this low for payback. COURTESY: WABC TV ((mandatory on-air credit)) (note language; cut contains the word 'damning') (8 Jan 2014)

<<CUT *241 (01/08/14)££ 00:15 "still has doubt"

242-a-11-(Mayor Mark Sokolich (SAHK'-oh-lich), D-Fort Lee, in interview with WABC)-"is a shame"-Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich says he can't believe that someone would cause traffic Armageddon in his town to get back at him. COURTESY: WABC TV ((mandatory on-air credit)) (8 Jan 2014)

<<CUT *242 (01/08/14)££ 00:11 "is a shame"

APPHOTO NJME106: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie looks out at the crowd at a gathering in Union City, N.J., Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014. A top aide to Christie is linked through emails and text messages to a seemingly deliberate plan to create traffic gridlock in Fort Lee, N.J., at the base of the George Washington Bridge after its mayor refused to endorse Christie for re-election. (AP Photo/Mel Evans) (7 Jan 2014)

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APPHOTO NJME101: In a Monday, Sept. 2, 2013 photo, traffic moves across the George Washington Bridge, in Fort Lee, N.J. A top aide to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is linked through emails and text messages to a seemingly deliberate plan to create traffic gridlock in a town at the base of the bridge after its mayor refused to endorse Christie for re-election. "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee," Christie aide Bridget Anne Kelly wrote in an Aug. 13 email to David Wildstein, a top political appointee at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs the George Washington Bridge connecting New Jersey and New York City. (AP Photo/Mel Evans) (2 Sep 2013)

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