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‘Bridgegate’ jury in New Jersey to hear closing arguments

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Lawyers in New Jersey’s “Bridgegate” trial will begin delivering closing arguments on Thursday, seeking to sway jurors deliberating the fate of two former allies of Governor Chris Christie.

Jurors heard more than a month of testimony in the trial of Bridget Anne Kelly, Christie’s former deputy chief of staff, and Bill Baroni, former deputy executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, operator of the bridge.

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Closing arguments are scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. (1330 GMT) in federal court in Newark, New Jersey, and are expected to last into Friday.

The two former officials are charged with abusing their government positions by scheming in 2013 to shut down lanes leading to the George Washington Bridge, said by the Port Authority to be the busiest bridge in the world.

The scandal damaged Christie’s political standing as he was beginning a campaign for the Republican nomination for president.

Christie is now a close ally of the nominee, New York real estate developer Donald Trump, and is leading Trump’s transition planning.

Federal prosecutors said during the trial that Christie knew about the lane closings ahead of time. Christie maintains that is not true. He has not been charged with wrongdoing.

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The lane closures caused several days of massive gridlock on the New Jersey side of the bridge and hurt local businesses.

Christie’s aides ordered the shutdown of the lanes as payback for the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee, New Jersey, who would not support Christie’s re-election in 2013, prosecutors say.

Baroni and Kelly have pleaded not guilty to wire fraud, civil rights deprivation and conspiracy charges. If convicted, they face potential prison terms.

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Both defendants took the witness stand in their defense.

Kelly was asked about an email that set the scheme in motion in which she wrote, “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.” She said she was simply “parroting” the language another official used in describing the possible gridlock from a traffic study.

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(Reporting by David Ingram and Joseph Ax; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)


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Sondland’s hotels are facing backlash over Trump ties: ‘Do you want to support him?’

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Gordon Sondland's efforts to shield President Donald Trump from accountability in the Ukraine scandal has been bad for his personal business.

The U.S. ambassador to the European Union has twice updated his closed-door testimony in the impeachment inquiry after other witnesses implicated him in the scheme, and social media users are venting their frustration against his hotel chain on Yelp, reported The Daily Beast.

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2020 Election

Democratic candidates demand investigation into toxic culture at NBC ahead of MSNBC debate

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Four Democratic candidates called on NBC’s parent company Comcast to launch an independent investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct at the network ahead of Wednesday’s presidential debate to be broadcast by MSNBC.

Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Kamala Harris of California and Cory Booker of New Jersey signed a letter calling the allegations of “sexual assault and harassment” by employees and “a cover-up by NBC’s management” deeply “troubling.” Instead of addressing the company, the senators issued their letter to Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez.

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Revealed: Nikki Haley sent confidential information about North Korea nuke scare over system meant only for unclassified communications

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"Convenience is not an acceptable reason to skirt information security rules. She should be held to the same standard as everyone else," said Austin Evers, executive director at American Oversight, upon hearing the news that former UN ambassador Nikki Haley used a Blackberry smartphone to communicate with staff regarding North Korea's July, 2017 test of an intercontinental ballistic missile that could hit the US.

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