Rachel Maddow: Was Chris Christie enough of a bully to shut down a bridge to spite a mayor?
Even if it seems like a random conspiracy theory, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow argued on Monday, the investigation into the closing of the George Washington Bridge in September 2013 and its effects on a New Jersey town is pointing toward a strange series of facts.
Maddow explained that two of the bridge’s three tollbooth lanes coming from the town of Fort Lee, New Jersey were shut down without the customary warning to residents.
“You could still get on the bridge,” she explained. “But a trip that took 30 minutes now lasted four hours. Happy first day of school, everybody. The backup was so bad it gridlocked not just near the bridge but basically the whole town.”
Immediately, speculation began mounting that the closure was a rebuke from Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) administration toward Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich (D), who declined a request to endorse Christie’s re-election bid.
“It sounds crazy, right?” Maddow asked. “It sounds mice-out-of-planes crazy. Somebody closes down a couple of lanes on the onramp to the busiest bridge in America because they’re out to get your town? It sounds crazy, right?”
But despite assurances from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey that the closure was part of a study, Maddow noted, the agency’s head, Patrick Foye, emailed officials ripping the move.
“If this was a study of traffic on the nation’s busiest bridge, then why had nobody alerted the rest of the agency, including, say, the traffic division? Or, say, the engineering division?” Maddow asked rhetorically. “Or the people who worked on the bridge? Or, say, the local cops?”
Adding to the speculation, Maddow said, was the fact that the person who ordered the closure, David Wildstein, is a high school friend of Christie’s who was hired by one of the governor’s appointees. Wildstein subsequently resigned on Dec. 6
“Again, supposedly for a traffic study that the traffic department did not know was coming and that does not appear to exist in agency records,” Maddow said. “Do you believe this story?”
Watch Maddow examine the case of the bridge’s strange closing, as aired Monday on MSNBC, below.